Two beautiful green eyes were staring at her from the mirror, eyes sodden with sadness. In these eyes the sadness always, even in the merriest moments, somehow managed to crawl in and take its proper place. And the present moment wasn’t a merry one at all – she had realized she was head over ears in love.
Yes, for Belinda the infatuation meant only more and more sufferings, because she knew pretty well that no one would marry a woman like her. Thirty three years old already, she had never had sex and probably would never will. Belinda examined with disgust the nice features of her face – the delicately rounded cheeks, the lush lips, the volitional chin and the childish, slightly snub nose. She did not want to be pretty; she wanted to have a face of a witch. Because then the things would not have gone that far. Maybe.
She dug her nails in her pale cheek and burst into tears, then grated her teeth angrily, clenched her fists and started punching her crippled left leg.
When she was three Belinda developed rare neurological disease on account of which her left leg withered, shortening by nearly ten inches, becoming a useless appendage to the body. Belinda gradually got used to the fact that she was different from the other children and managed to find good friends that didn’t pay attention to her defect, treasured her qualities as a human being and helped her at school. Teachers admired the unconventional thinking of the crippled girl and gave her good marks. But with puberty came the serious problems.
Her friends found boyfriends and started sexual life, but no one seemed to notice her, including He. Belinda was aware that’s normal – she was invalid after all, but was suffering badly nonetheless. She sank into melancholy, secluded herself from the outside world and started thinking of suicide. She vowed never to fall in love again. Thanks to her dedicated parents she somehow managed to finish her secondary education.
The tension gradually diminished. Belinda accepted her fate and bravely moved down the uneven road of life. She graduated in graphic design, got a job in an advertising agency and moved to live independently. Her parents were proud of her, and not without reason. Her colleagues liked her for she was good-natured, imaginative and could do miracles with Photoshop but felt awkward in her presence. She was different. She could not hike mountains. She could not venture going to the seaside and changing into bathing suit, because everyone would see her withered, stick- thin leg and her unnaturally bent foot which had not been slipped into a shoe for almost thirty years now. She preferred long skirts regardless of the season and wore them even in the sweltering august heat, for she felt more comfortable that way. Thus she could be mistaken for a girl with a sprained ankle. Misunderstandings occurred sometimes. One day a client, succumbed to her charm, made open advances, and then asked her if she had been in an accident and how long she will be on crutches. Belinda just pulled her skirt up to her thigh, showing the maimed limb, quenching his lust right away.
Alex emerged in her life nearly a month ago. Freelance software developer who was trying to push through one of his programs, he sent an email to which Belinda answered, asking about some of the more specific functions of the program. They exchanged their Skype addresses and continued discussing software problems. All things considered the agency boss refused to buy the program but they continued communicating from home via Skype. Alex was an attractive thirty-five years old bachelor with long black hair, intelligent brown eyes and pale ascetic face. Belinda liked him at first sight and for a while forgot her defect, then started doing things she had never done before. In the evenings, before turning Skype on, she was placing her crutches under the bureau, out of the range of the camera. She wanted to be perceived “normally”, whatever that meant. Discussions on business were gradually replaced by themes concerning music, books, movies and politics. It turned out that they had many mutual interests. Not infrequently they talked for hours, enjoying their company. But Belinda was annoyed a bit for the connection was always poor, as if heavens were against them. There was some strange slurring of the speech and Belinda felt like tearing her hair out in frustration.
A week later Alex began flattering her shyly. The kind of, “It isn’t as if Rachel McAdams is one of my favorite actresses but you bear strong facial resemblance, especially in these cute little noses of yours”. Belinda was horrified that one day he will ask her to go out for a date. On one hand she craved for that, on the other she did not want to ruin the illusion for “normality”. She was wondering if the things would not be better that way. Another week passed and Alex continued behaving like a jerk, what he probably was, but Belinda already fancied that, because she had began creating her own imaginary world where only the two of them existed, virtually. However inexperienced she was, she felt that for the first time someone was in love with her.
Although their conversations were calm and intelligent, Belinda’s emotions sometimes spurred on sexual fantasies, weird fantasies she had never had before. In these moments she cooked up excuses to disconnect so she could masturbate at ease.
After that the big lies came. Belinda mentioned that last summer she had been on excursion inCanary Islandswith her ex-boyfriend. Later she wondered for long why she lied and why she continued lying but could not give reasonable explanation. To top it all Alex asked her to send him pictures and she agreed without a moment’s hesitation, then put it off till tomorrow evening because: “the flash memory with the pictures is buried somewhere”.
Belinda took a day off and set about turning the lie into truth. Early in the morning she went to the nearest mall and bought herself a bathing suit. She came back and put the suit on; and felt strange – she had never worn a bathing suit. After putting her professional Nikon on self shutter, she took about thirty pictures of herself, without the crutches of course. The problem was that she had to balance on her good leg, without stooping herself or propping anywhere, so that her posture looked natural. She coped with that. Then she sat behind the computer and after half an hour found a magnificent beachscape fromTenerifewith big resolution. Then the real work began. She opened Photoshop, copied the most suitable image of herself on the beachscape and diligently “cut off” her figure, removing her crippled leg. Then took her good right leg from another image, turned it horizontally to make it left and placed it where the bad one was. It took her four hour to adjust the colors, brightness, saturation, to put shadows and smudge the cut. She fixed scores of other things as well. At the end, after short hesitation, she made her legs a bit longer, although they looked fine the way they were. And then … she burst into tears, because a young healthy woman with perfect legs was looking at her from the screen. What she will never be. She regretted deeply for having let herself fall in love.
Lost in thought, Alex was scrutinizing the picture. Belinda – smart, charming, talkative, and extremely beautiful. And what legs she has! He was fully aware that he had no chance to win her heart. No woman in her right mind would like to date a man who stutters on every word. Yes, the software he had been working on for almost three years was making his speech almost normal and at the same time masking the interference as connection problems, but reality… He regretted deeply for having let himself fall in love. That’s it; I won’t be calling her anymore.