Beauty Treatment by R.T Hardwick

I looked at Vivienne Ross across the long, narrow table in the crowded meeting room. She’d never struck me as being particularly attractive before, but now I saw that, under her thick-rimmed spectacles, she was beautiful. Raven-haired, almond-faced, deep-bosomed, with a ready smile, she was quite enchanting. 

I regretted being a fat, ugly man. She had no spare flesh anywhere, I had buckets of it. The Vivienne Rosses of this world, bright, slim and gorgeous, were as far removed from me as the planet Mercury. I would settle for anyone with a kind word to say about me. 

How can I continue to harbour desires for such women? Look at me - sagging jowls, blotchy face from endless perspiration, lank hair, temples ringed with silver. I wish I didn’t have access to a mirror. Every time I observe myself, I see a dugong in glasses. 

The meeting finished. Only Vivienne and I remained. 

‘You won’t be needing this then.’ 

She spoke to me, addressed me in the second person singular, and laid her pretty hand on the sheet of paper upon which I had been writing. 

‘Won’t I?’ 

‘It’s nothing to do with the meeting. It’s superfluous. You won’t be needing it.’ ‘I-I-I don’t…’ 

‘Let me look at your poem.’ 

‘My poem?’ 

‘I’ve been watching you. I’m a solicitor. I can read upside down. It’s a poem.’ I blushed scarlet. 

‘The meeting was boring. I was doodling.’ 

‘Show me.’ 

I passed my poem across. She read it and smiled. 

‘It’s about me?’ 

‘I was just doodling.’ 

‘You have a gift for poetry. This is charming.’ 

‘Do you think so?’ 

‘Not only that, I’d be happy to.’ 

‘Happy to do what?’ 

‘Go out with you. That’s what this poem is all about, isn’t it?’ 

It wasn’t, but who cares? 

Published in Issue #21

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