Alana would always cover her mouth when she laughed, she’d always look away when she smiled, and would always fold her arms like she is sealing away a secret she has to hide every time she wears short sleeves. I always wondered why she did these things, it was like she was concealing her uniqueness and beauty.
When she laughs her mouth widens and showcases her pearly white teeth, and her face scrunches up, which make her eyes turn into little folds of joy. When this girl smiles, oh my gosh it is like the heavens have opened up and are lighting her face up. There is genuine happiness when she smiles, a beauty unlike others. One day I asked her why she did such things and her response was...heartbreaking.
FLASHBACK 2 DAYS AGO
(End of the school day and kids are heading to their buses)
“Hey! Alana wait up!” I yelled up to her and trotted up to the side of her. She was about to head down the stairs to meet up with her friends.
“What’s up hun?” She asked with a puzzled look spreading across her face.
“I have a question...it’s kind of personal. You don’t have to answer if it makes you uncomfortable.”
“Why do you hide your smile and laugh so much?”
The words rushed out my mouth and I witnessed her facial expression change drastically. She went from smiling and looking directly at me to avoiding eye contact, fidgeting with her sleeve, and walking at a faster pace. She stopped a few paces ahead. Her posture showed discomfort as though she was forcing herself to turn back around and answer my question. Walking up to me she rolled up her sleeves and pointed to the scars.
“It’s because I’m not pretty.”
Her voice cracked and I could sense the hesitation. She cleared her throat. “I smile too wide, my laugh is obnoxious, and my arms have scars that disgust me. I can’t look at myself without having regrets with wanting to change something. I cover my arms because it keeps people from asking questions that will hurt me! No one understands what their question do to me. They break me. I’m brittle. So brittle..”
Her voice softly trailed off and her eyes allowed a few tears to escape and trail down her cheek. I reached to wipe them off but she quickly pushed my sleeve covered hand away.
“Alana...” I couldn’t string together a sentence that could express my guilt. “I... I didn’t know. I am so sorry. But I want you to know this, you are beautiful. Every laugh and every smile you make is better and more astounding than the last. Your arms tell your story which makes you even more unique and wonderful. I’m not saying the reason you have them is good, I’m saying they tell your story. All of those things are not your flaws they are your...your way of being different from the person next to you.”
Silence hung in the air. It felt as though time stood still. All of a sudden, she took off and I called after her. She must’ve known what I was going to say, because before I could say anything, she yelled, “Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder hun. Thank you, though.”