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How she changed my life is a short story (Seriously it's pretty short)
I stare into the eyes looking back at me in the mirror; hazel, with tiny splotches of orange and green in them. Why can’t they be a normal solid color, like blue or brown? Why can’t I just be like everyone else?
The sound of the microwave startles me as I’m sitting half asleep at the kitchen table. I bring my instant oatmeal to the table and turn on the TV with a small but annoying click. A talkshow. Click. Another talkshow. Click. Seriously, not even a decent commercial on. The screen goes black. Talk show hosts might just be the most annoying group of people that ever existed. In my opinion they are just a bunch of people that either failed everything else in the entertainment biz, actor, singer, that sort of thing, or just someone trying to make a comeback a few years too late. The answer is yes, I’ve had way too much time on my hands in the mornings. But what else am I going to do? It’s not like mom’s all “bright and shining” in the morning. Or any time in the day when she is like today, and most other days.
My mom is depressed and has been ever since she and my dad got a divorce four years ago. He left and started a bartending school on some Caribbean island somewhere. I guess he sends some sort of compensation sometimes, that’s what he calls it, I know he does because I opened one of the letters once, compensation. Like anything is ever going to make up for the make that he just ditched us here. So we basically get by on the drunks in the Bahamas or wherever and my mom’s moments of brilliance every once in a while when she cleans up her act and freelance and then she’s actually pretty good at what she does. In short, she is depressed/a workaholic and spends all her time being one or the other which doesn’t leave her too much time to spend on me.
Thank God I have my boyfriend. We’ve been dating for a year now and he’s so sweet. Without him I don’t know if I’d ever leave the house. Sure, he has a temper and gets mad sometimes but he loves me. At least I think he does. He has to love me, right?
My head hurts and it’s not even 8am yet. Ugh, I feel as grey and tragic as the soggy breakfast in front of me.
I open the doors and sprint across the school parking lot knowing that…
“You’re late.” The tone reeks of annoyance.
“I know, I lost track of time and…” My heart is in my throat. I tell myself it’s from the sprint and not for fear of my boyfriend. He’s supposed to love me, right?
“Just get in the d*** car, will you?”
I do as I’m told, feeling like I’m twelve instead of seventeen. Why does he always have to talk to me like that, I wonder quietly, wondering what he would do if he could hear my thoughts.
“So you look pretty today,” he says looking over at me.
I smile and can feel myself relaxing against the headrest. Who cares if he’s a little rough around the edges, that was a nice thing to say wasn’t it? I told you he was sweet.
Did you know that 98.3 % of all apples have at least one brown spot before they even reach the store? I examine the Granny Smith sitting on the table. So what’s more damage? I take a huge bite and watch the sticky apple juice run down my fingers to the back of my hand. I can’t stand the silence; this house has been dead quiet for what feels like a week. Reluctantly I flick on the TV knowing what’s coming. Some tall woman is talking about bullying. She’s pretty. I mean, she’s still a talk show host. And apparently a producer, model, writer, singer.. That’s kind of cool. I keep chewing while half-heartedly listening to the TV.
“Don’t you know that real beauty comes from within?” The woman on the screen says to one of the girls on stage. “You can’t just measure yourself in what other people think about you. Why do you think you need other people to make you feel significant?
Angry honks drown out the sounds from the TV and I grab my bag while glancing down at my watch.
I’m late again and as I slam the door shut I know what awaits me even before I’m close enough to see the fury in his eyes.
He holds my hand tightly as we walk through the doors to the local bowling alley. Before you raise your eyebrow and look at me like that, let me remind you that I live in a small town, okay? We don’t have that many things to do around here.
We walk over to the counter and as he gets shoes for us, I wave to a guy from class bowling a couple of rows away. Then, a cold hand on my shoulder.
“Now, who’s that, sweetie?”
“No one, just a guy from class.” I respond a little too quickly, startled by the harshness in his voice.
“A guy from class huh?” He looks over at the guy, who immediately stops smiling and turns around. “Then can you tell me why was he looking at you like that?”
I see his knuckles turn white as he clenches his fists.
“Please it was nothing, let’s just go.” I say as I try to fix his gaze on me.
“Fine!” He throws the shoes over the counter and pull my arm so hard towards the exit I gasp for air and follow like the puppet he treats me like and that I know I am.
This has happened many times before but this time I can’t seem to get it out of my head. I turn over on my back and stare at the ceiling above my bed. Why does this always happen? What’s wrong with me? For the first time the thought hits me, maybe I should break up with him? But then I’d have no one, could I really suffice on my own? You can’t just measure yourself in what other people think about you. Why do you think you need other people to make you feel significant? For some reason, those words echo in my head as I slowly drift off to sleep without having decided what I’m going to do.
The next morning the smell of pancakes wakes me up and I smile because I know what this means.
“Good morning, honey!”
My mom is standing by the stove in an apron over her jeans and a t-shirt, her hair in a French braid.
“I was just starving when I woke up this morning so I decided on pancakes before I start my work. Is that okay with you? I can make something else if you want, we have French toast, eggs…”
“Pancakes are great, mom.”
As I sit down I notice that she’s humming some tune and that the TV is on. When our house is full of noises and life like this, I feel invincible, like nothing can break me down. The TV shows the same channel as yesterday. I turn it up.
“Life can always be turned around, but most of it is up to you. Take action and bring out your inner fierceness.”
“Mom could I take them to go?” I ask as the honks grow more frequent and I start running around the kitchen throwing random stuff into my backpack.
“Sure. Everything okay, sweetie?” She asks, a look of concern in her eyes.
“Yeah yeah I’m fine, it’s just... you know how he gets, I have to…” I stop in my tracks as I catch a glimpse of myself in the hallway mirror. Shoes untied, jean jacket flung across my shoulders while holding the still-hot packet of aluminum foil in one hand and my open backpack in the other. What am I doing?
I open the door and walk towards the curb where he stands, holding the car door open, an idea slowly beginning to form in my head.
“Hey! Guess what? My mom’s up today, I think things will get better this time. For real!” I smile and give him a quick peck on the cheek as usual.
“Hey! That’s great!” My smile is completely gone when the words come out, dripping with sarcasm. “Why is it freaking impossible for you not to make me wait? I have better things to do then to waste my life waiting for you!”
Bring out your inner fierceness.
The anger in his eyes turning to surprise I know that he was expecting an apology as usual. Ha. Not this time.
He takes a step towards me and stares me down and I know this is my chance.
I walk past him and slowly but with a firm hand close the car door, feeling a look of triumph starting to form on my face.
I grab my backpack of the sidewalk, turn on my heel and start walking towards the bus station to the sound of tires screeching, signaling that both the Toyota and its owner have driven out of my life forever.
I look into the mirror after washing my face that night. My mouth twitches and finally my lips break out in a smile. For the first time in a long time I notice a sparkle in my eyes and for the first time ever it might be a good thing not to be like everyone else. I laugh as I strike a pose. Thank you, Tyra Banks, you just made the rest of my life.