Image Is Everything
I missed on Wednesday and Friday last week, again. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. Though this second round of antibiotics does seem to be working. Hopefully, I won't miss any this week.
Here is another short, short story:
Image is Everything
A deep night mist obscured all but the closest trees of the forest. The ground of the glade had been swept clean of all leaves, twigs and rocks; only the moss and dirt remained. In the center of the glade a large pool of pink-tan sand glittered with reflected starlight.
A slender woman, dressed only in gossamer fabrics, knelt by the side of the sand pool, her fingers trailing wisps of mist, weaving them into a strange web that disappeared into the pool and stirred up the sand. She began a soft delicate poetic chant.
A large man clothed in animal skins stood silently behind her with his arms folded, looking over her shoulder, frowning disapprovingly.
"There, finished." As the last traces of mist faded away the woman motioned to her underlings waiting at the edge of the trees.
"Now what?" the man asked.
The woman couldn't stop the oh-so-superior smile that stole onto her face. "Now we box it up, and..." she trailed off, her superior smile slipping as she tried to remember. "Oh, yes. And send it to distribution."
"Distribution," he said slowly, as if feeling and tasting each syllable.
She smiled at him again. "Yes. I believe they use trucks."
With a sour look, he turned and stalked out of the glade, shaking his head.
* * * * *
Lareina read the directions on the carton. "Mix two scoops with 12 oz. of water. Drink as a replacement for a meal." The carton had the standard warnings about eating at least one regular meal every day. But, according to the directions, you could consume as much Nectar® as you wanted, and still lose weight, tone muscle, and lose cellulite.
Inside the round cardboard carton a clear plastic scoop nestled in pink-tan sandy powder. Without looking up from the powder, she reached into an upper cabinet, and pulled out a large glass.
She mixed the drink as per the directions, then checked the instruction booklet again. It seemed too easy, but all her friends swore by it, and she'd seen the results. Exercise was not required, only one glass of Nectar® everyday, and visualization.
Holding the glass in both hands, Lareina sat at the table and closed her eyes. She called to her mind an image of herself, leaner, trimmer. As long as she was at it, she made herself younger and blonde, and put fashionable curves in the right places. Eyes shut and with that image of herself firmly in mind, Lareina drank the Nectar®.
Thick and sweet, almost syrupy, it flowed across her tongue and slid down her throat. When the glass was empty, she opened her eyes. A few sticky drops still clung to the inside of the glass.
Her friend, Pomona, claimed that after drinking Nectar® she felt tingly and energized. Lareina felt no change. She rinsed the glass, and left for work.
Lareina continued to drink Nectar® every morning instead of breakfast, but ate her regular lunch and dinner. She reasoned to herself that it was a quick breakfast, and saved her time. She'd never been good at keeping to any diet or exercise program, but this was easy. Though she doubted that there'd be any positive results. She quit waiting for the drink to make her feel tingly or energized.
After a week, Lareina stepped on the scales and discovered she'd lost five pounds. She checked herself in the mirror, and thought that maybe she did look trimmer, her stomach a little flatter, her hips slimmer. With renewed enthusiasm, Lareina began drinking the nectar in place of eating lunch and breakfast.
As the weeks passed, she noticed that her reflection in the mirror did indeed begin to resemble the image she visualized. Her hair even seemed blonder, but she attributed that to all the time she spent outdoors in the sun. She experienced the tingly, energized feeling, and found herself taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator. She would go out dancing, and never get tired.
When Lareina reached the look she wanted, she started on the maintenance program, as described in the booklet. She merely had to drink one glass a day, in addition to her regular meals. And continue visualizing herself as she wanted to be, of course.
She bought as many groceries as usual, and ate like she always had, but it didn't seem to make any difference in her weight or appearance. As far as Lareina was concerned Nectar® was worth every penny she paid for it, and she told anyone that held still long enough about it.
* * * * *
In the still quiet of the forest, a cave opened onto a mossy glen. Trees shaded the ground from the harsh light of the sun. A smiling woman dressed in gossamer fabrics lounged on a sheltered velvet chaise, and draped necklaces of gleaming gold and sparkling jewels along her arm, choosing carefully. Around her, other necklaces, bracelets, rings, baubles, coins and paper money lay strewn on her dress, on the chaise, on the ground; hiding in the moss and leaves, glittering on the rocks.
"Perhaps this one, Tatiana, my love." A man walked out of the dark maw of the cave, holding in his hands a spider-web collar of diamonds and gold.
"Oooh, yes." The woman dropped her armful of necklaces to the ground without another thought, and reached for the one he carried. "Been out shopping again?"
He stepped behind her to slip the necklace around her neck and fasten it. "I admit I had my reservations about your scheme for getting food and treasure from the foolish mortals. But..." He seated himself at the foot of the chaise, idly picking up a fallen ring to try on his finger.
"Mmm," Tatiana hummed.
"I confess, I had not thought they would empty their larders into ours, and pay us for the privilege." He decided the ring was not to his liking and tossed it aside. "But the years have not changed them much. They are still encumbered with folly and sloth."
Tatiana smiled at him. "My dear Oberon, if all they want is the image not the substance, why shouldn't we take the substance of their food and replace it with a bit of glamorie so that they have the image of themselves that they desire. They're closer to looking like the image they want anyway, since they're eating so much less. And certainly you wouldn't expect us to put forth such an effort without being paid." She ran the tips of her fingers lovingly across the diamonds and gold around her neck.