On Technicolor Wings

December 4, 2011
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To be wanted by others was the ultimate goal.

This is all the girl had ever known.

As a little girl in a very crowded orphanage, it had not been quite so apparent, yet she had noticed anyway.

Quietly leafing through a tattered storybook, she saw how Aurora’s prince had saved her from a terrible fate. She noted Jasmine’s sadness before Aladdin had arrived. She did not question why. Clearly, these princesses must have needed their princes to be happy. To be wanted so much that someone would brave a dragon or an evil sorcerer for you was the epitome of happiness. And the girl accepted this as a fact. She wondered when she would be wanted as she tucked herself into bed and kissed her old stuffed rabbit goodnight.

The girl remained in the shadows of the orphanage until the summer before her freshman year of high school. She had won a special scholarship to attend a private high school in the next town over. On her first day, she was reminded of the ultimate goal. To achieve this, other girls had learned to beautify their exteriors in hopes of masking their much less desirable interiors. Hems had shortened. Shirts contained less fabric. Eyes were caked in magic, sparkly goop.

Unlike the others, the girl had never learned to change. She had no means by which to change herself, and she wondered how anyone could want another so badly that they would change everything about themselves to achieve their goal. She had failed Conformity 101, ironically the single most important thing to being noticed. The girl cried. Her naïveté kept her the same wallflower, inside and out, in her dynamic environment.

But being herself, the girl discovered, guaranteed only solace.

In the middle of it all, the girl reached rock bottom. No one noticed the expression on that silhouette of a girl, how her whole body lie crushed under a mountain of despair. In danger of crumpling, the girl had wondered at the value of her own life. She had spent her whole life just wanting someone to notice, someone to care for her, someone to be proud of her.

Someone had never noticed.

It was then that the knife of sadness, the blade of solace and despair and wanting, had slashed at her wrists. Slumped against the wall of the orphanage’s bathroom, she screamed: look at me. But she was at the bottom, and what can a completely devastated person do to help herself?

Her tears flowed down her face and mixed with the blood pooling on the bathroom floor.

Just two short years later, the girl found herself poised on the cusp of adulthood. Everything would be changing. The orphanage that had been her home for the past 18 years would be behind her, as she hoped her shadow would be. It seemed like everyone from the life she had been a spectator of was both wanted and wanting.

As she packed the last box, she noticed a shoebox sticking out from under her cot. Curious, the girl blew the dust from the top, removed the lid, and examined the contents: a lump of clay, a few paperclips, and a threadbare, discolored rabbit. The same rabbit from her childhood, who had kept the monsters under her bed at bay and made her solitude somewhat bearable. His ears were torn, his nose was no longer pink, and there was a hole in his side with stuffing coming out. But he still had the same, somewhat-mischievous glint in his black glass eyes. His smile, now somewhat lopsided and coming undone, still radiated friendship.

He had been alone for years.
As had she.

Though her mind was not as simple, and her body was not so carefully cared for, her heart was still whole. She didn’t know anyone else who could say that they had never been discarded by the one they thought they wanted.

And in one resounding moment of truth, she realized how strong a person must be to be alone for a moment. She had been alone her whole life. And the girl was sick of all the what-ifs, sick of the shadows, sick of telling herself that she wasn’t important enough. Sick of wanting to be wanted so badly that she felt she would implode. She was sick of waiting to quietly be let in some obscure side gate after walking past the beautiful, gilded ones out front forever.

Most of all, she was sick of wondering of how her life would have been different if someone had wanted her from the start.

After delicately tucking her rabbit inside the last box, she taped it shut and carried it outside. She took in the world around her, not commenting, just looking.

The girl cast off her inhibitions and shot through the air on technicolor wings.

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