The Girl in the Mirror

*The Fault In Our Stars competition entry*

Kammy was the girl that looked in a mirror. She saw herself transform when she was diagnosed with cancer. A disease known to change lives as well as appearances. The girl in the mirror tells her story of how she transformed herself back again through love, when the whole world around her started to change and judge her based on her condition.

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1. The Girl in the Mirror

 

I gazed at the girl staring back at me. There were many positive words to describe this girl. She was tall, curvy and had tanned skin. Her brown irises glistened in the light, her nose was petite and smooth, her cheeks were slightly flushed with pink and her lips were full and shimmered with the latest lip-gloss. However, what really caught my eye was her hair.

She had a head full of thick black locks that sparkled in the light. Every time you put a finger in one of her curls and pulled, as soon as you let go it would bounce back again, just like it had never been touched. Every time she walked her long hair would swish from side to side, hiding her behind. When the wind would blow, her hair would blow along with it, giving her that photo-shoot look. She had the type of hair that every girl and even guys envied.

There was one word that repeated itself again and again as I watched this girl. Beautiful. She was the perfect definition of the word beautiful. She possessed qualities that gave great pleasure and satisfaction to see. I blinked at the girl before me; she blinked back. Gradually her smile started to fade; her lips were dry and pressed firmly into a thin line. The glint in her eyes was gone and her cheeks were nothing but skin stretched over bone. Her sun kissed skin became abnormally pale and her figure was nothing but bones.

Though, the most shocking part I saw was her hair. Her long, black, curly locks started to fall around her. The hair that fell became lifeless and drab. No! Why didn’t she pick them up and put them back on her head? Maybe they would stay. I wanted to reach out and hold her hair in place, but I couldn’t move. It wasn’t long before all her hair was gone, leaving no sign of it ever being there. Her head now looked plain and empty. You could see nothing but skin. This girl, who was my perception of beautiful, transformed. She became the total opposite of what she once was.

I blinked at the girl before me; she blinked back. The girl now had tears forming in her eyes, making my vision blurry. I lifted a hand to touch her face; she did the same. I let my tears fall and so did she. I lifted my other hand to stroke her hair and she did the same. The girl I was staring at was me; we were one and the same and totally transformed from what we used to be. We are ill.

We are victims of an illness they call cancer. A disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of our body. It’s a disease that can turn people’s lives upside down; changing their appearance is only the beginning. You see, once you develop a condition like mine people’s perception of you change.

I used to be the ‘pretty one’ at school, head cheerleader and popular. I had all the guys at school wrapped around my finger. Walking down the school hallways people used to call my name in hopes of getting my attention and if they were lucky, I’d even give them a smile or a small ‘hello’. I got on with everyone, teachers, parents, you name it! I was made lead singer at the choir in church and even got chosen to represent my local area in a talent competition. However, a few months back all changed.

Just as fast as my hair started to fall out, so did elements of my life. I was no longer classed as the ‘pretty one’ in school. The girls kicked me out of the head cheerleader position, their excuse was that I wasn’t as strong as I used to be and therefore I’d be no use. Truth be told, I knew it was because I wasn’t pretty anymore. One by one my friends started bailing on me. As I walked down the hallway, the guys as school didn’t whip their head around to see me; instead they looked at me in disgust, just like everyone else. The conductor at church took me down from lead and said I shouldn’t be singing, but resting. He tried to make me feel better by saying God will be with me; his tone said anything but. The MP cut me off from participating in any talent competition to represent my local area. He said they needed someone fit and healthy to do the job and that right now I needed to concentrate on getting better. ‘Maybe next time’ he said with a forced smile.

I sighed. Funny how the world around you suddenly changed just because you have an illness. It’s surprising to see how much depends upon how you look and not on who you are. ‘Don’t define me by my illness’ I say, ‘define me by who I am’. There was no use in repeating those words over and over again when they will only be ignored. I started to give up and lose all hope of anything being normal ever again. I believed that my life was never going to have that spark it used to have; that I will never regain the beauty I once had.

That was until I met Caleb.

Caleb was a boy that I never really noticed at first. He was one of those people that always sat at the back of class and kept himself to himself. I never really noticed him wanting to catch my attention or to even speak to me before. To everyone he was invisible and he liked it that way; no one there to judge him. The first time we ever spoke, was possibly the day my life changed once again, but this time for better.

I remember this day just like it was yesterday. The sun was setting and filled the sky with beautiful pinks and oranges. I sat on the park bench on that cold evening, thinking if I could regain my beauty once I’d lost it; just like the sky. Every evening the sky would change to its mesmerising pinks and oranges, and then fade into midnight. It was a cycle that happened over and over again. I wondered if I was in a cycle too.

