The first rule of a successful illusion is not to let anyone look too hard. The second is to pretend there's always something more beneath the surface. Lana has become an expert illusionist over the years.
She practices this everyday of her life, her stage the purple-pink counter of The Talon, while the legacy of the meteorite shower provides her with a smoke-screen, and men are her all-too-willing assistants. She's not sure it's a coincidence that the coffee shop is choked with the same colourful flurry of a magician's den.
Although she smiles and flutters around the customers, they remember the story of her parents, and her renunciation by the Smallville Smalls, and countless other bits of gossip, and they think they see pathos in her blank, glassy eyes. Lana has learnt that a glance to the side, or the wavering of a smile can make men think she has secrets hurts that have never been revealed. She sometimes sighs over her place as the town princess, wishes she could escape it, feels glad that she can't. If people see that pretty figure of shiny hair and child-like lightness, it's because that's what she is, and nothing else. She works hard to project angles and depths that don't exist, and never lets her audience come too close: she knows she's really as brittle and flimsy as a cardboard cutout, and no-one could possibly be fooled by that.
But it's getting tiring, now that she lives with Chloe, who seems to vibrate with so many emotions. Sometimes, she thinks that she could let Chloe know that there's nothing inside her, and then the other girl would help her. Maybe Chloe already knows.
She wouldn't be surprised; Chloe's smart, in a way that's almost tangible, ideas and words scattering from her mouth. And Lana wonders if one day she could put her lips against Chloe's, all the bright, dazzling things that make Chloe so real shared with her at last. But every time she thinks she might finally do it, she sees own smile mirrored in Chloe's, only the curve of her mouth, and the crinkle at the corner of her eyes brightens her face, lighting it with fresh, sudden happiness. Lana's never smiled like that; when she stretches her face into that small-town Kansas simper, so sweet, so sickly, she feels like she's swallowed too much sugar.
A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
A mouthful starts to taste like poison.
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