Ally stood in front of her mirror. On the outside, she seemed like a pretty girl. Dark brown hair cut into a bob, with an aqua streak on the right side. Soft chocolate brown eyes. Tan skin that was darkened even more from all her trips to visit family in California.
But she certainly didn’t feel like a pretty girl. The little voice inside her head chimed all the insults she could think of. Fat. Ugly. Gross. Not good enough. Stúpid. Imperfect.
Ally sighed, chasing down her thoughts as if it was cinnamon candy being swallowed down by water. It was almost time to leave for school anyway.
Quickly, she ran down the stairs, grabbing her backpack and a protein bar for the road. Nobody on the bus even cared anymore if they ate. It was technically against school rules, but high schoolers took rules like that with a grain of salt. It never went over well.
She waved goodbye to her mom and put on a happy face. That was the Ally that her friends knew; happy and cheerful. If they only knew what I was really like, she thought. They’ll think I’m a psychotic idíot.
Suddenly, a familiar voice rang out across the street, at the intersection where the bus stop was. “Hey, Als!” It was Brandi, her best friend since…well, forever, pretty much. Ally was…popular, you might say, but she never felt like it, and besides, she had her closest friends too.
Ally waved back. “Hola!” she called back, her smooth Italian accent carrying across lawns to her friend. She quickly crossed the street and joined Brandi. They talked and laughed and showed each other funny videos on YouTube. But little did Brandi know that the Ally she was talking to was not the Ally she really knew.
The bell at Maple Point High School rang, signaling the start of second period. Ally, Brandi, and their other best friend, Lili, all had social studies together, and they were gathered in their desks, discussing the morning and everyday girl stuff. That’s when their teacher, Mr. Moore, entered the room.
“Good morning, class!” he called out cheerfully. “Today we’re going to start working on our United States Presidents project. First of all, yes, this will be a group project with a group of your choice.”
Immediately, Ally felt two hands clamp onto her arms. Lili and Brandi. Duh.
Mr. Moore went on, talking about the project and the grades and such. He was a fun teacher, but he could be a little boring sometimes too. “Lastly, you will need to elect a leader for your groups. The leader will help direct the project and kind of float over the other group members. Alright, go!”
The 3 girls claimed the table in the back of the room. Lili was the first to say, “I think Ally should be our leader. She’s the smart one here.”
“I second that,” said Brandi.
What Ally thought about that decision: What the **** are y’all thinking? That means we’ll have the crappÿ project here. Good lord.
What she actually said: “Oh, um…thanks, I guess? Anyway, let’s try not to choose a president everybody knows, like Lincoln or Roosevelt. Also, try to be as creative as possible.”
“Ah, very clever,” said Brandi. “See, this is why we elected you as our leader, Als. You’re a genius at these kind of things.”
You sure about that?
They decided who would do what. Ally would do the poster, Lili would research, and Brandi would make little “artifacts” that described the life of their president, who was James Polk, out of clay.
Ally began sketching out the bubble letters on their poster. Grunting, she erased and erased and erased some more. It took five minutes before she got the first two letters traced. Then she picked up her Sharpie, and the slight curve of the cardboard trifold made the ink dip down slightly, messing up the line.
“ARGH!” she yelled, throwing down her pen. Then she buried her face in her hands, drowning out the voices of her classmates and the worried looks her best friends were giving her.
Why can’t I just be fricking normal? Why am such a perfectionist? Why do I even bother staying on this planet anymore? Why do I have these stùpid scars on my wrists? WHY?
But she very well knew the answer. It was because of that day, exactly three years and one month ago.