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.

Similar Articles


This article has 836 comments.

on Jan. 13 2014 at 3:25 pm
SmallIdeas BRONZE, Boothwyn, Pennsylvania
4 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.
Elbert Hubbard

Okay, I don't want to sound like spam, so first, THIS WAS AWESOME! Second, Pretty, pretty please take a minute to open my profile and read my stories! I've been writing since age SIX (yeah, six, I know) and writing is a huge thing for me! Thanks guys! Hope you can give me feedback on my stories. By the way, again, THIS WAS AMAZING!

siorose BRONZE said...
on Dec. 26 2013 at 8:24 pm
siorose BRONZE, Armonk, New York
1 article 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If less is more, nothing is everything."

Truly touching, heartbreaking and lovely at the same time. It really flowed well.  Would this be the end of it or is it part of a longer piece?

on Dec. 25 2013 at 7:55 pm
ImAWxllflower BRONZE, Fairfax, Virginia
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand. You're a wallflower."
- Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I thought something else was going on with her at first, but then it turned around and it really did end up being a great story. good job<3

Mae398 BRONZE said...
on Dec. 4 2013 at 7:30 pm
Mae398 BRONZE, Sonora, California
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"The world can be beast or man; you decide what the difference is."

Very good. I really liked it.

on Dec. 4 2013 at 9:02 am
EscapingfromReality GOLD, Syracuse, New York
12 articles 0 photos 49 comments

Favorite Quote:
I will follow when you prove you can lead.

Really beautiful. Loved it. :)

on Nov. 14 2013 at 8:23 pm
annaliesemarie BRONZE, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
3 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe the happiest girls are the prettiest girls. And I believe that tomorrow is another day."

This is an amazing story!  I love it :)

on Oct. 19 2013 at 1:14 pm
Dolly9471 BRONZE, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey
3 articles 0 photos 35 comments

Favorite Quote:
In the end will will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Martin Luther King Jr.

This story is so touching!

on Oct. 3 2013 at 8:13 pm
Monroe4President_, Hershey, Pennsylvania
0 articles 0 photos 4 comments
Touching <3

on Aug. 8 2013 at 10:40 am
RelativetoWriting GOLD, Brecksville, Ohio
13 articles 0 photos 34 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."
-Walt Whitman

What a beautiful piece! It is heartbreaking, but written serenely at the same time. 

on Jul. 31 2013 at 12:38 pm
catwithglasses SILVER, Sewickley, Pennsylvania
8 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I'm selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you don't deserve me at my best."
-Marilyn Monroe

This was a nice piece. It's sad, but also beautiful at the same time. 

on Jul. 29 2013 at 1:48 pm
SavannaCumbee SILVER, Hanahan, South Carolina
8 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."

-Robert Frost

This story was very simple, yet powerful at the same time. It takes place for only a few moments of this girl's life, yet it was very impactful. I enjoyed how you showed the characterization through the girl's actions, not from narration. I would suggest that you show more of this story though. It would help the readers be able to connect with the girl if we were able to see a day of her life and what she has to go through. It would be better if you continued it instead of leaving it where it ended. But in all, it was a well written piece. I can't wait to see what you do with it.

on Jul. 11 2013 at 1:38 am
AdrianaMartinez SILVER, Goose Creek, South Carolina
7 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
Carpe Diem .

Absolutely loved this piece. It reminded me a lot about "The Fault In Our Stars" by John Green, since instead of pitying people with cancer, you  describe them as srong and self-independent human beings. The character's actions were very brave and the ending tied the whole story pretty cleverly. Absolutely loved your piece.

on Jul. 9 2013 at 5:48 pm
BiancaRaquie BRONZE, Melbourne, Florida
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

Perfect. This piece flows so well! Great job!

on Jun. 7 2013 at 7:44 am
hippiechild BRONZE, Lakewood, Ohio
1 article 0 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
Not because they are perfect, but because they are free. Because they are alive.

Please Keep Writing!!!!!!!!!

0Tricia0 GOLD said...
on Apr. 21 2013 at 9:17 am
0Tricia0 GOLD, Springfield, New Hampshire
10 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead."- Benjamin Franklin

This is beautiful!  I see no mistakes or problems with flow.  It's a flawless piece that definitely deserves the attention it's getting.  Great writing, keep it up!

rroland GOLD said...
on Apr. 19 2013 at 10:28 pm
rroland GOLD, Cazenovia, New York
12 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
We except the love we think we deserve

So beautiful!!!! It made me cry!!!

on Apr. 18 2013 at 7:58 pm
Cburns658 SILVER, Tewksbury, Massachusetts
6 articles 0 photos 4 comments
One of my favorites!!!! Beautiful!!! :)

on Apr. 8 2013 at 9:53 pm
nicf1999 BRONZE, Vienna, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
This story was amazing!  It fills so many emotions in a short piece.  You are such a talented writer.

RoseLink said...
on Apr. 7 2013 at 10:43 am
RoseLink, Buffalo, New York
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
Things happen. Life wouldn't have meaning in it without sufferance. There wouldn't be darkness without love. And there wouldn't be love without hate.

Wow. You're amazing. I would really like to know you. Emotions are important and very hard to grasp in stories. But you honeysweet did it without a sweat. Bravo!

on Mar. 25 2013 at 3:39 pm
PrincessClaire BRONZE, Fayetteville, North Carolina
2 articles 0 photos 41 comments

Favorite Quote:
don't do me do your hair

This was sooo amazingly good. I loved how it ended... and, I guess honestly how it started and the middle too :) You are an amazing writer, and I hope you keep writing! Please check out/rate/comment on some of my work! XXX-Claire