The Price of Beauty

A new operation is available, it will burn your fat and clear your skin, it will shape your face and add shine to your will make you beautiful. But at a cost. Not only is this operation unbelievably expensive, it's extremely dangerous too. The eight-month long process pushes your body to its limits, and can even prove to be deadly.
When Cassie's twin sister Lily turns down the operation Cassie is offered it in her place free of charge. But what is the price of beauty? And is Cassie willing to pay it?


1. One

“The pill itself is extremely effective, I promise,” Dr Sawn assures me, “And the long-term effects of consuming it are...minor. It’s the immediate side-effects that put people off you see, it can be very intense at the beginning, whilst your body is still getting used to it.”

“What sort of side-effects are we talking about here?” I ask, twiddling my thumbs. I think I’m sweating too. I don’t know why I’m here. I shouldn’t be. What would Lily say? I suppose she couldn’t say much without being hypocritical….but what about the others? Tiffany? Elle? Dani? They’ll never forgive me for doing this. Will I even forgive myself for doing this? Of course I will. I want this. I mean, I must, why else would I be here? This is good. This is going to make me happy.

“Well nausea for a start, intense nausea. I suggest you avoid public transport on your way home, walking is probably favourable, that way you can just nip into an alleyway if...well, you get the idea. On top of that there’s fatigue, migraines, blurred vision- oh, and you’ll definitely run a temperature. You probably won’t sleep for the first night either, in fact, your sleeping will be all over the place for at least the next month.”

“That’s quite a long list…”

“Oh you needn't worry,” he cuts me off, “There are all sorts of things we can do to minimise all of though. Paracetamol for a start, you’ll want to take that on a regular basis.”


“You’re doing the right thing you know Cassie,” he tells me, noticing my discomfort, “Just think of how much better things will be at the end of it.”

“I don’t know…” I shake my head, still undecided at heart, “It’s all so risky...what if something goes wrong?”

“That’s what I’m here for, remember?” He reminds me, “It’s my job to keep you safe and healthy throughout the process. You’ll be fine.” I nod, but can’t bring myself to look him in the eye. What am I doing here? I’m such a mess… “Get up.” Dr Sawn instructs me. Slightly confused, I do as he says. “Look in that mirror Cassie, what do you see?”

“I see...myself.” I sigh, “I see my frizzy hair and stubby nose and weird eyes, my stained teeth and bitten lips, my chubby cheeks, my-”

“That’s enough.” He stops me, “Do you know what I see Cassie? I see potential. I can make all of those nasty little things go away and turn you into something magnificent. All it takes is ten months of hard work, and then you’ll be perfect for the rest of your life. Most people pay millions for this Cassie, I’m offering it to you for free! Don’t you see what an amazing opportunity this is? Why are you so apprehensive?”

“It’s just I’ve seen what they’ve said about this in the news and-”

“And nothing.” He interrupts me again, “Those facts are exaggerated. Trust me, this is perfectly safe.” I stare back at my reflection, grimacing. If this goes wrong I won’t be around in ten months time to see my transformation, but if it goes right, oh, if it goes right…

“How long do the effects of the pill last for?” I ask, sitting back down.

“No more than a couple of hours.” Dr Sawn promises me, smiling, glad to see me back on board, “And the first one is the worst, after that you go on a lower dose, most of the side-effects will disappear after a week or so as your body adjusts.”

“My sister won’t be happy.” I wince, thinking back to Lily. What will I say when I’ve told them what I’ve done?

“A lot of people won’t be happy Cassie,” Dr Sawn admits, “People will call you all sorts of things, but I’ll be here throughout to support you. You’ll get through this, I know you will. And you know why?” I shake my head, “Because you’re strong, I can see it, you’ll be just fine.” I sigh, reaching over and taking the small blue capsule out of his hands, resting the pill in my palm.

“If I take this then there’s no going back, is there?” I already know the answer, I just had to ask.

“I’m afraid not.” He nods, “But that’s okay, you won’t want to stop once you’ve started, trust me. Once you start seeing the results you’ll realise how brilliant this is all going to be for you.”

“Right…” I trail off, staring at the capsule, beginning to feel dizzy from glaring at it so hard for so long.

I can do this. Dr Sawn is right. I’ll be okay. This will be good for me. All I have to do is swallow the pill. Just one little gulp and I’ll have done it. From then on they’ll be no more room for me to debate over it, because it will be too late. And then, ten months from now, I’ll look in that mirror and see as truly beautiful being. I’ll be improved. I’ll be stunning. I’ll be-

I don’t bother thinking up another adjective, I grab the water and force the pill down before I can change my mind again, sealing my fate in one firm swallow.

“There, now that wasn’t so hard, was it?” Dr Sawn grins, taking my glass and patting my shoulder, “Now we can really begin. I’ll see you back here at the same time tomorrow, don’t be late.” I nod, getting up and heading towards the door. I feel like I should say something, but I can’t find the words. I think I’m a little bit in shock. I don’t really feel anything either, I’m not happy or relieved or scared or regretful, I’m just sort of...numb.

But then, just as I reach for the doorknob, I feel it. It starts off as an ache in my belly, a small twinge in my stomach and a slight pang of pain in my abdomen. But then the pain grows. It seems to swirl out and escalate across the whole of my body like a sharp electric shock, before centering back in my stomach as a horrific, acute, nauseating’s excruciating. And then it repeats. It grows and spreads, then concentrates back in my stomach, over and over and over and over and...

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