Friday Fictioneers — An Assault on Vanity

PHOTO PROMPT © Liz Young

When I saw the photo prompt © Liz Young for this week on Friday Fictioneers, it immediately brought to mind the story that was my first blog post back in December 2011.  The original story was 150 words in length but I’ve pruned it down to 100 words without difficulty and with added punch.

As a footnote to original, I wrote the following…

Author’s note: In my experience the more fantastic the claims for a beauty product, the more expensive and full of dangerous chemicals it is. I believe in organic beauty products, used from head to foot, and a balanced diet of freshly prepared meals.  Combine this with a positive attitude, creativity, and trying to see the funny side of things whenever possible.  Who cares about a few laughter lines and characterful wrinkles?  I don’t fancy looking like a faceless mannequin doll. Do you?

Genre: Science fiction horror

ASSAULT ON VANITY

Cries of terror rocked the city and catapulted Tania into wakefulness.  She fought to focus on her clock, but to no avail. The digits blurred grey and her eyes had the deep ache of a hangover, but she’d not touched a drop of alcohol for days.

In the bathroom, she splashed water at her face but couldn’t feel it contact her skin. Then she looked in the mirror. Apart from her eyes and the skin covering their sockets, her face had metamorphosed into a featureless blank; the work of Dr Hamid’s new wonder cream that claimed to banish wrinkles overnight.

Author: Sarah Potter Writes

Sarah is a British eccentric who writes offbeat fiction, haiku and tanka poetry. She's into nature, gardening, and natural health. For her, sociability is something that happens in short bursts with long breathing spaces in between.

72 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers — An Assault on Vanity”

  1. Dear Sarah,

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I love this. A featureless face might be worse than a Portrait of Dorian Gray. For myself I watch new wrinkles appear and tell myself…I’m still cute…just “older cute.” (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 😉
    Happy to see you on the FF board this week.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Dear Rochelle,
      Yes, I’ll vouch for it. You are cute 🙂
      And those wrinkles made by laughter are extra cute. I remind myself of that daily, if I wake up feeling glum. My son and I still play a silly game where we see who can pull the most hideous face in the mirror. The result is that it exercises our face muscles and ends up having us in stitches, laughing. Fortunately, the old wives’ tale about your face getting stuck like that if the wind changes, hasn’t happened yet! If you look at my photos on FB, you will see one of me, my son (who had hair to his waist then), and my daughter, pulling hideous faces together!
      I intend to write my review for you on Monday, provided nobody throws anything unexpected at me.
      All best wishes,
      Sarah

      Like

      1. Dear Sarah,

        You’re very sweet. My brother and I have a silly smile that we used to (still do actually) flash at each other. I used to adore Danny Kaye who made some of the most ridiculous faces that I would imitate. Love your FB post. Perhaps we should have a ‘mugging’ session with Dale on Skype. 😉

        Shalom,

        Rochelle

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dear Rochelle,
        I like the idea of having a ‘mugging’ session with Dale, although probably would keep my worst faces to myself, as they’re very frightening even to myself D:
        All best wishes,
        Sarah

        Like

    1. Thanks, Iain. I guess everyone has different ideas of what is beautiful. To me, life is too short to be obsessing about such things. On the other hand, cosmetics can be a lifesaver for some. Each to their own, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I figured plastic surgery, but the cream is just as good. 🙂 There are some interesting truths in this writing exercise. I, for one, like the natural look, but I also understand why people seek “better looks” or “younger looks.” Sigh…the search for perfection is endless, is it not?

    Happy Weekend, Sarah!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve given up searching for perfection, as the striving for it is too exhausting and the fix destined to be transitory. There’s a traditional Sussex folk song that I sing, called The Cuckoo, and the last verse goes…
      Come all you young maidens, wherever you be,
      Build never your nest in the top of a tree,
      The leaves they will wither, the branches decay,
      And the beauty of young maids will soon fade away.

      You have happy weekend, too, Bill 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This made me think of a wonderfully condensed Twilight Zone episode. And then I thought of one actual episode that I always liked, another great riff on perceptions of beauty, called “The Eye of the Beholder”; not sure how familiar you are with any of those (I was raised on that and The Outer Limits) but YouTube should have it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I might have seen that episode many years ago. Was it about the one about the special rejuvenating water: that if you stopped drinking it, you aged double the speed you would have done, if you’d never drunk it in the first place? …Must check out “The Eye of the Beholder” on YouTube, to see if I’m right!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I so have to agree with you, Sarah. Plus, it is obviously working for you as you look mahvellous, dahlink!
    The price of “so-called-beauty” is way to high for me too… I’ll keep my laugh lines, thank you very much..

