Roses Symbolise Beauty Not Love

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a short story I wrote about a girl who thinks she is not beautiful. It's about material beauty and not the beauty that is found deep inside someone. I wrote it last year when I was 17 confronted by the magazine perfect beauty of my own younger sister.

Submitted: December 16, 2011

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Submitted: December 16, 2011



I didn’t bother to say goodbye as I slammed the door behind me. I stood outside the gate and breathed in the fresh morning air, trying to get my calm back, hoping I wouldn’t go back and scream till I couldn’t. Without meaning to I began comparing the fresh air outside to the stuffy air in the house; burnt toast, scrambled eggs that my mother never got right, my younger sister’s perfume – imported all the way from France the boy who had given it to her said – it smelt like dry lavender. Not very French.  The tension that clung that to the air…Angelique, the girl I had been cursed to have as a sister. It’s not everyday, every lifetime that a 16 year old finds herself slightly unattractive compared to her 14 year old sister. Some days I’d wake up and I’d feel so damn gorgeous and ready to take on the world then I’d walk into the kitchen and there she’d be, long legs crossed, her face shining, radiating a beauty my damn gorgeousness could not compete with. The uniform I’m wearing suddenly seems off and hideous, too tight across my ample chest, too loose all over me, my stockings out of phase with her short white socks, my hair frizzled and dead even though  I had just spent the past 30 minutes getting it right and I thought it was awesome as I practiced seductive pouts in the mirror. My face seems too oily, too pimply and I quickly pull on my blazer and leave.

Today was one of those days. I trudged up the street, dragging my feet along the pavement. I wasn’t looking forward to school. I never was.  Sometimes it seemed like a complete waste of time, but then I’d think about what I’d do if I didn’t go to school. Living in a one-room flat, earning a pathetic wage that wouldn’t allow me to travel to New York – the ideal shopper’s heaven. The social politics that prevent most people from being especially girl politics. The boys  never really chatting me up, treating me like one of them and the teachers always giving me looks that said little but meant so much more when I handed in my work two days late.

‘Lola!’ a voice that would have aroused me from the deepest slumber, the voice that belonged to Donavan. I wished he’d say it a little sweeter. Turning around so suddenly I tripped on my own feet but managed to catch myself before I came toppling down to the ground. Donavan the boy next door waved at me, indicating for me to wait. It was an excruciating minute as I stood there waiting and my mind going into overdrive. I resisted touching my hair, smoothing my school skirt, adjusting my schoolbag, reaching for the pocket mirror I had in my blazer like I did all the times. My hand flew up to my ear as I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t put on my earrings, the small ones that the school dictated, the ones that sparkled. Was my face oily yet? I could feel the sweat breaking all over my body, it passed soon but the damage was done.

‘Hey, what’s up?’ Donavan asked cracking knuckles with me like I was one of his dudes. But that was the way boys like him were.

‘Hi, how are you?’ I said hoping my voice didn’t sound as stretched as it did to my ears.

‘Good and you,’ he casually draped his arm over my shoulder as we walked to the bus stop. I felt the weight of it like a half a ton of lead but left it there, it brought a strangely pleasant feeling of comfort to me. It took less than a second for my mind to run away with me; suddenly Donavan and I were walking down the street hand in hand and deeply in love with each other.

‘Great thanks. Haven’t seen you around in a while?’ my eyes focused on the grass growing between the cracks on the pavement, the trees withering, the sky a pale hot blue, the cracks in the sidewalk everywhere but him.

‘Hey I’m a senior now; I can’t be seen dilly-dallying all over the place.’

‘All work and no play make Jack a very dull boy.’ I countered boldly looking up at him and smiling. People told me I had a beautiful smile that I didn’t use often. I hoped he thought so too, although I’d known him most of my high school life we’d never talked about smiles. I thought he had a nice smile, carefree.

‘Who says I’m not playing,’ and he danced on the sidewalk because that’s the way he is. Not a care about the people waiting by the bus stop turning to stare, not a care for anyone’s eyes or thoughts. I laughed at his goofy dance.

The bus came by as his head bopped to the music emitting form his earphone; one was stuck in my ear. I didn’t think much of it; rap was too violent, too in your face, too out there, too vulgar.

The door to my classroom flew furiously into my face as a boy came bustling out I tumbled forwards but he caught me, apologising profusely before he turned and ran. People leaned over others’ desks copying homework, catching up on yesterday’s news. Classes went and passed in a hazy blur of equations and DNA notes.

