Body of work

The sight of a disfigured nose, brick-like skin and non-existent lips as she looked into the mirror, Nikki panned from head to toe. Frightened. Of herself.

A whirlwind of voices engulfed her head as she touched her face with fiddled fingers. Trying to make out the reflection that was staring back at her. Even a pantomime seemed more glorious. Was God playing a cruel joke on her?

Nikki wanted it to end. As she caught her own clouded eyes in the mirror, glistening with the ghost of her past, it all came rushing back to her.

“Tell me I’m beautiful.”

“Your skin glows in the night, even the moon and stars can’t compete. God must’ve been showing off when He created you.”

“Hahaha you know exactly how to butter me up, don’t you. Too sweet, I love you,” said Nikki, smiling from ear to ear as she retreated into Ryan’s arms.

Nikki and Ryan first met in Conversational French classes, which they both attended in college two years ago. Both of them were paired together in class and have been inseparable since.

“Tes yeux, j’en rêve jour et nuit. Tu es pour moi la plus belle, je veux être avec toi…” (I dream about your eyes day and night. You are, for me, the most beautiful, I want to be with you…)

Nikki was used to being the centre of attraction. A head-turner everywhere she went, she basked in pride and came across as a highly confident young woman. She had everything going right in her life. However, this was not enough.

Little did anyone know, Nikki had been plotting to alter her appearance to fulfil her lifelong dream – to become a TV personality. Rejection from her first few auditions dimmed her shine and confidence. Citing that she was rejected because she ‘did not look the part’. Insecurities grew and proved to be too much for her to bear.

Nikki felt that few adjustments to her face would increase her chances and serve her better in the long run.

Vanity is nothing out of the ordinary in the entertainment business. In fact, established stars and celebrities also partake in getting physical enhancements. ‘To increase their shelf life’, so to speak.

“Alright, miss so what we will be doing for you today, is we’re gonna do a facelift to your cheeks, make them slightly higher and more defined. We’re also going to raise your nose bridge and shape your lips so they appear more full.”

Nikki could not believe that after months of waiting, her vision of her newer self would finally become reality.

“Hello, where have you been Nikki? I’ve been trying to contact you since yesterday. Are you alright?”

“Hey I’m fine baby. I’m just out on a short vacation. I need some me-time. It would do me some good. I’ll be back brand new next time I see you, promise. Alright, I have to go now. I’ll call you later, love you.”

As Nikki put down her phone, her eyes grew heavy, she couldn’t feel anything. Numb. In bated breaths, she whispered to herself, “it’ll be worth it.”

A sharp pain throbbed her chest and jolted Nikki back to reality. It wasn’t a dream. The same woman was standing before her. She did not know who that woman was.

It has been more than a week after the surgery. Nothing seemed right. Nikki realized that she had been scammed. It was too late.

She felt exposed. Naked. With nowhere to hide.

“Who is this, I’ve tried so long to fight to be?”

(Phone rings)

[Voicemail: Ryan]

Babe, I missed you. Wrote a song for you, so here it goes. It’s a little raw and unfinished but I hope you like it.

*guitar strums*

Every part of you is a vision of a portrait
Of Mona, of Mona Lisa
Every part of you is beautiful
I hope you see what I see
That you’re a work of art
A masterpiece

Nikki fell to her knees. Deep with regret, she drowned herself in tears. It was her against the world. There was no one to blame, but herself. Just like that, all the light in her life was put out. She now had to face the world in her shadows.

“Accept what God allows, even you when you don’t understand, it’s working for your good.”

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