Good Enough

“Truth or dare?” They smile at me expectantly, but what am I supposed to say? Either one could hurt me, either one could humiliate me.
“Dare.” I look at them, leaning forward as they tried to think of the most humiliating thing they could make me do. Let them think. Soon, it would be my turn, and I would have my revenge.
One of them smiles wickedly and her eyes light up. She has found her question. “Okay. . .See that guy over there? Tell him your deepest, darkest secret. . . .We’ll be listening.” She winks and waits for me to carry out my ungodly task.
The boy she pointed out happens to be the nicest boy in our grade. He’s good at everything and good to everyone. And he happens to be the object of my crush.
My deepest darkest secret. What do I tell him? My mind rushes through the possibilities.
I could tell him that I think I’m fat. I could tell him that I hate myself. I could tell him what no one else knows. I could tell him how much I hurt when I look at him, just because I know that he will never want me.
I could tell him those dreams I had about him. I could tell him the one where he shoots me in the back in my sleep, or when he pushes me into a never ending abyss. Or maybe tell him about the dream where he doesn’t say anything at all. The one where he just glares at me the whole time.
“Come on. We’re waiting.” I look at them, leaning forward. Why was I even playing this game? It was so sick. It was nothing but torturing others for amusement. The only thing to look forward to was the stink of revenge.
But if I chickened on this, they would only make me do something even more humiliating. I got up shakily, trying to make my way across the blacktop to where he was standing under a tree with his crowd of friends, talking.
“Oh, hey. What’s up?” Yeah, he seemed so friendly. Did he just smile at me? Of course. He smiles at everyone. Why his eye just twinkled. A trick of the light, no more. I stood there like an idiot. I had to tell him. I had to tell him my secret.
My jaw moved of its own accord, forming words that could either save or kill me. “I’m wearing white underwear.”
His friends laugh and point at me, repeating what I said. Mocking me. He just drops his smile and looks at me like a concerned parent or something.
I run away. I have nothing else to do. My hands are shaking, my heart is beating faster and faster. I want to cry. I want to cry so bad. But I can’t. I just can’t.
I run past them, still gathered in their little circle, snickering at me. One of them called after me “Nice underwear!”
I didn’t care. I just kept running.
And running.
And running.
I don’t know how long I ran. It might have been hours. It might have been minutes. I just know that somewhere I stopped, collapsed under a tree, gasping desperately for breath.
I could feel the hole opening up inside me. That giant vacuum inside my chest where no light, sound, or joy could enter. I was empty. Hollow. I clutched at myself, trying to close the hole, but I could only feel the fat of my stomach.
I drew back and looked at my own pudgy hands, which were shaking.
This is why he would never love me. Because of this. I would never be good enough for him. I would never be good enough for him.
I imagined him here with me, comforting me. He put his hand down and I took it, accepting his help to stand up. But no. He would never love me like that. I was not good enough.
As soon as I stood up, he would knock me back down and kick me, over and over. And I reveled in it because I knew that I deserved every kick. He wasn’t saying anything; he never did. Not when I imagined him like this. He just glared at me with a hatred that was so intense, that words could never do it justice.
I wasn’t good enough.
I wasn’t good enough.
Kick me. Hurt me. Make me bleed. Kill me. Please. Kill me. Maybe when I’m dead, maybe after I’m gone, maybe then I’ll be good enough. Maybe he’ll even shed a tear for me. Maybe I’ll be just good enough for him to mourn me. When it’s too late, will he see what he had?
No. He wouldn’t. I wasn’t good enough for that.

The next day in school, my science teacher made me stay after class. I don’t know why. I was a good student. There was no reason for her to keep me here.
She frowned. “Are you okay? You don’t seem yourself.”
No. I’m terrible. I’m falling apart at the seems. Please save me. “Yeah. I’m just tired, that’s all.”
Part of me wanted her to reject that truth, to say no you’re not fine, something’s wrong. Part of me wanted her to bring me to a doctor’s office, to give me a mental evaluation, or maybe just to say ‘I’m there if you need help.’ But no.
She smiled. “You and your brother! You’re always tired.” She pats me on the arm. “Just try to get more rest, okay?”
No. “Okay.”
The hole is there again during lunch. A couple of them sit by me, smiling and laughing. It hurts so much, it’s like a black hole. I see him across the room, and I know I’m not good enough. It hurts so much. . . .
I smile as they tell me a joke. Yeah. That was funny. You can’t see that I’m breaking down inside, you can’t see who I really am, but if I laugh at your jokes, if I smile at your words, then you never will. Part of me knew that’s what I needed to do. Part of me wanted to tell them everything. Part of me just wanted everything to end.

