The Price Of Beauty (Flash Fiction #80)

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

This is a true story and it is a sequel to the previous true story “The Interview” here, but you don’t need to read the previous story in order to follow this one. Jennifer Chung is an Asian immigrant who grew up in his parents’ takeout restaurant. She got a job, unexpectedly, in a company in midtown Manhattan after college. The story happens two months after she started working there.

After months of preparation, the company is going to host a new product launching event in the midtown office, and it is going to be happening the next day. Since there are so much to do, several essential people have to be there very early in the morning. One of them is Kate Wexford, who’s the receptionist as well as the secretary. Her face was often shown on the company brochure. Every time Jennifer meets her, she thinks to herself that Kate should be an actress or a model. She wonders how much money the company has to pay Kate to keep her as a secretary.

“I can’t go home tonight since I have to come back to the office tomorrow morning before 8AM. My home was in the far end of Queens and it’s a long commute to go back and forth.” Kate says in the office meeting. Then she looks around and waits for response, but nobody says anything. Silence falls for an awkward minute.

Jennifer is a newcomer and she doesn’t quite understand what Kate is aiming at. “Are you going to stay in the office?” She asks.

“Or I can shack up with you tonight. You live here in Manhattan, right?” Kate says with her sweetest voice and stares at Jennifer with her beautiful eyes.

Jennifer is no lesbian, or to be more accurate she has never explored beyond the traditional orientation. Still she feels flattered by Kate’s beautiful attention. Of course Jennifer can’t say no. Jennifer never considers that she deserves anybody’s attention, let alone Kate, who is usually surrounded by more important people in the office.

“Of course, if you don’t mind my humble abode.” Jennifer says, a little mesmerized in Kate’s sweet voice and her stunning beauty.

So it’s settled. Kate is going to stay with Jennifer for the night.

Jennifer rents an extremely tiny apartment in one of the tenement buildings that populated the most affordable part of Manhattan. It’s only 120 square feet, which is equivalent to 11 square meters. For this tiny pigeon hole, she pays more than $1,600 a month. The shower is smaller than a phone booth, which is next to the toilet that is separated from the rest of the pigeon hole by a little curtain. She has a twin size bed, which is 6 feet high, almost touching the ceiling. One has to climb a wooden ladder to get to it.

Kate shows up at the address and presses the door bell at 10 o’clock. Jennifer shows her in. At first Jennifer thinks she has to apologize for the size of the place, but Kate doesn’t mind at all. And there’s no awkward silence between them even though they hardly know each other. Kate really knows how to put strangers at ease. “PR is her job and she has years of experience doing it.” Jennifer thinks. The two girls talk a little and then go to bed. Jennifer insists on sleeping on the sofa, which is underneath the bed. “You need a good night sleep since tomorrow is a long day for you.” Jennifer says. After some polite exchanges back and forth, Kate finally climbs up to her bed.

A little before five o’clock in the morning, Kate comes down and asks Jennifer to climb up to her bed. “I need to do my morning routine.” Kate says. Jennifer is too sleepy to say anything. So she climbs up to her bed, wondering why Kate wants to get up so early. The office is very close and there’s no need for such early rising.

At 7:30AM, when Jennifer wakes up and climbs down the ladder, Kate is applying her last layer of makeup.

“Why did you get up so early?” Jennifer asks.

“I need to put on makeup. That’s my morning routine.” Kate says.

“And you have been doing that since five o’clock?” Jennifer is dumbfounded.

“Yes. I get up every day at 5AM and make a doll of myself for three hours. Then I take the subway to our midtown office, arriving at 9AM.”

“For three hours? Every day?”

“The price of beauty, Baby. This is New York.” Kate says.


32 thoughts on “The Price Of Beauty (Flash Fiction #80)

  1. I’m not surprised. It’s the same thing for young women in Seoul. They put in a lot of effort to look beautiful to please their bosses and coworkers. There are even female coworkers who like to belittle other female coworkers for not looking up to standard. It’s rough.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. And now we know the secret of Kate’s beauty. Layers of makeup. Maybe a clown would use less than her. HAHA! I like how you’ve brought this story full circle. Wasn’t expecting this at all. Awesome! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So true. When I first heard this story, I was really shocked, but according to the person who told it, there are women who suffer from such torturous routine daily. Haha, thank you for your comment and it lights up my day.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A 3-hour makeup routine?? Oh jeez that sounds exhausting to do day after day. All the other things Kate could do with that time before work…like sleeping in. Don’t they call it “beauty sleep” 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so true. I wonder if the three-hour session really worth it, but it feels like that Kate is relying on her make-up skills to get a good job. New York is a strange place. It changes people.

      Like

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