Friday, August 29, 2008

Preparations - A Fantasy


I hardly recognize myself.

I never cared about my beauty. I cared about my intellect, my physical prowess, my ability to control and dominate and intimidate if necessary. I cared about making decisions, influencing events, compelling others to accept and facilitate my vision. I cared about the naked power I could wield and the moments when my enemies recognized that I was not to be denied or overcome or negligently put aside. Yes, I enjoyed their fear: their swift sidelong glances with no ending point because there was no one in my presence who could offer them an alternative to acceptance of my implacable, relentless will.

I cared about speeding through my accomplishments and removing every obstacle that might delay their realization.

Today I need to care about my beauty. For months, surgeons and dentists and quacks of all sorts have fussed over me: examining me, cutting me, rearranging me according to my own master plan, the details of which I have forgotten. I recall only asking that they make me beautiful, telling them what I wanted, inciting their imaginations, inspiring their creativity, giving them their timeline, and watching them try to suppress their shock.

Seemingly, I then gave myself over to them and have had no recourse but to suffer through the indignities, endure the pain, refrain from commenting when scars are slow to heal, and worst, waste time focused on the most trivial of concerns.
I have balanced this unruly exercise with other necessary tasks. While Joubt polishes, buffs, and lacquers my six-inch nails, I order my ministers to remove the unsightly elements along the path to my palace. While Ktempt brushes, oils and curls my hair into ornate loops and twists, I advise my military leaders that their lives may be shorter should the squalling, unsatisfied elements be allowed to visibly gather and voice their protests. I have made sure that everything around me undergoes the same relentless revolution.


Today, within the hour, the guests will begin to arrive. I stand before a full-length mirror curiously. Although I am very short, I appear taller because of the elevated shoes, and the length and cut of the robes I am wearing. The robes are red and yellow silk, with exhaustive embroidery, tiny intricate patterns, and lacy dragons with bits of jade sewn in for eyes. I have been dieted and exercised and my waist is now preternaturally small, even without the lacings of the corset pulled tight. My slender arms are draped with silk to minimize the bulge of muscles thought not to be feminine enough for beauty. The curves of my bust are accentuated with small cushions below them that push them up over the cut of the bodice and create a crevasse between them that is supposedly pleasing. My elaborate hair rises above my brow and curves and dips and sways most pleasingly although it is so heavily glued together that it would remain intact even in a strong gale.

As I gaze, my face stops me. Every day for all these years I have looked briefly at the same face, changing as it aged, but safe in its sameness. I am accustomed to the close set eyes; the large knob in the middle of my crooked nose; the scar on my right cheek caused when a nursemaid carelessly dropped me (her last action on earth); the too thin lips framing an assortment of uneven, yellow teeth; the overly prominent chin complete with a hairy wart; and the ears that stuck out like open doors on either side of my pock-marked cheeks.

My new eyes are tinted a deep green and outlined in black. The lashes are hugely long and curled. Above them, my brows are shaped so they curve gently and delicately taper at the ends to form a graceful arch. The landscape of my nose has changed. It is smooth and narrow and elegantly leads from the depth of my gaze to full lips which, when I part them, reveal shining white teeth standing erect and straight next to one another (surely this was the most painful of my transformations) like tiny soldiers lined up for inspection. My skin, wart gone, scar hidden after weeks of grafting using skin from my inner thigh (which is perhaps oddly the one place that still pains me), is flawless, pores tiny, blemish-free, covered lightly in a white powder that gives me an air of fragility and delicacy. My ears lay nicely flat against my head, which so transforms me that I gaze at that alone for many long minutes.

I didn't realize how ugly I was.

2 comments:

Tom n Steph said...

Pretty powerful... and unexpected story. Not that I wouldn't expect excellent writing from my Ma, but I didn't expect to see it on margotrowforthegold :)

Anyway, I love the descriptions... everything in detail and almost so much that each minute description is fighting for the spotlight. It's like reading a Fennimore Cooper novel, the trees are painted vibrantly to each chip of bark and each needle of pine.

More!

Julia Shumway said...

Oh my, you certainly have good taste! LOL. See you tomorrow.