Perfect | Teen Ink

Perfect MAG

February 10, 2009
By Kelsey Hill BRONZE, State University, Arkansas
Kelsey Hill BRONZE, State University, Arkansas
2 articles 1 photo 1 comment

The eyeliner makes the dark circles less pronounced. The lip gloss hides the trembling. The ponytail conceals missing patches of hair. The Abercrombie sweater covers bruises. I might look at bit thinner, but everyone will ask about my new diet. My hair might not shine the way it used to, but the pink ribbon will distract curious eyes. One hour of preparation and I look like myself. One hour of preparation and no one will know. One hour out of 24. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it – wasting a twenty-fourth of my day on a lie. But then I see my wispy hair and baggy eyes, and I have to do it.

Checking my makeup one last time, I push my sleeves up, though not past my elbows. I slip on a cute pair of flats – heels are too dangerous with shaky legs – and grab my Hollister bag. Padding downstairs, I inhale the scent of waffles and syrup.

“Morning, Mom,” I call.

“Morning, baby,” she chirps. “Did you sleep well?”

“Better than I have been.”

She sighs, and her eyes look a hundred years old for a minute. “Any improvement is good,” she says half-heartedly.

“Of course.”

“I made waffles.” Her offering.

“Thanks, Mom. Smells delicious.” My offering.

I sit at the table and she hands me a plate. The thought of all that food turns my stomach, but I force a smile and thank my mother again. She busies herself at the sink and fills the silence with chatter. When she turns around, she takes in the waffles still on my plate, only missing a few bites. I smile apologetically.

“I’m not very hungry this morning.”

“You’ll need your strength for this afternoon.” She bites her lip. She doesn’t like to bring it up over breakfast. I eat another bite.

“I packed your lunch.”

“I’m 18, Mom. I can pack my own lunch. You have more important things to do.”

She reaches for the paper sack. “But now I know you’ll have something to eat. And you need to eat, okay? You have to keep your strength up.”

Sighing, I take the bag. I know this peanut butter and jelly sandwich won’t be eaten, not any more than the one yesterday or the day before. And even if I do eat it, I’ll just throw it up later. Anything consumed after 11 ends up in a plastic basin at 4:07. It’s just the way it works.

“Hon, have you thought about what I said the other day?” she asks.

I shrug noncommittally.

“Sweetheart, you can’t hide this forever. Eventually you’re going to miss school and people will start asking questions.”

“Mom, I have two months left of high school. I can make it ’til then. I’m class president and probably valedictorian. I was voted ‘Most popular,’ ‘Most fun to be around,’ ‘Best smile,’ and ‘Most likely to succeed.’ I’m the girl who’s got it all together. People don’t want to know that the girl who’s got it all together, doesn’t have it all together. People don’t want to know that girl is dying!”

“Honey, don’t say that. You’re not dying.”

“Yes, I am. I have cancer. You heard Dr. Morrison. I have maybe a year left. But that means I can graduate and then never see those people again. I’ll die and they’ll feel sorry for me, but at least I won’t have to endure their pity.”

“But …,” she tries to interrupt.

“Mom, listen to me. I don’t want to be the girl everyone looks at and whispers, ‘Look at her. Poor thing, she has cancer.’ I can’t handle that. I want to be normal. Just for these last two months.”

“Okay,” she whispers. “Okay. Just remember, it’s okay if you don’t have it all together. Sometimes things just fall apart and there’s nothing we can do.”

“Thanks, Mom.” I grab my bag and lunch and kiss her on the cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” my mom replies. This exchange, once taken for granted, is now a vital part of every morning, every afternoon, every night. Three little words, followed by four more, have come to mean more than an entire conversation. They bridge all gaps and disagreements, because we both know there is now a finite number left.

Keys in hand, I open the door and blink in the early morning sun. My silver car waits in the driveway and as I walk toward it, I check my reflection in the tinted window. Perfect.

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This article has 836 comments.

hrsegrl said...
on Mar. 2 2010 at 9:04 pm
Awesome job! It's so touching, and it brings out a lot of emotion. I can almost feel myself being in her shoes.

on Mar. 2 2010 at 7:33 pm
potentialgurl BRONZE, Quincy, Illinois
3 articles 0 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Good stuff! I loved it all! Made me a little sad but i still loved it. Keep writing!

on Mar. 2 2010 at 5:31 pm
rainlover1994 SILVER, Raleigh, North Carolina
6 articles 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."

