When beauty fades Noya finds herself at a desperate end.
| She pushed the brush against her aging cheek, the thin sheets of skin taunt across her face. She looked at the vanity mirror; even with her make-up she couldn't perfect it. She was in ruination, a desolate building, a broken mirror with all its cracks. She looked at herself in unescapable loathing. Her hand reached out and slapped the reflection away into a thousand shards that clattered into the sound of mocking laugh at her fading beauty.
Even the red that seeped up in thin sharp lines across her palm was dull. Dull and fading. Noya grabbed the tissues and dabbed at her hand. The wound stung like a dull throbbing ache and as she picked the glass out of the cuts, Noya remembered how it felt to be young when pain was a new and overwhelming feeling. Her oldest friend was pain; they were companions since her downfall at the age of thirty five. That was when Noya first felt old. She was not given that satisfying idea that she had grown wise, but more of a sense of impending doom. That it was not a gentle stroll down the hill until Noya finally, surrounded by family, decided to sleep. What Noya found it to be was a nihilistic landscape void of anything she once loved. She was tumbling through broken glass and trashed trophies, second place, third place, yet worst of all, the contender's medal.
Noya looked again at the cracked mirror, not caring for superstition; she looked at her ancient eyes, dark and stormy. Just like her thoughts. She left the wounded hand to its own devices. There was no point in bandaging it now. She had decided on where she would end up, one last glimpse of beauty in this cold abandoning world. She flicked the switch, plunging herself into the darkness of the shadows, where her silhouette still held the beauty she once had. Before it had been stolen by some bastard god of time.
Noya stood up and pushed out the wrinkles in her dress. No one appreciated Haute Couture anymore, especially not that of five decades ago. She left the establishment and brought herself to face the outside world. She stood at the exterior door, her bloodied palm against the cool window, her forehead pressed likewise.
"Why has it all disappeared?" She whispered to herself, before tapping her forehead against the glass, hearing the rattle of the pane. "Why have you left me?"
Noya reached down to the handle, her wrinkled hands embroidered by glorious rings with a display of rubies and sapphires. As she pushed open the door from her downgraded single bed palace, Noya felt the cold chill of the air biting on her skin. She wrapped her fur shawl round her tightly, its soft cream colour matching well with the long red halter neck dress. The shoes fit perfectly as well, of course they would. Not that anyone noticed Noya, the old skeleton that stalked backstage desperate for the heat of her sun, the heat of the limelight.
She pulled on her gloves as she waved down a taxi. It was the fifth taxi that passed before it even glanced at her. Opening the back door, Noya slid into the back seat onto the torn and shredded filling of the seat. "Beacon Theatre, please."
"You're looking fancy, lady. Where you off to?" The taxi man garbed back at her.
"I've a date." Noya said absentmindedly.
"Lucky you. My wife never gets dressed up for our dates." His chuckles turning into a wheezing fit of coughs.
"A date with God." She murmured.
The taxi sped through the city, Noya gazed outwards yet her thoughts were inwards, to her own darkest feelings. She knew these roads like she knew how to win. She was the one that won, year after year. She was not just a Beauty Queen, she was the Beauty Queen. How was it that she was named the most beautiful of them all, yet was now alone?
It wasn't like Noya had never had a man, she had plenty. She had her choice of the world until she was replaced. Until the knife was sunk deep into her back by her prot The one person who was beside her the whole time had taken her place as the winner, as the most beautiful of them all.
As the taxi stopped, Noya threw the taxi driver the money. He thanked her and she greeted him with silence. As she opened the door, she heard one last remark.
"Have a nice day, old lady."
His thoughts were kind but his words cut deep into Noya. She felt the sting of tears that threatened her mascara, which threatened to show her sorrow. The world ate up the weak; Noya knew that about the world. It was cold and unforgiving.
She slammed the door and looked up at the theatre. It used to be her home, where she felt safest and she was its owner. Walking up to the unlit building, Noya could remember it, the feeling she once had linked to the building that stood before her. She remembered how it was for the final time. She had rushed here in a similar taxi, entering through the magnificent front doors via the red carpet laid down beforehand. She rushed into the changing rooms, apologising to the manager for being late.
"I'm sorry, Yvonne, I can't help the fact that the plane from Paris was delayed!" She laughed off, touching Yvonne on the shoulder and smiling.
The older woman nodded and groaned. "Just get changed Princess."
"Thank you, Yvonne." She said again, going to her usual changing room, the one with the en suite. She turned the knob to find her protégé sitting in her seat.
"Noya! Goodness gracious, you made it!" She said, her smile stretching from one side of her face to the other. "I thought you'd decided to give in the towel!"
