Perfect | Teen Ink

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 836 comments.

on Feb. 8 2010 at 3:29 pm
xhiddeninsomniax SILVER, North Syracuse, New York
7 articles 2 photos 40 comments
Altoyugh it would be geat if she would get better in the end, some stories just dont work out like that... just like real life. Sometimes thats just whats best for the story.

on Feb. 8 2010 at 3:21 pm
Kelsey Hill BRONZE, State University, Arkansas
2 articles 1 photo 1 comment
The bruises come from the needles used to deliver the chemo therapy.

on Feb. 8 2010 at 2:27 pm
SarClark BRONZE, NC, Connecticut
2 articles 0 photos 534 comments
Can you make her get better in the end? That wud b the best

on Feb. 8 2010 at 1:06 pm
oh, so sad. good job! where do the bruises come from? at first i thought she was in a bad relationship with some guy, then maybe starving herself.... i don't know. maybe you should make it more clear in the doc you have, since i know TeenInk doesn't let you change something once it's posted.... anyway, kudos! awesome job! :)

on Feb. 8 2010 at 12:35 pm
beautifuldownfall, Kkk, Iowa
0 articles 0 photos 20 comments
I thought this was really good! The only thing, though, is that it sounded a bit forced, unrealistic, when she tells her mom that she was voted "most popular, most likely to succeed, etc." Her mother already knows this... It would have sounded better if it was said short and casually, and then maybe, to bring your point across more to the reader, it could be stated more like how it was, simply without the quotation marks. Overall, though, I thought this was a great story!! I especially like how you made the beginning and the end connect, all with that one word: Perfect.

bells said...
on Feb. 8 2010 at 10:35 am
This was truley amazing it completly captavated me from beginning to end.

xLpoet SILVER said...
on Feb. 8 2010 at 10:17 am
xLpoet SILVER, Bristow, Virginia
6 articles 0 photos 43 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It is not the length of life but the depth of life"- Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is very good. I like the beginning detail and how the end gives it much more meaning.

billydee22ny said...
on Feb. 8 2010 at 7:22 am
billydee22ny, Middletown, Maryland
0 articles 6 photos 21 comments
Fantastic. Yuo should definitely continue to write. I could totally see myself reading a novel based on this excerpt.

on Feb. 8 2010 at 1:16 am
Angel_writer1481 SILVER, Springdale, Maryland
8 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
Don't take life too seriously, no one gets out of it alive.

Awesome! really thought provoking. liked it.

on Feb. 7 2010 at 2:24 pm
VioletsandVoice, Spiritwood, North Dakota
0 articles 0 photos 170 comments
I couldnt finish the article becuse since my uncle died anything about death makes my chest hurt, but the part i did read was very well written. good job

Saadat GOLD said...
on Feb. 2 2010 at 6:10 pm
Saadat GOLD, Ventnor, New Jersey
15 articles 0 photos 9 comments
willie, i thought u were a boy!

on Jan. 28 2010 at 11:12 am
violingoddess GOLD, Mesa, Arizona
10 articles 9 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
It ain't bad being good
when you feel like you can no longer stand- get on your knees
Curiousity is the mother of discovery

oh my goodness! that is just a well written piece of work there :) very well done.

on Jan. 25 2010 at 1:11 pm
SMiCHEllEB* BRONZE, Dennison, Ohio
2 articles 0 photos 4 comments

on Jan. 22 2010 at 11:28 am
peace_love_beauty PLATINUM, Florien, Louisiana
22 articles 35 photos 121 comments

Favorite Quote:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalms 23:4

Wow, this was really good! Keep writing! :-)

on Jan. 19 2010 at 3:53 pm
jordan<3 BRONZE, Trout Run, Pennsylvania
2 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
"And the mockingbird told me, I change with the seasons and so she was leaving town in a few days now." - chase coy<3

This was really vivid.

I liked it alot.

Continue it!

Keep Writing,

- jordan<3

on Jan. 18 2010 at 6:39 pm
Chill on those adverbs. Beware of purple prose.

Melanie818 said...
on Jan. 17 2010 at 9:32 pm
Melanie818, Portland, Oregon
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Wow this is amazing! You HAVE to write more!

h_girl123 GOLD said...
on Jan. 17 2010 at 9:05 pm
h_girl123 GOLD, Claremore, Oklahoma
10 articles 1 photo 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Playing life by ear"

I was surprised when I read this because it is a lot like a story of mine. A LOT LIKE IT. Haha. Mine is about 39 pages so far and I am not even close to done

on Jan. 17 2010 at 7:45 pm
The_Girl_Next_Door PLATINUM, Elkins, Arkansas
32 articles 1 photo 43 comments

Favorite Quote:
~*The mind has but a thousand eyes, and the heart is left with one...Yet the light of a whole life dies the moment love is done.*~

Oh my lord!!!


I found almost no flaws :)

meme5 BRONZE said...
on Jan. 17 2010 at 6:20 pm
meme5 BRONZE, Pullman, Washington
4 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Wow. this is amazing, it almost made me cry.