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My name is Mia Johnson.
And I was perfect.
And you’re probably thinking that nothing can really be perfect, which is true, but they didn’t know that. Or they were just oblivious. My first two years of high school people looked up to me, even upperclassman. My hair was perfect, my clothes were the right brand, I had friends, and I had good grades.
Nobody knew that I had two jobs to afford the clothing and hair products, that most of my friends would leave me for somebody better, and that every smile was forced. And nobody cared.
My disguise was foolproof.
No one saw through it.
Until you came along.
I remember that first day you were at our school, in the spring of my sophomore year, and your guide was leading you through the lunchroom, showing you around. I remember that you were wearing ripped jeans, and an old leather jacket over your V-neck t and somehow, your eyes met mine throughout the cafeteria. You stared at me with those big brown eyes until your guide pushed you along.
And I just looked away, figuring you were just another guy that thought I was perfect. And I just ignored the pleasant uneasiness that your stare gave me.
I was walking home a few days later when it started to rain. Swearing under my breath, I walked faster, as I felt my perfectly styled hair start to frizz. I kept walking until an old jeep pulled up beside me and when I turned, there you were. You didn’t look at me for a moment, but you knew I was watching you so finally you turned and motioned for me to get in. And for some reason I did. For a while we just sat there in silence as I dripped rain water on your seats, but you didn’t complain.
Just as I was about to say something you reached over and held a lock of my now frizzed brown hair between your fingers and my breath caught.
“Not as perfect as you want everyone to think,” you said, quietly.
I could feel my face flush with anger and as you let go of my hair I gripped your wrist before you continued,
“Why do you try to be someone you’re not?” you asked, and I could feel my anger subside, and I lightened my grip on you wrist.
“This is who I am,” I said, voice trembling.
“No,” you paused until I looked at you again, “No, Mia, stop trying to hide who you are,” you said.
You saying that made me so angry, I forgot about the rain, and how cold it was outside, and I slammed open the door as you slowed down and ran. I ran for a while until I finally stopped and sat down on a bench. A few minutes later you pulled your car up by me. You got out and came over to me, sitting down.
I stared at you awhile, at your hair, a shade lighter than my own, falling over your eyes, now drenched as we sat in the rain, and I wondered how you, of all people, saw through the wall I had so carefully put up. You carefully took my hand and traced the lines on it and waited for me to say something. So I did.
“You hungry?” I asked, and you looked surprised, like you expected me to knock your hand away and leave, but I gripped your hand tighter as we drove to a diner nearby and we ate. And talked about everything, I told you more than I’ve told anyone, and you listened. And when you dropped me off at my house that night you kissed me softly on the cheek and I fell asleep in my bed, smiling.
We went out for a year, and we were happy, and I told you almost everything. And it started to scare me. It scared me that you had broken through the walls I had crafted so carefully and your slightest touch made me forget everything. It started to scare me so much that I finally just stopped. Stopped calling. Stopped texting. Stopped hanging out and stopped letting you know me. And pretended I had stopped caring.
That was the one and only thing about me you didn’t see through.
And you gave up.
That killed me the most. It killed me that I never told you how much you seeing the real me scared me and that I loved you more than you’ll ever know.
It was a few months later that I finally built up the nerve to call you again.
And the phone didn’t even ring once.
A voice told me the line had been disconnected.
And I knew that you were gone.
And I hung up.
Missouri City, Texas
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