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Your life or mine: What is the last thing you learned?

Sometimes, you see the past with 20/20 vision and wish you could repeat the day.

Daily writing prompt

What is the last thing you learned?

She had to pick up her mom’s prescription medication on her way home and that errand took her past a beauty salon with the best assortment of skincare products. She had passed it many times, but today she walked in, attracted to the newest line of skincare displayed on the counter. Her favorite movie stars and singers endorsed those lovely creams that made skin radiant and flawless.

“How much?” she asked the woman behind the counter.

“Three thousand for the entire set,” said the sales clerk. “Might be a bit pricey for someone as young as you.”

“No,” she lied, lifting her chin. “Of course I can afford it.” She had $3050 in her bank account.

“This is a special price for today only. It will go up tomorrow.”

“Can I try it?”

“Sure. We just have the hand cream as a tester. Not the others.” The sales clerk opened one of the jars. The fragrance of roses wafted into the air.

“Just like on TikTok,” she said, dabbed a sample, and smoothed it on the back of her hand. It felt like a cool, tingly massage. As she rubbed, a long scar near her knuckle vanished. Imagine how envious her friends would be if she was the prettiest one in the group. Imagine all the guys who would be asking her out. Imagine if people stopped calling her ugly. Imagine….

Her phone rang. It shattered her thoughts. “I’ll take the whole set,” she said to the sales clerk as she frantically dug for her phone in her purse.

“Sweetie?” Her mom’s voice was weak over the phone.

“Mom? Are you ok? I’ll be home soon! I’ve got your med-”

“They’ve taken me to the hospital. It’s going to cost $3000. Could you come to help pay it?”

“No!” Not $3000! “I’ll call you back.” She turned toward the counter.

“Is your mom ok?” asked the sales clerk. She presented a shiny gold gift bag with the skincare set inside.

“No, she’s… not. Can’t I… can’t I come back for this? The price is really going to go up?”

The sales clerk nodded. “You need to choose between this skincare or your mother.”

She picked up her phone and pulled up her mom’s number again. She mumbled to herself, “I can get more money later. Take out a loan. Borrow cash from my cousins.” Then dumped her phone back into her purse. She took out her wallet and handed her credit card to the clerk. “I’m sorry. What did you just say?”

The clerk took the card. “I said I hope you enjoy your choice. You will be as beautiful on the outside as you are within.”

“What?” She felt the skincare sample on her hand tingle again. The sensation spread down her fingers and up her arm. “What’s happening?” Her purse slid off her shoulder as she tried to grab the gold bag. Her feet were rooted to the floor. Her legs were stiff. I can’t move! Can you hear me? I can’t move!

“Well,” said the sales clerk, admiring the woman’s face. “Now you’ll look this young forever. I’m going to put you in the store window so everyone can admire how beautiful you are. It’s what you wanted, after all.”

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