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Shabnam examined her appearance in the mirror. Flowing curly black hair, a sharp slightly under-pronounced nose, thick pink lips, large hazel eyes — she was pleased. Smiling to herself— big white teeth, with a slight overbite, which made her even more attractive — she beamed with pride. She knew she would win.

She was aware of how beautiful she was, how much she was desired in that way. She perceived the power her face held. Crowds of people would stop and stare when she entered a room, and she luxuriated in every minute of it. She would win the pageant, hands down, and finally be openly declared the most beautiful girl in La La Land....

Beep! Beep! Beep! — SMACK! "What the... 6:20am... God, not another day. Anything but another day. Nine more minutes. Shabnam why do you torture yourself this way? Get up and finish this day."

As she threw off the covers and headed for the bathroom she stopped to check herself in the mirror - they were still there, all 32 pock-mark scars covering her two cheeks and forehead. It's funny, even after 20 years of carrying around the marks of her childhood, she checked every morning to see if magically, at least one had disappeared. And then she counted..."Yup all accounted for."

She was aware of how beautiful she was, how much she was desired in that way.

Tonight, she decided, she would get laid. As has happened before, approximately 35 1/2 times, some average Karim off the street will tell her how beautiful she is, bed her, whisper lovely charms in her ears, and leave her lying in a bed of blissful tears. The tears were always worth it for Shabnam... anything to feel desired, if only momentarily.

There was the time when that light haired, short, heavy fellow threw a blanket over her face so he wouldn't have to look at her ugliness - her large protruding nose, deep inset eyes, lips barely existent - "disgusting and gross" were the chaps words. He rode her for at least 10 minutes, but Shabnam didn't cry. She bit her quivering lower lip and pretended to enjoy it. "Oh, pish posh, one guy, one time. Big deal."

Tonight he would be handsome — tonight he would take her away from the world that she disgusted...for good.

As Shabnam brushed her teeth and stared through her own image in the mirror, she recalled how she was taunted as a child, and how her neighbor would touch her. But that's not why she is the way she is, at least that's what she tells herself. It's her face. Shabnam knows that being 'ugly' has made her an easy target all of her life... that somehow she deserves the jokes made at her expense. Nonetheless, she will never understand why the world despises her so, why her own mother wants nothing to do with her.

Slipping off her robe and entering the steaming shower she reflects on her lifetime mission to prove her relatives and 'friends' wrong: spending lust-filled nights with men who no one would think she would have a chance with. Shabnam was aware that, in a world that revolves around screws and blow-jobs, she reigned queen... the thought of being a 'queen' of any sort made her smile to herself.

Love? She's never known it, never shown it. Oh yeah, getting ready for least she enjoys her job. It's a place to go - nice desk, own computer, big money in the bank - blah blah blah.

Shower... exit. Make-up... not worth it. Blow dry short short hair — dry dry. Clothes - wear best red power suit... shortest skirt, highest heels, sheerest nylons. Eat, drink... coffee, bagel. Finest jewellery today... gold, diamond, gold. What the hell maybe just a touch of lipstick... definitely blood red. Okay, ready.

She remembers how much she loves the world when she sleeps and dreams... how she is always the one who wins.

Time to go... wait, wait... wash dishes... scrub scrub, rinse rinse — everything in order... okay. Proceed. Open closet, pick up brief case. Open. Pistol. Insert mouth. Fire. Sleep.

Handprint design by Sherazad Jamal.
Redux Handprint
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Sharan Gill contributed to Rungh Magazine Volume 4 Number 4 - The Journeys Issue.
Rungh Redux Winner 2022 Award of Merit Innovative Practice
Rungh Redux Winner 2022 Award of Merit Innovative Practice
Britannia Art Gallery
Britannia Art Gallery
Bookhug Press
Bookhug Press
Plantation Memories
Plantation Memories
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