This is called the monster.
When she stands in front of me, I can almost see it. It skims the surface covered by her purity; it’s just barely there. Her hands are down and low at her sides, and she looks at me shyly through eyelashes that have yet to be coated in ceresin, the primary ingredient in mascara. I had forgotten about this part of me; this part that shut off with age, wear, and weathering. Somehow, I forgot how to be shy and she certainly is; she crosses her legs as she looks toward me, hands folded across her shoulder blades and fingers trembling softly.
“Hello,” she says, voice a little trembly like her messily painted finger nails; perhaps she's nervous, perhaps she's frightened, I don’t know for sure.
“Hi, how are you?” She looks up at me blinks;
“You're so pretty,” she says, “You're beautiful.” As if somehow, beauty has become my defining feature, and I suppose to her it has because she's coming close to the age in which she will start looking at herself in the mirror and run her hands through her hair worriedly with her soft voice murmuring; I don't like it I don't like it over and over again. She’s going to start caring about how she looks more than how she feels. She will begin to tighten a little ponytail on the back of her neck so that it will be pulled out of her face where no one will see the monstrosity she will age to hate and love and hate again- her hair. But this will not solve every problem, because then she will begin to think her eyes are too close together, so she will pull on the skin on the on the creases of her eyes as it somehow her fingers could pull apart her bone structure and knead them the way she wished like play-dough in the hands of small child. And she is that,a child, just 11 years old, too young to begin to wish she could change so much. Then will come the blemishes, the ricochet laughter, and awful sense that she will overhear boys snickering about her mannerisms, her vibrant words, and her overflowing laughter. And in that moment, she will be trained to think that the opinions of men are the only ones that matter; and will spend the next four years acting like such and the fifth trying to eradicate every last one of those concepts from herself and others.
She's coming to that age when her body will begin to grow and develop; changes will occur and she will rub her shoulders at the bra straps that hold her back and bind her thoughts. These are bonds that come with growing up, my dear. She will be confused and frightened and scared and far too young to start wearing makeup in a world where she's already being pushed to in the 6th grade; so of course, looking at the 16 year old version of herself; I am beautiful.
I wear makeup and my face is all one color except for the light touches of blush that dance across my cheek bones; the way my ink black eyeliner in the shape in miniscule flames compliments my eyes. They no longer look too close together; tranced by an optical allusion that has her swooning, my butterfly lashes swoop off my face and brush the tops of my brow bones - my eyes are deep set but I will come to think of them as exotic.
And then, my hair. She has never seen it this short and she won't until her 16th birthday; when I will finally decide I’m done with being defined by the people who always comment on ‘how nice your hair looks’; that I no longer wants to be the girl with the curly brown hair, that I wants to be remembered, perhaps, for something other than the way I looked in high school.
I will chop it off all of it and come to school the next day with my hands on my hips and a smile on my lips and when people ask “why?”, I look in their eyes and say; “because I wanted to”.
But this is not a good thing. The way I look now makes me seem as if I am the girl who walks out of the Los Angeles Flower Market with bouquets of roses for the boys that I charmed with my infallible ways. I have turned into something she can only imagine in glossy teen magazines adorned with girls decorated in pretty hair, plump lips, and Photoshop. They are perfect. She willaspire to be like them, stolen from inside of the glossy pages “How to Get a Boy to Like You”, she will begin to learn the desire to define herself in a single word: pretty. She will think that if she becomes that, everything will work itself out.
I want to scream and shake her until she sees dirty parts of me falling out the cracks. I can barely move as she looks at my painted nails and examines to her own chipped ones with scolding eyes, I want to smack her and scream:
“No, I want to be you again, I want to be young and fresh and beautiful and I want to think that the world is filled with good people and sunshine; I don't want to be this monster, I don't want to become another useless puppet to society; I don't want to have to brush my hair and straighten it every morning so my impression on others is good for my own selfish and insecure reasons, I don't want to wear concealer because I think I look weird or be ostracized if I don't fit in. And it’s true, I didn’t, because in 7th grade a boy looked at my constellation skin and asked ‘what happened to your face’. Acne - something that I couldn't control, took over me once piece at a time; my age was not the only thing that grew as time passed but also my fears and my list of flaws.
She aspires to be me with every atom of her being and I want to cry because I don't want her to be this monster- I don't want her to care what other people think, I don't want her to walk to school with a tremble in her step because she’s scared of everything, of everyone, I don't want her to buy fancy clothes and cut her hair because she wants to get away from the confines of society, I want her not to care in the first place. I don’t want her to have to undo all the damage that the claws of the monster did to her. I don’t want her to have to find comfort in strangers because she can no longer confess to her friends and family that she doesn’t feel ok anymore. I want her to feel happy and whole and that maybe being different is a good thing instead of a bad thing, because sometimes when I fall asleep, I feel like pieces of my heart have been ripped out and torn into 1000 tiny pieces that are scattered across the ocean and I can’t grasp any of them. I hear the telephone wires humming and I think they’re the only things that know me and can speak my language, and I would never wish upon her the feeling that she can’t talk to people because they won’t understand her. I don’t want her to rely on the buzz of transatlantic conversation at midnight to keep herself alive. I don't want her to ever feel ashamed because she has a different opinion; I want her to learn, to grow, to break borders, to break down trees; all the things I never did because I was too scared from the ages of 11 to 16, and extending onwards.
I'm still trying to break down the walls I started at age 11. I'm still trying to get back everything that I was when I was her. I had a plan, I had a laugh, I had people who promised to have my back until the very end; people that never dropped me, but rather I dropped when it got too hard and I claimed I wanted to be alone, but the truth was; I didn’t know the difference between alone and lonely.
“Can't you see?” I want to yell at her one last time as she begins to flicker: “You want to be everything I am today, but I would give anything to be you again. I'm still trying to feel happy about the world; I am still trying to find comfort in myself and in the way I look and act and talk. But somehow you still think that I am better; I, monster who cracks like peppercorn and shatters like glass and pricks herself on the pieces of her shattered domain. Can’t you see that I don't want to be this girl anymore? I want to be you again!”