applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] lost)
She knows all too well the sin of pride. Always a straight-talking, sassmouthed child, beloved of adults and distrusted by peers, wearing her superiority like a coat of many colors. Not the prettiest little girl, or the best-liked, but the smartest, the funniest, Lizzie Bennett in miniature. Smart as a whip, they say. Gifted. Grew up a plotter, a schemer, the strategist in neighborhood war games and spying on the boys next door. Found her place and milked it, demanded respect and got it. The beginnings of a Tough Girl, a training-bra wearing badass, torturer and titillator of the male sex. Gonna be somethin’ someday.

Then puberty, a flurry of hormones transforming the fox-faced child into plain Jane extraordinaire. Stagnant in religious oppression, dressed in baggy secondhands, no longer the smartest or the best. But still defiant, still sparking, can burn you in a second with a casual flick of tongue, a machine-gun burst of insult. Still proud, parroting the platitudes of parents immersed in the mania of a Golden Child. I just don’t care, she says. I could be the best if I wanted. Top of the class. I just don’t care.

(As though there are bigger things on her plate, brilliantine ideas fomenting in the whorls of her adolescent brain. As though she’s Einstein underestimated, simply unconcerned with the petty rigors of teenaged academics.)

All the while dreaming of another girl in her place – not ratty-haired in shapeless denim skirts, not acne-spattered and under-plucked, unpolished, called “Ugliest” in notes left conspicuously on the corners of desks, blue ink letters laughing, twisting around her guts like razor wire. Pretty, slick, skinny, beloved. The girl she wishes she was, the girl so alien she doesn’t even know her language.

But pride, pride wraps around her shoulders like a feathered totem, warding off the demons that haunt her friends – demons of blood (a crosshatch pattern beaded with bright red eyes, a litany of parallel lines scraped into flesh) and bone (the outline of a sternum, two fingers ringing a translucent wrist). I am better, she thinks. Better than that. (Delusion, ain't it sweet?) Pride is the shelter she clings to, the rod in her neck that keeps her head high. I am better. And she believes it.

But what is a sin without a price? Protection without payment?

In her twenties she begins to change. Sheds the excess flesh, the baggy clothes – a snakeskin unfurling to reveal the basilisk within. Emerges sleekly from the ruin, shiny-haired and slim, her eyes lined in black and feet pointed forward in tottering heels. The Girl of Her Dreams, noticed and flattered and pursued. Yet kinder, softer, sweeter for all that, tenderized by years of behind-the-back verbal beatdowns. Quiet. Inoffensive. Likable enough.

But with the former husk go the trimmings, the feathers pinwheeling away to leave her vulnerable and shuddering and naked. No longer enshrouded in the warm cloak of confidence, a flimsier vanity will have to do – a mask for the fear and self degradation. In her flaws she was a juggernaut, a Force, now in her gifts a fawn. Afraid to be Less, to go back to Plain-Jane-Got-No-Game, afraid to be the she that shaped it all.

She’s so pretty, they say. A little doll.

Wish I was that tiny.

Skinny. Pretty. Delicate. Cute. The things she always wanted. The things she kills herself for. The pinnacle. The sun. Never mind the daily pickings-apart in front of the mirror, the counted calories, the doubt when he says, “You’re beautiful.” Never mind the ache for validation, the longing to be pedestalized as in the halcyon days of youth, the desperate want to be More.

Never mind that falling feeling.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] lost)
She knows all too well the sin of pride. Always a straight-talking, sassmouthed child, beloved of adults and distrusted by peers, wearing her superiority like a coat of many colors. Not the prettiest little girl, or the best-liked, but the smartest, the funniest, Lizzie Bennett in miniature. Smart as a whip, they say. Gifted. Grew up a plotter, a schemer, the strategist in neighborhood war games and spying on the boys next door. Found her place and milked it, demanded respect and got it. The beginnings of a Tough Girl, a training-bra wearing badass, torturer and titillator of the male sex. Gonna be somethin’ someday.

Then puberty, a flurry of hormones transforming the fox-faced child into plain Jane extraordinaire. Stagnant in religious oppression, dressed in baggy secondhands, no longer the smartest or the best. But still defiant, still sparking, can burn you in a second with a casual flick of tongue, a machine-gun burst of insult. Still proud, parroting the platitudes of parents immersed in the mania of a Golden Child. I just don’t care, she says. I could be the best if I wanted. Top of the class. I just don’t care.

(As though there are bigger things on her plate, brilliantine ideas fomenting in the whorls of her adolescent brain. As though she’s Einstein underestimated, simply unconcerned with the petty rigors of teenaged academics.)

All the while dreaming of another girl in her place – not ratty-haired in shapeless denim skirts, not acne-spattered and under-plucked, unpolished, called “Ugliest” in notes left conspicuously on the corners of desks, blue ink letters laughing, twisting around her guts like razor wire. Pretty, slick, skinny, beloved. The girl she wishes she was, the girl so alien she doesn’t even know her language.

But pride, pride wraps around her shoulders like a feathered totem, warding off the demons that haunt her friends – demons of blood (a crosshatch pattern beaded with bright red eyes, a litany of parallel lines scraped into flesh) and bone (the outline of a sternum, two fingers ringing a translucent wrist). I am better, she thinks. Better than that. (Delusion, ain't it sweet?) Pride is the shelter she clings to, the rod in her neck that keeps her head high. I am better. And she believes it.

But what is a sin without a price? Protection without payment?

