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Story available in the Melbourne Noir greeting cards series.

There once was a young woman with a very lovely body. It was ivory smooth and shapely. She would look at herself naked in the mirror and say, ‘What a perfect body you have. Just the right size for your party dresses. Just the right size for your office suits. Just the right size for men and women to look at.’

Every day she would admire her body and eat a cupcake. She knew that sweet things might make her put on weight but she took the risk because she liked eating cupcakes.

One day she noticed a small bulge in her waistline. What could that be? Fat, lack of exercise, the onset of old age? She called her mother who assured her it was natural for the body to change shape. After expanding, it would contract again.

So the young woman kept eating her cupcakes but she had a funny feeling something was not right. Her body didn’t look quite the same. For a week she looked hard at herself in the mirror wondering if she was flabbier. Certainly she felt more unhealthy. She didn’t know why, but she didn’t feel good about herself. She was unhappy. Something wasn’t right.


She went to the doctor. She told him she had no energy. She said she was without hope. She had trouble zipping up her favourite dress and she couldn’t go anywhere except in that dress. Most of all, she couldn’t look at another cupcake without thinking everyone would be judging her. The doctor said, ‘You have a mild case of depression. Take a few days off.’


The young woman rested. Alone, she drew the blinds. She lay all day on the chaise longue and couldn’t bear to do anything, least of all look at herself in the mirror. She was lethargic, couldn’t lift a finger. She no longer left the house and felt terrible about everything.


Knowing her weakness for cupcakes, her neighbour brought her one every day but the young woman felt sick at the thought of them.


One morning the neighbour delivered a larger cupcake than usual and the young woman realised her days were numbered. She picked up the telephone to ring father the confessor and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She screamed. In front of her, as ghastly and hideous as you could imagine, was a skeleton.


The skeleton clambered merrily out of the mirror and sat down beside her on the chaise longue.


‘Dear girl, please don’t be afraid,’ said the skeleton, grinning. ‘My home is across the road by the churchyard. It is filled with lovely young girls like you who joined our family prematurely.’


The young woman was aghast.


‘The girls shortened their lives by years for fear of what might happen and who might think badly of them,’ the skeleton continued, waving long fingers in her face. ‘I see you’ve lost confidence in yourself.’


The beautiful girl shuddered but said nothing.


‘You feel anxious and fearful,’ the skeleton went on, moving closer to her on the chaise longue, ‘but your guilt and tension are just the result of a pattern of negativity.’


The young woman’s face expressed profound agitation but still she remained inert. The skeleton rose to his feet.


‘For God’s sake!’ he said, grinding his teeth. ‘Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.’


The girl raised a hand as though to punch the skeleton in the face but the skeleton quickly swept out bony fingers to protect his eye sockets … no blow was struck.  


The skeleton looked up. The young woman was chewing. She’d popped the lovely cupcake right into her mouth.

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