Eye of the Beholder

The luxe cosmetics shop–blurry in the humid night air–looked slightly out of focus, as the couple walked past a display of lipsticks on their way to their Waikiki hotel room.

A man dashed out of the glitterati shop and grabbed the woman’s hand.

“Come-Come-Come!” he said to her, the urgency of his words softened by a mysterious European accent.

She reluctantly let him pull her into the shop and sit her down on a velvet chair. Sheepishly she stared at the floor, tongue-tied, while her husband, his arms folded across his chest, hovered at a protective distance.

The salesman, dressed in a white shirt a pharmacist might wear, stood over her. He studied her face, squinting just a little and narrowing his nose as if seeing something that profoundly concerned him.

“I think I can help you.”

“Help me do what?”  She looked up at her husband.

“Eh voilá” he exclaimed, as he unfolded the accordion arm of a magnifying mirror attached to the wall.

She looked into the round glass for a moment, shifted on the cushion and then frowned at her brown speckled face, every wrinkle magnified to the tenth power.

“I have a product…” he said, squeezing a tiny dab of coral cream onto his pinkie.

She shook her head, swiveled the chair around and attempted to get up.

But the salesman was too quick for her. He planted his stocky body in front of her. “Don’t you wish you looked young again?”

Back at the hotel, she stood on bare feet, leaning over the sink to get a better look in the mirror. Across her face she saw a constellation of shooting stars.

She continued to stand there, inhaling the fading scent of coral cream, until she heard her husband’s voice calling for her to come to bed.

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