Just Beautiful This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

“I’m walking on sunshine. Oh, I’m walking on sunshine. Oh, and don’t it feel–”

Blearily, I stumble out of the warm security of bed, groping for my dresser. My hand touches the familiar contours of my digital alarm clock. I fumble for a few seconds before finding the off switch.

Although the six o’clock morning should be palely glistening with fresh sunlight, my room is pitch black, lacking any windows. The only thing that lights my way as I stagger to the door is the glow of the red numbers on my clock.

I peek out, praying that my mom isn’t awake. She’s standing in the hallway, hands on hips, staring at me with an accusatory expression. I mask my guilt, flashing a too-wide smile.

“Morning, Mom.”

Not even a blink.

“How’d you sleep?”

She folds her arms over her fluffy pink robe. “Hardly at all, Genevieve. I kept hearing strange noises in the house.”

I must have been louder than I thought when I sneaked out last night. Trying to appear unconcerned, I know how stupidly obvious I must look. And I realize why I didn’t get the role in our school play last year. I’m a terrible actress. “Um… maybe it was the mice?”

She touches my hair. “It’s wet.”

“I… took a shower last night.” Was that too long of a pause?

Sighing, she puts her hands on my shoulders and looks into my eyes. I hate that. Wanting to look away, I know that would only insult her, so I’m locked into her steady green gaze.

“You know you can tell me anything,” she says.

“Yeah…” Please stop.

“Anything at all.” Her eyebrows are drawn, and she seems almost pleading, as if wanting to hear me affirm what she’s saying, to reassure her doubts that I don’t trust her enough to be completely honest.

“I know, Mom.” My words are mumbled, and I break eye contact.

“Your breakfast is ready. It’s in the kitchen.”

•¤•

If you looked at me, you would think that I was normal. I’m athletic, and by most standards, pretty. I have long, glossy, curly red hair that other girls envy. My skin is fair and blemish-free. With a pointed nose, chin, and ears, people often say I look sort of elfin. I’m not sure what color my eyes are. They look pale gray when I’m depressed or sad, icy when I’m calm, and my mom says that when I’m angry, embarrassed, or excited, their color is electric blue.

But I’m not normal. Not at all. My schoolmates are normal. I’m different from anybody I know. When people ask me why I look so sad, I make sure to plaster a smile on my face. It’s so fake that it hurts. But I don’t tell them. Perhaps they’d think differently of me if they knew that I thirsted for something they took for granted.

Necessities of life are often underrated. Water. Food. And something for which I can’t even begin to describe my longing. I think about it every day, and I dream about it every night. Every minute is spent yearning for something I can never have. My heart beats for it, calls to it, cries for it. But it’s all in vain. Because never in my life will I ever be able to enjoy it for what it is.

Sunshine.

I’ve never gone to the beach. I’ve never swum in a pool on a sunny day. I’ve never worn a summer dress. I’ve never had a chance to feel the warmth of the glorious sun on my bare skin, to bask in its rays with no worries in my head.

I’m allergic to the sun. I can’t even stand in the shade without extreme covering for my body. No matter what the temperature, if I leave my windowless house, I have to wear tons of sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt, pants, gloves, sneakers, sunglasses, and a hat. It feels ridiculous, and I can’t even describe how much I want to run around in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops like anybody else.

When I’m at school, my peers will play tag on the field, or soccer, or football, or any other kind of game, and I sit alone in the darkest shadows, barred from the excitement. I’m always by myself, and no one cares. It just gives them another reason to avoid me.
If only they could understand my intense and eternal sorrow.

•¤•

Mrs. Dobson, my math teacher, drones on and on. She scribbles meaningless equations all over the chalkboard, speaking gibberish in her monotone. I’ve stopped listening. In my corner, far away from the window, I’m smiling to myself as I remember what happened yesterday. I have to go there again tonight. I itch to be free, without always having someone telling me to hurry inside. I want to dance like I did before. Closing my eyes, I will school to be over, counting the hours until I sneak out of the house again.

•¤•

‘The sweet, honey-glazed scent of the wheat field wafts gently with the breeze, tickling my nose, and causing an impulsive smile to kiss my lips. I stand waist deep, running my palms along the fuzzy tops of the waving tan stalks. Breaths of warm wind chase loose curls of my hair. Closing my eyes, I tilt up my eager face to the sun. It brushes its fingers across my skin, caressing me warmly. Through tangled lashes, I gaze at the horizon, where the yellow ball sparkles, suspended at the edge of the world. I sense its reluctance to leave this pretty scene. Tenderly, it touches the earth with mellow, golden shades, bathing the world in untainted bliss. My happiness cannot contain itself, and my smile bursts into a bubble of laughter that, along with the sun, slowly fades away.’

•¤•

Dark shades of gray and navy swirl across the angry sky. The clouds are gathering, blanketing the stars. Only the moon peeks out from the covers, washing me with its midnight pallor. All the world is silvery-blue with moonlight, and the colors around me mingle into a similar hue.

But I’ve forgotten about these things for a rare moment. I’ve forgotten the clouds and the moon. Blissfully ignorant, I stand in the wheat field, imagining a day aglow with sunlight and warmth instead of the coolness of the night. I don’t mind the chill, for I’m not here. A different moment in time has gracefully caught me in its spell, and I don’t want to leave.

A blinding white light flashes past my eyelids, and I open my eyes with a gasp. My vision is filled with purplish spots. When I blink, the world is blurry and unclear. I can feel the electrical charge in the air, still tingling from the lightning. I should leave. The thought won’t stop whispering in my head.

Harshly, a crashing rumble fills the air, as if the sky is warning me. I ignore it.

I want to stay here forever. Better here than cooped up in a dark house without proper windows. Death by lightning sounds far more exciting to me than death by old age, living an imprisoned life, barred from the thing I want the most.

I take a deep breath and smell wet earth. A thunder clap shakes the sky. Torrential rain suddenly pours down, and I fling my arms wide, close my eyes, and let the water soak into my hair and clothes. It seeps into my skin, soaking every part of me. The clean water streams down my forehead, drips off my eyelashes, flows off my nose and chin, settles on my lips. Sticking out my tongue, I taste the rain’s refreshing sweetness.

Another blinding flash of lightning cuts across the sky, and more thunder vibrates my entire body. A rush of adrenaline surges through my veins, and I realize that I don’t want this to stop. Amidst all the terror, I sense a certain peace – sort of a powerful invulnerability. I’ve never felt like this before.

Laughing, I envision that this is similar to the sensation of joy one must feel in sunlight. My voice sounds weak and thin compared to the storm. I twirl and jump, dancing and singing because I don’t know how else to express my passion and excitement. It’s like the emotional wall I’ve been building collapses just as the clouds opened for the rain to gush.

The world suddenly grows quiet, even though the rain is still pouring. My ears tune out all sounds. I feel serenity in the midst of this surging strength. I look at the field, its wheat stalks waving and thrashing in the wind, and the trees, their boughs swaying, and the sky, its turbulent heights beckoning to me with their raw power.

The world is beautiful. Just beautiful.





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