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Only Once

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The polishes started arriving suddenly, out of nowhere. They came to the bloggers, of course, but not the big bloggers of the nail polish world, not anyone like Scrangie or All Lacquered Up. No, they came to the sort of bloggers who ran tiny Blogspot blogs, who were never sent promos, who always had to buy their own polishes to swatch and review. This was different.

The packages had no return address. The polish inside each box, wrapped carefully, was in a plain, opaque bottle, giving no hint as to color. There were no fancy Nfu-Oh bottles here. There was no writing on the bottle -- no name, no manufacturer, no ingredients. In each package was a slip of paper. It read "Only Once."

The bloggers reported all this, eagerly, to the boards of Makeup Alley, to the splinter board where they could both report it and post kitten pictures, to secret boards that only the elite knew.

Then, of course, they tried the polish on. The application, of course, was exquisitely smooth.

What does it look like? the boards asked. Creme? Jelly? Glass fleck? Glitter? Hex glitter? Flaky? Holo? Duochrome?

It's beautiful, they said. It's prettier than Starry Starry Night. It's even prettier than Unicorn Pee.

Yes, the boards said, impatiently. But what color? What finish?

I can't describe it, they said. You just have to see it.

The pictures didn't come out. No matter what anyone tried, they were blurry, dim, out of focus. Nothing worked.

And after a few days in which the boards filled with more blurry pictures, one of the bloggers, having changed polishes in the meantime, went to put the mystery polish back on.

It didn't work.

It wasn't there, she said. It was nothing like before. It was clear, just like wearing a topcoat. There was nothing special about it.

She swapped it to someone else on the boards, who was interested enough to part with a bottle of Bad Fairy to be able to add such a rarity to her collection, even if it was only good as a topcoat.

When she wore it, it was beautiful. The most beautiful polish ever, she said, just like the last woman had. It would have been the top of her yearly top ten, if only it had a name.

And like the last blogger, she could only use it once. Then nothing. It was just as clear as before. The pattern repeated, all over the boards. No one could wear it twice.

So the boxes were sent, the polishes changing hands again and again, making their way across the country, across the world.

Pass it on, the fandom whispered. And wear it only once.