At lunchtime the mad debate within me began sending me into an out of body state. Keri, my best friend asked me about lunch, I replied her, my ears, mouth and mind not in perfect harmony.  To lunch or not to lunch. I always feel nauseous when I’m about to eat but amazingly I never puke afterwards.

My eyes wondered around the cafeteria searching for no one in particular until they spotted Donavan devouring his lunch. I watched him for a while and marvelled at how he fit into the scene of chattering and jaw-moving teenagers then a hand snapped in front of my face and she came.

‘What are you staring at or should I say who?’ Noxie asked, her eyes darting to and fro.

‘Ogling the boys eh Lola Rose?’ Keri countered he voice lashed with the tiniest hint of superiority. She felt she was the master of all. Including me. I don’t think so.

‘I was just staring into space, thinking about something,’ I said my eyes falling all over the cafeteria looking for somewhere to rest, anywhere.

‘About Donny you mean.’ Keri said making it sound like an official statement which me fell as if I was in an inquisition, ‘he’s good looking and cute.’

‘You guys see each other often?’ Keri brushed pieces of biscuit from her jersey.

‘He lives next door and likes to borrow CDs from my sister.’

‘So, I don’t know my neighbours’ names. They don’t come over to our house.’

‘He doesn’t come over except on that day you we there and he wanted his Drake CD back from Angie,’ I said turning to face my friends, my mind playing that day out in my head, getting the emotions right and all. I had opened he door to knowing it was him – having watched from behind the curtain – maybe with a bit too much force and enthusiasm. He had smiled, dazzling me not knowing he was and instantly I had shifted to Whatever mode. Pretending I didn’t care. Casual as I could get with my heart pounding from the excitement and exertion; cool as ice. His smile had wavered, uncertain and I had cocked one eyebrow and a placed a hand on my hip. Donavan had asked for Angelique, for his blasted CD-

‘Your sister wasn’t there –

‘Do you like him?’ Noxie said not playing around the battlefield but going straight for the kill.

My eyes followed Donavan as he walked around the tables flanked by his friends. I thought he looked nice in his senior blazer with all the honours and badges. I thought he was quite handsome, his face was perfectly symmetrical.

‘I do,’ I said, ‘he’s quite handsome and has a pleasant disposition.’ I’d told them a dozen times before but each time they seemed rattled with my fondness for him.

‘Ooooh, thought so. Come,’ Keri took me by the hand, ‘let’s get out of here. I hate the way this place smells, so rotten and last week’s bunny chows.’ She wrinkled her nose in disgust.

Around me faces swirled in an endless blur, dots of grey and white flashed and merged together forming a great mass of confusion. Amongst the confusion, the cluttering of my mind, the bafflement of my senses Donovan stood out as clear as crystal. His hand was held high, waving, a kinda shy smile on his face. Happily startled I waved back and smiled shyly too until, until a voice called out, an annoyingly familiar voice, ‘Hey Donny,’ Angelique so very close behind me, I could smell her fake French perfume. She towered above me, too tall for her own good.

I slapped my hands to my sides my face tingling with shadowed embarrassment. I kept my head low as I dashed out of the cafeteria. Of course, how could Donavan see me, a cramped commoner when the moon shone brightly behind me, the stars, for which I was not part of, enhancing her beauty. How could he notice me among all this beauty, how could he realise that I was there and smiling when something better waved and teases in the back ground. My ginger hair that refused to lie down, my pimples that refused to go away no matter what anti-spot cream I used, the stretch marks that danced on my upper arms and thighs which I always hid but Donavan seemed to see, my height which was a curse, my weight which was uncontrollable and double the curse.

I walked at the edge of the trio holding my head high, my back straight, pretending I didn’t care, that Donavan’s ignorance of me was nothing. But it was something, something that bothered me, that placed itself inside me and refused to go away.

I saw Donavan later in my Biology class I didn’t look up but turned my attention to the boy sitting in front of me. I kept the conversation going while I watched Donavan out of my eye. I sketched designs for glam dresses under my desk and didn’t hear a single word through out the lesson.

I could see him walking towards me, I watched him while I prayed he wasn’t coming over to my desk.

‘Hey Lola Rose,’ Donavan said, standing over me looking so lean and tall.

‘Donavan, hi,’ I met his eyes once and shuffled my books pretending to occupied.

‘Not to bother you or anything but can you do me a favour?’

A favour for Donavan, of course. ‘Depends on what it is and I am not doing anything mad.’

He laughed his snort laugh, one that I could bring myself to like if it wasn’t so disgusting. ‘Nothing like that,’ he slid a CD over to me. I picked it up.

