The Beauty and the Beast

The other day I had the opportunity to attend to a fitness fashion show, which unlike the usual fashion shows, instead of the pale skeletal models the stage was full with well-nourished and surprisingly exercised women—which I prefer, I have nothing against thin bodies, but I do have something against self-inducted famine for the sake of glamour, anorexia is no joke.

The beautiful fit girls promenaded back and forth the catwalk displaying their curved but toned bodies. My eyes enjoyed the visual feast not only from the women on the stage, but also from the beautiful attendees that congregated to celebrate the cult to the body.

At the end of the spectacle, I abandoned the theatre elated, like if I had been in an antechamber of heaven. But my joy depleted to sadness when I lay a foot outside the door wondering when my eyes would have the opportunity to behold such beauty again, hoping to at least that night could dream about the gorgeous girls.

I raised my spirits at the thought of being weekend and remembering I had a party ahead. So I drove my car heading to the party but in my way I made a quick stop for provisions. My car climbed the ramp of the convenience store with the headlights highlighting a girl sitting on the sidewalk. She was a young girl, barely on her twenties, she was sitting on a frayed blanket, with a worn jacket draping over her shoulders as sole protection against the biting cold of the starless night. It call my attention that below the smudges on her face and her uncared hair, she had pretty features.

I stayed inside my car staring at her when reality punched me hard in the face.

I felt like Dante from the Divine Comedy, passing from Paradise to Hell in the turn of a page, without Virgil that could guide me to a coherent comprehension of the abysmal contrast. And I’m not speaking of passing from a beautiful fitness model to a “beggar,” but from a girl that with a different life, different life choices or different fate perhaps, could be parading in a stage instead of a crossroad.

What is what made this girl to be the Beast instead of the Beauty in this sardonic tale we call real life? I asked myself.

But unable to answer my question I stepped out my car and walked to the store exchanging glances with the girl. I roamed the aisles disconcerted, picking up what I thought I needed and lined at the cash register. After paying I felt an impulse for keeping a bill in my hand for the girl, maybe motivated by guilt, illusively trying to compensate in a degree what this unfair life haven’t granted her.

I made my way back to my car taking a detour to drop the bill into a small box that she sheltered with her hands and I walked away not really expecting to hear “thank you” not because I thought she was ungrateful in a way, but because I believed she didn’t had the obligation to say it.

“I-I can’t take it,” she said.

I turned back bemused, “its ok,” I said reassuringly.

“No,” She said obstinately. “I don’t need it,” She said feeding even more my bewilderment, wondering if her answer was fueled by shame or pride.

I stepped closer and she extended her hand with the bill hoping I would take it, but I just peered over her box that barely contained a few coins.

“No, I can’t take it,” I said stepping back. “It’s yours now.” And I smiled to her noticing how her lips struggled to shape into a smile.

Like if the last time she had smiled had been long forgotten.

Like if smiling was tortuous.

Like if it was prohibited.

Like if laughing was a crime for the people wandering the streets.

I jumped in my car and ignited the engine looking at the girl through the windshield unable to answer my questions. Unable to solve the puzzles of existence. So I pulled my car back into the street, hoping—like everybody else—that when I removed the beams of my headlights from the scenario the curtain will fall in this reality and reshape into a kinder one, where all girls can play the Beauty and no one will mock of the beast.

M. Ch. Landa

PS. I did dream of a girl.

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