“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” Elizabeth asks her bedroom mirror immediately when she wakes up.
“In your circle of friends, among your relatives, and in the office none is as fair as you.”
“That’s what I thought,” she says and begins getting ready for work. After she’s done, she takes her handbag and rushes out the door.
She rolls down her car window in traffic and yells, “Will you get a move on? Clear the way for the fairest of them all.” A makanga in an adjacent matatu groans with boredoom and a woman in a Volkswagen looks at her peculiarly. She shrugs, they don’t know the burden of carrying the weight of the fairest of them all.
She gets to the office and immediately goes to the bathroom. She touches her makeup before sitting at her desk. She’s a junior advertising executive at a printing company at Industrial Area but the senior position is what she’s really after.
“Just tell me who I need to sleep with?” she had asked Beth who was recently promoted.
“What!” Beth was astounded.
It had ended up being a big brawl. HR was involved and now Beth no longer speaks to her.
Beth gets to the office before everyone else. She’s in a woolen sweater, trousers, and boots, with no signs of makeup. They will like me for who I am, she has always believed. She is taken out of her work by Elizabeth’s heels hitting the tiled floor—sounding like gunshots with every step she takes as she walks to her desk.
She looks at her from the corner of her eye and is immediately annoyed. The weather is gloomy yet she’s in a revealing blouse and a dress with a slit that stops in her inner thighs. The talk in the office is that she has a few loose screws and she only got her job because she knows someone who knows someone.
Beth brings her gaze back to her work. She has to remember to mind her own business. She has a job to do and a teenager to raise. Speaking of who, her thirteen-year-old daughter, Liz has been erratic. She’s a bit spoiled but she has been going overboard lately.
She wonders if it would be different if her father was around, or if she had a father figure. She should get out more and find someone to complement her small family. She brushes the thought out of her mind. She has work to do. She needs to prove that her promotion was not a mistake.
Liz is chewing gum loudly while twirling her pink braids. She skipped school again and she is seated on the rails of a bridge smoking weed with her seventeen-year-old boyfriend. They are giggling, kissing, and petting heavily in between puffs.
“Liz, is that you?” Beth asks in relief and at the same time unsure whether her eyes are playing tricks on her. After work, she had gone to pick her up from the expensive private school she was working tirelessly to afford, only to find she wasn’t there.
After a while of asking around, one of her classmates told her she might be at the bridge with her boyfriend. Boyfriend? She could feel the fingers of a migraine crawling up her spine.
“You’re supposed to be in school. What the hell has gotten into you?” Beth barks. Liz continues smoking her weed oblivious. But the boyfriend runs away scared. “I am talking to you young lady,” Beth commands while taking the weed from her mouth and throwing it away.
“Give it a rest Beth, you will pop a vein,” Liz murmurs nonchalantly.
“Just try me and see if I won’t ship you off to boarding school,” Beth says while grabbing her arm and dragging her to the car. They don’t speak for the rest of the journey home.
Elizabeth gets to her apartment. There is a picture on the wall of her and her mother. She has to remember to thank her for leaving her this apartment and an expansive trust fund that has more money than she knows what to do with. She looks at the picture for a while before removing it from the wall and putting it away.
Her doorbell rings. It’s Uber Eats. She clears her plate, flips through channels and she is ready for bed. She begins to remove her wig and as she does documentation with a prescription of antipsychotic drugs spills out of her makeup cabinet. ‘She has a split personality disorder and she teeters between a prima-donna, a selfless mother, and a spoilt teenager,’ the notes read.
She puts the documentation in the dustbin, brushes her teeth, ties her pink braids in a bun, and climbs to bed.
In the morning she wakes up and faces the mirror.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” she asks.
The mirror stares at her blankly.
“In your circle of friends, among your relatives, and in the office none is as fair as you,” she mumbles to herself.
She has a shower and dresses in a blouse with dipping cleavage, a mini-skirt, and high heels and heads to her mother’s office at the Industrial Area. That office that hasn’t been used since her mother died in an accident over a decade ago. She sits for a while before dissolving to the bathroom and changing into a woolen sweater, trousers and boots.
As the sun goes down, she gets into her car removes her wig to reveal purple braids, and drives towards the bridge, eager to make Beth’s life a living hell.
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