Pock marks covered the ceiling like festering boils. Megan tried not to stare long at any of them, less they burst and leave her covered in some foreign substance. She moved to sit on the bed, but a glimpse of the stained duvet sent her to the nearest window.
She surveyed the room. Years ago, the fleur de lis border was probably considered chic. Now, it hung like a birthday sign no one cared to take down. The paint peeled as if recovering from sunburn and left leaden flakes in odd places: atop the dusty headboard, clinging to a lampshade, and swimming in a vase of half-dead flowers.
She squeezed her eyes shut. It’ll be over soon. It’ll be over soon. A jumble of thoughts thwarted her attempt to set the words on mental repeat. Chief amongst them was why she’d yet to leave. Her contact was late. No money had exchanged hands. If she left now it would be with a clear conscience and $1000 to put towards next month’s rent.
Outside, multiple police sirens competed for attention. They too goaded her towards the exit, but her stiletto-clad feet remained planted. The decision was made. She gazed at the fading sun and let it ease the anxiety from her bones.
A notification tone sang out from her purse. A couple of her new posts had several likes, but nothing to get excited about. She flipped through her friend’s posts. The friends of friends posts. Through models that resembled everything she wanted; who had everything she wanted. Megan cycled through the rest and hovered on his name. The name that started it all. Fingers longed to tap the bold letters.
He was the reason. His love was the reason.
She’d worn the words around her neck like a medal; around her body like a winter coat. When the world came against her, she’d pull the collar tight around her neck and settle into its warmth. In retrospect she knew it was meant for someone else. The way the cuffs fell to her knuckles. The way it sagged from her thin frame like loose stockings. She didn’t care. She rolled the sleeves, belted the waist. Made alterations until his love couldn’t be distinguished from her own…and that was the problem.
A knock sounded at the door and the nerves returned. Before she could answer, the door opened and an older woman wearing a fitted, maxi-dress and a nip-tuck face, pushed a small cart through. When the woman stepped back to close the door, Megan’s gaze darted through the contents of the cart. Dixie cups. Syringes. Bottles of unknown fluid. Cotton balls. Band-aids.
“Sign this,” the woman shoved a crumpled piece of paper towards her.
“Wait, nobody said I’d had to sign anything.”
“No sign, no service.”
Megan glanced at the woman. She probably saw women like her all the time. Ugly ducklings looking for a magical transformation. How many had flocked to her in the name of beauty? In the name of love, of being seen. Of being noticed.
The room darkened as the sun prepared to offer a new day to the other side of the world. Megan took the paper. Took the opportunity to create a new day of her own. She pulled a pin from her purse and rested it against the paper as sirens wailed in the distance.
Valeri Beatrix is an author, wife, and mother whose love for the written word is only surpassed by her passion for helping fellow writers. In the spare time she’s able to scrounge up, she adores singing, zoning out on Korean Dramas, and learning new languages. She has written two novels–Love, Business and Stilettos, and Vengeance, Be Mine–both of which can be read on Wattpad.com.