Fiction: Perfect and Pretty

You hear the tumultuous roars of petty journalists and news reporters as they thrust their cameras and microphones in your face. You tease them, give them a smile or pose here or there (the voices get louder), but you never stop to talk to them.

You hear whispers of conversation about your latest date with Michael Manson, the hockey player who has blond hair and sweet eyes. You laugh at the irony — oh, how you despise him. Michael tracked you down and was actually trying to get you in bed, that much you knew. You hate men like him.

You much preferred Mark Skylar, the quiet scholar you once knew in your small town in the Midwest. He liked to write you haikus about the sun and lillies because you loved both things. He made you a bracelet out of dandelions. But then you turned pretty in sophomore year of high school, and people didn’t like it when you wanted to get out. You never talked to Mark again.

“Let me out,” you think as you glance at a mirror. You’re in the make-up room now, back stage, getting ready for a high-end and popular fashion show. Your agent said you just had to do this show, and your popularity would increase by tenfold if you only went. You see that your eyes are vibrant green, thanks to color contact lenses. Purposely messy black hair, green smoky eye makeup and an emotionless face glance back at you.

“Hey, girl,” someone says behind you. You turn and blink away the blinding fluorescent lights in the room. You see Tami–just Tami, since she just changed her name–and put on a smile.

“Hi,” you say back. Tami starts talking about the latest model scandals. Tabloids caught Ashley Tine heading out for some night time fun and she flashed her breasts at the paparazzi. Stephanie Boarman lost her agent because she gained ten pounds over the summer.

Tami’s high-pitched laugh hurts your ears. When she turns away to get something from her bag, your eyes trace the protruding bones of her spine and you suppress a shudder.

“–hate that pout that Leslie does. It’s, like, what–did you just eat something sour?”

“Five more minutes, ladies!” The stage manager announces. Some of the model groan and yell at their makeup artists to hurry up. Designers weave through the aisles of designer clothes, checking each of the models’ outfits with keen eyes.

“Lovely, just lovely,” one of the flamboyant designers whispers to you. You feel warm suddenly and you caress the silk of your verdant gown. Someone adjusts the straps of your 5-inch black stiletto heels from Louis Vuitton. They cost more than what you were paid annually at your high school part-time job. You already feel the sting of incoming blisters on your heels.

“Okay, so just walk out and you know, work it. Make a pose like this—” The designer does something odd that you wouldn’t be able to copy — “and sexify it.”

The music coming from behind the curtains changes and you know that you’re up. The other model walks back inside and your shoulders brush as you pass by her.

You reach the middle and FLASH.

Cameras on the left, right and center blind you. The audience gasps as they take in your gown, your hair—perfection, you think they were thinking.

You have to admit, as you strut down the runway:  you love the eyes, feasting on your body, because you know you worked hard for it.

You earned everything.

At the final lineup, you glance out at the crowd you suddenly remember when you stood at the end of your first your piano recital, and your parents were on their feet, yelling their hearts out for you. Today, they are not there to see you shine.

You feel your smile slip, but you slightly shake your head, and you’re gorgeous again.

The show ends like usual. Fashion magazine representatives approach you about deals, but your agent blocks them—something you are thankful for. Your agent knows you better than most people, and knows you always get tired after the shows. He has a bodyguard lead you to the pickup limousine, but on the way, more paparazzi bombards you.

“Is it true that you slept with Michael yesterday? Sources say you went into a hotel with him.”

You were never near a hotel.

“People think you are gaining a bit of weight. What can you say about that?”

You like to eat, so what?

“Are you addicted to laxatives?”

Please stop, you think.

The bodyguard roars at the hyenas to move away and he puts a hand on your back, guiding you into the car. The door slams shut and the noise disappears.

In the car, you let out a shaking breath. Your driver, who you recognize, hears you and asks if you’re okay. You smile–that same smile on that Ralph Lauren ad you did a couple of months ago (“Perfect and Pretty”) and nod.

He pushes the button to let the divider rise up, and then you are alone. You start crying, tears falling down your pretty face.

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