Being Pretty: A Horror Story

“Beauty is not the price you pay to live in this world”
Image by Joanna

I woke up, breathing heavily. Cold sweat matted my hair down on my sticky face. My t-shirt clung to my back and chest, what happened? I thought. I tied my hair back and I tried to breathe, slowly, softly, until my breath wasn’t raspy anymore. I pulled off my covers and scrambled out of bed. Climbing the ladder down my bunk bed, I looked down at the bottom bunk. My sister wasn’t there. She had probably woken up and gone running outside like she did every morning. My older sister was a tall, skinny girl with beautiful soft features. She had a small button nose and had delicately curled eyelashes around her big brown eyes. She was pretty and everyone knew it.

I walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I had always aspired to be like my sister. My gorgeous and smart sister. Yet, I looked at my frame. Not chubby, not skinny, somewhere in between. Normal. Plain. Boring. Maybe if my lips were a bit bigger or if my hair was a bit longer, maybe then, I’d get second glances on the bus to school or on the streets, just like my sister. I splashed cold water on my face, brushed my teeth and changed out of my clothes into mom jeans and a light blue and white striped t-shirt. I went downstairs into the kitchen to say hello to my mom. She usually wakes up at five to pray and spends the rest of the morning cooking and cleaning. “Mama-” I began, but nobody was in the kitchen.

The kitchen was still messy from last night’s movie we all watched. An open box of pizza was still on the kitchen counter, dishes were still in the sink and tiny crumbs of popcorn were still on the floor. The living room was empty too. There were blankets thrown all over the brown sofa, just like how we had left it last night. Maybe everyone had slept in and was tired, I thought. I went back upstairs and checked all the rooms and bathrooms. All the rooms were still messy and untidy. My little brother’s toy car collection was still on the room on his floor. Pillows were still tossed on the bed and bedsheets were still ruffled, as if someone had been there but had scurried out of bed in a rush. But there was no one. Oh gosh… Where was everyone?

city, bed, and sky image

I put on my shoes and went outside. A strong yet warm summer breeze greeted me. Dead sunset-colored leaves pirouetted in the wind. Dark grey clouds had cloaked the sky, while a little bit of light peeked through them. The park next to our house was empty. Usually, there were always kids there, especially on Saturday mornings like today. The swings creaked and whistled as they gently moved. The sand in the playground spun and spun and spun like a tiny tornado. Where is everyone? I thought. Maybe it’s a terrible joke?

glow and pale image

The streets seemed long and empty. Nobody was walking their dog or was having a family day out. No baby was laughing or even crying. Because there was no one. There was only me.
I knocked on my neighbour, Mrs. Cook’s door. Nobody answered. I tried the doorbell, even though I knew it didn’t work but still nobody answered. I looked up, to her half open bedroom window. Wind entered her room and sweetly caressed her white curtains.

house, night, and moon image

The streets were deserted and hushed. The pathways seemed to stretch onto different worlds, endlessly and purposelessly. I walked past desolate grocery stores with abandoned carts in the small parking lot at the sides. Leaves crunched beneath my feet and wind made shackled doors of houses rattle. The breeze had picked up a slow tune, which lulled me into a sleepy melody.

Inspiring Image on We Heart It

Suddenly, my body jolted and shuddered. A voice. A sickeningly sweet voice was singing with the wind. It was quiet, but hit all the high notes perfectly.

“She cried at night but no one knew… No one knew…”

A precious voice. The words smelled like cinnamon and spice, a melody for the leaves that fall asleep in autumn, breaking off of crooked trees and floating down to the ground until they disappear within the dirt and grass.

”She danced under the stars but no one saw… No one saw…”

A girl with her back facing towards me stood still and stared out at the bare road ahead of her.

”No one knew… No one saw…”

“Um, excuse me?” I asked her.

The singing stopped and her shoulders hunched. “Um, are you okay?” I asked, “Are you alone, too?”

Her shoulders slowly relaxed and with her back straight, she turned around. My heart stopped. I recognized the beauty mark on her left cheek and the way her eyebrows were sharply arched over her eyes. I recognized the look she gave me before a sedate smile overtook her face, flashing a dimple from her right cheek. She was me. But she had no eyes. Empty sockets stared back at me like deep swallows of a black hole. Ever so slowly, her seductive smile turned into a pout, “What?” she said, “You don’t like me?... You don’t like you?”

“No, it’s just that- I mean,” I fumbled for words, “Your eyes…”

“What is that shit they say.. ‘beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’... but how would we see someone if we can’t, technically, see them?”

She wasn’t me. No way. This was unreal, crazy, out of my mind.

She-me-her whatever stepped closer to me. “Maybe if you were a little skinnier…” she crowed in a raspy voice. With a snap of her fingers, my body began to shrink. I could feel my collarbones and every bone in my face getting sharper until I could easily graze every bump and angle in my face. My knuckles were white and my skin was grey. All my fat had dissolved, there was only a thin coat of skin on my body. I stared at her, she had become my reflection.

“What-” I stuttered, “what are you doing?”

She ignored me and took a step closer to me. I stepped back, she grabbed my hand with her cold hands and stared at my face. “If only,” she said slowly, “if only your hair was longer…”

“Oh goodness, N-n-no,” I stammered. But she had already snapped her fingers. I felt my skull pull back, my hair tumbled and grew over the roads, over the trees, past the grocery stores and abandoned shopping carts. “Okay, enough. Stop,” I said fiercely, “Where’s my mom? Where’s my sister?”

“Oh, they’re not here,” her-my smile spread over her red lips, green eyes sparkled viciously and her-my black hair looked like sheets of silk that wrapped the grass and blanketed the dead leaves. “It’s only you, now,” she pointed behind me, I turned around. A few meters away from me was a billboard advertising diet pills. A bony girl with greyed skin smiled blankly with her hollowed eyes. She was me. “What have you… done?” I asked her.

She snickered, “You asked for it.”

I swiftly swiveled around and made way to run rapidly towards home. Or whatever home had become. Shock chilled my spine and my hands trembled. I tried to sprint but my hair was tangled in the trees and over the roads. I couldn’t see anything with my hair enveloping the land. But I ran and as I moved, my hair ripped from my head painfully and fell. My hair fell everywhere. I ran past stores and I saw my face on all the posters. I ran past the local news stations and saw myself on tv. I had that crooked deep red smile of mine and I was laughing. A shrill laugh that rung in my ears, that I had longed for my whole life. A very sweet, very very shrill laugh pierced the city. I ran past houses, inside, I was cooking for a child or I was the child playing outside. Dark silhouettes faced me, I ran past them. I was a child. I was a parent. I was a Hollywood movie star. I was a basketball player. My face was everywhere, I was no longer a silhouette, but everyone else was. My hair was falling, falling falling…

hell image

I madly threw open the door to my house and raced upstairs, into the hallway, but my mind was betraying me. My room at the end of the hallway stretched farther and farther while the hallway expanded. All the mirrors in the hallways burst into shattered pieces of glass. I covered my face with my hands to protect myself. I felt tiny specks of glass prick my hands and pelt my ribs and legs. Shrill laughter. Hollowed eyes. Empty roads. And my reflection. My heart was going to burst from fear.

black, dress, and model image

Echoes of cackling laughter played over and over like a glitching record in my ears. And then, I heard a click.

Everything blacked out.

Based on a dream I once had.
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Happy halloween, hearters!

- Leyla