I look at myself in the gloomy depths of the mirror. I’m not tall, and I’m quite skinny, but even with my toes bunched up my feet are too long to fit into a pair of glass slippers. I have grown my hair as long as I can, but instead of resembling a waterfall of gold, or the tossing waves of the midnight ocean, I know it looks more like something you’d find hanging from the belly of a beige yak.

I sigh, and turn to the woman behind me.  She is dressed in a suit from the most boring clothes store in the city, but the hard sparkle in her silver eyes gives her away.

I bring the glass tube out of my pocket and hold it out to her. The stuff inside is glowing red. Deep, deep red.

‘I need to be beautiful,’ I blurt out. ‘Do it!’



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Comment by WP Central on October 19, 2012 at 6:49

The woman reaches, a blue wand sparkling between her dagger-like fingers.  As the tip of the wand touches the red glow, a smoking cloud flows out of the tube enveloping me in thick violet gas. My throat closes tight and I gasp for breath.

‘Help me!’ I shriek. ‘I can’t…’

The room blurs and I stagger towards the mirror, choking. Tears stream from my stinging eyes and straggles of hair fall across my face. My knees give way and I fall towards the glass. It shatters and a slim shard pierces my palm. Blood wells up and the gassy cloud turns a menacing bruise-like purple. I try to stop myself from breathing in the thick vapour, but I cannot escape.

As I struggle on the floor, my limbs are out of control, shivering and twitching. Sharp pains in my face could be from the broken glass but they feel different, like electric shocks. The cloud fills the whole room and I cannot see if the woman is there. No-one can help, no-one at all.

Deep shuddering breaths wrench through my lungs and I begin to calm down and gain some control. I manage to sit up, then move my hands over my body and face, trying to work out if anything has changed. I still cannot see and the mirror is lost in the purple fog. A faint glow from one side might be the way out. Crawling over the broken glass, I manage to open the door to the street…

Anne Robinson, Dixie Grammar School


Comment by Adrian Thompson Laisterdyke UK on October 19, 2012 at 7:49

The first thing I sense is the smell. Matches possibly, or ...sulphur – that’s it, sulphur. Didn’t notice that on the way in.

Then there’s the street – or rather, there isn’t. On the ground are small rocks – almost pebbles – pushed into a sort of path. Smoke – or is it steam? – rises from holes on either side of the path. I don’t know, but I really think I shouldn’t  step off it. I see – or think I see – something – a tendril? ooze out of one of the holes then, as though it knows I’ve seen it, whip quickly back. Piossibly i’m wrong, but I don’t think we’re in Peckham any more...

“Emma,” a smooth, silky voice murmurs from behind me. I turn to face it. It’s the woman again – but this time she’s not wearing the boring suit, but a long, blood red cape over a black costume. She’s got something in her hand – a pitchfork? – and No!, she has horns. Small horns, protruding from her hair so you can hardly see them...

She produces a mirror, and gives it to me. “Look,” she purrs, “You are the most beautiful woman in the world”. I look – she’s right, I look great!

“Only thing is, “she continues, “you didn’t read the small print...”

Comment by Nikki Heath on October 19, 2012 at 8:48

..."Small print?" I cry, loudly, still not quite sure what has just happened to me, "WHAT small print?"

The woman smiles, an evil, shifty, but trumphant look in her eyes,  the kind of look that you give to your parents when you've manipulated them without them realising.

"Did you read the contract carefully? We tend to find that many don't. They're so vain, so eager to become perfect; to be how they feel they should be, stronger, more beautiful, intelligent, superior to anyone else, that they ALWAYS forget to read the small print. Well, apart from that one time, at library camp..." A startled look comes into her eyes fleetingly and then disappears, making me wonder whether or not I had seen it in the first place. My sight had changed slightly, become more blurred, and I didn't understand why. Then I realised. I still had my contacts in. I didn't need them any more! I smiled for a minute, then my mind sbnpped instantly back to the conversation at hand. What had I agreed to? Why hadn't I checked?

"The vial of blood that is now in your system made all your requested modifications, my dear. AND a few more" she purred again, and then smiled, with that expression of superiority back on her face. You should discover some of the modifications that we decided to make in around 10 seconds".

I glanced towards the door; could I make it? Surely I had to try to make a run for it. But what if I'd been turned into an explosive? what if I was a danger to others? What if?

A gnawing pain began in my head, and radiated throughout my body. My hands began to change...


Comment by Anne-Lise Robin on October 19, 2012 at 9:48

Hang on, I have never signed for that! My hands turned an orangey, mahoganey sort of colour. It started crawling up my arms and soon covered my all body. My nails started to become rigid and glitter popped out of the acrylic-like surface. I reached from my hair, it was coarse and puffed up on top of my head. A strong smell of Ellnet reached my nose. "Give me a mirror" I cried out in fright. The woman looked through her heavy handbag and pulled out a compact. At first I could only make out my eyes: smokey with long feather like wings fluttering where my eyelashes used to be. I didn't understand, small print? I started running but I got caught in the massive high heels painfully glued to my feet. 

