The Problem with Beauty by Shavherbald
Stephanie had first come to Moorehead’s School For Girls when she was 16. Her parents had been killed in a car accident. The deal was that she was to continue her education there until she was 18.
The school was not large; in fact, it consisted of a single house, with several rooms, an attic and a unique two-level basement (not many knew of the second level). In charge of the school was Miss Gaggart, who along with her two somewhat overweight and unattractive daughters ran the school with an iron fist.
The rules were extremely strict. Absolute silence during study time (which lasted 3 hours), eat only food prepared by Gaggart’s daughters (which was mostly beans and some other slop called ‘stew’), be in bed by 8 p.m., no television and absolutely no dating men!
At first, Stephanie did not have much trouble adapting to the strict rules at Moorehead’s. She was too grief-stricken to really notice. But now she was 18 and blooming. Stephanie had a gorgeous body with a golden tan, firm, tight breasts, stunning blue eyes, a face that any modeling agency would die for, strong, shapely legs, perfect feet and full lips. To top it off, she had a head full of soft, gorgeous, wonderful, wavy blond hair that looked angelic as the sun shone upon it. It was styled to resemble Farrah Fawcett’s in a way, but in a little bit more modern fashion. Stephanie’s hair was her crowning achievement. She actually had love for it.
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Stephanie was beginning to notice that was a world outside of Gaggart’s dingy boarding house. Gaggart was not married anymore. Her husband, it was said, had run off with a younger woman years ago, leaving her in financial, social and mental ruin. Her dislike and mistrust of men was evident in a lot of aspects. Only women were allowed to deliver packages to the doors of Moorehead. Once when a plumber was needed, Gaggart had a female plumber shipped in from across two county lines because she refused to have a male plumber “contaminate the grounds of Moorehead.” Men didn’t have a problem with that. Gaggart wasn’t being chased by People magazine to grace their cover anytime soon. She was a witchy looking woman, with dark eyes and a craggy face. She always wore black. Her daughters, Lisa and Lulu, weren’t much better. Both were overweight with at least two, maybe three, chins apiece. Their teeth were misshapen and yellow and their faces were covered with zits. As one person put it, “it looks like Death took a crap on their faces.”
Around the springtime, Stephanie met Mark. Mark was a James Dean-like persona who met Stephanie one day while she was tending the garden at Moorehead’s. He had been dropping off packages and caught a glimpse of Stephanie, planting flowers. It was one of those moments that caused his heart to leap at the sight of her. Stephanie was in work clothes, a white T-shirt and blue jeans with white sneakers with black soles. Even though she was in these clothes, her radiant beauty transpired. In fact, Mark actually thought she looked sexier in this way. Stephanie could look good in these clothes or in a Givenchy gown. Mark ventured over to Stephanie, who was sitting splay-legged, planting her flowers (that is how he knew her sneaker soles were black) and began talking.
Well, the chemistry was there and Stephanie was equally taken by the handsome young man, in a black leather jacket, who resembled a River Phoenix-like character. Soon, they began secretly calling each other, which eventually led to Stephanie sneaking out of Moorehead’s at night. It was exciting, but dangerous. Stephanie knew if Gaggart ever caught her, there would be hell to pay, especially for her dislike of men.
Just because that old hag can’t get anyone doesn’t mean I have to do without, Stephanie said to herself. Mark agreed.
This went on for a couple of months. Then one night, Lulu saw Stephanie sneaking out of a window. Stephanie was already gone by the time she woke Gaggart to tell her.
“That little whore is sneaking off with men!” Gaggart said. “I will deal with her when she gets back!”