It was then I got startled when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I gasped and turned sharply to see who it was. I hadn’t been approached by someone willingly in a long time. However, my face froze as I saw who it was; Caleb. He wore a denim jacket to shield him from the cold, but his hands were still shaking. He smiled at me and automatically I returned the gesture and moved over on the bench so he could sit too. He happily took my silent offer; no words were even said. We both sat there silence for a few moments and he was the first to break it.

“You’ve changed.” Caleb stated. I turned by head to face him, only to find he was looking right at me with an intense glare. I shifted under his gaze as his words echoed in my head. Sure, I have changed. Obviously. I mean, I was bald now and thinner than I was before. My skin didn’t even have the glow it used to. That’s what I call change, but why did he find the need to state it out loud.

Caleb caught my discombobulated look and shook his head while nervously laughing. A few of his chocolate brown curls covered his grey eyes. “I don’t mean the way you look, Kammy.” The way he said my name, sounded like he had said it many times before. It was fluent; though I didn’t understand what he meant.

“In what other way have I changed?” I questioned sceptical of his answer. I raked my head for an answer myself, but all I found was emptiness. Caleb leaned back in his spot.

“The way you act.” He simply stated, folding his arms. I gestured him to continue and with a sigh he began to explain. “You used to be this big whirl of confidence that spread her creativity and beauty everywhere where she went. You weren’t scared of what other people thought. You just did what you wanted to do and that was your way of living.”

I put my head down. I didn’t think of change in that way. I guess I was so caught up in what other people thought of me that I began to lose focus of who I really was. I had developed a shell that has never really been there. However, there was a reason why. I had cancer. The day I was diagnosed, I felt like I had lost everything: my friends, my popularity and my beauty. I guess my confidence slowly decreased until there was nothing left of it.

“What are you thinking about?” Caleb asked.

“I’m thinking about how much a disease like mine can change a person’s life.” I answered staring at the sky. The pinks and oranges were fading now and darkness started to creep in.

“It doesn’t change much…” he started to reply, but I stopped him right there and looked him in the eyes.

“It doesn’t change much?” I asked him. “I’ve lost everything in life that I actually cared about, and you’re saying it hasn’t changed much?!” Caleb unfolded his arms looking a little worried, nevertheless I continued to talk. “I used to be beautiful, with full long hair and my cheeks used to have tints of pink rose. I used to shine! My friends weren’t ashamed of hanging out with me in public and I was asked to enter the talent show for our area, but no, I had to be diagnosed with this condition that changes everything!” I had tears streaming down my cheeks at this point, the sudden emotional burst out I had surprised even me.

We both fell silent for a few minutes; you could hear nothing but our breathing. That was until I felt his warm hands take my cold ones. He scooted closer to me and draped his denim jacket over my shoulders; I could still feel the heat from when he wore it. I looked towards him with watery eyes.

“You don’t think you’re beautiful?” he paused. “You think that people are ashamed of hanging out with you?” he paused again. I wasn’t sure where he was going with this so I just continued to stare at him in shock.

“You listen now and you listen well. I’m holding your cold hands in mine right now, and I don’t care where we are. You think I’m ashamed to be seen with you?” he asked smiling. “In case you’re still puzzled, the answer is no. I could be anywhere in the world with you right now and I wouldn’t care who was watching or what people thought, because even if they might be ashamed of hanging out with you, I’m not.” I gawked at him in surprise, but he wasn’t finished yet.

“Kammy, you are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen, regardless of whether you have hair on your head of not. In fact, you’re beautiful regardless of your appearance, even though you have the most beautiful big brown eyes I have ever seen. Your beauty is special. You want to know why?” he waited for my nod and carried on. “Because beauty comes from inside here.” He left one of my hands and laid his own over my heart.

I could feel more tears brimming in my eyes. My vision was blurred from my tear filled eyes. Did he really think I was beautiful? Did he really not mind sitting out here with me of all people? I blinked making small salty rivers travel down my cheeks. Caleb had a soft look on his face; he looked at me like I was the only thing in the world right now.

I knew then and only then that he meant what he said and what he said was what I was meant to believe, because it was nothing but the simple plain truth.

I stared at the girl in the mirror and she stared back. This girl didn’t have any hair on her head, but regardless she was beautiful. Her eyes regained their sparkle and her lips were on full shine, coated with the shiniest of gloss. However, what made her lips more appealing was the fact that the corners were tilted upwards only to reveal a toothy smile and a dimple in the right cheek. The girls’ cheeks were rosy pink just like they used to be. This girl was happy and that was the reflection of true beauty.

Still, there was something different about the image in the mirror. There were arms draped around the girls waste and extra head leaning on her own. It was a grey eyed, curly haired boy named Caleb. He didn’t look at the mirror though; instead he gazed down at the girl and leaned his forehead on hers while whispering sweet nothings in her ear. The girl blushes and looked up to stare into his eyes. I could no longer see the image in the mirror. All I saw was Caleb.

Caleb; my definition of beautiful from all aspects of life.  

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