“an urban image from the eighties” – Nicole Broussard, “Smooth Horizon of the Verb Love
She removed the accoutrements of her profession deliberately and with intent. First the red skin-screen, then the blurring device. With this device customers saw what they desired when they looked upon her, rather than her true self. The shape-forming mechanism came off next. This item gave the illusion of familiarity of her appearance to the viewing audience, which kept them guessing. She was a star, their favorite celebrity; she was the famous dancer Clarisse or elocutionist Marcel – anyone who existed in the minds of those who viewed her show. Yes, these trappings did not come cheap. But by their employment she made a handsome living, sufficient to reside in the highest penthouse residence in the city, and to employ any number of servants for her care.
Yet she inspected her visage in the mirror she faced. Where those worry lines on her forehead? Was that a new crease in her cheek? No matter how clever the equipment she employed, when it was removed she was left with only this: the appearance of a woman growing old, of a woman who could not evade the onset of age after all.
Yet even so, no one could tell that she was beginning to lose her beauty. No one that mattered, that is. So much the better that she employed only mechanical servants who lacked the ability to detect the gradual decline of her physical being. No one to remind her of her failing beauty.
Yet she still did this little inspection every night after her performance, this close examination of the lay of her cheek, the color of her skin, the lines crossing her forehead. She still made an inventory of her advancing flaws. She still knew that the prospect of death increased its shadow across the time she had remaining. There was an unhappy thought. The making of another wrinkle.
Tomorrow. Another performance, another heightened delusion for all who put their eyes on her. The hiss of disbelief. The roar of recognition.
In her own way, she was all of desire, she was all of the intimate. The familiar. The memory of an entire race lay within her. She would not disappoint.