‘Eminem really isn’t one my fave artists.’

That laugh again, ‘It’s for your sister. Do you mind giving it to her? I gotta somewhere and I won’t be back till late and I don’t want to her get disappointed because I promised it to her like a week ago. Please.’ He smiled showing all his perfect white teeth. He smiled while my heart broke to pieces, while I felt like dying. My sister again propping up from every conversation I had with him.

‘Anything for you,’ I placed the CD in a book.

‘Thanks, you’re the best.’ He gave me a quick hug and walked away trampling all over my bed of roses. I began packing my books when I heard him call my name a little too loudly.

‘Yes,’ I replied perhaps a little too enthusiastically.

‘I was…have you seen the new James Bay movie.’ I shook my head, I’d been to loads of movies with Donavan and his entourage of course. ‘No. Well I’d like to see it this Saturday, I’ll come over around 3. That okay.’ I nodded stiffly. ‘Sure bye.’

I didn’t dare to wonder further than what he’d said but daring enough to wonder about what he hadn’t said. He hadn’t mentioned Jason or Fred to be coming along. It could be more than just…

 I wore a simple jeans and tee hoping it would be perfect. I tried to run a comb through my hair but it was too stiff, I powdered my face with my mother’s powder, I lined my eyes with her sister’s liquid eyeliner, I thought I  looked great.

I smiled and enjoyed the look in Angelique’s eyes as I told her about going to the movies with Donny. I called him Donny just to show her he wasn’t hers for the taking.

‘Those shoes won’t fit Lola.’ Angelique said as I shoved my feet into her mother’s stilettos. Unlike my mother and sister, my feet were big and short whilst theirs were slim and long. ‘What’s all the fuss about? It’s not like a date you know. But you wouldn’t know the difference between pity and actual interest.’

What could I say? What could I do but defend myself. I turned to face her as I tied the colourful shoelaces on my sneakers having discarded the stilettos. ‘Donavan and I have known each other for a while now. We are going to watch James Bay kick some bad vampires together.’

A cascade of thoughts swirled around my head as a sadness so sincere lodged itself in my throat. All around me was silence; I had locked myself into my cocoon that blocked and killed all around me. The James Bay’s picture flew in front of me not awakening the usual feeling of teenage obsession. This was worse than our usual conversations and meetings were we usually talked about Nicki Minaj or Angelique as if they were of the same rank. I had thought to myself, Keri had said to me, ‘it could be worse.’ Clearly it could.

The theatre was dark and full. Hushed voices whispered and harsher voices hushed them. The movie had been shown for less than thirty minutes and already I wished to escape this purgatory I had thrown myself into. Donavan sat between my sister and I, his legs spread apart, his arm loosely draped over the back of Angelique’s chair, his eyes glued to her lovely face. I knew it’d take one movement for that hand to grace her shoulders and the emerald in my heart to sink further. I already felt like a misplaced third-wheel, an odd shoe. It seemed all of a sudden too cold, I excused myself. Launching up to the big screen glad that we had chosen to seat in the back row. Donavan whispered my name, the sound of my name on his lips enough to pull me back but my dignity too strong. I turned around in the aisle wishing, hoping that Angelique would just disappear. But she didn’t, she stayed where she was with that icy look of victory on her face. As I walked away for what I hoped the last time, the last time I let him walk all over my bed of roses.

In the bathroom my reflection stared back at me, a mass of unwanted chocolate coloured flesh. Sometimes when I saw myself, I saw a common beauty in me. It was a universal beauty; almost everyone had it except people like Angelique. They had an unearthly beauty that made me dizzy with envy and outright rage. A beauty that claimed hearts and possessed minds, a beauty that made my head ache whenever I set eyes upon it.

Sometimes when I was walking down the street and I caught sight of myself in a shop window completely unprepared to see what I really looked like when that beauty had vanished. I wouldn’t stop but my step would falter a little.

Standing in that excessively lit bathroom and not being able to find the beauty I needed. I stood there until people began to pour in and I realised the movie was over.

I walked out feeling strangely calm and looking forward to seeing…

There he was or rather there they were looking to all the world as if they belonged together. Their fingers entwined with the other’s. The laughter in his voice, the flame in his eyes I could not ever light.  Her face a picture a victory as she held the single rose to her chest. I stood there forgotten, only to be remembered briefly as the sister.

I wasn’t beautiful, I could never be beautiful like Angelique, never be admired like her. I had thought Donavan would see my beauty, appreciate the commonness of it but he was just like the rest; always after the goddesses.





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