When kind words, or hands, land on old wounds, healing happens.
Pretty. It isn’t a word that I’ve heard often.
Not in my ears, and not in my own head either. But, I’m grateful. Because I learned to focus on other things that I wanted more than I wanted to be pretty. Or, so I persuaded myself.
Okay, maybe I fought back a little. I refused makeup. I didn’t shave. If I couldn’t wear a C-cup bra then I wasn’t going to wear a bra at all. So, it went. It was my own way of finding the greatness known as “pretty,” and it felt right.
I rose above the thought. I transcended the mind’s attachment. Inner beauty wins, right?
Then out of nowhere, I did hear it, that word…not in my ears, but in my own head. Right before bed, after I fell asleep on my keyboard, rubbed my eyes too hard, and zombied through a shower. Finally, I did that last thing, I took down my hair. No one to say anything, anywhere, just me and a mirror, exhausted after a long week without much sleep. Fingertips on the light-switch, I glanced toward a movement in corner of my eye…and then, I heard it: “Pretty.”
And I was surprised.
“Oh, oops, that’s me. Haha.”
Then, a second glance and pause. And an old sting. Laughter and sadness all at the same time. Because no one ever said that. Except my brother, but he doesn’t count, he looks like me. And that one boy, that one time after we spent so many years together. He said it once, kind of, not really, and it doesn’t count because he was high. Okay, fine actually, he didn’t even say it.
He just asked, “Why? Why do you look so pretty?”
I’ll never forget it. There was that one word I wanted to hear so badly, but not like this, not in that part of the sentence and definitely not in the form of a question. But there it was—my favorite word—finally present but somehow, unwritten, and even further away.
And so, I chased that paper in the wind, and a few days later I went back to that foggy mirror and asked again.
“Am I pretty?”
And trying not to rattle the chains he was holding, he said, “You’re average.”
And that paper took off again in the wind.
I should have just let that paper keep cartwheeling away like garbage. Some litter is better left alone. Like fake money on a railroad track, sadly, its intent was to attack. But, who would do that?
I was a girl who left the door unlocked and all the windows open. I flashed free smiles to every stranger who crossed my path. Never a shield or an umbrella to hide from the day.
That was just my way.
Optimistic to a fault, you might say.
An easy prey.
And, up until then, I’d never met someone who twisted words in such an unforeseen, premeditated way.
I’d never met anyone who casually lied in the broad light of the day, speaking untruths as facts, he was able to persuade.
And slowly pervade.
My consciousness took hits every day.
My sense of prettiness, further and further away.
And I stayed.
Letting someone else convince me of what I portrayed.
Until that one day, something inside me said, “No way.”
So that now, years later, standing in the bathroom at midnight, a pretty girl could startle me in the mirror.
Luckily, “average” wasn’t a word that I’d heard often. Not in my ears and not in my own head either. Because I became other straight-A-kinds-of-things.
When he laid down that lie, it plucked a heartstring. I’m no musician, but something inside me knew that it was way out of tune.
If your toes are bound, it isn’t a properly fitted shoe.
Remember these small hats are often fake news.
Guard your ears, trust your inner voice, and let silence reveal the truth.
I may not hear the word “pretty” often, but I’m grateful. Because I can trust this mirror in my bathroom with no dimmers. I relish blank pieces of paper as full of opportunity.
I’m becoming all the things I had wanted even more because finally, I’m writing this story.