“Sophie, honey, see how pretty you are in your new dress.”
The daughter studies her reflection in the mirror. Her mother is smiling but she just stands there, thinking.
“Isn’t it pretty? It makes you look like a princess — my little princess in pink.”
The girl turns to her mother, then back to the mirror. Her brow furrows slightly but she doesn’t speak.
The mother bends down so their eyes are level. “You’re pretty, aren’t you, sweetie?”
The girl meets her mother’s glance. “Pretty,” she says and traces the hem of the dress with her fingers. “It’s pretty, mommy.”
“Yes, it is. And you’re pretty too, aren’t you, sweetie?”
The girl thinks on this for a moment, then says: “No. I’m Sophie.”
“Yes, you are Sophie,” the mother says and nods. “And you’re pretty. You’re my pretty princess.”
But the girl shakes her head. “No, mommy.” She points to the dress. “Pretty.” Then she points to herself. “Sophie.”
The mother smiles. “Yes, Sophie, the dress is pretty, and you are pretty in your new dress.”
“Pretty….” The girl looks at her reflection, eyes narrowed; unblinking.
“Yes, sweetie, you’re pretty.”
“But mommy, I’m… I’m Sophie!”
The mother sighs. “I know, baby girl. I know you’re Sophie, but you’re also pretty, okay? Sophie is pretty.”
“No, no, no, mommy!” she shouts, nose wrinkled and cheeks turning pink. “Sophie is Sophie.”
The mother exhales sharply. She looks at the girl with pursed lips and an expression that says What am I going to do with you, little one? The daughter stares right back, stern and stubborn. The seriousness on the tiny face seems so out of place that it makes the mother draw back a little. She is about to start from the beginning, about to explain it all again very slowly. But then her eyebrows wiggle slightly and she smiles.
“You’re right. The dress is pretty, really pretty.” She runs a gentle hand through the girl’s fluffy hair. “But Sophie is Sophie.”
The girl nods firmly as if to say that this was the most obvious thing in the world, and turns back to the mirror. The mother turns too, and then they’re both smiling.
Bojan Ratkovic is an aspiring writer from Serbia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. Recently his work appeared in the Great Lakes Cultural Review and on the World SF Blog. He is pursuing a PhD degree in political philosophy from the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario.