Pretty Ugly

Imagine a world without imperfection, no flaws, no errors or anything classified as a mistake. A society where beauty is more important than the individual. The law states that if you look at a Pretty while you're still transforming into one and you'll be imprisoned. Disobey a Pretty and you die. --- After a project called 'Deus Ex' spirals out of control, raises the question whether humanity's reach has exceeded its grasp.

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2. Solitaire

We must not see a person as an abstraction. 

Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its unique secrets,

with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish,

and with some measure of triumph.

- Elie Wiesel

 


I lost track of time. It was already dark when I heard a knock on the door. And thereupon, I took a lamp in my hand and approached gingerly to the metal door. Holding the lamp aloft, I looked through the glass to find out who it was and put the knife that I unconsciously took aside on the table. 

It was Aria, my young sister. She wore a black retro dress and a pair of the new technologically advanced glasses - that allows people to navigate the internet and have virtual conversations. Her muddy boots left dirt on the carpet, but the carpet already filtered it away and turned it into nothing.

               "You do know how to keep a house clean," she said sarcastically.

                "No thanks to you!" I retorted. We'd never gotten along.

                "Why are you here?" I asked bitterly. Whenever Aria comes something bad happens.  

                "Even though you were adopted, you are still my sister and I care about you." She replied while putting her glasses away near the knife.

                "Do you know what could happen to us if they saw us together?" I said reassuringly as I walked back to the kitchen. She didn't respond because she already knew the answer.

                "Did my dad ever tell you why he adopted me?"

                "He is in his own little world, what makes you think he would confide such a secret with me?" She looked at me as if I had hit my head on something (or maybe I did).

She started walking around and rolled her eyes when she saw the destroyed living room.

                "Do I need to know what happened here?" Said Aria after studying the entire living room. 

                 Afterwards she examined a dress I've left on the floor and that I've ruined. "Hey this bronze dress is mine! What happened to it?"

                 I led her to the door. "I think you should go, I want to be left alone."

                 Still holding the dress, "I ..." she uttered, but I didn't let her finish.

I'm numbly staring at the isometric drawing across the hallway. It depicts a not too distant future. I got it when I turned sixteen from my ex-boyfriend. The light slanted on the frame revealed another side of the picture. On the lower right corner, the artist had signed his masterpiece in gold. 

When did I become so eccentric and solitary? Aria dared once to call me 'socially irrelevant', perhaps she speaks the truth. But I do know that I've become less interesting because of the seemingly poor choice I've made.

For starters, I'm not what you think I am.

Minutes after a baby is born, his body is placed into a machine in which it undergoes several simultaneous changes. They are tiny unnoticeable mutations at first, until you realize it's too late to go back. The first change begins with the withdrawal of the human skin to better synthesized tissue layers which occurs at the age of fifteen. The second stage is the face, they stick in plastic cheekbones so you look like everybody else. The final and most painful stage of augmentation is the removal of the human parts such as arms, legs and the new addition of vision enhancement plus fuller lips, - processes monitored by the government which must be done before or months after you turn sixteen - an entire metamorphosis in order to be accepted in society. I didn't complete any of the stages. Unlike my friends, I refuse to become a Pretty. My mother was murdered because of their rules and as a result my whole family was torn apart. 

Those who are neither a Pretty nor an Ugly are known as middle pretties - like Aria my sister, though she's half way there. I'm considered abnormal.

I'm pretty Ugly before their eyes. I don't exist in society unless I become a problem.

Being an Ugly isn't a problem though, kissing and talking to someone who isn't, that's when the police intervenes.

It all started with a perfect simple kiss. Sometimes, I think that if I had to choose between that memorable perfect kiss and a possible death, I'd choose the kiss all over again.

 

I was on my way to the annual masquerade ball that was being hosted by the wealthiest guy in town, Dmetrei my ex-boyfriend.

My dress, a floor length bronze silk gown beset with brass multi-color pearls and a matching mask that covered half my face. The make-up on my body was a camouflage to hide my ugly human skin and lips embellished with a tint of red rouge. My blonde hair was twisted behind my head into a bun style.

