Standing in front of her mirror, Effie wondered not for the first time whether her Mahoboran heritage would ever kick in.
She pulled her shoulders back, thrust her chest out, arched her back, but no amount of contorting herself would make her plains pop into hills. Turning around, she looked over her shoulders as she wiggled her hips at the mirror. Was there a hint of a curve there?
No, not anymore than there was yesterday, or last week, or last month. If it wasn’t for the bodice that forced her stick of a body into some semblance of an hour glass, she barely would have a waist to speak of, too.
Sighing, she plopped herself at the foot of her bed. Stick; that was what everyone called her now. Not “cute little Effie,” not since she had stopped playing with dolls anyway; and certainly not “Efferzine” — at least she hoped nobody would until she was too old to care. Or deaf.
Sixteen years old already — 16! — and still no sign that she was becoming a woman. Well, not the type of sign that men found attractive in any case. It was hardly fair. By that age, her three sisters had a flock of would-bes and maybes at their beck and call. They could walk into a room — glide, really; Mahoboran women were renown for their swaying elegance — and every man’s heartbeat would quicken, every man’s face would take on a decidedly redder tint.
The mere hint of a smile on a Mahoboran woman’s lips was enough to turn a man’s whit to mush. That last should not be hard to achieve, considering what little men had to work with, but Effie could not manage even that much.
Glide? Hah! She sniffed at her reflection, her pig tails swaying as she shook her head. The best her long limbs and pointy joints would allow was a lumbering gait. There was a reason “Stick” had stuck. What else would you call a 5-foot, 9-inch girl who barely weighed 115 pounds with wet clothes on? She was a heron without the pretty feathers.
Effie often mused that her mother had had a finite amount of good Mahoboran genes and her sisters used up the entire stock. So Effie had ended up with a light olive skin dotted with freckles and full lips that didn’t quite fit her narrow, diamond-shape face, whereas her sisters enjoyed the more pleasing Mahoboran traits — a heart-shape face, a puckered mouth that always seemed ready for a kiss and flawless, chocolate skin.
At least she had pretty eyes; her mom always said so when she brushed aside a lock of her daughter’s unruly chesnut hair. Even allowing for a mother’s bias, Effie thought they were her best feature, too.
They were large and expressive, a blue-gray sky before a storm. But what did men care about eyes? They wanted someone soft to cuddle with by a fire, not a sack of bones that would poke them in the ribs.
The clock on her dresser clicked, twittered and clacked as a mechanized lumberjack exited his log home to tap a miniature tree trunk eight times, marking the hour with all the precision and enthusiasm that his whirring cogs could muster. That was one the many gadgets she had built.
Time to go to the lab. Effie liked it there. All that mattered in the lab was her mind, There, she could get lost in the joy of creation, explore without judgment, leave behind the superficial to seek out the substantial. If only everywhere else were like that.
Before leaving her bedroom, she checked her corset, making sure the socks padding her bra were in place. It wouldn’t do to have a lump that wasn’t accounted for. Maybe tomorrow her Mahoboran side would kick in.