Perfect MAG

February 10, 2009
By Kelsey Hill BRONZE, State University, Arkansas
Kelsey Hill BRONZE, State University, Arkansas
2 articles 1 photo 1 comment

The eyeliner makes the dark circles less pronounced. The lip gloss hides the trembling. The ponytail conceals missing patches of hair. The Abercrombie sweater covers bruises. I might look at bit thinner, but everyone will ask about my new diet. My hair might not shine the way it used to, but the pink ribbon will distract curious eyes. One hour of preparation and I look like myself. One hour of preparation and no one will know. One hour out of 24. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it – wasting a twenty-fourth of my day on a lie. But then I see my wispy hair and baggy eyes, and I have to do it.

Checking my makeup one last time, I push my sleeves up, though not past my elbows. I slip on a cute pair of flats – heels are too dangerous with shaky legs – and grab my Hollister bag. Padding downstairs, I inhale the scent of waffles and syrup.

“Morning, Mom,” I call.

“Morning, baby,” she chirps. “Did you sleep well?”

“Better than I have been.”

She sighs, and her eyes look a hundred years old for a minute. “Any improvement is good,” she says half-heartedly.

“Of course.”

“I made waffles.” Her offering.

“Thanks, Mom. Smells delicious.” My offering.

I sit at the table and she hands me a plate. The thought of all that food turns my stomach, but I force a smile and thank my mother again. She busies herself at the sink and fills the silence with chatter. When she turns around, she takes in the waffles still on my plate, only missing a few bites. I smile apologetically.

“I’m not very hungry this morning.”

“You’ll need your strength for this afternoon.” She bites her lip. She doesn’t like to bring it up over breakfast. I eat another bite.

“I packed your lunch.”

“I’m 18, Mom. I can pack my own lunch. You have more important things to do.”

She reaches for the paper sack. “But now I know you’ll have something to eat. And you need to eat, okay? You have to keep your strength up.”

Sighing, I take the bag. I know this peanut butter and jelly sandwich won’t be eaten, not any more than the one yesterday or the day before. And even if I do eat it, I’ll just throw it up later. Anything consumed after 11 ends up in a plastic basin at 4:07. It’s just the way it works.

“Hon, have you thought about what I said the other day?” she asks.

I shrug noncommittally.

“Sweetheart, you can’t hide this forever. Eventually you’re going to miss school and people will start asking questions.”

“Mom, I have two months left of high school. I can make it ’til then. I’m class president and probably valedictorian. I was voted ‘Most popular,’ ‘Most fun to be around,’ ‘Best smile,’ and ‘Most likely to succeed.’ I’m the girl who’s got it all together. People don’t want to know that the girl who’s got it all together, doesn’t have it all together. People don’t want to know that girl is dying!”

“Honey, don’t say that. You’re not dying.”

“Yes, I am. I have cancer. You heard Dr. Morrison. I have maybe a year left. But that means I can graduate and then never see those people again. I’ll die and they’ll feel sorry for me, but at least I won’t have to endure their pity.”

“But …,” she tries to interrupt.

“Mom, listen to me. I don’t want to be the girl everyone looks at and whispers, ‘Look at her. Poor thing, she has cancer.’ I can’t handle that. I want to be normal. Just for these last two months.”

“Okay,” she whispers. “Okay. Just remember, it’s okay if you don’t have it all together. Sometimes things just fall apart and there’s nothing we can do.”

“Thanks, Mom.” I grab my bag and lunch and kiss her on the cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” my mom replies. This exchange, once taken for granted, is now a vital part of every morning, every afternoon, every night. Three little words, followed by four more, have come to mean more than an entire conversation. They bridge all gaps and disagreements, because we both know there is now a finite number left.

Keys in hand, I open the door and blink in the early morning sun. My silver car waits in the driveway and as I walk toward it, I check my reflection in the tinted window. Perfect.

