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 838 comments.

Anno82 GOLD said...
on Oct. 25 2023 at 12:16 am
Anno82 GOLD, Austin, Texas
14 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Peace doesn't come from finding a lake with no storms. It comes from having Jesus in the boat." -John Ortberg
"God doesn't break things so He can fix them; He fixes broken things so He can use them." -Bob Goff
"Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?" -Corrie Ten Boom

I'm not crying, you are!

Phenomenal! Really pulls on the heartstrings, great job!

ELBEEJAY said...
on Apr. 14 2023 at 10:30 am
ELBEEJAY, Denver, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
This was amazing. Beautifully written and intriguing. Well done!

on Oct. 17 2022 at 11:29 am
TessaDreamAuthor_3000 PLATINUM, Tomball, Texas
37 articles 2 photos 147 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain." - Dolly Parton
" Balance your life with spiritual experiences that remind and prepare you for continued, daily ministering to others." - M. Russell Ballard
"Love is expressed in a smile, a wave, a kind comment, a compliment." - Thomas S. Monson

I want to cry now :(
This was such an emotional story, I loved it so much!

LoreleiH said...
on Sep. 13 2021 at 6:14 pm
LoreleiH, Chandler, Arizona
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
The description and figurative language makes the reader really feel the emotions and how she feels!

neorye said...
on Jul. 23 2021 at 7:41 am
neorye, Durban, Arkansas
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
wow, the language is amazing. storyline on point

on Jun. 30 2021 at 4:01 am
aadi_adrenalin BRONZE, Kurukshetra, Other
2 articles 1 photo 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"My only purpose here s to give the smile. There are many people who want one and I owe it to them................."

- The man in the fine linen three piece suit

it is something that would make anybody speechless

on Apr. 20 2021 at 5:06 am
Sanskrititripathi0810 SILVER, Ranchi, Other
8 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
Past is present when you carry it with you

Hey...... I just want to say you wrote amazing. I am in tears. Some words were just awesome like because we both know there is now a finite number left.

lotusflower said...
on Mar. 22 2021 at 3:25 pm
lotusflower, Kendall, Florida
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I'm crying this is so sad but I love it!

Oracle123459 said...
on Dec. 17 2020 at 4:49 am
Oracle123459, San Francisco, California
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

TRMunchkin said...
on Mar. 9 2020 at 2:33 pm
TRMunchkin, Frankfort, Kentucky
0 articles 0 photos 4 comments
Very sad, but very good and very well written.

on Jun. 8 2019 at 3:43 pm
Roxanna_Foxe SILVER, Anonymous, North Carolina
8 articles 0 photos 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." - Mark Twain

You are an amazing writer! This story really held my attention. You did a wonderful job delivering information steadily throughout, as well as sentence length. I could feel your narrator's emotion. You get a vote from me!

My_Author said...
on May. 14 2019 at 6:13 pm
My_Author, No, Oklahoma
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
Hey there beautiful. Remember, be yourself.

I love this; Very good description! Can't wait to read more.

on Feb. 25 2019 at 10:18 am
sydneykurtz GOLD, Battle Creek, Michigan
10 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"I don't want to survive. I want to live."

Very beautiful writing! The sentences flow very well together, but most importantly it makes the reader feel something.

on Nov. 26 2018 at 5:21 pm
uKNoWn_hUMAn_bEinG, Chesapeake, Virginia
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"She turned her can'ts into cans, and her dreams into plans"
I do not honestly understand why I like this quote so much. TBH, it really just inspires me to be the best I can truly be.

It was an eye-opener, very sad. I love your writing style.

on Oct. 1 2018 at 2:07 pm
Dani_Higareda PLATINUM, Hanahan, South Carolina
20 articles 0 photos 109 comments

Favorite Quote:
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”
- Winnie the Pooh

Your story touched me so much I cried. I like the character's honesty and the way she copes with things. You really did an amazing job! :):):)

on Aug. 1 2018 at 3:47 pm
Bluebike_yikes SILVER, Washington, Missouri
6 articles 0 photos 4 comments
Beautiful and heartbreaking

on Dec. 26 2017 at 8:15 pm
JazzyB2002 SILVER, Sauk Centre, Minnesota
6 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who actually do."
-Steve Jobs

It's hard to think people go through this daily...

very nice... i liked

on Nov. 11 2017 at 11:49 am
Julianna.S GOLD, Tirana, Other
17 articles 0 photos 28 comments
This is a beautiful story that truly deserves to be in the magazine. Keep up the great work

on Nov. 9 2017 at 11:40 am
parislove20 BRONZE, Fort Wyane , Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 2 comments
ive read this at least ten time the first time i read this i was 14 now im 17 and i still come back to it to read it i love this story so much it reminds me of my life but without the cancer