Beauty is in the Eye
Mitchell drove them out to the sprawling, abandoned house that the party was set to take place in. It was some old property the host’s family had recently acquired. Lit up as it was, it hardly seemed to scream haunted house, which was the theme of the party. Sure, it was rundown and ill maintained, but nothing worse than some houses that people actually lived in.
Marie adjusted her dress self consciously. The skirt was ridiculously short, the top low cut and cleavage baring. Not that she had much cleavage to work with. Even so, it just seemed like too much to her. It was accessorized by fishnets, little black pumps, and a chunky, ugly cross necklace. Alyssa had even talked her into painting her nails black. The only thing that broke the monotonous black of her outfit was a thick silvery gray sash around her waist. It was tight, revealing and uncomfortable, but she felt pretty enough.
Alyssa beside her was a vision of beauty, as always. She wore a layered, sheer gauzy dress, which flowed from her form in a suggestive way. Her make up gave her a pale, gaunt, yet still attractive appearance. “I’m a ghost!” She’d announced back at their dorm room when she’d finished with her face.
They were fashionably late. There was already a press of bodies in the first cavernous room. Alyssa had given Mitchell a waggle of her fingers and begun dragging Marie off through the crowd. “I’ll find you as soon as I’m done!” Marie hollered back to Mitchell over the noise. “I promise!”
Much of the the night was a blur. Alyssa knew everyone and introduced her around. Much to Marie’s surprise Alyssa drank, quite heavily and pushed Marie to do the same. It wasn’t long till her slight form was saturated with alcohol and she felt the need to protest loudly when she was pushed to consume more. Luckily by this point Alyssa was too far gone to care. Marie slipped from her clutches. She stood outside one of the rooms, leaning on a wall.
“Heeey! Alyyysssa!” a drunk frat boy, covered in very smeared fake blood slurred as he staggered down the hall. She clung to the wall, the room spinning and blinked at the moron.
“Alyssa’s my friend, you idiot.”
“What evs babe! You didn’t care when I was moaning ‘Alyssa’ into the back of your head!” He chuckled, fingering a long strand of her hair.
Her stomach lurched as flicker of a memory of him groping her in some room earlier in the night hit her.. She gave him a nasty look. “Get off me, you pig!” She snapped, pushing off him and staggering down the hall, the opposite way he’d come. Her head spun furiously, and all she wanted was to find a bathroom. She ran her fingers along the peeling wall paper, eventually finding a room that looked promising. There weren’t very many people at this end of the house, much to her relief.The bathroom, surprisingly was empty. Not that she really cared if anyone heard her retching into the toilet. That was not an unusual occurrence at these kinds of parties.
She entered the poorly lit room. It was more a washroom than bathroom. The paint was peeling and there was an infestation of mold and mildew climbing up the walls. This room felt more like a haunted house than the rest of the sprawling, dilapidated manor. The room was only rocking now, no longer spinning. She stood clutching the sink staring into the mirror. Her makeup was smudge and nearly non-existant. She wiped the last lingering traces from her mouth.
Her outfit was a mess, and she wondered at what point she’d gotten so rumpled. The sash at her waist had shifted and barely hung around her hips. It was a wonder she hadn’t lost it. She pulled it loose, looking up into the mirror once more. She started, there was a figure in the reflection behind her.
“Oh my god, Alyssa! You scared me!” She exclaimed without turning. She worked instead to straighten her outfit, noticing bruises all along her upper arm. Now when had that happened? Goopy fake blood was smeared across her dress, her arms, and she even found a faint trace on her thighs. Had that frat boy really rubbed up against her that much?
“Look at you.” Alyssa cooed. “Aren’t you pretty?”
The question shot shivers down her spine. Marie glanced back up at the reflection of her friend, confused. “What?”
“Even all smudged, and rumpled. So pretty.” Alyssa clarified.
Marie sighed, “I guess, Alyssa. I don’t feel very good though. I don’t know how you do this,” she muttered, still working at her outfit.
“Oh, Marie. I sure hope you’re happy.” The words were chilling, said with a slight sing song nature.
Marie’s head shot up, and she stared into the mirror at Alyssa. Her pretty friend smiled sweetly back at her and Marie spun to face her. Only once she did she found nothing. Nothing but a doorway, shadows, a hall beyond. Her heart began to pound furiously and she struggled to catch her breath. How could she have possibly imagined it? Alyssa was right there. She'd been talking to her. She made her way to the doorway grabbing it as her knees wobbled under her.
