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Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, James replied to Mary’s remark that she was anything but beautiful.
She had nothing to say against it and quickly changed the subject. The evening went on without any more distractions.
Later at home she looked into the mirror, searching for that beauty James referred to. Not finding any sign of it, she made a pitiful face and sighed deeply.
She was not beautiful. She was not ugly either. She was… average. Pretty face. Few extra pounds. Dark hair. Once she had tried to color them blonde, but it turned out to be a disaster. It was not bad, no. But it was not she. Mary smiled bitterly at her reflection in the mirror and turned off the light.
The darkness did not change who she was. As a child she had tried imagining what it would be like to become beautiful. She never got to know. She grew up and nothing changed. She had not become a self-confident, modern, stylish girl. She did not wear designer clothes and didn’t own one hundred pairs of shoes. She did not match the color of her purse to the color of her nails. She was not one of them. She was not beautiful.
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, she repeated. Crap.
The next morning she woke up with a headache. Cursing James for bringing up this Beauty topic she got ready for office and left.
It was a dull day. The somber morning sky was about to break out into a thunderstorm. Occasional lightning flashed here and there. Soon, a loud clap of thunder pealed overhead and the first drops of rain touched her face. Within a minute the rain sheeted down and she was fully soaked. Searching for shelter she pushed the nearest door and stepped into a dark room. Once her eyes had adjusted to the darkness, she saw it was a bookstore. Curious, she came closer and took out one of the books. The Obvious Truths We Fail To See, she read the title. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder was the first line. Not again!
“Found what you are searching for, young lady?” The old man had appeared from nowhere.
“I… no, not really,” she muttered. “It’s just… the rain.”
“Ahh… the rain.”
Mary walked between the shelves touching the books’ covers. It was amazing how she, a passionate book lover, had never happened to come across this bookstore, just a few blocks away from her apartment.
“Do you think it will end soon?” She asked the man. “The rain,” she explained, noticing his blank stare.
“It will when it has to,” he replied mysteriously.
Mary wanted to ask more but the look in his eyes was a definite “no-more-questions-please” one. She shrugged and turned back to the books.
Suddenly, she caught her reflection in a mirror on the wall. It was she and yet it was not. The woman in the mirror looked… yes, she looked beautiful.
Confused, Mary asked the man, “What’s wrong with the mirror?”
She pointed to the wall.
“Ahh… This one? What’s wrong with it?” The man seemed surprised.
“Is it broken?”
“It is not me in the mirror.”
The old man came closer, looked at Mary. Paused. Mary waited.
“You are the only woman in the room,” he finally said.
“But the woman in there is beautiful,” Mary said.
“Is it a problem?”
Mary tried to say something but the man had moved behind the counter.
She looked into the mirror and smiled. The woman in the mirror smiled back. Mary winked. The woman winked too. Funny, Mary thought, the woman is me. Realization dawned slowly upon her. The woman is me. Mary glanced triumphantly around and said to the man at the counter, “It is me. The woman is me.”
The man gave her a funny “I-told-you-so” look and announced, “The rain is over, young lady.”
Mary saw sunbeams twinkle on the door’s glass and smiled. “Time to go,” she said. Thanking the old man for giving her shelter during the rain, she cast one last glance at the mirror and left the store.
Once she left, the man took the mirror off the wall and packed it in a box. The inscription on the box read Soul reflecting mirror. The man hesitated for a moment, then took a pen and wrote Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder on the box.