Who Will Think You’re Beautiful Now?
She left the stuffy, overcrowded bar and shuffled out into the cool night. The street was dark, save for the dim glow of an overhead lamp that hummed with a satisfying buzz.
Sparking up a cigarette, she shrouded herself in her loose-fitting jacket and began walking in the direction of her home. It wasn’t a particularly busy night, but as she left the packed nightlife behind her, the stillness of the night began to creep all around her.
Walking along her usual route, there was a displeasing smell in the air. It was something rank … the wind blew and a sulfurous smell almost choked her. Quickly covering her nose with her hand, she dropped her cigarette and watched it tumble slowly to the dark asphalt beneath her.
Attempting to ignore the smell, she stooped down to grasp the cigarette, which was lost entirely to the dark floor except for the glowing ember.
As she rose from the ground, she stumbled backwards and fell away from the figure that seemed to appear from thin air directly in front of her. Startled, she gasped and looked inquisitively at the silhouette before her.
“You fucking scared the shit out of me what are you doing?” she desperately asked as she struggled to her feet, wiping away the dirt from herself.
The figure was tall and slender, obviously a woman, with jet-black hair and her face and body entirely covered except for a pair of beautiful green eyes staring back at her. Over her face, she wore a veil of simple white fabric, which reflected in the light of the nearby streetlamp. She carried nothing but a drab shopping bag made from brown paper that seemed to be dripping something dark from its base.
“Did you need something or are you just trying to give me a heart attack?” she asked.
The woman, who was carefully standing on the edge of darkness where the streetlamp cut through the night, gave no response to her line of questions, but slowly shifted in a disturbing manner.
“Am I pretty?” the woman asked in a voice as smooth as glass that hid something more sinister beneath.
Confused, the girl pondered on how to reply, unsure of how her response might be received. While she decided on how to answer, the woman remained still, with her piercing green eyes staring longingly back into hers, almost as if this response would cause her to suddenly pounce.
“I don’t know. I guess I’d say you’re pretty average, but I can see your face behind the veil,” she shrewdly replied, hoping the woman would continue on her way.
The woman reached a pale-white hand up to her face, as if she was debating whether or not to remove the the veil, but as she did so, her gaze seemed to move behind the young girl to the sound of something farther down the street.
Without so much as a single mutter, the woman brushed past the young girl and seemed to almost float down the sidewalk, disappearing into the thick, black darkness.
Rattled by the whole exchange, the young girl looked down at her cigarette, which had become one long continuous piece of ash from butt to tip. She dropped it and scurried home at a fervent pace, unable to get the image of the woman’s piercing green eyes out of her head.
Adapted from the Japanese myth of Kuchisake-onna.