Everybody called her Madame Lavender, as she always smelt like lavender. She rarely came out of her tent and when she did, her skin glowed like diamonds against the sun. Her red hair was neatly pinned and curled in a coiffure. Her make up was done everyday, her red lipstick was applied carefully. She dressed elegantly and graceful. She seemed out of sort in the circus, maybe even displaced, but nonetheless she traveled with the troops from one town to another.
Sunshine saw her like a goddess, never seeing a women displaying such feminine mystic. Mother never wore nice dresses or even wore make-up nor did her hair. Mother never even wore perfume and smell nicely. Mother was rather plain and simple. Madame Lavender was not mother, she was the embodiment of femininity and what the perfect woman looked like.
Sunshine never spoke to Madame Lavender, never really had a reason to, but she would tried to catch a glimpse of her whenever she could. She admired Madame Lavender and wondered if she would one day look like her. Sunshine was unhappy wearing the plain brown clothes, that her never easy going mother made her wear. She thought of an opportunity she talk to the beautiful Madame, but mother and father would not approve of it.
But all that changed one day, when Sunshine, was carrying water to and fro and Madam Lavender summoned her from the entrance of her tent.
“Child,” Madame Lavender’s voice was sweet. “Child, come here.”
Sunshine, looked up, and saw the beautiful Madame Lavender wrapped in a fancy velvet robe that hung down to the ground, covering her feet. Her long, red hair normally pinned up, flowed down around her face, giving her a mystic aura illusion she had once seen drawn on the cover of a magazine. Sunshine could smell the lavender as she approached her.
“Would you like a job?” Madame Lavender asked.
“I already have a job,” Sunshine said in her child-like voice, knowing she was not allowed to mingle with the likes of Madame Lavender. Mother would not only disapprove of it, but there would be consequences from the handle of a broomstick or father’s belt if mother knew of this.
“No, that job,” Madame Lavender spoke in her Slavic accent. “A job. I will pay. I’ll show you. Come along.”
Sunshine couldn’t get her feet to obey Madame Lavender.
“What’s the matter, has the sun melted your feet to the ground?” Madame Lavender asked.
Sunshine nodded no.
“Then stop idling,” Madame Lavender signaled her inside the tent. This time Sunshine followed. Madame Lavender walked through a maze of wardrobes, hanging from each side as Sunshine passed through. She could feel the texture of each fabric as it graced her skin, some felt soft, others cool and a few were fuzzy. Madame took her to the end of the tent where at one end was a tin bathtub, on the other end a carefully made up bed of fabrics.
“See this,” Madame Lavender pointed to the bathtub. “Fill to the top with hot water and for every bucket I pay you a coin.”
Sunshine thought about it.
“I keep my word,” Madame Lavender said, “I pay, you fill.”
Sunshine agreed, and began right away. She noticed Madame Lavender pouring some liquid from a small bottle after another, even adding sprigs of lavender. Before Sunshine knew it, the most wonderful smell drifted from the bathe water as Sunshine poured bucket after bucket. The water had stopped looking clear and had turned a different shade of color from all the oils and essence that Madame had splashed in. When Sunshine poured the last bucket and Madame Lavender was pleased, without batting an eye, Madame Lavender disrobed in front of Sunshine, revealing her pearly white skin and other unmentionables to the young girl. Once Madame Lavender settled inside the tub, she dismissed Sunshine.