It was well written, wonderful hook. However, I had some jssues with the character. Yes, she has cancer. But the whole time you are describing her inner thoughts, she just sounds whiney. Sure she has issues and good for her for still showing up. Sure it is hard to keep a positive attitude during hardship, but I believe that it could have been dealt with better.

on Mar. 2 2010 at 4:29 pm
Hollywog. PLATINUM, Mole Creek, Other
21 articles 23 photos 65 comments

Favorite Quote:
It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all..

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind - Ghandi

This piece of writng is amazing!!

It really moved me and I think you have incredible talent.

Keep writing!

Love and Sunshine,



on Mar. 2 2010 at 3:31 pm
I love reading stuff like made me kinda sad tho..keep on writin:)

on Mar. 2 2010 at 1:47 pm
LoveOfWords BRONZE, Ascot, Other
4 articles 3 photos 48 comments

Favorite Quote:
I reject your reality and substitute my own! -- Adam Savage

This is a really good piece of work! The conversation is really realistic.

At first I thought she had anorexia or bulimia, not cancer. But it's a really good piece. Well done!

on Mar. 2 2010 at 10:47 am
Always1995 BRONZE, Tellico Plains, Tennessee
1 article 0 photos 12 comments
This is Amazing! Great job!

on Mar. 2 2010 at 10:01 am
star_struck_93, Smithville, Mississippi
0 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.”

This is really really good! It is really sad! Keep writting!

on Mar. 2 2010 at 7:32 am
ScarletThread, Someplace, Pennsylvania
0 articles 9 photos 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
Faithless is he so says farewell when the road darkens. -J. R. R. Tolkien

When all we have is God, we have all we need.

really sad and really beautiful.

keep up the good work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

on Feb. 18 2010 at 6:35 pm
juicyfan6 BRONZE, Mount Laurel, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 46 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." - J.K. Rowling

Sad. But still, it's a good story.

on Feb. 9 2010 at 6:50 pm
Silverae BRONZE, Hermosillo, Other
2 articles 0 photos 12 comments
I'll check out your stuff, but can u check out my stuff too? please!

on Feb. 9 2010 at 6:49 pm
Silverae BRONZE, Hermosillo, Other
2 articles 0 photos 12 comments
it's so sad : ( i feel so bad for her!
btw, can u check out my story? I rlly need some feedback!!
http ://www.teenink .com /fiction/romance/article/173895/Hollywooder-Part-One/

on Feb. 8 2010 at 8:28 pm
Audrea15 PLATINUM, Murphysboro, Illinois
25 articles 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
Everybody wants happiness. Nobody wants pain. But you cant have a rainbow. Without a little rain.

this is sad but great please please check out my new stuff and the effect of kissing:)

on Feb. 8 2010 at 7:15 pm
forgottenpenname GOLD, Troy, Michigan
12 articles 0 photos 147 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Carpe diem."

Beautiful! Made me want to cry.

on Feb. 8 2010 at 6:12 pm
homewardbound, Billerica, Massachusetts
0 articles 8 photos 78 comments
this was excellent. It gave me a new perspective. Everybody has something to hide and we can't just come to conclusions about people. Nobody's perfect. Everybody needs love.

haleyy. SILVER said...
on Feb. 8 2010 at 5:30 pm
haleyy. SILVER, Daleville, Alabama
9 articles 1 photo 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you have enemies it means you fought for something in your life.
- Eminem

oh it also made me think about my favorite movie - A Walk to Remeber(:

haleyy. SILVER said...
on Feb. 8 2010 at 5:29 pm
haleyy. SILVER, Daleville, Alabama
9 articles 1 photo 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you have enemies it means you fought for something in your life.
- Eminem

that was simply was sad yet interesting at the same time and it made me think about how many times ive told my family i love them an if my days with them r finite.... great job!! keep writing(: and do you think you could read some of my work and comment on it?!?!? because i could really use some help with my writing!! thnx(:

on Feb. 8 2010 at 5:12 pm
Bambi3226 SILVER, Grants, New Mexico
9 articles 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." - Lance Armstrong

Wow...thats really all that needs saying...

stormie. GOLD said...
on Feb. 8 2010 at 3:59 pm
stormie. GOLD, Toronto, Other
14 articles 0 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
ѕcаттεя мε аcяоѕѕ тнε ѕкy; аи∂ juѕт lιкε а ѕтая, ι'll ѕнιиε fоя yоu.♥

OMG, this is amazing!! it's sad, but it's perfect. i can relate to the "finite number"... no, i don't have cancer, but i knew someone who did.

on Feb. 8 2010 at 3:46 pm
Oh, that makes sense now! Thanks for clearing that up! :)