Paris in Disguise

In the one spartan bathroom in a tiny inn somewhere in southeastern Laos, the young woman leans over the sink and cries. Beside her on a flimsy, tin shelf sits the box she had the taxi driver purchase from a beautician in the central market of the little town. She weeps as she applies the black dye to her short, golden hair, the golden hair from a million photographs. Once she was a golden girl, a princess — no, a goddess. Now this cheap, crudely applied dye is transforming her into someone ordinary.

From now on, it’s going to get harder.She has never been ordinary. For a time she lived among the ordinary, but it was only for show. When the lights went out, and the cameras stopped rolling, she was still the same, an Aphrodite far removed from the masses.

She never thinks of Arkansas anymore. Not until now. This is what the local women there do to stand out, with their platinum dye jobs and country music hairdos. And here she is on the other side of the world doing the opposite, putting on a disguise. A goddess among mortals. And when she has completed her work and looks at herself in the mirror, she can cry no more. That person she was is gone now. That jail in Los Angeles was just the start of her penitence. From now on, it’s going to get harder … until she is free.

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