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As I look at myself in the mirror I wonder why I ever agreed to this. My old self was perfectly fine. But I guess that's high school for you. I pick up the hairspray can and hairspray my ponytail back to perfection- no flyways. I run my hands down my sides as I evaluate my white tight fitting shirt and black leggings with the perfect gold belt that wraps around my slim waist. I somehow lost twenty pounds for all this to fit and look good. I regret it now. Before I looked healthy and had a normal teenage girl's body, now I just look bony- way too thin. I sigh as I slip my feet in painful high-heeled boots and grab my keys. I'm on my way to meet Jayden, my boyfriend, and finally tell him I've had it.
I take a deep breath as I put my car into park and stare out the windshield window. One of my favorite places to go is the park. Well it used to be. Once he was bent on me being perfect, I had to say goodbye to my peaceful park and hang out at the coffee shop because it was cooler. Today though, I convinced him that we had to meet at the park.
I walk toward the bench under the willow tree that always provided privacy. It makes me feel like I'm somewhere else and could forget the world in the pages of a good book; another thing I had to give up to be perfect, my books.
There he is I think, sitting on the same bench looking gorgeous as usual. Am I sure I want to do this? No don't think that. Of course you do. Remember this isn't you.
I fight my inner battle as I walk closer to him.
"Hey babe, so what's so wrong that you wanted to meet me here?" he asks standing up and giving me a hug as he normally would.
"Look I can’t take this anymore..."
"Ummm okay? What’s wrong?"
"Us Jayden! Don’t you see? I was just fine before we started dating- you liked me then..."
"I like you now too," He looks at me as if trying to figure out what is wrong.
"No. Don’t lie to me, I know you don't like me, you like this," I gesture to me in a fluttery movement.
"What are you talking about?"
"Ugh! Do I have to lay it all out for you? Before I always left my hair down and straight normally messy; it never looked bad and was manageable. You didn't like it so you told me to wear it up. I did, I have been wearing it up! Also you didn't like my glasses, told me I looked too much like a nerd in them, so I started doing odd jobs around the house so that my mom would get me contacts so that you would like me better-"
"Lilah, I never told you any of that-"
"Do not interrupt me! And oh, yes, you did tell me that and more! You told me I was unfashionable and because you apparently are into fashion you wanted me to wear more fashionable clothes. So I got a job so that I could afford to get my own clothes so you might like me better. You told me I had too many freckles and they took away from my face. So I started buying make up and wearing it every day- thirty minutes out of my morning just to try and look nice for you! Thing is I don't have any freckles! And…"
"Lalih will you stop rambling!"
"No! You just want me to stop because you know it's all true and you don't want to hear any of it! The last thing you told me that really hurt was that I was fat... so I lost twenty whole pounds for you!"
"Lalih that's not what I meant!"
Ignoring him I continued, "And were you happy with any of it? Of course not! Every time we went somewhere you were always on your phone texting someone else... never paying attention to me. I joined cheerleading, bought new clothes, got contacts, lost twenty pounds, and stopped doing all my hobbies just to make you happy!"
We both stop and he stares at me. My heart is beating so hard I think it might burst out of my chest. He moves toward me and takes my hand in his.
"Lalih I didn't know you felt that way about me telling you all those things. Why didn't you ever tell me this before?"
I pull my hand away and take a step back.
"Because I didn't want you to break up with me. But I can’t put up with this anymore. Me constantly changing who I am just for you and you not even caring." Against my will a tear slides down my cheek. He reaches up as if to brush it away, but I move his hand away and wipe the tear myself.
"You know Jayden, I think I deserve someone who will love me for me and not want me to change for their our selfish wants." I reach up and pull my hair tie out of my hair and let my long hair swish back into its natural place. "I hate make up and can't stand the feeling of it on my face," I pull a makeup wipe out of my purse and wipe my whole face.
"You’re right Lalih. I shouldn't have asked you to do any of that. But please will you give me a second chance?"
"No you shouldn't have. And I’ll hate myself for being so stupid and naive about it all."
"Don't hate yourself hon."
"Don't call me that. Actually don't call me at all. I am not your puppet to move around and do as you say. I am me and I know now that no one should change that." I kick off my heels and tear off my belt. Then I turn and walk back to my car feeling like an immense weight has been lifted off my chest and I can do what I love again- even though I should have never stopped.