She just wants to cry once in a while, to spend an evening sobbing over the little insults
of life, swollen and ugly, and to be with somebody who’ll offer a shoulder and still
say she’s beautiful.
But she wishes the intensely satisfying, emotionally draining conclusions of those sorts of
evenings would result in a face that matched her soul. She feels fresh, revived, ready to start
everything over. But one of life’s many tiny tricks is in the fact that that fresh feeling
is always accompanied by bloodshot eyes, a swollen nose, and comically deep creases
in the swollen pouches of her eyelids.
Why shouldn’t the side effects of crying go away once she’s cleared the emotional
rubble, sorted what made her cry in the first place?
These physical betrayals aren’t just in her face. Even her very skin sometimes fails
to reflect the truth of her feelings. Or perhaps it reflects a far deeper truth that she, as
yet, has not even managed to dig out.
She blushes. Intensely. At the strangest promptings. Even at the thought — just like how
in attempting to catalog the things that can make her cry, sometimes her eyes develop little
puddles that threaten to overflowâ€”she can feel a heated pink creeping up her chest. It sometimes
starts splotchily, prompting those who don’t know her well enough to ask awkward questions.
It sometimes comes on subtly, overtakes her without her noticing. Like that time in public
speaking class in high school. She finished her long final project of a speech, and then stood
at the podium, pleased with her performance, so glad to be done with it, to wait for her peers
to comment. Frank said something nice — something positive she doesn’t even remember
now — about her tone of voice, her writing, maybe her interesting choice of subject, and then
added a quick “but You’ve turned awfully red. Are you ok?”
She’d had no idea. But suddenly she was painfully conscious of her low-necked shirt,
the pinkness emerging from its top, crawling all the way up her neck, curling around her ears,
and even clawing its way into her scalp.
Now whenever she has to speak to a large group, she tries to wear a turtleneck. But she feels
strangled by it, and spends some mornings, on days when she’ll have to present, dressing
and undressing over and over, debating between two evils: does she want to spend the day with
her clothes suffocating her, or to allow everybody to see this inane betrayal of her blood
She just wants to be competent. And to be able, believably, to fake it sometimes when she
isn’t. She wants to be able to lie well, but not to need to.
The blushing happens when she lies, too. Other than that, she could do it. Over the phone,
She’d be fine at telling untruths, if not for her skin’s betrayal having gotten
her out of the habit of lying. But she wishes she could do it. Once in a very long while, it’d
be convenient to be able to. “No, Officer, I had no idea the speed limit had changed.” “No,
Professor, I don’t think I received that assignment.”
She just wants to relax, to be unafraid, to have faith. To learn to take it one step at a
time, like her mother always says to, but without needing the reminders.
She wishes she were less clumsy, in a lot of ways. She wishes she could control things that
are very obviously beyond her.
The people who love her tell her it’s endearing that she can manage to gash her shin
open just getting in the shower, that it’s sweet how she can cry at the drop of a hat,
cute that she can turn an entirely new shade of pink when trying to flirt, or hilariously impressive
that she can cover herself and the kitchen in flour while baking cookies.
Even so, there are times when she just wants to be cool and tranquil, to look like a person
in control of everything, a person who never trips spectacularly down a staircase in public,
never knocks her elbow against something, forgets, and later is astonished by the bruise, never
cries unattractively and unnecessarily, and never blushes except faintly, in the cheeks, intentionally
But sometimes there are reasons for things, right? If he really thinks she’s beautiful
even when she thinks she’s ugly, he must truly love her. And where’s the fun in
a kitchen without some splashes of flour in the oddest places? And maybe she should just tell
her friends that they can know she cares by the way she cries, they can know she’s genuine
by the way she blushes; she’s not hiding parts of herself from them because, obviously,