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My latest piece in the weekly Flash! Friday contest, which fortunately won second runner-up with the comments:

I kind of hate that my position this week meant I had to read this story multiple times, because it is just so incredibly horrifying (and I don’t do well with horror). Such vivid descriptions, and the line, “She was perfect, once.” is so simple on its own, but becomes, in this story, absolutely haunting. And to top it off, we get a thought-provoking commentary on the world behind the perfection and smiles. 

As usual, the maximum word limit is 160 words, the word prompt is “clumsiness” and the picture prompt is posted above.

Kelsey brought the razor across her cheek, slid it around her bottom lip and finished off at the tip of her chin. Warm blood swarmed from the cut and dripped onto the ceramic sink.

Her hands shook, making the line rough, clumsy. Imperfect.

She looked in the mirror. No tears this time. Just sunken eyes, protruding cheek bones.

Behind her, she could see her trophy and medal case. Local and state competitions, one national, two international. She was perfect, once.

In gymnastics, they say facials are everything. Be smiling, always smiling. Connect with your audience. Sell your routine to the judges. Slip on the beam, miss a flip, smile. Keep smiling.

Kelsey smiled into the mirror now. Blood still flowed from the open wound, into her teeth, on her tongue.

And she kept smiling, as she reverted back to the arena full of clapping strangers and awed judges. Her coach’s subtle thumbs up; her parents weeping.

Her perfection.

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