According to Oxford Languages, beauty is defined as a “combination of qualities, such as shape, color or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.” The second definition of beauty is quite simple, acceptable even; beauty is “a beautiful woman.” And yes, coincidentally, with a period. Synonyms of beauty resembles everything a woman is or supposed to be; a goddess, a vision, practically a queen. But beauty isn’t just about appearance, isn’t just about “the sight.” It should be reflected within the inner self, be more about the soul than what someone, or a woman appears to be.
For Lillian, it’s quite difficult. She will look into the mirror fresh out of the shower and see none other than the weakness visibly casted in her reflection. She sees sickness, frailty coming out of her soul, and she can’t help but notice how tangled and dry her hair is, how low her cheekbones set, how dainty they become, and her lips are full but drained, still cracked from the morning air, bruised from the cold. She only sees the ugliness she thinks she has, which doesn’t make sense to many. How can she not adore her long curly locks that bounce delicately on her shoulders? How can she not love her high, blushed cheekbones when she smiles? How can she not relish the way her kindness shine to the people she meets, or how thoughtful her mind becomes when she knows a friend is in need?
Suddenly, a man appears behind her, his fingers traveling up the length of her spine to her shoulders, his arms circling around her waist. She’s stunned to see him up close, his reflection becoming apparent among the misty glass. Surely, he must not be real. She wouldn’t be able to feel his presence, let alone feel his warm breath on her skin if he wasn’t.
“What happened to you, my love?” he asks, looking at her through the mirror. “Should I be concerned?”
My, how can he speak? He shouldn’t even be here! Yes, of course, it must be a dream. She attempts to not further contemplate this moment but instead, sighs. She looks between him and herself in their reflections, gazing at his perfection, and their one perfected beauty.
“Where have you been?” she whispers. Of course, she’s been waiting for him to appear. She presses her hand against his, realizing how much she missed him.
He sighs as well, a smile forming form the corner of his lips, “Here, of course. Waiting. I’m trying to be patient too.”
His palms then press against her stomach, and she suddenly remembers everything that had happened between them by just one touch. What would have happened if he stayed? She shakes her head, desiring to push the memories away as if she would be kill if one more invaded her mind.
She asks him why he’s here, what he wants from her when he kisses and nibbles the crease between her neck and her shoulder, a spot he loves so much. Something inside of her wants to cry, but something else inside of her wants to scream for reasons she can’t express. Is he here to take her? Kill her, perhaps? They could be together again. They could be one.
He suddenly smirks, the mood changing between them in a snap, “Shouldn’t you be happy? You’re no longer mine. You’re free, you see. Free. That’s exactly what you wanted.” He stares at her, tilting his head to the side grimly, “Is it because you decided to see the ugliness I manipulated inside of you? I told you not to trust me, not to love me. I’m practically the devil. Have you forgotten?”
She looks at him in terror, and his figure turns dark, grotesque, eyes representing the devil’s hand, a stark reflection.
She looks away, being reminded of their history, knowing how this will end. He begins to laugh, a laugh that starts from the gut and murders from within. She eyes him with disbelief as his body shakes with laugher against her.
“Stop it,” she says, not finding the humor.
He laughs harder, “Such a pity. What is wrong with you? Are you so damaged you can’t even see how beautiful you are? What do I have to say to you to see?” She looks away once again and he swiftly grips some of the strands of her hair, smiling with daring eyes, “Do you want me to say how ugly you are? That you disgust me, that your eyes are dreadful, you skin looks brittle, your hands are too desiccated to even touch? All the pathetic physical things about you?”
“Please. Don’t…don’t do this,” she raises her voice, tears beginning to form beneath her eyelids.
“You’re pathetic!” he grips her scalp to force her to face the mirror, shouting in her ear. “Look at yourself, Lillian! You lost everything because of me! You sicken me! Look at your…”
“Shut. Up,” her anger steams through her nostrils, her breaths becoming rasp.
“You can’t even stand to look at yourself because you’re hideous! You despise me! Have I taught you nothing?!” He clenches her waist before she could run, “What are you doing to do, huh? Kill me?! I’m already dead! I’m dead!”
“SHUT UP!” she screams, and the mirror shatters, shards of glass splashing along the counter before her.
Then, silence. She sees nothing, hears nothing. He’s gone. She can’t hear his voice, she can’t feel his breath…gone.
When she looks at herself once again, to just see her, she realizes something, something she hasn’t realized before. She touches her face in the broken mirror, now incomplete, gazing at her own reflection among the pieces left. She finally sees it.
Lillian sees her beauty.
And what a beautiful woman she is.