My name is Grace Walden and when I turned forty – like most women – I gave into vanity. Those little wrinkles started to appear at the corner of my eyes, my hair lost its shine and my body was drooping in ways it never did before. Something had to be done.
As I wandered through the aisles of Keep Dreaming cosmetic store – conscious of the fact that the perky, twenty something, store girls were watching me – I picked up various bottles of potions with girls on the label promising me I could look just like them. It was all air brushed nonsense of course but as I said I gave in to the vanity. Life so far, with all it’s ups and downs, had left me looking tired and pale. I snatched a bottle up greedily and brought it to the counter.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” asked the teller who looked as though she had a professional make up artist on hand to prepare her every morning.
“This will do, thanks,” I replied. I was eager to get home and lather myself in the stuff.
“Try not to use too much of this,” warned the store girl. “It can be quite potent.” She must have noticed that hungry look in my eyes.
I took it home, pasted my face as instructed and that night I had the best sleep of my life.
In the morning I dashed to the mirror. I was delighted to find a fresh faced beauty of a woman staring back. I smiled, making me look even more luminous. My skin was soft. My teeth gleamed. When I stepped outside I even drew an admiring look or two (something that hadn’t happened since I had had my third child). It felt great. I was fabulous at forty. By the time I got home I had started to droop again. My eyes clouded over with tiredness. The potion wasn’t long lasting. I ran immediately back to the store.
“It works wonders,” I told the clerk, “but I need some more.”
“I did warn you not to use too much,” she said again.
I bought two bottles.
I used more that night, the whole two bottles if you must know. In the morning I looked better than I ever did. I could have graced the cover of a magazine, let me tell you, but it faded faster. By the time I paid a visit to a friend who was only just around the corner I had gone from super model to super scary. The only magazine I would be gracing would be a horror one. The wrinkles were deeper, the face paler. I looked like the only sleep I had was in a crypt.
I dashed back to the shop – covering my face with a scarf like the invisible man. I cleared my bank account and bought the stores entire stock of the miracle lotion.
“Please be careful,” the clerk said.
What did she know? She had to be all of twenty five.
I bathed in it and by the time I was done Cleopatra would have been envious. That’s when it happened. Now I can’t bear to look in the mirror. Now I long for my own drooping body, my wrinkles that laughter over the years gave me. When I look at the creature I’ve become I really wish I hadn’t gone chasing that impossible standard.