You’ve become famous for your beauty but, in fact, it’s been 20 years since you last looked at yourself. In the morning you have body servants who do everything to prepare you for the day. During the day you have someone who follows along with you for any little touch ups to your hair, make up or wardrobe. Then, when you get home in the evening, there is a whole staff too for the bedtime routines. Once a week you have a spa day where every centimetre of your body is one kind of beauty treatment or another.
It’s been so long since you actually looked at yourself that you realize you’ve begun to forget what you look like. On your way to visit your business manager, the elevator has fancy mirrored doors which open to let you in. So you take a quick peek before they finish opening. How odd, you think. You can’t see yourself at all.
You decline to enter the elevator and tell those waiting to ride up and you will get the next one. You get a few odd looks but, it’s the city and there are all kinds of eccentrics here.
As the doors close behind them, you wait. Another chance to see yourself again and yet… you can’t see yourself. It’s not possible you could have become invisible.
Your daylong beauty checker notices a touch of glow on your face and moves to stand in front of you, fixing it but blocking your view. You can see around her and behind her in the mirror. You can see your arms wearing the dress you know you are wearing. It is only when she finally steps away, satisfied that you are perfect again, that you see the face and the body that go with the dress.
Someone has paid an awful trick on you! A joke! Surely it must be a joke. The woman in the mirror doesn’t look like you! She can’t be you! That face looks like something formed out of wax. It is perfect but it shows no sign of life. Unreal, like a mannequin. That can’t be you! You never looked like that!
As you turn towards your beauty checker, trying not to let out the scream which is racing up inside of you, you notice she is not real, not a real person. She’s mechanical, like a robot.
You look around you, there are other people coming and going, but as you look a bit closer you see they are all robots. No one that you can see is a real person, a human made of flesh, blood and bone. Now the scream rips out of you. You feel it leave your lungs, fly out of your throat and shake through every cell of your body.
But no… you realize. You didn’t really feel anything. You just expected to feel something.
Are you not real? No, you know you’re real. You can remember being real. About 20 years ago when you started being famous, you had a family, you had a cat too. Whatever happened to that cat? Seems you lost track of it and a lot of other things.
Your beauty checker tries to take hold of your arm but you are already off, running in a panic, out the doors, to the outside. If you can just get outside, everything will be right out there.
It’s been a long time since you ran anywhere. A long time since you did anything very physical. But you can still run. It feels good. You feel real again. No doubt this is just what you need. No doubt you can make everything make sense now that you’re not walking around half aware any more.
You catch sight of your face in the glass of the revolving doors… it’s like it’s melting. Slipping down from your hairline slowly like molasses. Underneath… under the waxy looking mask that you thought was your face… there are mechanical parts, wires, metal and circuit boards.
Everything inside of you shudders to a halt. You blow your final circuit, you become empty and frozen in place.
Later, a van pulls up outside. You are not really aware of it. You aren’t really aware when two clean up robots come and take you, place you in a long box and haul you into their van. On the side of the van it says “Acme”, of course.
Have you ever had a day where you get to the end of the day and realize you never actually, really looked at yourself all that whole day? How would it feel to look at yourself then and find a stranger looking back at you?