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“Are you sure this is legal? Like… raw fish? Really? I thought we had evolved past that point.”
I eyed the sushi roll in front of me, poking it hesitantly with a chopstick – I hadn’t yet mastered the art of actually using them. My sister glared at me dutifully from the other end of the table.
“You were the one that said you wanted to try new things – and this isn’t even new. I seriously thought everyone on the face of the planet had tried sushi at one point or another.”
As if to prove her point, she stuck a piece inside her mouth and chewed deliberately. I sighed. Why was I doing this again? To find a new, more confident image of myself so that I could dispose of the old, unhappy one – I knew that. What the hell sushi had to do with this, I had absolutely no idea.
“Lily. Eat it. Now.”
I swallowed hard, and, shutting off all thought, I stabbed the piece of fish in front of me with a chopstick and popped it in my mouth. Instantly, I knew this was a horrid mistake. I looked around in a desperate panic to find a napkin, and my sister, knowing me all too well, handed one over with a sigh. As I was busy removing any sign of fish from my mouth, she pinched the bridge of her nose and shut her eyes, speaking more to herself than to me.
“I don’t even know why we decided to try this.”
Setting the wadded up napkin on my otherwise clean plate, I said, “It’s not my fault I don’t like fish. I don’t even like cooked fish, much less … that.” I motioned to the napkin. “Besides, all I wanted was to be a little happier before school started again. It’s my last year – and when I said try new things, I didn’t mean food.”
She glared at me, leaned back in her chair, and crossed her arms. It was almost like a scene from the Godfather. Absentmindedly, I wondered why my parents had decided to name her Tiffany of all things; she was most certainly NOT a Tiffany.
“Okay, so what did you mean? I refuse to be held responsible for your death, so we aren’t going skydiving or bungee jumping. I figured food would be a pretty safe place to start.”
I sighed again, picking at a loose string at the bottom of my shirt. I imagined the whole thing coming unraveled, and me sitting in the middle of this nice restaurant, my disgusting figure forced upon every poor soul in the immediate area. Suppressing a shiver, I let go of the string and began looking around the room instead. People all around us were smiling, laughing even, and having enjoyable conversation. Everyone except us.
A girl my age was sitting a few tables away, laughing with the date that sat across from her. I felt an instant sting and averted my eyes; there went another hit on my self-esteem.
“I wanted to try new things that would make me happy. Things that would make me look more like her.” I gestured loosely to the gorgeous teen. Girls like her had made me decide a long time ago that God was a sick and unjust being – why did some people get all the luck, and others had to walk around looking like… me? It just wasn’t fair.
Tiffany looked over, and shook her head.
“You don’t see yourself clearly at all do you? If you would just friggin’ smile every once in a while, and you had any ounce of belief in yourself, you could outshine her by a long shot.” She transferred another roll from her plate to mine.
“This one doesn’t taste anything like fish. Tastes like waffles, actually. I swear on my life.”
I looked down at my plate and pursed my lips. I knew that my sister was doing her very best to help, but how could I explain to her that a piece of food couldn’t solve my problems? I wanted to be pretty. I wanted to be the model on the cover of the magazine. I wanted a guy to acknowledge my existence. I wanted… I wanted… I bit my lip, knowing that I didn’t know what I wanted at all.
Remembering the other teenage girl, I glanced up to see her in mid-laugh, poised to stick another roll in her open mouth. Hesitantly, I stabbed the one on my plate. Was it really that easy? I twisted my eyes shut and shoved it in my mouth before I could think about it. And surprisingly, Tiffany was right – this one did taste like waffles.
I smiled, and stole another from her plate.