After school, I was sitting on the grass by myself, under the shade of a tree. I watched as a leaf broke free as the tree began to die again for the cold, hard winter. Maybe I could just follow its example. Maybe I could just break off, just die like that little leaf. It would be one step farther as the world continued its long hard journey. And there would always be more leaves to replace me. I was nothing. I wasn’t any more unique or special than that leaf.
I didn’t hear it when he crept up behind me. But all of a sudden he was next to me, watching the leaves fall like I was. I couldn’t breathe.
He reached out and took the leaf in my hand, examining it. He put it back in my hand gently. It feels like he’s got something he wants to say but can’t. He’s going to tell me he hates me, just like he does in my head. He’s going to give me that glare because we both know that I’m not good enough for him. I never will be.
I cast my eyes down. There’s no way I can see his perfect face when mine is so ugly. He raises my chin and looks in my eyes. But he’s not glaring. Why isn’t he glaring? He’s just giving me that same concerned parent look like he gave me the other day. And he said a question that I have been asked in my head millions of times. In reality, I had been asked it once. “Are you okay?”
I swallow. No, I’m not okay. I’m sick and twisted and there’s something wrong with me. I’m ugly and stupid and will never deserve you. I think there’s something wrong in my head, I think that’s why I’ll never be good enough. “Yeah. I’m fine.”
His eyes scrunch up. He’s going to glare at me. I can see his expression morphing. He hates me, I knew it. Because I’m never good enough.
“Don’t you dare lie to me. Are you okay?”
I look at him. In my mind, I would imagine people asking me again. But they never would, I knew, because no one knew what I thought of myself. To them, I was the happy genius in the back of the class. I was always happy, always ready with a smile or a joke. But he had asked me again. The person who I never deserved. Could he actually care about me?
I shake my head. This is the part where I’m supposed to start crying, but once again, I can’t cry. I don’t know why, but the times when it feels like I should cry most, I never can. My voice is shaky when I answer his question. “N-No. . .. I’m not. . . .”
I look up at him. He’s going to think I’m a freak. He’s going to call me an emo freak and leave me alone again because I will never be good enough for him. But he holds up his hand in kind of a C shape with the bottom curved down. He gives me kind of a sad smile, and I notice for the first time that his eyes are reddish. Had he been crying?
He take my other hand and makes the same sort of C shape. “Neither am I.” He puts the two together, and I see now that it’s a heart. “But that’s okay. Maybe we can help each other become okay.”
I look up in his eyes. They were so full of pain, so full of a pain that was so familiar to me. Could it be that he had been like me? Could it be that he had secrets? Secrets like the kind that no one else could know about? But maybe, could it be, that, like me, he wanted someone to know them? That deep down, he really just wanted someone to help him?
I smile, and already I feel a little better. All I can do is nod.
We sat under that big tree until midnight, just watching the leaves falling, and then later, the stars. We didn’t kiss. We didn’t hug. We just were with each other, holding hands. I knew that he was hurting, and he knew that I was hurting. Maybe someday we’d be cured of this sick image of ourselves. Maybe someday we could honestly think that we deserved the lives we had. Maybe someday, we’d finally feel whole again.
But for now, we had each other. We had the knowledge that we were not alone, and for the first time in my life, I was good enough for that.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

sleeplessdreamer said...
Aug. 2, 2010 at 3:06 pm
There was nothing spectacular about the story. There was nothing fascinating about the narrative. And the boy-girl relationship was nothing mind-blowing. But I fell in love with this piece. I sat here and read it, and I want to read it again. It's deliciously heartbreaking, and so honest and true. I can relate to every ounce of this. Actually, I have a relationship similar to this story with a guy who is the best friend I could ever ask for. Made me love it even more than I already would have. F... (more »)
 
The_Blackest_Rose This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 22, 2010 at 1:19 am
Thank you so much!
 
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