The idea of Stephanie, a beautiful, attractive young girl even so much as holding hands with a man caused ripples of rage in Gaggart. Her mood was of course brought on by jealously. In reality, this wasn’t a bad thing; Gaggart made it one because of the anger she never let go of from her failed marriage. In fact, it was a blond like Stephanie that he had run off with. That of course, made Stephanie an instant target. During her two-year stay at Moorehead, Gaggart had done some things to try and shake up Stephanie, just out of spite. She did things like make her clean toilets, scrub floors over and over (even when they were spotless), dust out air ducts from the inside and other filthy jobs. Stephanie always did as told, with a meek ‘Yes, Miss Gaggart’ whenever ordered to do something. Gaggart remained angry, however. One day she would be given an excuse to vent her rage on Stephanie. And that day had finally arrived…
That night, Stephanie went out with Mark to Green’s Point, a known lovers’ lane. Mark may have looked like a rebel, motorcycle and all, but he really was a gentleman. He and Stephanie never had sex. They just kissed, and played around like two kids. For now, that was enough in their relationship. Mark did have strong feelings for Stephanie. She was a beautiful young girl. Of course he loved her hair almost as much as she did. He did say once, half kidding-half not, that if she ever cut it, he would have nothing to do with her. Of course, Stephanie assured him that would never happen.
After a night at Green’s Point, Mark brought Stephanie back to Moorehead’s, parking down the block in order not to seen.
“Stephanie, when you going get free from your chains at Moorehead?” Mark asked. “If you are 18, doesn’t that mean you are an adult?”
“Yes, but I have told you I have one more month to go, then I am free of this place,” Stephanie said. “Free of Gaggart and her black-spewing hatred.”
“I don’t know if I can wait,” Mark said.
“Sure you can,” Stephanie said, turning her head, shaking her wavy blond hair in his face.
Mark smiled and looked down a bit. With hair like that, Stephanie was in the driver’s seat.
“I will see you soon. Call Friday,” she said.
“Okay.” Then they kissed and Stephanie headed back to Moorehead’s.
Mark watched her go. She walked fast, hair bouncing as she did. And then she disappeared around the corner.
Stephanie made her way back to Moorehead’s and found the window she had climbed out of. No lights on in the house. Good.
She opened the window and climbed through, shut it behind her and started to head toward her room, when she heard a voice behind her say: “I hope you had fun tonight, dearie.”
Stephanie turned and in the dark stood before her Miss Gaggart. She had been caught.
“Where have you been? Out with those disgusting men, sloughing over you like a rabid mutt?” Gaggart said in a snarl.
“I was out on a date,” Stephanie said, with confidence. She stood straight up, chest out, and hands at her side, feet pointed in opposite directions. This stance was her proud stance. With her beauty she could afford to be proud.
“A date? You know the rules against dating! NO DATING ALLOWED HERE!”
“Just because you can’t get any doesn’t mean the rest of us have to suffer!” Stephanie shot back.
Gaggart was taken aback by this disrespectful tone. “You little whore…”
“I’M NOT YOUR WHORE OR YOUR DAMN MAID, LADY! I AM OLD ENOUGH TO MAKE SOME DESICONS FOR MYSELF AND I AM GOING TO DO SO!” Stephanie screamed. Gaggart was in shock. For once, she was the one on the opposite end.
“I have put up with your bullshit for two years now!” Stephanie said. “Clean this, scrub that! And no men! Well, I am a woman and I like men! My BOYFRIEND is gonna take care of me now and I don’t need your crap anymore! I’m outta here in a month so you can take it. If you don’t like it you can stick it, you old, ugly witch!”
That last comment struck Gaggart hard. Many times growing up she had been called “ugly” by the neighborhood girls, all of whom were the envy of the men. Including her soon-to-be husband. All of who had pretty, gorgeous hair like Stephanie’s.
“Don’t ‘but’ me! I am going to bed!” Stephanie said.
Gaggart was losing the battle. She couldn’t think what to do or say. She could never compete with a beautiful young girl like Stephanie, no matter what she did. She always lost. Always.
However, as soon as Stephanie said the word ‘bed’ there was a flash of light, a quick buzzing sound and Stephanie crumpled to the floor, unconscious. From behind a curtain, close to where Stephanie had been standing, stepped out Lulu. In her hand was a stun gun, set on high.
