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Drop Dead, Gorgeous
I remember waking up feeling heavier than usual. My arms and legs felt stiff, and I was dead cold. Still, all my senses worked. I could see my room, hear the sounds of the busy city, and taste the flavor of morning breath. It was like being in a haze, like one of those out-of-body experiences. Every part of me felt like it was asleep. It felt like thousands of needles were pricking me at the same time; they wouldn't stop. I sluggishly walked over to the bathroom and looked into the mirror. Who was that strange creature looking back at me?
It was the summer of 2404; I was twenty six and working two jobs as a barista at Starbucks and a waitress at a local restaurant. Being in my "prime,” I thought I had my whole life ahead of me, but no one really knows the future. I was just the average outgoing, fun, happy woman. My only fear was age. Being twenty six and unmarried is the average woman's biggest worry, and it certainly was at the top of my list. In this year it seemed like all the men were after those fresh, young women. The same ones who would drink apple martinis, wear mini skirts and low cut shirts, and dance on table tops. These days, it seemed like sophisticated older women just weren't in demand. Women like me weren’t as desired. Age was no longer hot. But was this true? Or was it just in my head? Was it just what society wanted me to think?
While working at Starbucks, I had overheard a conversation about this new whole-body makeover. Supposedly, a new advancement in technology led plastic surgeons and researchers to create a serum that put all aging to a halt. Not only that, but I could look ten years younger. Doctors claimed, "It's the miracle procedure of the future,” and "It's redefining perfection." I was immediately intrigued.
After getting home to my apartment, I googled the new practice and learned that it was quite expensive. Working at Starbucks and being a waitress didn’t really bring in the money. Luckily, my father always taught me to save for the future. It seemed like it was about time I put that money to good use, to use it in a way that would truly make me happy. I collected all the money I had in my savings account and borrowed money from some friends. That night I fell asleep easier than I normally did.
The buildings seemed to attract and capture the heat on that scorching day. I walked down the street observing my surroundings. People walked by me, and their eyes looked right through me. It was devastating.
I was headed to the plastic surgeon’s wing of the Buttersmith Hospital. The building was very inviting. It was a creamy white, and the door, that door that would forever change my life, was a soft red. I held my breath and walked in. A blast of refreshing, cool air hit my face. The office had white sofas and a deep purple carpet. Approaching the window, the secretary began to speak. She was wearing a dark-green shirt.
"Hello, how may I help you?" she asked, smiling.
"My name is Emilie Victor. I have an appointment with Dr. Denver today." I began to shake.
"Okay, right.” She shuffled with some files.” Well, he's ready for you right now. You can come right in, and I’ll bring you to him."
Again I saw another door, and this one was colored a deep red. I was escorted down a long and narrow hallway. On both sides of the hallway were several doors, most of them were open. We stopped in front of one of them, Room 18.
"Here we are, Miss Victor. Dr. Denver will be right with you."
When the doctor came in, he told me to put on my robe while he got a wheeling bed to bring me to the operating room. I did what was instructed.
I sat and waited in the operating room, an IV in my hand. I had a feeling of worry and danger, but I ignored it. While I was under the knife, my whole body was rewired. A large dose of age-stopping serum was injected into the tissues of my body. This would result in my blood flow and heart rate slowing down. It would also spread throughout my body, coating my organs to prevent them from the effects of aging. My bones would become stronger, and my senses keener. Plus, my skin would tighten and would have a healthy glow. When I came out, I was a totally different person, inside and out.
After being a little dizzy and woozy, I was able to leave. While exiting, I realized the world seemed to be different. The sun was shinning brighter, and the younger girls just didn’t seem to look that great anymore. I felt better than them; my head lifted a little higher once I left. As far as I could tell there weren’t any scars or marks. It was a worry-free procedure, and I had no regrets about spending all that money. Little bimbos no longer intimidated me. I was on top of the world.
Three months later without any warning, I hit rock bottom. It came up suddenly. I didn’t’ have any side effects of the surgery until then. I realized that strange creature in the mirror was my very own reflection. I stood there, shocked. How did this happen? Every ounce of my body felt heavy, like I had swallowed bowling balls. I was slouched and tired. My skin had a silver tint, and I could no longer bend my arms or legs. My eyes were slightly glazed over, and I looked and felt completely dead, except for a strange tingle.
I completely covered up, waddled out the door, and headed out towards the hospital. The deep red door no longer looked inviting. Instead, it looked like on the other side there would be danger. I figured nothing worse could happen, so I walked in. In my right hand, I carried a small hand gun. It’s smooth, cold metal soothed my hot hand.
"Hi, I'd like to speak to Dr. Denver," I said nervously. I could feel myself shaking now.
"Alright, I'll have him come out." She walked away.
I was furious. I had everything planned out for what I wanted to say.
"Miss Victor, how are you doing?” He seemed concerned.
"Hi. I'd like to talk to you about this...” I kept my hand on the trigger while I pulled off the hood of my jacket to show him the ugliness.
"My God, what happened? Do you need some reconstruction done?" he asked.
He didn't recognize me at all. But then again, I barely did.
"No, actually, I had your procedure done, the one to end all effects of aging... and now for some reason, I look like this. Do you mind explaining this to me?"
"I'm sure it's just minor complications with the procedure you had done. I was a little shocked that you actually wanted this done. You see this surgery had several complications, several effects that could go wrong, and I think you got the worst of it.”
Hearing the doctor say "minor complications" made me want to explode. Instead of walking away and being silenced, I acted on my emotions, pulling the gun out and aiming it at Doctor Denver. Believing I was doing everyone a favor, I pulled the trigger. I heard screams and saw a color that matched the door. The doctor fell to the floor. I stared in shock, afraid of what I had done, and who I had become. I ran out of the hospital to the safety of my house.
While walking down the street after the incident, everyone started at me. Mothers hid their children from my presence, and teenagers pointed and laughed. For many blocks I was ridiculed.
I covered all the mirrors and windows in my apartment, turned off all the lights, and sat on my bed. The room was dark and melancholy. It was silent. I could only hear my own swallowing and breathing, both harder than what was normal. Living in the city, everyone has some way to escape from the craziness, some form of protection to keep them sane; mine was that small hand gun that I kept in a box underneath my bed. The gun was now in my hand. I sat staring at my escape. My form of security would now be the weapon that would hurt and save me. Its cold metal soothed my hot hand. In a shallow world like the one I was living in, the world wasn’t big enough for the weak, but it also seemed like the world wasn’t big enough for those who weren’t drop-dead gorgeous. I decided it was no longer big enough for me.