Unravelling herself from the Gordian Knot that is sleep, Lamia, who has eyes like a peacock, stared nervously at her reflection in the adjacent mirror. Her vermillion-spotted body felt endless under the bedcovers, as the sun’s early rays pierced through the blinds intermixing with the stench of whiskey and cigarette smoke. Clothes of all different colours – gold, green, blue, white, maroon – were scattered across the floor amongst shoes, hairbrushes and perfume bottles; colourful islands in a sea of possession.
She felt the man’s breath on the back of her neck; it rustled through her serpentine hair, kissing her leathery skin with a welcomed unfamiliarity. He turned over to face the wall. The old wallpaper was peeling throughout the room revealing the cold, lifeless plaster underneath. She must not let him see her like this; he must not know what she is.
Lamia slithered gently out of the covers towards the dresser, whilst her lover remained under Morpheus’ woven charm, where time remains untethered to the natural world. She studied her long, naked body, iridescent and uneven. I cannot, dear reader, convey the extent of her displeasure at this sight. It would be a lie to say she was weeping, but her thoughts were drowning in a cascade of tears. Nevertheless, an emotionless face stared back at her, unmoved by the distress that coursed through her veins as if it were a poison. Contemplating the numerous instruments she needed to perform this act of restoration, Lamia sighed. Specks of silver swept and dissolved down her chest with every breath.
She first took the half-empty bottle of concealer from the side, unscrewed the lid and tipped the vanilla shade onto a long finger. Massaging under her eyes and around the darkness of her mouth, the cold cream ironed away the creases, capturing the child-like perfection she ceaselessly craved. It suppressed the crimson patches and eradicated the shimmering shades of grey. She then applied bronzer and blusher to a face that was in her mind cursed by the gods, condemned to an eternity of rainbow-kissed hideousness. After this, she focused on her eyes, her piercing and unforgivable eyes. Reaching into a lower drawer, she pulled out a small transparent plastic case that contained her watery blue contact lenses. She covered both eyes, suffocating the blackness with shallow lakes of icy water. Mouthwash followed. It flowed and foamed between her fangs, stinging her red tongue, overwhelming the sweetness of her venomous breath and replaced it with an artificial freshness. She swallowed the mouthful and as it burned her insides, she turned her attention to her weathered lips. They were a pale purple, and were intermittently interrupted by bursts of brown and black, which faded in and out of visibility like ancient fish surfacing in a pond. As if it were a sceptre, Lamia seized the lipstick from the table, removed the lid and twisted the base. She smothered the pulsating streaks with the colour of nymphs’ blood, and, pursing her lips, marked how her transformation was now complete.
Piercing through the blissful realm between sleep and consciousness, he garnered wavering impressions of the intricate pattern of the wallpaper on the wall next to him – oriental birds, trees and leaves, all composed of the fairest blue on a pure white background. He shifted onto his back. His outstretched arm felt only the sheets’ subtle embrace. Jolted into thought by the noticeable absence of the woman he had met last night, he became suddenly more aware of his surroundings.
“Good morning” said a voice from across the room. The words came as though they had been bubbled through honey.
As he turned, his gaze fell upon Lamia’s bare back. He noticed the smoothness of her white skin and the strands of thick golden hair draped across her shoulders. In the adjacent mirror, he saw the face of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.