Not Skin Deep

Excerpt: She opened the closet and gazed into it with a look of yearning. She picked out a silk top, slowly running her fingers over the soft material. (Reads: 9,784)


Creative Writing Competition 2012 India
CODE 416
SETTING Terrace OR Bedroom OR Living Hall
THEME Overcoming Fear

Editor’s ChoiceLove Short Story –  Not Skin Deep


Love Short Story –  Not Skin Deep
Photo credit: lucasmalta from

She opened the closet and gazed into it with a look of yearning.  She picked out a silk top, slowly running her fingers over the soft material. That was what she had worn with designer jeans during her last public appearance. She had worn it on the flight back from London. How the paparazzi had clicked and clicked her picture at the airport. She was the cameras’ darling. ‘The Lass with Class’. That was how her picture was titled in one of the silly newspapers. They had carried it on their front page.

She put the top back into the closet and gave one more longing glance at the beautiful clothes inside. She shook her head, vehemently, as though refusing something and slammed the doors shut. It was too painful to look at those clothes, but this was becoming a daily ritual for her.  Opening the closet, touching the soft fabric, feasting her eyes on the beautiful colours and then slamming the cupboard doors. Just like how she had shut the doors of her life almost two years ago.

Twenty years of flashbulbs and the arclights had made her into an egoistical monster. She was the most beautiful woman in the world. The universe. The paparazzi’s darling. And international movie star. The benchmark of beauty. The aspiration of every young girl in the country. She endorsed almost every product right from soft drinks to mobile phones. Her tie ups with fashion houses were worth millions.

She was the country’s pride. The brand ambassador of peace, beauty, love, harmony. The face of commercialism.  And then, like how all fairytales go, she fell in love with the most handsome man in the country. She married into the First Family of glamour. She rose and rose till she rose to heights far more dizzying than anyone could imagine. A woman. A daughter. An actress. A wife.

And then the questions started. Everyone wanted to know when she was going to play the next role in her life. At thirty eight, the media was getting restless. They wanted new things to write about her. They were curious. They demanded answers. They demanded an addition to her family.  And behind the rehearsed answers , plastic smile and perfectly choreographed hand gestures, her heart thumped wildly.

The torturous visits to the fertility clinics began. Doctors’ appointments. The medicines. The hormones. The injections. The food. Oh, the food. Slowly her sharp edges morphed to smooth roundness. Her cheeks filled in and she began to add numbers to her size. She spent ten months in hiding, preparing for The Event. The Inevitable Event.

When her son was born, the nation celebrated.

And that day, she stepped into her house and slunk into her bedroom. She shut the doors of her life to the world.

She  broke every mirror in the house. It was over. Her life was over. There was flab on the washboard stomach she flaunted a year ago. There was a blob of fat hanging from her chin to her neck. Her petite bottom had expanded. She imagined it jiggling as she walked.  And as the baby suckled her swollen breasts, she feared that they would succumb to gravity.

She lived a life in constant fear now.  Refusing to step outside her bedroom. She hid under the covers in darkness at night , refusing to let her husband touch her. Or see her naked body that was defiled by motherhood.

She scanned the tabloids to see if there was any gossip. He wouldn’t want her anymore, she felt. There were younger, slimmer, beautiful women around him all the time. He surely would have been tempted. She fought back bitter tears and tried to push those thoughts to the back corners of her mind.

Every day, she opened her closet to look at the clothes she couldn’t fit into anymore. It hurt her the most. She felt some sort of masochistic pleasure in torturing herself that way.

Her life, she feared, had ended. No one would look at her. It was just she. Her baby. And her fat.

A year passed behind her bedroom doors. The media speculated. Her family patiently waited for her to emerge from her depression. Her fears. Her psychosis.


She entered the bedroom after her bath, bulky bathrobe encompassing her. She would never again tie a towel around herself and step out of the bathroom, looking like one of her soap advertisements. She knew she won’t be doing such advertisements again. Her husband would not look at her with inviting eyes and playfully tug at the towel. Magic would not happen anymore. She was just a fat old woman. Undesirable. Unwanted.

There was a package on the bed. An envelope and a single rose were placed on it.

She opened the envelope. It was a photograph of them during their honeymoon. The honeymoon they had far away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi in Seychelles.   She untied the red bow on the package.  It was a white bikini. She looked at it and shut her eyes for a moment, clutching it till her knuckles became white. She opened her eyes again. There was a note under the bikini.

Wear it. Let’s go on our honeymoon again. Let me prove to you again, how much I love you. Because, I’m afraid, you have forgotten how much I do. I still do.’ He had ended the note with a little smiley with horns. Just like the love notes they wrote to each other during their courtship days.

Two airtickets fell out. To Seychelles. Again.

And then, like magic, something lifted from her heart.

She picked up the bikini. Slowly , she slipped off her bathrobe . Hesitant. Afraid. She ran her fingers over her body. Did he still want to see this body of her’s in it? A wave of emotion swept over her. An indescribable sweet emotion.

It was time, she realized. Time to look into a full length mirror. Time to wear a bikini again. Time to face her fears. She stepped into the bikini and slid into the top. And as she reached behind to hook it, she felt his warm hug envelope her from behind. ‘ You’re beautiful’, he whispered. ‘ You always will be’.


Creative Writing Competition 2012 India
Not Skin Deep
Relevancy of chosen setting 20 15
Relevancy of chosen object 20 16
Significance of chosen theme 20 15
Selection and development of characters 10 10
Selection of time frame, description of place and environment 10 7
Plot of short story 10 8
Conflicts in short story 10 8
Total 100 79

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  1. StoriesAroundMe says

    🙂 Thanks Pranav.
    Disclaimer: Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental 😛 ( but yes, the media’s obsession with her was my inspiration for this)

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