great little nugget of a story, congrats Emily! it has some surreal qualities, I like how you drop hints about the city without naming it (where is that hill with the stairs carved into it, I wonder).
still, the biggest take-away in the story, seems to me, is the one I highlighted above. it is a simple idea, but profound — especially in this age where pretty digital images are all around us, where everything can be photo-shopped and instagram-filtered, air-brushed & auto-tuned & cropped to perfection.
if you’re thinking of shopping your story around, this is a great candidate for the Life Lessons section of The Bigger Picture, or any number of other creative writing publications.