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sounds like Dr Hamid’s miracle cream did more than banish a few wrinkles…yikes! Terrfying indeed and a harsh and timely warning to look behind the scenes of the cosmetic industry. Another great flash, and now I know your beauty secret too 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend dearest Sarah xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The cosmetic industry doesn’t bear looking at too closely. There are some terrifyingly toxic and carcinogenic ingredients in so many of the things that people use without giving it a second thought. Just because a product is marketed under a big brand name, doesn’t mean that it’s good for your health. I had thought at one time of having an alternative health blog, but decided that some of the big guns would come gunning for me D:
      You have a wonderful weekend, too, dearest Sherri 🙂 xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you have so much knowledge about the industry, you would have a great blog, but yes, it is a shame as you would run into some problems more than likely. I wonder how you would get around that? Ahh well, in the meantime, you can keep writing your fantastic flash fiction! Thank you dearest Sarah…and have emailed 🙂 xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think you can cover yourself a bit, by having a disclaimer notice on a blog and make it clear that people on medication etc, should check with their healthcare professional before using whatever it is that you’re suggesting. I think that taking on such a blog is one thing too many for me at the moment, unless I can find a way to monetise it with advertising, but then that might bring with it complications, too. I think I’ll stick to my flash fiction and haiku just now. My brain needs a rest. Thank you for your email, dearest Sherri…I will reply 🙂 xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Maybe down the road…something to pursue, when and if the time is right. It would be a big commitment though, I can see that. I’m glad you’re taking your brain rest…very important dearest Sarah 🙂 xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hah! Well, even I use skin firming hydrating serum, but it’s all organic and mostly aloe vera. Anyway, Cybele, whatever you’re using, it’s definitely keeping you youthful looking, and I think I’ve seen pictures of you smiling. Am glad you enjoyed my cautionary tale.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. And banished they were! Now I hope the good doctor has sense enough to vanish before the lawsuits start rolling in. 🙂
    As to Rochelle, I hear she gets new wrinkles every week from frowning over breach-of-word-limit stories, so let’s all have mercy on her. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Plenty of work for the wrinkly lawyers, methinks 😉
      Maybe Rochelle doesn’t frown over breach-of-word-limit stories, but has a big grin on her face as she imagines the punishments she’s going to hand out to the perpetrators!

      Like

    1. As you can imagine, shopping takes me an age when it comes to buying skin creams, shampoo, toothpaste, household cleaning products, as I have to read all the ingredients and look up every single one of them to see if they’re toxic to me and/or to the planet! I’m the same about food additives. Happily, I now know most of them off by heart, so have sped up my shopping as time has progressed!

      Like

    1. Hah, I’d forgotten about that cream. I remember, as a teenager, “Pond’s Vanishing Cream” came in a little dinky white ceramic pot with a pink top. The cream looked so promising, but it failed to make my acne vanish. In fact it made it ten times worse D: I wonder if they still manufacture that cream.

      Like

      1. The Pond’s vanishing cream was for people with greasy skin, to mop up some of the excess oil. Then there was Pond’s Cold Cream which was ultra-moisturising and made your face exceedingly shiny!

        Like

    1. Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed my story 🙂
      Interestingly, nobody has yet picked up on the dual meaning to the opening three words of my story. I don’t think that Dr Hamid wanted to tip off people about the side-effects of his “attack”.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. No, they won’t stop searching, which is why beauty is big business! In some ways, to have sensitive skin like mine is a blessing (although I spent many years thinking otherwise). Having found a brand of beauty products that don’t wreak havoc on me and are reasonably priced, is a miracle in itself.

      Like

    1. Lucky you, getting away with just water and soap. I’ve tried that, but it makes my skin feels all taut and itchy. I always wanted to be a water and soap lady, too, as I resent the time spent doing my beauty routine, albeit a very modest one, as I don’t wear make-up.

      Like

      1. Honestly it depends on the soap I am using. The wrong one dries my skin out and leaves me itching all day, the right one works like magic (well not magic but it leaves me feel good.) I don’t wear mak-up either.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that, about beauty being skin deep and ugly going to the bone. Must remember that. Talking about mirrors, have you noticed how the better quality the glass, the better they lie? There’s a cheap shaving mirror on our bathroom windowsill and I really hate it … D: I’m glad you enjoyed my story. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

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