Luna glided into the boutique hotel. She caught a glimpse of her reflection in one of the lobby mirrors. Everything was perfectly in place: hair in a tight bun, cinched waist in her qipao dress, Louboutins accentuating her long legs.
“I’ll see you in five minutes,” read the text that popped up on her phone from an anonymous number.
To think: they had once been neighbours, but he never gave her the time of day, back when she went by her birth name of Xiao Chen.
Xiao Chen wasn’t like Xiao Hua, her prettier, docile sister who did what was expected of her. After school, Xiao Chen worked as a cashier and stripper. She partly did it to spite her mother. But at least Xiao Chen wasn’t sleeping with the dean of her medical school to maintain good grades on paper.
Things began to change with a customer’s casual remark about how Xiao Chen could rake in more money with a couple of tweaks. The customer was a talent agent and handed her a plastic surgeon’s business card.
“I send my influencers there all the time,” the customer explained. “They’ve got to look good from all angles on social media.”
Xiao Chen figured she didn’t have much to lose. Her own mother and classmates had always bullied her over her nose.
Dr. Wu, the plastic surgeon, walked Xiao Chen through her options. She chose an installment plan for a rhinoplasty and double eyelid surgery.
“How do you feel?” Dr. Wu asked at her follow-up appointment.
“My friend said I now look chic,” replied Xiao Chen.
Dr. Wu beamed with pride. “I’m sure your quality of life will improve.”
They shook hands after she signed up for future sessions of Skin Botox to get the glass skin of her dreams.
Thus, Luna was born. The way people treated her pre- and post-surgery was like night and day. The new name commenced her new look and new life. No pain, no gain, was her mantra.
Her satisfaction swiftly turned into grief when she learned how deadly the quest for beauty could be.
Xiao Hua had always loathed the deep frown lines between her eyebrows. “They make me look so old and angry!” she wailed.
“Just get some botox,” said The Dean. “It’s an easy treatment. I can do it for you the next time we’re together.”
Xiao Hua dutifully trusted and followed his advice like a good student, but ended up being one of the rare cases of sudden death after the injections. The Dean was responsible for what happened, but had friends in the right places to make sure it didn’t end his career.
It was almost comical how he didn’t recognize Luna when she rang the doorbell. They exchanged a smile as he led her to the jet black dining table where her body was to serve as a plate.
One of his young guests, already in the room, set up the sushi on Luna’s body. She watched as the girl carefully laid out the pieces, carefully positioning a couple of unagi nigiri in the middle of her chest.
Luna knew those were his favorite.
She quickly unlocked one of the tiny charms on her bracelet when everyone turned their backs. A drop or two of flavorless, odorless tetrodotoxin landed on the unagi sushi. Tetrodotoxin came from the pufferfish, which required a licensed fugu chef to prepare. It paid to have friends in all the right places.
It wasn’t long before The Dean started complaining about numbness in his lips and tongue. The guests freaked out when he collapsed and stopped breathing.
Luna joined in the commotion before heading to the bathroom to calmly wash her hands and put on her qipao. She’d tell the police why she was there—“for business”—and in a few hours, she’d step out free as a bird into the glitzy nightlife outside.
If only people could see beneath her pretty face.
About the author:
Jess Chua is a writer with a Venus in Scorpio and a little bit of a book hoarding problem. Her website is jesschua.com
Free flash fiction on the first and third weeks of the month.