A Short Short Story — The Beauty

‘A Short Short Story’ provides you with your daily dose of fiction in a thousand words or less.
U.S. National Archives
U.S. National Archives

The Beauty

We were standing on a subway platform, waiting for a subway train to arrive. There was a moon above us, the platform being outside, in the chilly air. The moon was a crescent, and looking at it, I remembered that “croissant” means crescent, or something very like it, because the moon looked like a croissant, sort of; flakey, with light pouring through, if that makes sense and is not stupid.

“That moon is very beautiful,” my girlfriend said. I looked up. Sure, the moon. The moon was very beautiful. Where was the train?

“Consider the moon,” my girlfriend said. What is the deal with my girlfriend, that she says shit like this? …Christ.

“It’s just going to disappear,” I said, speaking of the moon, and Christ, what is my deal, that I talk like this. I am worse than my girlfriend. My girlfriend is very beautiful, like the hypothetical moon of that night. I myself am somewhat ugly. Not horribly ugly. If you saw me at a party, you would not be like, “Jesus Christ that guy is hideous.”  But my girlfriend is beautiful and I am not. I have to get by on “personality,” on “charm.”

What am I going to do about my girlfriend, the beautiful one? When will she realize that I am not beautiful, inside or out.

Then the two of us stared at the moon for a while.

The train had not yet come. I thought about the moon, did my best to think about the moon, since my girlfriend liked the moon. The moon was young, a crescent, but soon it would be old. It was cold outside. Very cold. Our breath made steam, made puffs of cigarette smoke.

By the edge of the tracks, there were flowers, frozen over with ice but possibly still alive. I don’t know what these made me think of. …My girlfriend is younger than me. I am getting old now. And I am getting ugly now, because I am getting old, my body is losing its shape, becoming fat, giving in to gravity; gravity, which wants you down there, in the center of the earth.

I hoped that the flowers were still alive. …We were all beautiful once, it occurred to me. As children, we were all beautiful, open-eyed, ready for anything, pure-skinned, beautiful, smiles glowing. So we were all once beautiful. Now I am growing old, and thus less beautiful. And one day I will be truly old, a mass of wrinkles, acceptable only to those who have loved me in the past. So then; we have all known beauty — and we will all know ugliness, one day. …The beauty of it all. I thought of mentioning this to my girlfriend. “So–” I said, but then the train came in with a screech, with attendant clouds of steam, blocking out the sky, and I was too shy anyway, and I did not speak, and I felt heavy-hearted but also hopeful, as hopeful as the flowers and as the empty-cored moon, which for the moment was invisible, lost and hidden, but still there, no doubt. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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