Lying in a coffin, one might presume the dead themselves care very little about how they are presented upon their last viewing before buried beneath the ground, but this is not so. Not today. And certainly not in Egyptian times when pharaohs got an extreme make-over from their best wardrobe designers, fashion gurus and cosmetologists before being vaulted up with the very ones that dolled them up. Why just last year, a nomadic tribe from the fifth quadrant invigorated such a practice after the radioactive meltdown of the first quadrant. Denizen of the first quadrant such as myself glowed for a few weeks before dropping body parts like Hansel and Gretel dropped breadcrumbs through the forest. Those of us in the first quadrant were all on our proverbial lastleg as well as our literal one. The nomads realized they could cash in with some of the dying by selling body parts. By glamorizing the dead or those soon to be, the nomads knew we would all be vain enough to buy it. Let’s say, someone missing a nose was informed that there was a sleek Romanesque nose from a recent cadaver available; it could be theirs if the price was right. Thus bidding wars erupted amongst the sickly. There were heaping piles of torsos in junkyards. Those were a dime a dozen while arms and legs could be readily be purchased at a reasonable price at the nearest market. But such features as ears, mouths, noses, chins, fingers and eyelids in good condition were exceedingly rare to find. There wasn’t much to live for. Death was imminent. So people in the first quadrant didn’t bother with frittering away their day looking for food and water. They’d spend every waking moment rummaging through the rubble in hopes of finding a make-up kit, some lipstick, a tube of eyeliner, or perhaps a garment fragment that might make a nice scarf. It was disheartening to see one of my neighbors kill another after losing a bid on a matching set of unblemished ears. Life was indeed on edge. Recently, the nomads smuggled in chimpanzee eyelids flooding the market. As well they tried passing off earthworms as lips, and sold chins made of nothing more than hardened clay. The dying people in the first quadrant caught on and staged a protest at the nomadic encampment. They hurled their own radioactive fingers over the fence and screamed revolt. Harsh words and flipping fingers did little to deter the nomads. Radioactive - schmadeo-active, money was being made.
"Why is it so important for us to look good? Why don't we just accept who we are and embrace it," said a man who hobbled around on stumps and whose cankerous lips were flattened to his face.
“Why look who’s talking. He’s got a handsome nose with still enough skin on his cheeks to completely cover the gaping hole in my face,” cried someone in back of the crowd whose face bore the meager details of a man wearing a hijacker’s stocking.
“Since he doesn’t care about what he looks like, I bid ten thousand on it,” cried another featureless man.
“Twenty!” shouted a someone missing both eyes and half a nose.
“I’m not even dead yet. Beside, I still use my nose,” said the man who instigated the dispute. “Why, just the other day, I found a flower. It’s bouquet was astoundingly pleasant.”
“A flower? Tell us where it is,“ shouted a girl whose face was covered with boils and was missing clumps of skin from her neck. “A flower would look fantastic clutched in my hands I as lay in my box. Or better yet, placed in my hair!”
“This is absurd!” cried the man backpedaling as the others approached corning him. “Get away from me!”
Even though puss oozed from their eye sockets, one could detect their frenzied gaze. They ripped the man apart. Those with fingers clawed at the man’s face trying to tear off his nose, others with teeth bit off toes and someone gnawed through the man’s ankle for a prized foot. A measly foot, which would probably not even be seen while lying in the coffin or for that matter been of much importance in the afterlife - denizen of the first quantrant believed the departed floated around with wings or possibly jet-packs. After the unruly incident, laws were constructed. We, the people, acted so scurrilous that many embarrassed by their actions lived the last of their days echoing what the man with the handsome nose had said; Why don’t we accept who we are and embrace it. The new laws made it illegal for people to use others just so they could look good. Theoretically, it would have been nice if everyone actually felt this way, but at least they put up a good facade for a while. This is not to say, there weren't plenty lurking about who still used the nomadic black market and would give up an arm and a leg for a most robust pair of cherry red lips that they could have curled into a smile