In her twenties she begins to change. Sheds the excess flesh, the baggy clothes – a snakeskin unfurling to reveal the basilisk within. Emerges sleekly from the ruin, shiny-haired and slim, her eyes lined in black and feet pointed forward in tottering heels. The Girl of Her Dreams, noticed and flattered and pursued. Yet kinder, softer, sweeter for all that, tenderized by years of behind-the-back verbal beatdowns. Quiet. Inoffensive. Likable enough.

But with the former husk go the trimmings, the feathers pinwheeling away to leave her vulnerable and shuddering and naked. No longer enshrouded in the warm cloak of confidence, a flimsier vanity will have to do – a mask for the fear and self degradation. In her flaws she was a juggernaut, a Force, now in her gifts a fawn. Afraid to be Less, to go back to Plain-Jane-Got-No-Game, afraid to be the she that shaped it all.

She’s so pretty, they say. A little doll.

Wish I was that tiny.

Skinny. Pretty. Delicate. Cute. The things she always wanted. The things she kills herself for. The pinnacle. The sun. Never mind the daily pickings-apart in front of the mirror, the counted calories, the doubt when he says, “You’re beautiful.” Never mind the ache for validation, the longing to be pedestalized as in the halcyon days of youth, the desperate want to be More.

Never mind that falling feeling.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] twilight)
All my life, it felt like we occupied neighboring stars rather than neighboring states. I looked like the daughter she had raised, but I haunted hallways like a wraith, craving silence and isolation while others laughed and beat the floorboards with running feet. When I hugged her, the contrast in our skin and clothes brought more distance between us, an invisible, intangible barrier. Her world, to me, was small and meager, dirty and cheap. It made me uncomfortable, and even though I only saw her once a year, I couldn't leave her cramped and leaning house soon enough.

When I was fourteen, after the death of my grandfather, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Suddenly our family trips up to Arkansas included visits to a nursing home, a place that I loathed more than I had ever disliked her tiny house. She lay curled under faded sheets, skeletal beneath papery skin still dark from years spent laboring in the sun, her dreamy eyes picking me out from the sun-whitened wall. She didn't know me, of course. I was sure that I had been one of the first to go. There were photographs of me pinned to her wall, but I knew my mother had put them there. I might have been a patch of sky, or a tree in the shape of a girl. She was farther from me than ever now, her eyes picking out worlds beyond worlds, phantoms and dreams. I wanted to reach out and comfort her, bury her frail fingers in my strong, healthy hands, and help her remember. But who was I to her? A strange girl in the corner, nothing more.

The last I remember of her was visiting on a "bad day." She moaned and fought against my mother's embrace, her nightdress - one my mother had given her, painstakingly picked out, lovingly wrapped - flapping and twisted around her matchstick legs. My mother wept on the ride home, quietly, hoping we wouldn't hear. After months of hoping and praying and crying, she knew it was the end. My grandmother died just a few days later.

When my mother went back to the leaning house to pack up my grandmother's possessions, she found a small basket of fruit-shaped soaps in her bathroom, proudly displayed on a rickety shelf. I had given them to her, years before, on the one Christmas I remember spending at her house. I was seven, and bursting with the importance of giving a gift - one I had paid for myself out of my chore money. She hugged me, genuinely touched, though I had forgotten her smile in the intervening years. Cradling those soaps in my hands, I felt her more closely than I ever had in life, as though she were only a breath away. Briefly, softly, our worlds touched for the last time.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] twilight)
All my life, it felt like we occupied neighboring stars rather than neighboring states. I looked like the daughter she had raised, but I haunted hallways like a wraith, craving silence and isolation while others laughed and beat the floorboards with running feet. When I hugged her, the contrast in our skin and clothes brought more distance between us, an invisible, intangible barrier. Her world, to me, was small and meager, dirty and cheap. It made me uncomfortable, and even though I only saw her once a year, I couldn't leave her cramped and leaning house soon enough.

When I was fourteen, after the death of my grandfather, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Suddenly our family trips up to Arkansas included visits to a nursing home, a place that I loathed more than I had ever disliked her tiny house. She lay curled under faded sheets, skeletal beneath papery skin still dark from years spent laboring in the sun, her dreamy eyes picking me out from the sun-whitened wall. She didn't know me, of course. I was sure that I had been one of the first to go. There were photographs of me pinned to her wall, but I knew my mother had put them there. I might have been a patch of sky, or a tree in the shape of a girl. She was farther from me than ever now, her eyes picking out worlds beyond worlds, phantoms and dreams. I wanted to reach out and comfort her, bury her frail fingers in my strong, healthy hands, and help her remember. But who was I to her? A strange girl in the corner, nothing more.

The last I remember of her was visiting on a "bad day." She moaned and fought against my mother's embrace, her nightdress - one my mother had given her, painstakingly picked out, lovingly wrapped - flapping and twisted around her matchstick legs. My mother wept on the ride home, quietly, hoping we wouldn't hear. After months of hoping and praying and crying, she knew it was the end. My grandmother died just a few days later.

When my mother went back to the leaning house to pack up my grandmother's possessions, she found a small basket of fruit-shaped soaps in her bathroom, proudly displayed on a rickety shelf. I had given them to her, years before, on the one Christmas I remember spending at her house. I was seven, and bursting with the importance of giving a gift - one I had paid for myself out of my chore money. She hugged me, genuinely touched, though I had forgotten her smile in the intervening years. Cradling those soaps in my hands, I felt her more closely than I ever had in life, as though she were only a breath away. Briefly, softly, our worlds touched for the last time.

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How About Them Apples?

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