"You've been reassigned, Noya." Yvonne said complacently.
"This has always been my room!" Noya said, her voice hissing at the older woman. "I'm practically a patron of this place! The crowd is there to see me!"
"I can switch if you want?" Rhiannon said her smile just as big. She had been practicing it all year Noya bet.
"You see? We can switch. We can switch." Noya said, smiling again at the woman without any heart or emotion.
"No." She said. "Go to your room, it is Tori's old room. She's dead."
Noya sat in the seat of the small cramped dressing room. There was no en suite. She pushed the brush across her plump cheekbones quickly, her make-up artist had not shown up. Her blonde hair was in curlers, ready to be released just before she made it to the stage. Her eyelashes perfected and her red lipstick applied. Noya could hear Yvonne's voice in the background, warning of five minutes until line-up.
She threw off her clothing and chose the red dress, the one she had first won in. Before sliding into the dress she looked at herself in the mirror, her physique perfect. She winked at herself and zipped herself up as far as she could.
"Show time!" Yvonne's voice echoed as Noya looked at the abandoned building before her. She walked up, the taxi had left long ago and entered the building, any attempt of keeping horny teens and the homeless had long been abandoned. The hooting of a nesting owl echoed throughout the dilapidated building. She entered through the grandeur hall, the chandelier shattered on the ground, dust covered without any sparkle left.
Noya lifted up a shard of the chandelier. No sparkle from something that used to sparkle more and more each time you gazed at it, yet suddenly now it was nothing but collecting dust. Noya laughed a hoarse laugh. "I guess we are similar." She said throwing down the glass again. Her wounded hand stung as she used the muscles in it.
She moved onwards into the room that she had dressed herself in. It held no good memories, more like mere phantoms of a previous life that caused her faint and fickle happiness. But even then, that room never brought her joy. It had once been where she thought she could find. What she found was desperation and disappointment. The lies of what she could achieve, what she had achieved in the past but could never again, because she was too old.
Old. She hated that word. The word that summed her up. Old, unwanted and a shell of beauty. No one ever told her she aged well, or that she got better with age. It was never that. It was a sigh, or a 'remember those trophies you used to win?' A reminded that what she is is not what she was.
As Noya entered the Grand Hall she looked down at the cold stage where all her dreams were burnt and turned to ashes. Moving to her left she entered a room where the lights had been. She pushed a switch and heard the generator buzz to life. She flicked another switch and the lights flickered on before Noya stepped down between the dusty red seating tiers finally reaching where the limelight had been.
Noya held her head up high, staring up at the beautiful stage that once was her paradise.
"Show Time!" Yvonne's voice echoed and once again Noya was plunged back into her memories. She was lining up, third to enter with her zipper still not up.
"Will you do me up, sweetie?" She said to one of the other girls.
The girl looked at her with an upturned lip. "Who do you think I am? You're maid?" She blew out through her big lips and moved on. "Grannies."
Noya looked at her in utter disgust.
"Don't worry, I got it." Rhiannon said to her, touching her arm as she pulled the zip up. "Good as new."
Noya smiled. "Thanks."
She looked up at the stage again, smoothing out her dress. Wrinkles are not beauty, in dresses or skin. Climbing up the stairs at the side, Noya moved into the spotlight. She waved at the silent dead crowd that was refracted back in the light that glared down at her. Her blonde hair didn't cascade like the last time she had been here. The last time was her end.
"Ladies and Gentlemen! Give it up for our wonderful contestants!" The man with the microphone shouted to the applauding audience. "Especially, for our winner, Miss Beauty Queen Rhiannon!" The crowd created a thunder that drummed into Noya's ears, as her tears fell silently away in a long solemn path to the wooden floor below. Her smile was plastered across her face, the image of happiness for her protégé
As the generator failed, her dream faded and Noya stood in the darkness of the old building. She moved off the stage and followed her path up the staircase. She knew the building like the rivers of veins that ran prominent across the back of her aged hands. She pushed open the emergency door into the dank cold morning, onto the roof of the Beacon Theatre.
Noya pulled the fur shawl tighter. It needed to stay with her for perfection in her act. Noya clambered up onto the ledge and looked over the city she once ruled. A race of tears sped down her face, catching in every wrinkle and crease. She had made her mind up, and any backing down now would be a sign of fear. She was strong, she would do this, she would be beautiful once again.
Turning around Noya spread her arms out. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "One last act of beauty in this cold unforgiving world." She whispered to herself, to the world that made her who she was and took it away all too soon. In one swift movement, Noya took the beautiful leap.