Bright light from the street outside cast shadows on the walls. In the light from the window, she tried not to seem on edge even to herself. Be perfect, she repeated – a mantra – over and over as if she only needed persuasion for it to actually happen.

Even in the strange comfort of her own room it was as though eyes were glued to her and she couldn’t rest for even a moment. She brushed her hair before bed, washed her face of any smudge that might mar her otherwise glowing complexion, and dressed in such a way that if she were to ever be photographed unknowingly she’d still be the picture of beauty.

Her light eyes peered out from behind the glass leading to the outside world and her breath caught in her throat. She physically softened her face when she faced the world and she kept her chin up. There was no falter in her confident demeanor.

Then her blinds slowly, gently closed. Her slow meander couldn’t have given her away, she practiced surely well enough. Her lithe hands would open and close the bathroom door the same way each time, and her face held nothing but serenity until the door was locked. Back to the door, she’d slide down and her heart would race and, oh, where now was her façade? Where was the confidence, bordering on arrogance, then?

Those beautiful, slender fingers would wring the thin fabric of her clothing. Any thoughts of make up or appearances would be gone in the safety of the closed off room, with no windows to bear witness to the shameless unravelling of everything she had ever stored up.

In her world of unforgiving, tenacious judgment, this was her only respite. This was her only soft comfort away from what she would ultimately bring on herself. Her lips were sealed otherwise, because in a world so quick to judge, she’d be safe from it so long as she was perfect. So terrified of the ugly bitterness of the world, she couldn’t allow herself even one moment of imperfection, her fear of it too consuming.

The impossible tasks of perfection will only heavy the burden on her shoulders. It would only weigh down until the structure holding it would crack and – finally – break.


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