Fashion By D.I. Jolly

It was 3 o’clock in the morning when the rain started to gently patter against Robert’s window and he thought.

“Why do I keep doing what I do?”

But as soon as the thought was done, it was gone, and he turned back to the woman in front of him, his knives and his work.

Her name was Amanda and she had wanted to be beautiful. She wanted to be like the women she saw on TV and in magazines, and had reached out to him for the cheap alternative form of beauty. They both knew that self-acceptance was really the best and cheapest way to do it. But that road was full of speedbumps and she couldn’t get passed the idea that if he removed them for her, she would only then be able to accept herself. Only then would she have the confidence to be truly beautiful.

And he wanted to help her, genuinely. But he knew that it didn’t really matter how perfect he made her nose, how natural looking her fake boobs were. The more of her he cut away and replaced, the more flaws she would see in herself, and the less attractive she’d feel on the inside. Or at least, that was what usually happened to the women on his operating table.

At 6 o’clock he finished and handed her over to the nurses. Then he made sure everything was in place, that nothing had been overlooked, no equipment was missing, and then made sure she was kept safe and stable so that the healing could begin. The physical healing, at least.

It would take some time, first the swelling would need to go down, then the stitches would need to be checked, again. Her heart, kidneys and liver would be monitored as her body was flooded with antibiotics designed to stave off any potential infections.

Amanda went home after two weeks, and in that time, Robert had carved up and reassembled 10 other women. Each unique in their beauty when they arrived, each identical when they left. Everyone was satisfied, no one was happy.

He didn’t want to make them copies of each other, but that seemed to be what they wanted. It was what they asked for when they came to him. It was as though they all saw a beautiful dress in a shop window and all came in to buy it. They all wanted to sparkle in the same beautiful dress. Row upon row of women all asking to be made to look the same so that they could stand out in the crowd.

And each time he’d offer alternatives, suggest variations or a more natural balance between how they looked and how they wanted to look. And each time the discussion ended at the same place, the same look, the same face, boobs, hair, and the same thought.

“Why do I keep doing what I do?”

For Amanda, it took a few weeks before she really saw the difference in the mirror. The permanent difference. Her brain recognised the marks and the swelling as temporary, recognised something of herself in the eyes, and was happy and excited to see what the true results would be. When she finally began to see it, to see the face she’d always dreamed of having look back at her from the mirror, she squeaked with excitement. As if she’d just run into her favourite movie star. Everyday for the next week she was excited to go back to the mirror and see her new face again, each day a bit better, each day a bit further down the path of healing.

Then back to the doctor for a final check, a final review and a final removing of bandages and supports so that she could go fresh faced and beautiful out into the world. Her world, the world she would now be able to conquer with her beautiful face, her perky boobs, and her elegant hips. No more speedbumps on the road to self-acceptance.

Except that wasn’t how it worked, that was never how it worked, and Robert knew it. He knew it when they walked into his office, he knew it when they explained their justifications for wanting surgery, he knew it when they hugged and thanked him for his work, his efforts and his care.

It took Amanda three days before she screamed when, half asleep, she didn’t recognise the person in her mirror. And then she cried when she remembered who it was, and who it wasn’t. It was what she looked like, but it wasn’t, apparently, who she was. It hadn’t magicked away the voices of her mother, and the people from school out of her head. It hadn’t cleared away the speed bumps in her road. It had just hung a mirror in front of them so that now all she could see was her new face, and her past. With no clue of what bumps were up ahead, or what would trip her up next.

To Robert’s pleasant surprise, Amanda wasn’t one of the women who tried to sue him or ask him to undo what he’d done. Which gave him some hope that maybe she’d manage, but he also knew that together they’d only made her life harder.

Or maybe it just meant that she was actually as shallow and vain as she thought she was, and that having a pretty face had solved her problems. He didn’t know, he tried very hard not to care, and for a lack of anything better to do, he continued to do his job. He made beautiful women average, because they couldn’t see the beauty of themselves, only the beauty of other people.

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