my wonderful friend yasmin sent me a writing prompt once that read: write a story based on a song. instead of studying for my exams that day, i wrote a little something using lyrics from issues by julia michaels (but i like this version better) and just the way you are by bruno mars (side note: how is this song six years old ??) – enjoy!
I hear the door handle twist before I hear her. The canvas in front of me looks horrible, I know it, but she’s always been the naturally talented one – not me. I turn around, excited, when I notice the tear streaks that maim the makeup on her face. She still looks beautiful, even ruined – she’s a masterpiece in itself.
“Alli, what’s wrong?” I call. It may be nothing. Alli had enough emotions for the both of us and the crying could just be from watching a sad video on the subway. But if I know my Alli – and I know her pretty well – then this was an unusual occurrence. The simple fact that her mascara was dripping was enough to convince me, her beauty was always precise – planned to perfection. If I am bold strokes and abstract art, Alli is an exact copy drawn to scale.
She doesn’t answer me, so I stand up from the wooden stool and walk towards her. She turns her face, away from me, as if that will hide the sadness pouring off of her. As if I don’t know her. As if I don’t care. I hold her chin in place and look her in the eye. Alli’s eyes were a kaleidoscope, I could get lost in them like falling through a looking glass. Her head drops and her resolve fades, she is not resisting me anymore. I grab her hands, interlocking her fingers with mine as if that will keep her steady. Her fingers are long and slim, violinist’s fingers that are cared for by the salve she puts on every night. Mine are chubby, child-like almost, with dots of paint thrown on like freckles. The difference reminds me of how perfect she is, like the early days of our relationship where I still believed that she was too good for me. There will always be a part of me that does.
I drag her to the couch and as she sinks in, the springs creak. Like most things in this apartment, it was bought from a shabby second-hand store. Not that it mattered. We had made this collection of preloved things into a home. I push a curling strand of blonde hair behind her ear, and that’s all it takes for her to collapse. Her shoulders shake with sobs that catch in her throat. I pull her closer into my shoulder, her breaths are heaves now, and rub my hand soothingly on her back. I run my fingers through her hair, not shushing her or asking her to calm down. I hold her tightly, as if staying in my arms will keep her from falling apart.
To most people, Alli was faultless. It was rare that you could ever see cracks in her smooth persona. She took it upon to herself to remain this way, every movement was calculated to accuracy. It wasn’t healthy and I let her have this moment without worry. Without thinking. Without having to be perfect, where she could be just the way she is.
“Tell me what’s wrong.” I whisper into her hair. “I can fix it.”
She looks up at me, her eyes full of despair and something else I couldn’t identify.
“You have this obsession with ‘fixing’ people, but you can’t fix me! I’m not broken, don’t you understand? This is me. Every horrible, awful, disgusting imperfection. That is me and I can’t be fixed!” She cries, looking at me defiantly.
I look at her with surprise. When I look at Alli, I don’t see any imperfections because in my eyes, there are none. But that’s never been the case for her. When she looks in the mirror, she only sees imperfections. She doesn’t see her eyes, the ones that shine like stars. Or her hair, which always falls perfectly without her trying. She doesn’t know that she’s beautiful, when I think she’s absolutely perfect.
“I’m not trying to fix you.” I say calmly. “I just want to help you fix your problems.”
“I have too many.” She says with a bitter laugh.
“You have issues. I’ve got them too. So give all of yours to me and I’ll give mine to you.”
stay brainy and stay beautiful!