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THe Mouth

The Kiss of the Kuchisake-onna

One night, not so long ago, salaryman Taro was flushed with sake and success, having closed a deal that ensured money for his company and promotion for himself. In celebration, he had been drinking with his co-workers, and had more than his usual share.

In the bar, there was also a woman sitting alone. She was elegant and beautiful, with captivating eyes and glimmering black hair. Not unusually for the season, she wore a surgical mask that covered her lower face, as a protection from the various pollens and pollutions that tainted the air.

Salaryman Taro, feeling braver than usual, sat next to the woman and talked away at her, buying her a drink which she never touched and boasting of his success and promising future. She answered demurely but interested, and he suggested that they move to a more private bar that he knew, not so far away. She nodded, and with a wink to his co-workers the two moved out into the street.

Taro was quick to hurry her to a nearby, darkened alley, where he pulled her close and stared into her enchanting eyes. "Am I beautiful?" the woman asked, in a quivering voice, muffled behind the surgical mask. "Very beautiful," he replied, moving his face closer. "Am I beautiful?" she repeated, reaching behind her head to undo the barrier between their mouths. "Most beautiful." he said again, anticipating the kiss that was his.

The mask slipped from her face and Taro froze, unable even to scream. The woman's mouth spread from one ear to the other, consuming her lower face. From the nose down, it was split, with two flaps of skin spreading to show her rows of sharp pointed teeth. Her hinged jaw opened impossibly wide, and her misshapen mouth somehow managed to form the words again: "Am I beautiful?"

Salaryman Taro, aged 30, was never heard of again.

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