THE LAST BODY • by Yuliya

Miranda’s first body had been frail, a blatant display of her parents’ destitute lifestyle; a figure complete with bony shoulders, ivory skin that bruised at the lightest blow, and twiggy legs. Replacement parts were a scarcity for every injury Miranda sustained as a child she bore a scar on her already piteous form. She lurked in dark corners, learned to fend for herself and withstand the evil chortling of classmates.

In college, she’d saved just enough money to buy a new body, cheap but sturdy, with a pinch of crimson in the cheeks. It wasn’t suited for romance, nor morning jogs in the park, but it would do, Miranda decided, shelling out her tiny fortune, oh, anything but body number one!

With a college degree came financial freedom, and she spotted a different body on the market. It was lean, fit, with just the right proportions to attract potential mates. Sure, it was costly, but Miranda craved the body more than anything in the world. And, after all, poverty was nothing new, she reasoned, emptying her account once again.

As soon as the second transformation was over, Miranda ran out into the light of day… The skies looked dazzling through the fresh eyes. “Bring it on, World; here I come!” the renovated Miranda screamed into the sunlight. No more of the grim existence behind a broken mirror. No more abstinence from life itself!

Back in Miranda’s dingy apartment, a handsome partner stroked the body’s perfect skin, ran a finger along the straight spine. Miranda shivered with pleasure, her old heart fluttering like a bird in the novel ribcage. Then came an explosion of desire, a fresh pleasure. Finally, anything was a possibility.

How perfect this third body was! It landed her a job in a large publishing house, paid the bills and various extravagances of allure. She acquired a mansion with mirrors along the hallways, held a spectacular wedding ceremony, and settled into adulthood.

Childbirth didn’t go well for Miranda. Body number three was perfect for fitness, romance, and career pursuits, but could not guarantee the safe delivery of a screaming infant. Its tender skin stretched; hips spread; the metabolism worsened. Soft deposits of fat enveloped the body in a permanent cocoon. Miranda was no longer a diva, and under close scrutiny, she began to discover unnerving creases cluttering her smile line and forehead. Old outfits didn’t fit, and neither did the former lifestyle.

At forty, Miranda purchased her fourth body; a year afterward, she required the fifth. At forty-two years of age Miranda tried on two models because the skin wrinkled too quickly.

As she grew older, the bodies gave out even faster, and fewer models became available. Some gained weight too quickly; others looked weak on the wearer, or felt like old age. One caused excruciating pain from the moment of installation. Another scrunched up like a disgusting hag body, and Miranda refused to step out of the hospital.

Body number nineteen, although enticing and petite, could not support a bustling existence. Its delicate legs buckled, and although Miranda made sure that the next body was not overused in the same manner, the malfunction was unavoidable. As something failed in each form, Miranda’s options thinned, and so did her savings.

“Perhaps it’s time to get an age-appropriate sample,” prompted doctors, then Miranda’s husband, and even her son stared accusingly with youthful eyes. When body number twenty-five collapsed on a busy street, Miranda was rushed to the nearest hospital, only to discover that she had exhausted all but one of her metamorphosis options.

Fifteen years after the start of the transformation spree, Miranda awoke in the last body. She groaned, eyes shut, and moved her limbs to test the new shell. They yielded reluctantly to Miranda’s command. The joints creaked.

Moving was now harder than ever, but for once Miranda did not feel the need to flee from the operating table and into the glorious unknown. She couldn’t.

And should she?

A determined “no” sprung from the unconscious. Miranda lay back, pacified. She sensed no need to squirm, rush, or squander money on false appearances. Miranda was done with novel goals and ready to rest, retire. The body revealed a long overdue exhaustion.

Miranda demanded a mirror, opened her eyes, gazed inside the final self. A withered woman stared at her, with eyes that hadn’t lost a bit of their vivacity, set in a face adorned by a myriad of soft wrinkles. The reflection was kind, friendly, charming… and beautiful. Was this what they called “the right fit”?

Miranda felt a new respect welling for the final form. Perhaps old age wasn’t so bad after all?

A gallant curve of the new mouth assured her it was perfect.

It’s been three years since Yuliya moved to the United States from the distant Ukraine. She is now enjoying every opportunity available. Her major is in formulas and numbers, but her hobby is in words. Besides writing and entertaining a tiny but exceptional toddler, she enjoys reading, fencing, collecting pigs, and blowing bubbles in her free time.

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