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A Visit to the Surgeon’s Office

Artwork by Michelle Dong, staff artist

By Miliani Hoang

The sharp, staccato signatures sway over every crevice of my face, the wet marker ink

feeling damp and cold against my skin, smelling even worse as the scent swims under my nose. I raise my wrinkled hand to reach my face, brushing over every facial flaw and squirming as I note everything that requires alteration. With every dot on my cheekbones, forehead, chin, and nose, I begin to feel the unpleasant effects of aging seep out of my bones, escaping my body like a cigar’s smoke released from my lips. What substitutes the emptiness is youth, obliviously frolicking inside in glistening joy. I wonder what my husband will think of me when I get home. Perhaps he will love me like he loves his mistress.

I picture her face, that miserable thief who had stolen everything from me. Her

upturned nose as picturesque and framable as an actress’s in an old Hollywood film. Her plump lips molded into a blush pout, as if they’d been captured directly from an issue of Vogue. Her prominent cheekbones that sang to everybody around her, vocalizing that she’d walked down hundreds of fashion runways. She was everything I wasn’t, everything my husband needed that I just couldn’t give to him. But that would now all be in the past after this. It would all be forgiven and forgotten.

My thin lips purse together tightly, tying securely together like silk ribbons on a pale

nightgown. Everything looks right. Soon enough, a talented surgeon will take their sharp blade and reconstruct my aged appearance into something new. Well, not new, but surely different. At the end of the procedure, my physique would be transformed into my husband’s mistress. I would be her, if not even better.

Now what would it be again? Yes, the vibrant smudges on my face were directions, but

I’d forgotten what the doctor said I’d have to undergo. Cheek filler, maybe? Botox? Injections? It didn’t matter too much. Money was no object if it would mean my husband would love me again. It’s been so long since he’s kissed me . . .

The click of the door handle halts my thoughts. Layered together like cake batter came

the combination of the door jerking open and the clacking of a woman’s heels. I lower my cat-eye sunglasses to peek at the sylphlike figure, confirming it was Dr. Lohan. “Are you sure you want this? You already have a good base naturally, I’m sure only botox would be necessary to maintain a youthful look,” her question pours into my ears like sticky honey, pleasant at first but not as inviting as you realize you realize you’re coated in an unbearable syrupy substance. Did I hear her right?

“No. I’m completely set on having her face. Why are you arguing with me? That isn’t

what I paid you for,” I harshly retort. How could she ask me that? Is she deliberately wasting my time?

A flashing, fleeting worried frown brushed across her features. She knew she

overstepped. “Oh, I’m sorry, miss! I just thought--“

“Enough. Are you going to give me what I paid for or not?” My monotonous voice

echoes within the small appointment room, hollow but stiff. I was impatient, unable to rest idly as my mind lingered towards all the possibilities of where my husband was. He could be with her right now. I wouldn’t be satiated unless her face was my own, until I was beautiful enough for him.

“Right, well, let’s get back to where we were. I just have a few more questions . . .” she

trills further as she searches her desk for papers. I’ve noticed her fingernails were perfectly manicured, ovular-shaped dipped in fuchsia with petals branching outwards from the cuticles. Exactly like my husband’s mistress.

“What do you mean more questions? I’ve repeatedly said that I want this face. Are you

too incompetent to understand?” I coldly reiterate.

For Pete’s sake, now she’s eying me as if I was a lunatic! “Look, I’m going to say this

as a surgeon, but maybe you need to reevaluate on why you want cosmetic surgery in the first place. Maybe instead of surgery, you should talk with a marriage counselor.” Her tone was professional, much more well-put-together than it had sounded before. Then again, I guess having a career as prestigious as a cosmetic surgeon would make anyone quickly adjust to professionalism.

“Excuse me? What are you implying? I want you to give me the face I want, not give

me relationship advice!” I shakily shriek, sounding less concrete and strict than she had. If her voice was a sturdy solid structure, then mine was a gooey, seeping fluid.

“I’m just saying, this is an expensive and permanent procedure, and I wouldn’t want

you to regret it in the future when you see your results,” she replies, her voice lowered in a sympathetic way. I felt myself melt in frustration and embarrassment, feeling naked even though I wore layers of fur and velvet.

“I don’t care! I specifically asked to have my husband’s mistress’s body. That’s what I

want, and that’s what I’ll be paying for!” I squealed back to her. I felt distant, alienated to the person I had been before my husband’s affair. My burst of cries wasn’t convincing at all. It wasn’t a surprise; I hadn’t even persuaded myself that this was what I truly wanted.

Dr. Lohan knew it. I knew it. It wasn’t my husband’s mistress, it was me. Had I really

been so foolish, crawling here to this office in an attempt to recuperate my youthfulness? “Are you purposely not listening to a word I say?” Her words drum within my head, traveling down to my tongue to leave a sour, tangy taste.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s gotten into me, I just . . .”

“I understand how you feel. But you should take this with a psychiatrist before you

schedule another appointment with me.”

And just like that, the consultation was over. My marriage was over. All my

relationships, between my husband, between me, crumbling underneath the impact of all my insecurities caused by myself and by him. All those nasty comments on my body, withered from time, were now piling on top of each other like dirty laundry. Our dirty laundry. Unwashed, growing and growing along with the pungent stench that we together produced from our unhealthy marriage. The problems, the suffering, even before the affair. I’d stayed with him despite all of that, because he made me feel young, and separating from him would only make me feel worse about my worsening figure. But it wasn’t him. It was me. I’d dedicated all of myself into our companionship, the entirety of my time and being. How was it that I was still the second choice in our marriage?


Contributor's Note: Miliani Hoang is a 14-year-old Vietnamese-American living in Richmond, Virginia. She is a little too obsessed with chick flicks, romance novels, and writing romantic situations that she’d kill to experience. Her writing inspiration comes from many things, like music, books, movies, or personal experiences. She daydreams way too much, but it’s okay, since the glamor of it goes into her writing.

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