The Price of Beauty
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Lana woke up early that morning. Instantly, her gaze fell onto the form still sleeping beside her; her girlfriend, Maria. Lana smiled absently, and shifted from the bed in a way that wouldn't wake her partner, sleeping soundly. She was gorgeous, and Lana would never stop being surprised that the young woman chose to be with her.

As she stood, her plump - no, fat, always fat - thighs rubbed together and jiggled as though there was an earthquake. She grimaced and pulled her pyjama shorts down a little, though it felt like they strained and failed to cover her thighs. She had a photo shoot today, and that always meant a lot of work beforehand.

She headed to the en-suite, walking past photos framed on the wall. Some of her alone, from the agency, but many of the two together. At a glance, Lana could see when she was thinner, she could see herself as she was meant to be; a low collared top showing her collarbone, a close-up showing her cheekbones. She was surprised that her agency had kept her on, with her weight creeping up to the point of her being a wobbly, jelly-like creature with the cellulite and stretch marks that gave her body texture.

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"Fat, always fat."

She paused at the dresser and got out the small bag of tools that would prepare her for the day. On the bed, Maria snorted softly and rolled onto her other side, still asleep. Good. Lana hated having an audience when she was preparing. She took her bag through into the en-suite, shutting the door behind herself and turning on the lights around the mirror.

“There's the answer if you want it,” her mind teased.

She ran her hand across her plump cheek. One more pound and she was sure she would be dropped by her agency; one more pound and Maria would leave her. She felt sure of it all, despite these words not being exchanged. Desperate times called for desperate measures.

“It's okay. They'll give you fakes. You can get everything rebuilt these days. Your tits, your arse, your face…” the delusions soothed her once more that this was the right thing to do.

She fumbled in the bag for her device of choice. Her hands gripped cold metal. She knew a way to fix everything.

Maria stirred half an hour after her partner had left the bed, her side now cold. She squinted and peered at the clock. Lana was obviously already up, and getting ready for her photoshoot. Never a better time to surprise her girlfriend, and lavish her with the reassurance Lana had made it apparent she needed as of late. Maria forced herself to wake up enough to stand and grab her dressing gown, for warmth.

She walked by the same wall Lana had not long ago, pausing at one of the professional photos taken by Lana's current agency. She was skinny back then, six months ago, but even more skinny now. Yet she insisted on going days without eating, and, when she did eat, it was always low fat, low calorie, tiny portions. Maria had lost count of the times she had told her girlfriend she was skinny enough, beautiful enough - that it wasn't sexy to have clumps of hair falling out and be too tired for anything more intimate than a kiss. The arguments were wearing them both down, but Lana was always exhausted now, it seemed, and it made Maria not want to say a word to her, especially not one born of anger.

Maria continued on her short journey to the en-suite. Lana would be in there putting her face on, preparing herself for the day ahead, and Maria just wanted to tell her how beautiful she was before she was covered in slap and her girlfriend wrongly believed Maria's attraction was just due to her make-up, and another fight started again.

Maria knocked on the door gently, and, when there was no reply, tried the handle and opened the door. What she saw there nearly made her pass out from shock; she had to clutch the counter-top to stop from falling to the ground.

Lana stood in front of the mirror but instead of blotting on foundation or finishing her eyeliner, there was a set of pliers in her hand. Blood dripped down them slowly and then ran onto the pale hand holding them. Lana's eyes were focused on the mirror - she hadn't even looked away as Maria came in.

There was the soft noise of a tooth ripping free from its gummy surroundings - a horrible noise of something breaking, fleshy and raw, and the metallic scent of a newly-opened wound. It must have hurt, but Lana didn't make a sound. She simply kept her mouth wide, wide, wide open so as not to miss a single tooth. The most recently removed one clattered into the sink with a handful of its brothers, all bloodstained and some cracked by the pressure the pliers had delivered onto them.

As Maria started to call to her, in a panic, Lana calmly went on to the next tooth, and gripped the pliers around it, imagining a future her with an amazing figure and false teeth that were perfect and straight and white, because they never chewed food, just sipped her meals through a straw. This was the answer she wanted and she was going to take it.

To Maria, it was a horror show. To Lana, it was simply the price of beauty.

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