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.

on Apr. 20 2015 at 1:59 pm
Really well written :)

HHughes said...
on Mar. 24 2015 at 10:01 am
Lovely piece. Read Chinoa Achebe's "things fall apart." I hope you are well.

mbk123 BRONZE said...
on Mar. 12 2015 at 6:16 pm
mbk123 BRONZE, East Hampton, New York
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments
Wow, this is so deep, especially the first paragraph that part made me cry. I hope everything i good for you now.

witchwallow said...
on Feb. 6 2015 at 2:27 pm
witchwallow, Los Gatos, California
0 articles 0 photos 37 comments
skillfully writen, I look forward to your work in the future

on Jan. 26 2015 at 4:00 pm
BradyLauze BRONZE, Stratford, Other
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"So we beat on, boats against the current, bourn back ceaselessly into the past." (Scott. F. Fitzgerald)

Very well written, you seem to be very wise and well versed on this type of topic. It amazes me that the audacity of society could make someone in so much pain, struggle to be accepted. It just goes to show that everyone is fighting their own battle, whether inside or out, one must always try to understand. Great job.

Mo-Con BRONZE said...
on Jan. 21 2015 at 1:02 pm
Mo-Con BRONZE, Hartland, Wisconsin
4 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Our past is a story. Our future is it's sequel."

Dear Author, This was a very good story. You did a great job with high lighting feelings in this piece. I love the beginning in which your character is preparing for the day, and how each object she used had meaning. It really set up your story in a amazing way. The story from there eon was just as great. It is apparent you spent a lot of time on this piece. It was well worth your effort, as you probably already now. Sincerely, Mo-Con

on Jan. 14 2015 at 6:58 pm
TheUniqueStoryteller, Sherman Oaks, California
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Really well written!

on Jan. 5 2015 at 9:09 pm
kennedyshine PLATINUM, Corte Madera, California
44 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
The perpetual pursuit for an unattainable freedom

This is a great piece, it shows good character description, and shows real emotion and importance. The dialogue had a little too much exposition, but I don't imagine you had another way to do it. Very Very good work. This is a piece I'll remember.

on Jan. 4 2015 at 5:26 pm
a3writer SILVER, Sylvania, Ohio
8 articles 1 photo 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
There is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. i'll always be with you. -Christopher Robins

This is good!The main character is showing she wants to be strong for other people instead of giving into the pain and pity.Although people should give into it when that kind of stuff is serious...

on Dec. 7 2014 at 12:57 pm
kimberlyguzmanx SILVER, Holbrook, New York
5 articles 0 photos 35 comments

Favorite Quote:
The next chapter in your life, will always be more interesting than the last..

Interesting concept. Like it. 

on Dec. 4 2014 at 10:39 pm
Proudheart PLATINUM, Evansville, Wisconsin
32 articles 5 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you are going through Hell, keep going." -Winston Churchill

This is so good! I like how you show that something is wrong with her rather than just tell that she has cancer.

on Nov. 7 2014 at 6:20 pm
ScreenName098 GOLD, New York City, New York
10 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." -Dr. Seuss

This was such a captivating and intriguing piece! Great job. I really liked how you made the fact that the narrator had cancer rather subtly so it wasn't so predictable. I found it pretty emotional

Damariono said...
on Oct. 28 2014 at 8:39 am
Wow she uses stuff to cover up her cancer and she has everything going good for her

on Oct. 12 2014 at 3:31 pm
OfficialIzzyColon BRONZE, St.Louis, Missouri
3 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Do something other than killing time. Because time is killing you."

Great story! I loved how you created a charecter that I cared so much for in so few words. Your writing reminded me of A.S. King's (one of my favorite YA authors).

on Oct. 7 2014 at 5:39 pm
im sad that i want to read more. (< dont make any sense but still :) ).

on Sep. 26 2014 at 10:12 pm
beAWESOMEstayAWESOME BRONZE, New York City, New York
3 articles 0 photos 133 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Work hard in silence and let your accomplishments make the noise."

You are an amazing writer! You know how to capture the readers attention and make the reader want to keep reading. At the end I was sad because it ended and I wanted to read more. 

on Sep. 21 2014 at 12:42 am
AppleCakePie BRONZE, Los Altos, California
3 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The brightest smiles hold the deepest secrets. The prettiest eyes have cried the most tears. The kindest hearts have felt the most pain.

yeah, that's what I thought too...

on Sep. 18 2014 at 10:18 am
carissathestoryteller GOLD, Bremen, Georgia
14 articles 0 photos 32 comments

Favorite Quote:
Remember... that each child is a separate person. Yours forever, but never fully yours. She can never be all you wished or wanted or all you know she could be. But she will be a better human being if you can let her be herself. ~Stella Chess

This is gorgeous. I'm floored by your understanding of why and how people hide things. Great story.

on Sep. 10 2014 at 10:48 pm
lauraxin SILVER, Livingston, New Jersey
6 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Absolutely beautiful. I'm in awe.

on Sep. 2 2014 at 12:40 pm
amazing/ it was awsome and super fun time says awsome and best storie ever