"See when you asked to become beautiful, you never expressed what type of beautiful. I decided to make you TOWIE beautiful. Welcome to Essex darling. By the way, this is not Peckham anymore, this is Chelmsford, enjoy!" she cheered disappearing in a cloud of smoke. 

"Awright?" came a voice behind me.

Comment by Christopher Lunt on October 19, 2012 at 10:34

Perhaps it's a dream, well, nightmare.  Perhaps if I just close my eyes and click my heels, I'll wake up in cold sweat but nonetheless in the comfort of my own bed.  Perhaps if I just summon the energy...

But alas this is no delusion, the nightmare is real.  What's more, they're starting to surround me.  All of the usual suspects are in attendance.  The shrill cry of the girl on her mobile phone, oblivious to the excess of her own decibels and less still to the state of her attire.  The pouting, rather trout faces of terracotta men who might easily have been mistaken for mannequins, if not given away by their more animated poses.  They creep up on me almost like zombies, as if to feast upon fresh meat - I have a fleeting desire to become vegetarian but my focus quickly turns to that of survival.  The small print, why couldn't I just have read that damn small print...If it were only a dream.

Comment by Eve Westwood on October 19, 2012 at 11:16

I began to totter along the highstreet.  I felt absurdly conspicuous but I don't know why.  A woman coming out of 'Nails'R'Us' waved a manicured hand at me, then patted her chihuaha on the head and settled it down more comfortably in her Burberry handbag.  In front of me, a woman spoke nasally into her mobile phone, sharing her conversation with the world.  She laughed shrilly.  This was worse than being conspicuous.  I fitted in!  I tried to steady my breathing.  Think!  Small print, small print.  There was only one thing to do... find a top-ranking solicitor.  But then I remembered, I was in Chelmsford...

Comment by Carrie Humphrey on October 19, 2012 at 12:42

At the time Chelmsford was known for the high quality of its indian restaurants.

A curry was what I wanted, a nice Lamb Korma gave me a chance think about my options and discuss my dilemma with a waiter. Waiters were great for sorting out dilemmas and once again Chelmsford was known for the excellent waiters it produced.


I popped in to the nearest Indian restaurant I could find and was approached by a friendly waiter named Sylvester, after my meal I told Sylvester all about my day but couldn't help but think something was wrong.

Then all of a sudden my waiter friend shouted at the top of his voice "GO, GO, Go!" and fifty armed police men burst through the door all with their guns firmly pointed at me.


Moe Sharp, Renaissance Learning

Comment by WP Central on October 19, 2012 at 13:19

I jumped to my feet……well stumbled awkwardly actually, those shoes were really high ……and flung my arms over my head shouting “don’t shoot what have I done?? No one reads the small print!”  One of the armed men who seemed to be in charge strode over to me. “ Oh little lady you know what you have done……we’re here to arrest you for the crimes of generalisation and bigotry, don’t play the innocent with me!!” “But…..but I don’t know what you mean, explain please…and don’t let the blonde hair fool you, it doesn't have to be in words of one syllable” I pleaded. The man looked even angrier and snapped “you’re doing it again!! Why do you assume that hair colour has anything to do with intelligence, and why do you make generalisations about people from certain areas?? After all you look as if you fit in around here, but we were called in because people overheard you talking to yourself using hateful terms. Come on I'm taking you to a judge!” Roughly he grabbed my arm and pulled but he needn't have….surely if I'm taken before a man of the law I can explain all about the small print and that weird woman – must be able to prosecute her under the trade descriptions act surely, after all the ad just said “we can make you beautiful” , didn't say anything about provisos!


Comment by Caroline Roche on October 19, 2012 at 19:59

Suddenly, a voice rings out "Let her go!"  I turned, startled, to see the most amazing sight I have ever seen.  Striding towards me was a librarian, judging by her clothes.  She was wearing twinset and pearls, glasses and had a bun. But clutched in her hand was a lethal weapon, the most powerful one that I have ever seen.  The policemen cowered in shock and fright, and stood away from me, awed by the power of the book in her hand.  "Come with me" she said. "I have many books in my armoury to make you well, and turn you into a well rounded woman.  I have The Female Eunuch .."  As she said this, the policemen screamed in shock and grabbed their stomachs as if they had been shot.  "And I have many books to empower you and to make you into a beautiful woman inside."  I turned to her, looking at my heroine, and saw the title of the book which saved me for the first time.  The title was ...

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