Bright Stars
by Stephen S. Powers

199 words

At a Caffé Bene in Seoul two weeks after winning Superstar K21, KyuRee finally sees a girl wearing her face. Her agents sold her likeness rights to a surgical chain within hours of the finale, and the girl must have had her work done the next morning.

KyuRee approaches her, and the girl squees. “You look just like her!”

         

“Thanks!” KyuRee laughs. She remembers being thirteen with a new face. She wore Tae-Yeon for years until getting serious about her career and designing her own look. To be another’s Tae-Yeon, she wants to say, that’s better than being her own KyuRee, but she plays along instead.

         

“You’re perfect too,” KyuRee says.

         

“Almost.”

         

The girl looks away with rounder eyes and pouts with shapelier lips.

         

“Surgeons can’t alter licensed patterns,” KyuRee says.

         

The girl whispers, “Father couldn’t afford a real face.”

         

That’s a knockoff, KyuRee thinks. And it’s prettier.

         

“I’m hideous next to you,” the girl says.

         

“No, your surgeon did wonderful work.” KyuRee squeezes her hands. “Who was it?”

       

The girl smiles and names the doctor. Her smile’s also prettier.

   

KyuRee seethes. She’ll have that surgeon sued for IP theft, but she’ll have him fix her own face first.

Stephen S. Power's novel, The Dragon Round, was published by Simon & Schuster. His short fiction has appeared most recently at The Arcanist, Dark Recesses, Dread Machine, and will soon appear in "Issues in Earth Sciences." He tweets at @stephenspower, and his site is stephenspower.com.