My brows furrow in confusion when I look outside of the car window. Since when did we enter such a wasteland? The only thing I can see for miles are dead trees scattering the dry, cracked earth. They look like gnarled, burnt hands reaching out for the sky. Although why they would be reaching out to such a miserable grey sky is anyone's guess.

I turn my attention to the driver. I don't think he has blinked even once since we set off to the clinic, and it's starting to give me the creeps. It doesn't help that he looks like he could be dead. He's so pale and stiff.

I clear my throat. 'Umm, driver? Are you sure we're heading the right way?'

His lips contort into a frighteningly wide grin and his bloodshot eyes meet mine in the rear-view mirror. 'Not to worry, Miss. We will be at the clinic shortly.'

I smile back weakly and nod. Much to my surprise, a building soon comes into view. It's made of brick and looks as if the slightest of breezes could make it come crashing down.

'We've arrived.' announces the driver Florence is waiting for me by the entrance of the clinic like she said she would be. A smile is playing on her ruby red lips.

'Thank you, driver.' I get out of the car and approach Florence. I don't notice that I'm shaking until she points it out to me.

'You're shaking, Laura. There's no need to be nervous.'

I let out out a deep breath. 'It's just that I'm beginning to have doubts about going through with the procedure.

Florence raises a perfectly preened eyebrow. 'Is that so? Well, if you don't mind spending the rest of your days looking so ghastly then feel free to go.'

Her words sting me so much that I actually wince. I catch sight of my reflection in one of the windows and any doubts about the procedure are expelled from my mind.

'No, I don't want to look like this!'

She nods. 'Then come right in.'

I follow her into the clinic. Unlike the exterior of the building, the inside is all new and shiny. I feel like I'm at a posh hotel. Florence motions for me to take a seat at the reception. 'You will be called once everything is set for your procedure. Do help yourself to some refreshments while you wait.'

'Isn't it bad to eat before surgery?'

Florence laughs. 'Oh, Laura. We've already established that this isn't a 'surgery'. Oh, no, it's much more advanced than that.'

An uneasy feeling settles over me and I try to shake it off. It doesn't matter what they do to me, as long as they make me beautiful. As long as I'm beautiful nothing else matters... I recite this in my head as I wait to be called.

...

I don't really remember what happened after I was called into one of the rooms. It's like everything just went dark the moment I stepped inside. The darkness is beginning to fade now. I'm not sure if I'm in the same room but I'm definitely in a room. The bed I'm in is really comfortable.

I hear the door bursting open and the tak tak tak of stiletto heels. I know it is Florence before I even turn to see her.

'Laura, dear, you're finally awake. The procedure was a success! Would you like to see your new face?'

I sit up and smile. 'Yes, please.'

I gasp. My voice sounds really different.

Laura chuckles. 'What a pretty new voice you have too.'

My heart is thundering in my chest. Why has my voice has changed? I almost don't want to look in the mirror that Florence has in her hand. What if I've been tricked and I'm now a complete monster? No, no, I mustn't think like that.

'Are you ready to see yourself, Laura?'

I can barely even breathe. I've begun to shake again. 'Y-yes.'

Florence holds up the mirror so I can see my reflection. I can't believe what I see. That can't possibly be me. I touch my face to make sure I'm not dreaming. It's real. My face is real. I caress my golden hair delicately, as if it were made of actual gold.

'Well, what do you think? Satisfied?'

I burst into tears. I've never cried so hard in my life. I've never been so happy either! The girl in the reflection can't possibly be me, and yet she is me. Even as she cries, she looks beautiful, because only the beautiful can afford to shed tears. I begin to laugh because, from here on out, I might never have to cry in sadness again.