The Unfair Price of Beauty

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This week, the Little Red Writing Hood prompt at The Red Dress Club asked us to write about how physical beauty can open doors and also shut them. Below is my fictional response.

***

She sat in front of her vanity, at her favorite mirror. Oval, gilded, a little dusty, it was the mirror that made her feel her most confident.

As she applied her rouge with her big, fluffy brush, she smiled.

“Tonight is going to be a good night,” she called out to her husband. She didn’t wait for a response. “Everyone will be there, practically the entire church!”

She picked up her paddle brush and took it to her hair in long, deliberate strokes. She loved the way the ends curled up as they were released from the thick boar bristles. She swore it made her hair shinier than those cheap drugstore brushes. Little things like that made all of the difference.

She spun around on her stool and watched him as he dressed. This was her favorite part of any day; watching him pull on his slacks – those neatly pressed creases he placed just so – and buttoning his freshly starched shirt. Even the way his hands moved gracefully as he tied up his shoes…everything about him was so poetic.

“You’re a poet and don’t even know it!” She giggled to herself. He looked up at her just shook his head. He knew better than to ask her what the hell she was talking about.

As they readied to leave the house, she took one last look in the mirror and ran her hand over the little bump beneath her dress. She smiled. Tonight was the night that they announced the baby. No one knew yet, not even her own parents. It was going to be the highlight of the evening…finally, something to make people stop talking about his affair and their separation.

People in churches loved babies. They loved babies even more than they loved talking hateful shit about her failing marriage behind her back.

She knew what they expected, the church goers that would flock to the Christmas dinner tonight. They expected her to show up alone, as usual. They expected to console her over her impending divorce, to hold her hand and ask how she was doing, why she hadn’t been to church in months.

They would ask her if she had heard from her soon-to-be-ex-husband. They’d ask if she had caught him red-handed, or simply grown tired of the water-cooler gossip about his philandering ways.

And she would smile when they saw them walk in together. She would smile and stick her baby bump out, holding his arm, making it clear that everything was just fine. There were no other women. There was no impending divorce.

There were no more tears, no more bottles of wine in front of the TV, watching every sappy Lifetime movie of the week…there was just this baby. And this happiness.

What she didn’t realize was that the pseudo-sympathy the church goers were showing, it was real sympathy. After years of being that silly woman with the good looks and impeccable taste, she had become human to them in her suffering. They no longer saw the vanity, the high priced clothes, the flashy jewelry – they just saw a sad woman. And they began to love her.

When she walked in that night, instead of rushing to her in a wave of love and support, they saw her, in all of her glory, with her handsome husband by her side, and they hated her once again.

The beautiful woman, with her beautiful husband, and her beautiful life – and now with a beautiful baby on the way. She had it all – why would she need their friendship?

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Comments

  1. says

    I understand this. I have been in church for years and you are right it can be kind of hypocritical. Your post touched on a subject close to my heart and you hit it right on the nail. I could have read much, much more of this story. Great!

    • says

      Thanks for your feedback! I had a hard time STOPPING at the 600 word mark. I am falling in love with writing about this couple!

  2. says

    Wonderful story. I feel bad for her. I’m that pretty girl with the nice clothes that everybody hates too. I feel her pain. :(

  3. says

    I really like the premise of the story. However, I think you should read (or reread) Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. Your story like her’s is all about expectations. I think you should pull me in very close to the protagonist. Let me see the progression from the bad times to the good – show how the woman relies upon the church to help her fix her marriage. She is expecting that people in the church will love and respect her more when her marriage is fixed – lead me down that path . .so that at the end her expectation and mine are twisted by the envious nature of the congregation.

    Just my thoughts.

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