Pretty Hardware

It was probably her finest work, in the end. It was her Mona Lisa, her Creation of Adam, her Statue of David, her Ninth Symphony. This would be regarded as the greatest creation – the masterpiece – of Mavis, although she supposed nobody would ever know that she had done it.

Nobody had ever created finer wallpaper, as far as she could tell. It was bold, calming and – dare she say it – it was pretty. If this didn’t meet the criteria set out in the very short letter, nothing did.

As Mavis went back to the entrance, she took a long moment to admire her work. It had come so naturally to her, this design. Perhaps somewhere deep in her subconscious, she’d seen this design before, because surely she couldn’t have come up with something so brilliant on her own.

She supposed there was a bit of imposter syndrome at play in her mind. This hardware shop based in Cheltenham now had a brilliant design, and she simply couldn’t accept that she’d made something beautiful today. It had been too easy. Wasn’t a masterpiece supposed to be hard? 

That was the thing about Ascending, in Mavis’ experience. The job didn’t become a job anymore. There was something weird about that. About working so hard for years and years, then being given magical powers that made it all effortless. Others embraced this power, but they had actually earned it.

Maybe Mavis would have felt differently if her powers hadn’t come to her so easily.

She sighed, trying to imagine happy construction workers coming to this hardware store for building supplies near Cheltenham, remarking about how incredible the wallpaper was. But the delusion brought her no joy. Perhaps that was why she’d be happy for nobody to know it was her work – that way, nobody would ever know how much of a fraud she was.

It was much better that nobody know about the wallpapers of Mavis van Westerly.

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