Where there is beauty, there is a sense of entitlement, for beauty rarely goes undisturbed. It rises from birth, as cells align, configuring into handsome symmetry — thin-sloped nose, doe eyes, swollen lips — readying themselves for their strong, gravitational pull. It is intuitive, tangible. And utterly lazy.
I knew this before most, preferring the quiet canvas, drawn to one’s ability to hide in plain sight.
She sat alone, stabbing at her iceberg salad with a dull longing, her alabaster cheeks blooming red like old wounds as she ate. I saw her vagueness as a gift, along with her damp, downcast eyes, the round pitch of her jaw, reminding me of an unfinished sketch, pencil lines stopping midway, pulled in wistful directions. But unlike most ordinary girls, she framed her features into questions with no clear answers, stoking an unwilling to accept her fate. Questions like: who was she that day, with her eyes lined heavily in kohl, lips suggestive in a fleshy pink? Who was she willing to become?
She was, in essence, looking for someone to fill in the blanks she had created.
“What a beautiful scarf,” I said, approaching, pointing at the twist of green and gold threads.
She hadn’t noticed me watching her on the opposite side of the food court outside, drawing a crowd of professionals from neighboring buildings, businessmen I would turn into clients, recording their fetishes and kinks with secretarial skill. In this regard, she was like many other women stumbling through life, unaware of the shadows, still drawn to high school cool, the girls who grew cold and stale upon graduation, pale creatures, bloating with time and distance. Today, it was the medical assistants she’d been watching, smoking their cigarettes, held between acrylic nails, filed into points and painted with dizzy patterns. Huddled together in their colorful scrubs, they looked like alleycats, tugging at their gold hoop earrings, digging their clawed fists into their hips that would widen without the pinching reminder of elastic.
“Thank you,” she said, pulling at her scarf, as if it had snaked its way around her neck. She rested her plastic fork on her napkin, gesturing for me to sit, and together we struck up a conversation.
She was my first recruit, the beginning piece as I learned to cultivate charm and disarm even the most skeptical ladies.
Only then did I have a vague idea, I was creating an empire.
Flash Fiction/Character Sketch
by S. S. Hicks