She stood, naked, in front of the mirror and primed herself. An anxious sweep of her hair, a quick habitual check of her face that is clean and free from make-up today. She glanced into her reflection. Small fair mounds of flesh that stood proudly beneath tanned and broad shoulders, and a little further down, a pleasant curvature of the waist, accentuated by wide bony hips. She hesitated for a while, then self-consciously brought her long hair across her shoulders to cover her breasts. Satisfied, she took a deep breath and pushed aside the heavy red velvet curtain that fell lusciously from the low ceiling. No one looked her way. Tentatively, she stepped into the platform that was laid absentmindedly with cheap carpet tiles. It felt prickly under her bare feet, but she was grateful for that slight distraction.
She stood uneasily on the platform, trembling even though the back of her neck was now clammy. Her shoulders were hunched, her arms resting uselessly at her side, her feet slightly apart. Passers-by started to stop and stare. Slowly, they gathered in front of her—some alone, some in groups—but they all looked at one another as if to affirm that their eyes were not fooling them. No one left, even after five minutes. In fact the crowd in front of her swelled as they all waited in anticipation of her next move.
But they would have waited in vain. She was not up to any tricks. She just stood there, stripped bare for the world to see, void of all the fanciful adornments that decorate bodies nowadays. She’s there in all her original glory, tiny imperfections on every inch of her, challenging everyone to look past what’s outside. Near her feet, a medium sized price card sat firmly on the carpet. Plain and simple, it merely said, “Worth: Invaluable”.
Unimpressed, some women in the crowd sniffed audibly and left. The rest stood, slightly embarrassed but in awe. One brave woman started to clap but the applause died down after a few seconds when nobody joined in. The men merely gawked. Stared. Smiled at her leeringly. Some even dared to walk closer to take a better look. Thankfully she was protected by the glass panel she had put up between herself and the crowd. But she had expected a response like that.
Slowly, the excitement died down and the people started to leave. She noticed a man who had joined the crowd very early and who stood at a far corner, looking on in interest. He stood with her all the way, even after the last man had left and the street was quiet. She waited for him to make a move, but he seemed content to just lean against a wall and look at her. Finally, he took a long stride and started to close the distance between them. Her heart thumped wildly: Did she not wait in vain after all?
He came right up to her, his eyes boring deep into hers. Then, with a sigh, he kissed the glass panel that separated them, then turned and walked away, never looking back. A tear ran down her cheek, but she smiled. Slowly, she bent down and picked up the price card that said “Worth: Invaluable” and crushed it into a ball. She stepped back behind the curtain and looked into the mirror once again. Worth: Unappreciated.
But only because none of them could afford her.