It was morning. And I was ugly.
Imagine staggering past the bathroom mirror at the crack of eleven a.m. and catching a glimpse of a face even a mother mole rat couldn’t love when you’re used to something that graces billboards and magazines. Considering every other day I woke up not ugly, which would easily turn into pretty after a gallon of coffee and convert into gorgeous with the judicious application of some war paint, it was the worst shock of my young life.
I think I screamed. I know I dropped to the floor, half-afraid some gruesome creature had staged a home invasion while I slept. But after several moments of sheer panic, where nothing reached through to snatch me, I mustered my courage and rose. As I peeked into the mirror, the monster did, too.
When I moved, it moved. When I frowned, it frowned. When I ran a hand through my hair, its hand went through its scraggly mane. No escaping the fact. That face was mine.
I was ugly. Ugg-Lee. South end of a northbound goat ugly. Beat with a brick and left for dead ugly. Press my face in dough and make troll cookies ugly.
To make matters worse, I had no clue what the hell had happened. Where could my loveliness have gone? And why? Whyyyyy?
As I dredged my memories, I pressed my throbbing head against the cool glass and tried to figure out if I’d been in some kind of horrible accident and after several weeks in the hospital, they’d released me so the staff could eat a meal without wanting to hurl.
I came up with nothing. And a glance at my phone showed I hadn’t lost so much as a day. All I could recall was I’d gone to the city’s second trendiest nightclub, Spanky’s, the night before. I’d danced a lot, drank a lot more, and gone home with the first available hottie. Things got fun for a while and, afterwards, he’d gone on his merry way. Like any number of other nights in a long string of pointless nights.
Somehow or other, I rolled over mid-morning the next day with the usual hangover and fuzzy tongue. And as ugly as sin. Which was definitely not usual.
Not the best outcome for Jeni Braxxon, twenty-two year old model, to be perfectly honest.
I had a photo shoot the following week, for petesakes. I had an agent who kept promising me the cover of Vogue, if my career kept on the track she’d so carefully laid. Sure, twenty-two is a bit old for a modeling career to take off, but I had hopes. It had to take off. It wasn’t like I possessed the skills to do anything else. I’d managed to graduate high school without too sucktastic grades, but I was no Rhodes Scholar. I’d gone to college for a semester and a half, but it wasn’t enough to get me a job above minimum wage. And the minimum wage jobs I knew of? Even on a good day, I’ve never been fit for fast food or retail sales.
I pushed myself back and took another good, long look at the face in the mirror. Which ain’t easy when your eyes want to jump out and run away. It hadn’t gotten any better, and I had to admit that now I wasn’t even fit for menial jobs. Who would want to buy food or clothes from a hag?
As the reel of coming attractions and past faults played in my head, I threw a towel over the mirror, shut all the curtains, and prepared for life as a hermit. I spent the first ten hours of my ugliness sequestered inside my apartment with the phone turned off and the door bolted. I gathered up more towels and covered every reflective surface in my apartment. It was like someone was sitting Shiva in there.
No way was I going to face my face again. I couldn’t do it, and no one was going to make me.
Until that night when I attempted to get ready for bed.
Brushing your teeth is an interesting experience when you can’t see your mouth. So I sucked it up and pulled the towel down. Prepped for a glimpse of gruesome, I got the second shock of the day. Other than looking like I had the roughest day of my young life, I was me again. Same almond-shaped, beautiful blue eyes, if a little bloodshot. Same killer complexion, if a bit pale. Same luxurious blonde hair, if lifeless, messy, and needing a good styling. That thing I’d seen growing on my nose, whatever it was, had disappeared. My lips were plump and pouty again, instead of a cracked slash above my warty chin. And the three beard hairs were gone.
Chalking the entire thing up to a lingering nightmare caused by the worst hangover ever, I swore off booze, turned my phone on to rejoin the world, and went to bed confident in my beauty. I didn’t remember falling asleep. I didn’t even remember dreaming. I closed my eyes in the dark one minute and opened them the next in the soft light of dawn.
I didn’t even have to look at my reflection that time. I knew. I was ugly. Again. Ugh.
I wish I could say I experienced a tingle or a twitch. Even a burning sensation in my nether regions would’ve been preferable, because it would’ve provided a warning. Nope. I got nothing.
Except ugly. Overnight ugly.
At first, I totally doubted my sanity. Nobody gets ugly overnight. Then again, no one gets pretty throughout the day. Either a person is always pretty, or they’re always ugly.
Which meant I’d had a psychotic break. Either now or one earlier in my life I’d totally missed. Neither option made me feel any better about myself. Of course, the only other answer seemed just as crazy. That I’d been cursed.
But magic isn’t real. Curses don’t happen in real life—
Look for this to be out as soon as I can get it done and no later than the 29th (although I doubt it'll take me that long... barring disaster... knock on wood). I'll splash links everywhere, so you won't miss it.
Meanwhile, go over to Goodreads and 'Want to Read' it.
*Unless someone finds a typo in there before it uploads to Amazon for publication. Or unless I missed a crutch word or two. Or if I read it again before I've had adequate coffee and the sense to stop myself from tweaking it again.
Edited to add: I did it! Sleeping Ugly went live on 8/18, like I said it would.