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This article has 825 comments.

on Oct. 1 at 2:07 pm
Dani_Higareda GOLD, Hanahan, South Carolina
17 articles 0 photos 65 comments

Favorite Quote:
"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these." -G.Washington Carver

Your story touched me so much I cried. I like the character's honesty and the way she copes with things. You really did an amazing job! :):):)

on Aug. 1 at 3:47 pm
luciawrites BRONZE, Washington, Missouri
3 articles 0 photos 4 comments
Beautiful and heartbreaking

on Dec. 26 2017 at 8:15 pm
JazzyB2002 SILVER, Sauk Centre, Minnesota
6 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who actually do."
-Steve Jobs

It's hard to think people go through this daily...

very nice... i liked

on Nov. 11 2017 at 11:49 am
Julianna.S GOLD, Tirana, Other
10 articles 0 photos 27 comments
This is a beautiful story that truly deserves to be in the magazine. Keep up the great work

on Nov. 9 2017 at 11:40 am
parislove20 BRONZE, Fort Wyane , Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 2 comments
ive read this at least ten time the first time i read this i was 14 now im 17 and i still come back to it to read it i love this story so much it reminds me of my life but without the cancer

on Nov. 8 2017 at 2:48 pm
Blurryface_ BRONZE, Auburn, California
4 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I didn't get my acceptance letter from Hogwarts so I'm leaving the Shire to become a Jedi."

This is incredible. Keep it up!

on Nov. 1 2017 at 2:48 pm
Elizabeth2001 BRONZE, Durand, Michigan
4 articles 0 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.”

I really like this short story. At first i thought she had an ed. i wish there was more to read

IFPifer BRONZE said...
on Oct. 10 2017 at 12:25 pm
IFPifer BRONZE, Richmond, Virginia
4 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."
-Albus Dumbledore

It's a wonderful concept for a short story, it really hooked me in after the first paragraph, but I really wish there was more to read, but I still like it, great job!

sophia_r said...
on Sep. 25 2017 at 10:03 pm
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
It's great! I wish there was more though, it's so interesting

on Jun. 11 2017 at 10:07 am
HereSheIs BRONZE, Wellesley, Massachusetts
3 articles 0 photos 192 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light." -Plato

Your first paragraph is super well written and full of clues that reveal the perfect amount

Halox123 said...
on Sep. 15 2016 at 6:47 pm
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Would love if this was the start of a teenage book i would read it!

on Jun. 30 2016 at 10:51 pm
olivia428 BRONZE, Maplewood, New Jersey
4 articles 0 photos 9 comments
Really great job with this! It reads well and the writing is beautiful.

on Jun. 30 2016 at 2:16 pm
JustAnIdea SILVER, Moraga, California
5 articles 0 photos 26 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music" ~Friedrich Nietzsche

This is so good and so sad at the same time :(

J Morris said...
on Jun. 20 2016 at 9:37 pm
I loved it. I think it was a bit rushed. But, very good with as far as description.

on Jun. 9 2016 at 1:07 pm
interestingchoiceofwords, Holyoke, Massachusetts
0 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Tie a noose around your mind, loose enough to be fine..." Twenty One Pilots, Holding On To You

I thought the opening paragraphs were fantastic, but I lost the feeling a little when it got to the dialogue, it didn't seem as natural as it could have. Despite that, it was really great! Keep writing, for sure

on May. 30 2016 at 10:53 am
FallenAngel11283 PLATINUM, Cincinnati , Ohio
20 articles 1 photo 25 comments
Kelsey while I was reading this piece I had so many emotions. It's beautiful but sad all at the same time. I have to be honest I cried a little after reading this sad tears but also tears of joy in a way. PLease keep writing you have talent. You can do and be anything you want to be

on May. 23 2016 at 3:38 pm
sabbylynn BRONZE, Lehigh Acres, Florida
2 articles 2 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you want something you have never gotten, you will have to do something you have never done
Well behaved women seldom make history

this is amazing i love this story so much

Hither2 SILVER said...
on May. 10 2016 at 10:17 am
Hither2 SILVER, Mobile, Alabama
5 articles 1 photo 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
To be great is to be misunderstood

I love the way the dry syntax and minimalistic diction reflects the weariness of the character. Fantastic work!

on May. 7 2016 at 3:53 pm
dont.cry.little.girl. SILVER, Ooltewah, Tennessee
7 articles 0 photos 46 comments
What a powerful, sad, yet beautiful story. Extraordinary piece about the struggle to be perfect, and the way that having such expectations can destroy you. Very, very well done.

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