Her face had a lot of facial hair. She was with the circus, in that capacity. But then, one day, she wasn't.
Here is what happened. The bearded lady got sick one day, sick with sleep, and lost her job. She just slept and slept, and nobody could wake her up. Not even the lion tamer. So, she lost her job because of this at the circus.
Nobody wanted to see the bearded lady at the circus sleeping. Nobody wanted to not be able to point at her and make her feel uncomfortable and ashamed. In other words, to taunt her and get their money's worth was what people wanted, and when they didn't get what they wanted, people stopped paying to see the sleeping bearded lady, and the owner of the circus (a round man with
a black moustache with curlicues at the ends) fired her.
After moving back home with her parents, the bearded lady slept and slept, all the time. Her parents didn't know what to do with her. The doctor they called to come and look at her didn't know, either. He tried lots of different drugs on her, but none of them aroused her.
This went on for twenty years, and her beard grew and grew, until a new drug was invented. Though it was invented for people with sleeping sickness, the new drug had not been tested on bearded ladies with this ailment. Still, the doctor thought it was worth a try, so he injected the new drug and the bearded lady woke all the way up.
There was a side effect, however, which was that the new drug also made facial hair disappear, so her face became smooth and completely depilated. The second side effect was, she couldn't find work--she had always been a bearded lady who worked with the circus, in that capacity, and now she couldn't. And now that she had no work, or anything else to do--she didn't have any hobbies and her parents both died from the shock of her amazing recovery--the one activity she would have really liked to do is sleep the rest of her life away. Except that the new drug was so powerful and long-lasting that she couldn't sleep a single wink, and the doctor stopped coming by the house to check on her progress every day because every time he saw her he saw his failure and felt uncomfortable and too ashamed to ask her to marry him.
Marc Kipniss holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington-Seattle. His fiction has appeared/will appear in Black Warrior Review, Denver Quarterly, New Orleans Review, American Letters & Commentary, Wisconsin Review, Salt Hill, and many other print magazines. A chapbook of his short-shorts, Reptile Appliance, is available from broken boulder press. Online, his work can be found at 5_Trope, elimae, Snow Monkey: An Eclectic Journal, and Cafe Irreal: Issue number five (February 2001).