From afar his house seemed like a medieval castle.

As I made my way alongside a path lit by a few post lights, the sun hid behind one of the tall towers. Cold scuds sent artificial leaves skittering down from the treesThe night slowly turned coal black and I've been waiting for the moon to come out.

               "Name?" The gate inquired to make sure I was on the list.

               "Jessy Wood." I lied. Jessy used to be my best friend back in high school. My real name is Trinity Reed.

               The gate opened wide. "You may proceed."

I held up my gown with both hands to avoid stumbling and gently walked towards the group of Pretties.

It was impossible not to stare at their beautifully constructed faces. Their eyes shone like diamonds when the rotating disco ball ejected its blinding lights and changed color when their mood shifted. All the Pretty schoolgirls chattering and blissfully unaware of my dim presence. I was the only girl wearing a mask. I suppose I understood why they didn't even attempt to hide their flawless faces.

The DJ suddenly began to play a classical waltz song called The Blue Danube. Everyone stood up and started choosing their partners except me. I was left behind right in the middle of the dance floor.  For a moment I thought of leaving the ball, but someone grabbed my hand before I had the chance to escape. It was Dmetrei who had dared to dance with me.

Dmetrei's suit was deep gray velvet, his shirt, vest, and tie all glowing white. His perfectly symmetrical face made him appear like an angel. My skin prickled by simply looking into his eyes. He spun me once, then twice and I accidentally stepped on his right foot - a disadvantage of being an Ugly is the inability to dance properly. He let me go for  two seconds and as soon as he approached me again, his eyes turned blue with hints of white. I couldn't resist gazing at his astounding eyes and wavy brown hair. Is this a dream? I asked myself. All the Pretties danced to  the rhythm of the waltz and my incongruous dancing was already drawing the attention of others.

                 Then, I heard a couple of Pretties giggling. Apparently a girl was yelling outside because the robot guardian wouldn't let her come inside.

                 "It's me! Jessy. Common on guys, let me in!" The real Jessy Wood shouted with all her might.

Then, I realized my cover would be blown off sooner than I expected.

                Dmetrei finally talked to me, "Are you alright?"

                "I'm fine." I replied with a fake cough.

                 Dmetrei retained his gaze on my scar."How did you get that scar on you shoulder?" He inquired. 

                He looked startled all of a sudden. "Trinity? Is that you behind that mask?" he paused briefly, "when did you become one of us?"

I didn't plan my justification as well as I should have. I just kept dancing gracelessly.

                 "Unless," he whispered.

                  I spoke softly almost regretfully. "I needed to see you one more time."

                  "Do you really miss me?" He asked while fixing his white tie.

                  I took a big risk by coming here and he's still oblivious of my secret. "Of course. I'm here. Aren't I?" 

                  "Kiss me." He murmured even though in my head it sounded more like a demand.

                  "I can't ..." I replied but instead of dislodging the next words, they stayed there on the tip of my tongue.

Instead, I pressed my lips against his seemingly vulnerable cheek, leaving a red mark. Then, he grabbed  me and wrapped his arm around my waist. For a few seconds, he held me close until his wish was finally fulfilled. My bronze mask unexpectedly fell off. He opened his eyes and took a step back after seeing my awful human skin and blue eyes and the make-up that had already vanished. The music stopped playing.

From the corner of my eye, I saw a couple of Pretties gasp and some even screamed the word Ugly. The rest of them fled because they knew what could happen to them if the police found out.

               The alarm went off. "Please, exit with precaution." The talking machine had been activated. At the sound of screams and the alarm, a new sensation began. The feeling that giant insects crawled on my skin.

                Dmetrei's eyes filled with horror. "Run." He mumbled. 

I counted to three in my head and began to run hesitantly but when I looked back to see Dmetrei's face one last time, he was already gone. I was feeling dizzy and the corridor stretched as I ran towards the exit door. My feet stumbled on the long gown. Then, I ripped it in half so that I could run faster. I was almost there when I felt the unpleasant sting of a needle shot in the back. My body resembled a dying plant, slowly withering away.

 

 

 

 

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