It wasn’t that I hated her. I didn’t, not at first anyway, but as time progressed the only thing I could do on the outside was smile politely and keep walking, while everything inside of me continued screaming.
Sometimes I pretended I couldn’t hear the screams, but over time, it grew worse. I wanted to hate her so bad, but there was too much of me that wouldn’t let that happen. I would pass her in the strangest of places and keep walking.
Her face would always be perfect, flawless makeup, perfectly painted lipstick and those haunting eyes. I couldn’t hate her outright. There was something about those eyes that pleaded with me, begging some silent petition I couldn’t grant.
The darkened depths within were as mysteriously dark as if whatever kept them open and staring straight through me was a secret I didn’t want to know.
It was earth day when I finally, completely, utterly despised her. She was trying too hard again, playing her perfection card while adding the teacher’s pet bonus on top of it.
I saw her by the stage mirrors on the campus quad. Dressed from head to toe in every shade of green imaginable, except for her flat, boring brown hair that looked as if she’d run out of hairspray to pouf it up. Stupid hairspray. She probably can’t afford the expensive stuff in the salons.
The camera flashed at my left, seconds too late. I know I looked awful. It took a moment to recover and to hide my disgust. Now I was in the picture with the green girl. I hate her.
What right does she have to be so happy when I am so miserable? We were friends, really good friends. The best kind of friends who give up everything just to stick up for the other and now she is a stranger I don’t know anymore.
“Amy, ready?” Jenae is colorfully attired in deep ruby red. Even her hair matches. She deserves to win. “Well?” She did a careful twirl as not to step off of her stilettos.
I forced a smile. “It’s beautiful.”
Jenae rolled her eyes. “You’re just saying that.”
“Then why ask my opinion?”
“Because sometimes it matters!” She rolled her eyes, linking an arm through mine. “You should see the rest of the girls.” Her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper. “They’re gorgeous, I don’t see how they could afford to make their costumes so very…well, just come and look already.”
The campus earth day beauty contest had begun.
And the colors were blinding. After awhile, I couldn’t keep the names and faces straight. All I knew was that I had to outdo the girl in green.
And the girl in black. She made it through the debates and somehow I knew I would face her before I spoke to the girl in green. We each took our turns parading across the stage and reciting the changes we’d made both personal and throughout the community. A sales pitch I had memorized by heart.
I hate you.
The vicious thought sliced through whatever shreds of sanity remained when I caught sight of the girl in green on the TV screen at the side of the stage. Digging my nails deep into my palms only produced the kind of pain I was used to dealing with.
It was no help.
The microphone seemed to waver as I parroted the number of hours spent in community service and how the programs launched at the churches on ninth street had helped many.
Applause is hollow.
I can hear it echoing inside my stomach, rattling around and producing the kind of acids that eat you from the inside out. I want to hate this girl too, dressed in black, standing across me on the stage. I don’t understand what black has to do with earth day, but she does. Somewhere under all that darkness, there must be something. Enough of a something for her to be standing up here.
She is smarter than she looks, but her eyes are too familiar. Haunting. She will win this debate. I will let her. She needs it.
Because I wish I was her. I wish I was the girl in black. The one whose eyes no one dares to meet. The one who doesn’t care. The one who walks alone and lives.
I wish I was her…instead of the girl in green.
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