The Wrong Kind of Perfect

Posted on: March 21, 2012
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By Callan Gies

 
 

There they were, those dark curls he knew so well; spilling out across white porcelain, dangling over a trembling limb, and lurching with the dizzy sphere they had sprung from. At first that was all he saw. Though his mind willed him to run all his body could manage was a stumble forward, or was it back? Whichever direction it was, with that step the image grew broader. He saw the frail legs, once long and envied, now somehow shrunken by the cold tile and he stumbled again. The curls shifted slightly and he found himself holding his breath. He managed to grasp that the dark locks had been pushed behind an ear, revealing pale skin that had fallen victim to an invasion of cruel red and pink patches.
 
The color brought a new image. A little girl’s room with pink polka dots painted on the walls and a giant dollhouse that lacked walls at all. He saw again the perfect child, clutching her favorite doll to her chest and stroking its straight blond hair as she picked out the perfect party dress. He lingered on the pretty picture until a cough yanked the delicate girl from his mind, and the room was engulfed in a stench he desperately tried not to place. The curls moved again as the legs curled into an empty chest.
 
Another cough and he watched as a shaky finger made its way through pink lips and the curls returned to their original position. Two unsteady hands attempted to steady the fragile figure as it wobbled down and up until a chin came to rest upon the white porcelain. He heard a whimper and he mimicked it. It was then he saw a single droplet of water trickle onto the floor, and then that he felt the tears on his own face. He hastily wiped the liquid from his cheeks again and again, quickly becoming frustrated due to his eyes’ refusal to stop releasing fugitive droplets.
 
Through the tears he observed the same finger’s journey towards the silver handle, and as if from behind glass walls he heard water flushing and a muffled cough. The legs straightened and he could hear the pounding of water on marble. He stumbled once more, and the curls were whipped through the air as the figure rapidly turned to face him. His hand involuntarily reached towards it and he realized the distance between him and the dark curls. His legs finally obeyed and he took two strides before the pink lips parted to release a cry and the shrunken legs crumpled beneath the empty chest.
 
He ran to grasp the figure before the cold tile could shrink all of her, but somehow he knew it was too late. The man clutched the figure to his chest and stroked the dark curls. A desperate face looked up at him and he stared down at it. He saw the blue eyes shine defiantly against the red that surrounded them and as he came to understand that the tears covering the sunken cheeks were his own he clutched the figure tighter.
 
He held the figure in his arms until his eyes ran out of tears. He then
wrapped a curl around his finger and searched the blue eyes for an answer as he declared, “But. You are my baby sister.” Then the eyes, cheeks, hands, legs, and chest came together into a fifteen-year-old girl and that girl began to sob. So again he clutched her to his chest, the whole time repeating, “not my baby sister, not my perfect sister.”
 
“Sorry,” she murmured, “I’m so sorry.” He gripped her cheeks and fiercely informed her she was not allowed to apologize, for it was not in her control. He then stood and she did the same. He searched for something more to say but he knew it was not the time to ask why. In fact, he knew that time would never come. He gently picked up the six-foot girl, it was easier than he had hoped, and carried her to her bed.
 
He returned to the bathroom and scrubbed the toilet as though it alone was to blame for the pain he saw in his sister’s eyes. When he completed his task he turned off the light and locked the door before returning to his sister.
 
He asked her to promise to never do it again and she turned away. He asked her how often she did it to herself and she shook her head. He asked her how much she weighed and she murmured, “too much.” He frowned at her words and took her hand. After a pause he began…
 
“Little girl. You are more special than you
could ever imagine. You are brilliant and
kind and strong. And for those reasons
I know this could not possibly be your
fault. Something took your brilliance
and made you act stupid. It took your
kindness and made you cruel to yourself.
But dear sister, nothing can ever take
your strength. Nothing will ever take
your will to survive. No matter how many
times you take away what is inside you,
you cannot remove your power. I see that
power in your eyes and I see that strength
in your heart. And until you beat this
disease I will be here to be your brilliance
and I will be here to make certain you are
kind to yourself. You may believe you can
make it through on your own, but you do
not need to. I am here and together we
will never again stumble.”

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