Jessica Ferretti sat quietly at the dinner table with her husband Shawn. They had arrived at le Vrai to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. They normally hosted a big party, but this year, they decided to do something a bit more lowkey. Shawn had grown tired of her months long planning for the past 13 years so, out of respect for him, she had relented to his desire, and agreed to a small dinner.
The place was dimly lit with romantic lighting scattered across the ceiling. The lighting gave everyone a ‘sexy glow’ and made them all look like stars. The smell of fine French food wafted through the air and made Jessica and Shawn more anxious for their meal.
A tall and sprightly waiter bounded over to refill the water glasses that Jessica and Shawn had drank in anticipation of their meal.
“Apologies for the wait, but please enjoy another basket of bread.”
Jessica’s face twisted, “I don’t want another basket of bread. I’d like the meal that I ordered,” she said as she slammed her hand on the table. Shawn sat across from her and shook his head. He rubbed his lightly sweating forehead and just watched as another of Jessica’s famous tirades began.
“Don’t you know who I am? Offering me bread is like offering water to a drowning person! Useless! Did you really think that I, Jessica Ferretti, a model, would like MORE bread?”
The waiter stood in silence, listening to her berate him.
“Honey, can you chill? Please? The man is just trying to do his job. It’s not his fault things are taking longer than normal. Plus, think of how much better things will be once we get it. The anticipation makes it all the better.”
Jessica shot him a look that would have killed him if her eyes were weapons. “That means jack-all to me Shawn! They need to hurry up and get our stuff. We’re paying a couple of hundred bucks for what? Mediocre service? I will not accept that.
Jessica unleased a slew of curses at the waiter who began to back away and stutter that he was going to get a manager. Shawn looked around and noticed that the entirety of Le Vrai was staring at them. His face grew hot with embarrassment and eventually Jessica calmed down.
“Damnit Jessica, do you always have to do this?” he whispered to her.
“I absolutely do.” She said, indignant at the implication that she might just be mean. “I mean, they have a job to do, and if they aren’t doing it, and that impacts me, then I’m going to say something about it.”
Shawn knew there was no arguing with her. They continued sitting in the perfectly lit room, and Shawn reminded himself of whey he was married to her. She could be horrible, at times, but when they were together, alone, he felt a spark of love. She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever dated. She had also treated him the best. Shawn had always considered himself an average guy. He was slightly overweight, and had a bit of a patchy beard that for some reason he always let grow out. He never understood how an international supermodel ended up with him, and yet, 15 years later they were still married. Shawn worked hard to make their marriage the best it could be.
As they continued to wait for their meal, The entire restaurant heard a siren blare from outside. It was unusual, not like the usual sirens they would hear from a cop car or a fire truck. It didn’t even sound like a tornado siren, a sound they had grown accustomed to in the Midwest summers. This sound was almost like a snarl, like a corrupted, demonic animal who decided to let everyone know where it was.
Jessica and Shawn covered their ears and were met with little success. The sound penetrated their ears and they felt as if they were going to go mad. They closed their eyes and hoped it would soon end.
Moments later, the sound suddenly stopped. Shawn opened his eyes at nearly the same time as Jessica. The man she saw before her was not the same man who sat before her minutes ago. His patchy beard had grown somehow into a fully filled out and shaped beard. Something she had only seen on her co-models in the past. The man in front of her was toned, with an angular jaw and near perfectly smooth and unblemished brown skin. The only thing that seemed off about him was his crooked teeth. Somehow though, through all the changes, she could still see it was Shawn. His eyes gave it away.
Shawn was horrified when he opened his eyes to check on Jessica. Her silky hair had turned into a crumpled mess of dry and cracked ends. Her skin was pockmarked with what seemed to be miniscule stab wounds on her face. She now seemed ill proportioned, with a head that was nearly three times larger than her neck. Her teeth jutted in multiple directions, and her eyes seemed to disagree with one another as they faced different directions. The way she looked reminded him of the witch stories he was told as a child.
The people inside Le Vrai all reacted differently. Some couples embraced each other as if they hadn’t seen one another before, others ran away from each other, and you had others where one half of the couple was leaving and the other half begging them to stay. Jessica and Shawn did no such thing. They merely uttered each other’s names to confirm they were themselves and slowly got up and headed to their home.
Moments after they walked through the threshold of their front door, Shawn shook his head.
“Just what the hell is going on? You look like a troll, Jessica!” Even through all the changes that Jessica had endured, he could tell when she was upset. Her face twisted to an expression even uglier than the one that had already manifested itself on her former visage of beauty.
“And now you look like several of the guys I wanted to cheat on you with!” Jessica yelled back.
Shawn lowered his head and ran off into another room of their million-dollar home. They slept in separate rooms that night, afraid of any other statements that would exit their mouths, and afraid of the person that could possibly have been sleeping next to them.
Jessica woke up to bright light shining through the blinds of the windows and the loud sound of news blaring from the main room.
“Our top news story tonight is that god-awful sound that apparently the whole country heard last night.” the anchor said. She was an average looking woman before, but now, Shawn thought, she was downright beautiful. “Officials from the white house are saying they have yet to determine the cause but have determined its effects. It seems that the sound has distorted our vision and somehow entangled them with our perception. People who have been taken ‘ugly’ actions against others now seem to appear the way that they behave. And it also appears that those that have been quote, unquote “nice” to other people seem to have gotten an appearance boost. We will now broadcast the presidents’ press conference regarding the issue.
The president flashed on the screen, looking the same as he always did, as ugly as ever, with maybe just a few more face spots and comically large scars. Shawn muted the tv as Jessica made her way into the room.
“So, that’s what this is, huh? I look how I’ve supposedly behaved?” she said, as she made air quotes with her hands. “I’m a good, and nice person, so im unsure of why I’ve changed to look…like…this.”
Shawn looked over at her and rolled his eyes. “Is that what you really think, honey? You’re downright mean to just about everyone you come across.”
“No, I’m not!” Jessica retorted.
“Oh, come on, Jessica. You told your sister she could do with some birth control because it was irresponsible to bring so many ugly children into the world.”
“I was joking!” Jessica said.
“No, you weren’t. You never apologized, and when I asked you to, you said “why should I apologize for telling the truth.” Shawn slowly closed his eyes and looked back at the tv. “That statement 10 years ago made me wonder if that’s why you never wanted kids with me., after all, I’m not the epitome of beauty…I’m just some average dud who was lucky to even be in the same room as you.
Tears began to fall from Jessica’s eyes.
“I didn’t…I didn’t realize.”
“Of course, you didn’t. You never have, despite how many times I’ve told you that some of the things you have said or done were not ok. I’m going to ask you for something that I’ve been thinking about for a while now.”
“And what might that be, Mr. Perfect?” Jessica said.