“Heeheeeheeeheee!” Lulu said. “I got her! I got her! She thought she was going to win, but I got her!”
Gaggart regained her senses for a moment. She had been caught up in the horrifying images from the past while Stephanie was raging and now she was instantly brought into the present. Also, the rage within took on a new life.
“Go get your sister and help me get this bitch into my room!” Gaggart said, now re-energized by thoughts of revenge.
What she was going to do to Stephanie should be done to no woman.
Stephanie awoke from a haze. How long had it been? Hours?
To her horror, Stephanie realized where she was. She was sitting in a chair, her arms tied tightly behind her back. Each of her legs was tied to each end of a dresser with a large mirror. Her shoes had been removed, leaving her bare feet in a v-formation. The only light in the room was several candles that were placed on the dresser. She could feel the warmth of the candles on the soles of her feet.
She tried to speak, but she noticed a piece of duct tape was covering her mouth, preventing her from doing so.
“Well, looks like Goldilocks is waking up!” a voice said from behind.
It was Lulu. Standing next to her was Miss Gaggart. Stephanie was instantly struck with horror and tried to struggle with her tied hands, but it was no use. She was strapped in.
“No use to struggle,” Gaggart said. “You now must be punished for breaking the rules. Lulu, leave us!”
“But I want to stay and watch!” Lulu said.
“No! You will be rewarded later, but for now leave us!”
Lulu reluctantly left the room, leaving Stephanie alone with Gaggart.
“An ugly old witch am I? Before the night’s over we’ll see who’s uglier!” Stephanie’s heart began racing. She knew she was in deep trouble. What is she going to do to me? Stephanie wondered.
“Behold yourself in the mirror!” Stephanie looked in the mirror. There she was, a young, pretty girl with a near perfect body, strapped like an animal to the chair. Her bare feet reflected the light from the candles. Every so often Stephanie flexed her bare feet due to the heat from the candles. She looked at her beautiful face surrounded by her gorgeous, soft, wavy, shoulder-length blond hair. She had soft blond bangs that highlighted her deep blue eyes.
“You are beautiful, aren’t you?” Gaggart growled. Stephanie, back into her submissive state, nodded in agreement. “That is the problem.”
Problem? Stephanie wondered.
“Beauty is the problem,” Gaggart said. “There are more ugly people in the world than beautiful ones, and the majority should rule! This world requires order! Whenever beauty gets in the picture, chaos erupts! That is why, for the better of mankind, beauty has to be destroyed once in while! Destroy the beauty, you destroy the problem. You have become a problem. Therefore your beauty must be destroyed.”
Destroy my beauty? Oh my God, what is she talking about? Stephanie’s mind screamed.
At this point Gaggart began to smooth Stephanie’s glorious hair behind her left ear, exposing it in the candlelight. Then she did the same with the right ear.
“Such pretty ears,” Gaggart said. And they were. Stephanie had perfectly round ears, not like small, pointy ones as she had. As Stephanie gazed at herself in the mirror, she had to agree. Often she would smooth her hair back to expose her ears. It not only got the hair out of her face, but it looked good, too. Her ears were pretty as long as her luscious blond hair surrounded them. In the candlelight, her ears looked beautiful. Stephanie noticed in the mirror that Gaggart was getting something out of a drawer behind her. It was black and had a cord attached to it.
“Take a last good look at yourself. You are not going to be beautiful anymore!”
Fear gripped Stephanie now. A sinking feeling in her stomach knotted it into fits.
She waited to see what her fate was…
She didn’t have to wait long.
Stephanie heard a crack then a buzzing sound next to her exposed right ear. Her blue eyes widened as she saw what was making that noise.
Electric hair clippers! With no guard!
NO! Please don’t shave off my beautiful hair! Stephanie’s mind screamed. Please anything…
Her thoughts returned to Mark’s words about leaving her if she ever cut her hair. Now he would for sure… NO!
Despite her mental pleas, Gaggart brought the clippers up to the middle of Stephanie’s forehead and held them there