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 830 comments.


yaruuna BRONZE said...
on Feb. 7 2013 at 12:19 am
yaruuna BRONZE, Calgary, Other
4 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Amazingly well-written. Love the voice!

on Jan. 30 2013 at 9:33 am
Stepsisters_suck BRONZE, Waterloo, Iowa
1 article 2 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.

I agree this really is going to help me still have confidence in myself because I beat a Brian rumor last year I have breast cancer and I have all timers + bronchitis!

on Jan. 30 2013 at 9:31 am
Stepsisters_suck BRONZE, Waterloo, Iowa
1 article 2 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.

I low this story! I have breast cancer and it sucks and adding a brain tumor recovered last year AND bronchitis I sometimes am scared that I'm going to die!

on Jan. 15 2013 at 1:32 am
TheSkyOwesMeRain GOLD, Irvine, California
13 articles 1 photo 303 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life isn't measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments which take your breath away.

You are only as strong as your weakest link.

I was honestly not expecting that ending... I suppose this really serves to bring up the point that even popular people suffer. You are a great writer!

on Jan. 9 2013 at 7:53 am
In_Love_with_Writing GOLD, Easton, Pennsylvania
12 articles 0 photos 389 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phillipians 4:13

*Heheheh whoops I already posted here :P

on Jan. 9 2013 at 7:50 am
In_Love_with_Writing GOLD, Easton, Pennsylvania
12 articles 0 photos 389 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phillipians 4:13

This was soooo good! Great job! I liked it a whole lot! Can you comment and rate some of my work?

on Jan. 7 2013 at 3:56 pm
OracleIz SILVER, De Queen, Arkansas
5 articles 1 photo 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." Shakespeare

Oh my gosh this was just beautiful in the most heart breaking of ways.

on Jan. 7 2013 at 12:54 pm
In_Love_with_Writing GOLD, Easton, Pennsylvania
12 articles 0 photos 389 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phillipians 4:13

Really nice job! Can you comment and rate some of my stories? Thanks!

on Dec. 30 2012 at 10:24 pm
my_story14 SILVER, Melissa, Texas
9 articles 3 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
Tell me I can't and I will, watch me.

So beautiful. You are an artist on the print! Imagery was atonishing. I understand now why this is in the magazine. I commend your talent. 

sarahstjohn said...
on Dec. 24 2012 at 8:35 am
sarahstjohn, Boston, Massachusetts
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Thomas A. Edison

This was rea;lly amazing. GREAT piece of work

on Dec. 19 2012 at 4:37 pm
Twilightgirl97 BRONZE, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
Psalm 63:3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

Loved this. The twist was unexpected but wonderful. It was a great peice of work. I have no complaints. I liked the dialogue and how you kept me guessing. Great work. God Bless

on Dec. 18 2012 at 3:12 pm
LinkinPark12 PLATINUM, Lincolnshire, Other
45 articles 1 photo 198 comments

Favorite Quote:
Work like you don’t need money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one's watching. ¦ I like change - but only when everything stays the same.

I thought she was pregnant at first :3 I loved the way you make the reader think "hmm what's going on here" until the very end :) Really good!

on Dec. 11 2012 at 10:37 am
FearlessAngel GOLD, Bellevue, Nebraska
10 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Pain is just a simple compromise, so we can get what we want out of it."
~Paramore

notquietsoquaint is right. The story has amazing potential but the diction needs to shift into something more personal and real. The author did great for a rough first draft yes. There is still room for improvement.

on Dec. 11 2012 at 10:34 am
FearlessAngel GOLD, Bellevue, Nebraska
10 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Pain is just a simple compromise, so we can get what we want out of it."
~Paramore

I kind of agree with dogswolf. It was too short. I wanted to read more even though the beginning was a bit sketchy with the bruises. As a girl I understand the need to be "perfect" even though its impossible. In that aspect I think the author got the situation just right.

on Dec. 10 2012 at 6:01 pm
hugeNYRfan BRONZE, Glen Rock, New Jersey
4 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
dreams are like rainbows, only idiots chase them

at first, i'm like:" whats up with concealing herself from the world?" then, towards the end, im like:" stupid! she has cancer!"

Paige739 said...
on Dec. 10 2012 at 10:43 am
Paige739, Pensacola, Florida
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I thought it was well written, but the twist was abrubt; like others have said. I was thinking that her dad abused her, then when she said she threw up, I thought she may have an eating disorder, then it turned out she had cancer. Maybe try to make it a little more clear, but other than that it was great!(:

ChiannW said...
on Dec. 7 2012 at 3:23 pm
amazing i love how you put the details of how she looked and how her expressions were shown.  i would love to see another one of you writings magnificent!! :)

juneday GOLD said...
on Dec. 6 2012 at 5:36 pm
juneday GOLD, Barrington, Rhode Island
16 articles 1 photo 27 comments
I thought this was an interesting story...however I did have some criticisms. Like some others, i found the twist really abrupt...there were really no clues about her illness earlier, and like everyone else I assumed she had an eating disorder. Plus, i think you should have used less dialogue...the mother / daughter exchange felt reallly forced. I also think you should have expanded on her reasons for not wanting her classmates to know she had cancer. some details were unnecessary.

on Dec. 3 2012 at 6:13 pm
VelanedeBeaute GOLD, Sialkot, Other
11 articles 2 photos 27 comments

Favorite Quote:
I vow to shine, like a sapphire, some gem!
I promise, not to whine, but smile till the end.
The symphony of my life
like a violin I will play,
I would vouch,
Vehement to my life I lay.

An absolutely amazing tale foretold with just the right crunch and crisp of emotions. :) This serves to be the inspiration for my new story. 'Perfect!' :D 

on Dec. 2 2012 at 6:08 pm
ravenmysterious BRONZE, Athens, Alabama
3 articles 6 photos 4 comments
wow, that was very good. I thought she had a eating disorder (like everyone else said) then when i found out she had cancer i loved it even more, i just hope she doesn't die! lol  It was wonderful and very inspirational!