Short Story – Beauty is free, Pain is costly.

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There is an amazing Sci-Fi website called io9, which I visit daily.

Lately they have done a ‘Look at this picture, and write a story’ every weekend, and I decided to take a swing at it.

Here are the images io9 provided us with, followed by my story.

These photo manipulations are created by Franz Steiner.

Io9 Writing Prompt 5/19

Martha sat in the polished room, the bright lights bounced from the shined floor, to the spotless glass giving the entire room a glow that strained her emerald colored eyes, the only true color in the room. She adjusted her shirt, at first attempting to brush the bits of dirt that had escaped her first two purges, but decided it would be much less endearing to leave the dirt on the polished floor than on herself.

“The Curator will see you now.” Said the woman from behind the counter.

Her eyes were a dull blue, but the rest of her body made up for the lack of soul that shown through her eyes.. It hurt the woman to look at Martha with her scarred legs and callused hands, and it Martha to know she would soon be as vulnerable to the world as this woman was, but the beauty was worth it.

Entering the doors behind the counter had been an amazing and horrifying moment for Martha, she had prepared herself so much for its beauty but the televised commercials hadn’t done the library justice. It’s seemingly endless catalogs of glass casings held everything a person would need to continue their work; new, arms, hands, legs, they were even rumored to have  shoulders released this season, but most of all, the feet. Pressing her brittle nail against the glass, Martha looked in awe at the tender foot that had yet to feel the caress of grass on its feet, or the sting or a broken bottle.

“Already?” The voice startled her

“Oh, Curator Barton. Hello, it’s good to see you again-”

“And you as well Martha! Please have a seat, I know you are aching.”

Martha sat in the familiar chair, struggling again to keep the small dirt specks from messing up the floor.

“Oh don’t you worry about some dirt! You are doing more than you’re part already, may I see them?”

Martha nodded and removed her tattered sandals, then raised her feet up for the Curator to inspect.

“Very well done, these have definitely shown their worth! How long since they last had feeling?”

“At least a week, I made sure to wait longer after that time my hand regained feeling while we were talking.”

“Yes, that was most unforgettable. But it looks like you’ve done you’re work on these!”

The curator walked away from Martha to his large desk, and pressed the call button on it.

“Lindsey, would you please bring Mrs. Martha’s check along with– hold on,” He turned to Martha “We have two clients that had waited for you with equal bids, so I’ll let you decide, flat foot or arched?”

“You mean the pay will be the same for either?”

He nodded.

“Arched, oh arched please!” Martha’s excitement had almost swelled over at the thought that not every inch of her would be in pain along with the added prestige an arched heel would bring to her allure.

“That new arched model that Miss Lawson has been bothering us for.” He released the button on the desk.

“She will be with us in just a moment.” The Curator assured her.

“That’s ok, now that I’m here I’m in much less of a hurry.” Martha admitted.

“It wasn’t feels that way doesn’t it? But being able to lose those callused and worn down body parts for younger, newer look, that makes it all worth it.”

“I just wish the newer models weren’t so tender. When we replaced my hands and arms the last time, I thought I was going to faint just from opening a jar.”

“It is unfortunate, but it comes with the job doesn’t it? You get to break in the produced parts so our buyers can use them without feeling that pain. Plus you get the perk of beauty, leaving this building looking younger every time.”

The woman from the front desk walked in holding a glass chamber that was large she had to place the envelope between her pursed lips just to carry it with both hands. The curator rushed over to helped her, and took the large container from her arms.

“Thank you Curator.” She said to him.

“You’re welcome, I noticed you were struggling far less with this one, have your arms finally developed muscle?”

“I believe so, I’ll schedule an appointment for myself in a week to trade them in.”

“Excellent.”

The receptionist walked away giving a quick glance to Martha, who was patting down her worn out feet.

“This will only take a moment.” The Curator said to Martha

He pulled up a chair and sat across from her. He reached out for her leg and gave the foot a sharp twist, unlocking the mechanics with in and sliding it off with ease, the second foot followed soon after. With a motion has as simple as removing the feet, he locked the new ones into place. He took both of them from Martha and sat the envelope down next to her, she quickly snatched it and began counting the money within it.

“There must be some mistake Curator.” Martha said, watching him place the worn out limbs inside a new glass chamber, and type in a code that snapped the lock shut.

“Is the amount incorrect?”

“Well I hate to ask questions, but there’s almost double what we agreed in here…am I getting a bonus?”

“I’m afraid it’s not that easy, there is a man who  has put in a unique request that we have had some trouble fulfilling.”

Martha would have answered but she didn’t want the hesitation to show in her voice, their had never been a problem in the years she had sold to the curator.

“You see,” he continued “His daughter has become blind.”

“Oh the poor dear.”

Martha stood up, but the sensation of new flesh on the cold floor was too much too bare and instantly shot back up to the chair she was sitting on.

“Indeed, and he has made a request, a very specific request that we were unable to fulfill until I thought of you. You see Martha, to put it bluntly, we want to buy your eyes.”

“My eyes? Has that been done before?”

“No.”

“Well you must have some replacement eyes that I can use, I can make those stronger as well and sell them back to you.”

“I’m afraid not.”

“Then what are you asking me to do Curator?”

“I’m asking you to sell us you’re eyes, and give us time to use the money to develop synthetic eyes. But I will be honest with you, we have tried it before and failed, they seem connected deeper to the …spirit and not the science of the body.”

“I’m not able to refuse am I?” She said as her feet reached for the floor. Following a slight hesitation like it was able to touch lava, they made contact, but again the instant freezing of its touch was to overwhelming, and she had to sit again.

“I’m afraid it’s in your contact, we may ask for any parts we want, if we promise to get you a new unit within a three-year span.”

“What’s the point in trading in my limbs for painful new ones, if I can’t appreciate their beauty?”

“You may not be able to, but everybody around you will see you’re beauty. Now Martha, ” He reached into the rear compartment of the same chamber holding the feet, and pulled out a small syringe.

“This may sting a little.”

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