"Alyssa?" She called weakly, glancing both ways down the hall. Nothing but flicking lights in the dimly lit hall, the music thumping down at the far end of the house. She shook her head. Perhaps she'd just had too much to drink. Or worse yet, some one had slipped something in her drink. She made her way back into the bathroom. A splash of water on her face might help. Then, back to find the others. It was this house, the creepy atmosphere.
Standing before the sink once more, turned on the tap. She splashed her face. When she raised her head, Alyssa stood behind her in the reflection once more. "God damn it Alyssa! Stop scaring me!"
"Aren't you pretty?" Alyssa asked again. "That's all that matters, right? Aren't you happy?"
Marie spun around. No Alyssa. Back to the mirror, there stood the blonde again. Yet, she was different. No longer flawless. Her sparklingly blue eyes had glossed over with black. Tears of blood leaking from them.
"Oh, Marie... I sure hope you’re happy," Alyssa sing-songed.
Marie shook her head, fury rising with in her. “NO!” She screamed back at the phantom
reflection. “I’m not happy!”
As long as she obsessed about her appearance, she was never happy. Thin and muscled, soft and fleshy, perfect or strong. It didn’t matter. “Stop tormenting me.” She growled at the blonde ghost in the mirror.
Gritting her teeth, she took the silvery sash and wrapped it around her hand. Without a second thought, she slammed her fist into the glass. Shards fell about her, the fragments of mirror twinkling and sparkling in the dim light. She smiled, relieved that haunting face was gone. Even so, the voice was not. An echo of a tune started up and she clenched her teeth.
Oh, Marie... I sure hope you're happy.
She stared down at the gash on her knuckle, the blood seeping through the cut in the sash. Her attention was pulled past her hand to the pieces of glass on the floor. There, reflected in them was Alyssa's perfect face, framed by blonde locks, smiling.
"What about me, Marie?" She demanded. Her face contorted wickedly.
Marie grabbed for the largest piece. She relished the sight of her hand over Alyssa’s mouth, cutting her hand in the process. It was a nasty piece of glass, one with a wicked point. A solution came to her mind. Simple really. She stood, bracing her hand against the wall, staring at that fragment of mirror. She turned it this way and that, savoring the way the light reflected off of it. It would all be over soon.
With one quick motion, before she could hesitate or flinch, she thrust the glass into her left eye. The pain was excruciating, yet she was determined. She gave the glass a quick twist before she jerked it out as quickly and suddenly as she'd stabbed. Her hand trembling, she felt the wound with her fingertips, finding only warm stickiness and a sharp pain where she prodded too hard. She hadn’t expected any different. She thrust her left hand out on the wall again to catch herself as the world spun ferociously still clutching the bloodied weapon with her right.
There was no going back now. The right eye was dealt with as quickly as possible. The same fierce, literally blindingly, painful jab, a sharp twist and then a jerk. This time, she tossed the fragment from her. It clattered on the floor, likely shattering amongst the other shards. Wiping her hands on her legs, she felt wobbly. Moments later she’d collapsed to her knees. She knew if she didn’t do something, it was possible she could bleed to death. That one rational thought broke through. She took the sash, still somehow clenched in her left hand, and wrapped it about her gouged out eyes.
The cawing of birds started up around her, and she smiled. Though sight was lost to her, she could feel the darkness looming.
“Marie? This is a messed up joke Marie.” The voice was frantic, distant. “Oh my god, Marie. What did you do?” Mitchell. It was Mitchell. She felt bad for him, the panic in his voice. “Marie! Do you hear me?” He was growing faint. “Alyssa Marie, answer me!”
She always hated it when he called her that. It almost made her want to struggle back up to the surface of the abyss she was sinking into and tell him so. Almost.
She found herself kneeling in thick, moist dirt. It felt good under her hands and knees. Her eyes burned, and the bright whiteness she was so familiar with failed to fade. Instead she ran her fingers through damp, cool soil. She felt content, for the first time in a very long time. As if a great weight had been lifted from her.
“Oh, Marie.” Came that comforting voice, the old woman. “Are you happy?”
Marie smiled. “Yes.”
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bit·ter·sweet: being at once bitter and sweet; especially: pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret. A collection of short stories I've written since joining Wattpad for various contests, challenges and publications. The...