The Girl in the Mirror

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By: Jade Kouletakis
(14 years old)
South Africa


"Nobody likes you, everyone thinks you're revolting! The sight of you makes them sick! You're just a weird, unwanted and ugly mistake put on this world to bring all of human race misery! Why don't you just get lost!" Sarah Haywood looked down at the floor, her face burning and her eyes about to explode. Her hands dug deeply into her blazer pockets and she cowered away into the nearest corner, sliding as far into it as she possibly could without going through the wall. She felt small, even though, as people so often reminded her, she was not. Sarah was, well, different from all the other 16-year-olds in her grade, in her whole school in fact. She was incredibly shy, too shy to ever speak or interact with others, which often gave them the impression that she was rude when she was in fact just scared. She was very smart. She did all her work. She was a goody two shoes and teachers pet. She wasn't interested in guys and didn't date. (From both never being asked and from having no apparent interest in having a boyfriend yet.) She didn't wear fashionable clothes. She was very much a tomboy. (All her friends were either male or tomboys.) She liked guy things such as watching soccer and things like that and she hated "girly" things. She didn't go out of her way to be that way, to be different, she just was. It was the way she was, and she hated it. She always wanted to be thin, to be pretty, to be cool, to be able to wear those clothes, just to be accepted and feel the way those other people did, but deep down within her she knew that that would never happen. The other people seemed to be loving life, to be friends with everyone, to be so good looking and just easy going. Sarah was a perfectionist, a hard worker and quite a serious person. Though that was the way she was just made, she knew that all those things were made more noticeable by others, the other people that hated her. Sarah didn't talk a lot because she was scared of what she might say, she felt like she'd say the wrong things and that what she had to say was of no significance. All those cruel pranks, the nasty words, the sly comments and actions, they all had to have some effect on this 16 year old, and they did. Sarah had no self-esteem. If someone pushed her in the passage, punched her in the face or ribs, tripped her whilst she was carrying her books, she never did anything. She never stood up for herself. She may have been big and physically powerful, but inside she was weak. Inside her soul was a tiny and defenseless puppy cowering away from its master. She looked into the mirror and didn't recognize the person staring back at her and she didn't want to get to know them. That person had ruined her. It had mocked her and spat in her face too many times before. She avoided mirrors, pictures, anything that could bring her face to face with that person. That person wasn't her friend, it was her worst enemy. That person made her sick to her stomach, the way they looked, the way they dressed, just that persons whole presence disturbed her. Yet that person never left.


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Sarah should have been used to being made a fool of, of embarrassing herself and of people being cruel to her, but I suppose it's just not something you want to become accustomed to. Though everyone would mock her about everything they could, there was one thing that she knew they could never say was worthless, something that words could not take away its value away. It was her drawings. She drew all her life, the prettiest pictures she ever could. The pictures were more than just ink on paper contact, it was a life changing experience she went through each and every day, each picture having its own deep message plastered onto it, capturing emotions and thoughts only she knew existed. It was her passion, and her gift. She could remember the time that Francesca Reed and Lucas Smith, a very well known popular couple, caught her drawing a picture during a lesson. She remembered the humiliation she went through when they snatched the picture and compromised it into a disgustingly rude image of a woman, then waved it around the class to the teacher, just to make sure everyone caught a glimpse and nobody was left with any unanswered questions. Sarah ran out of the class in tears. Ever since then her drawings were for her and her alone.


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Graduation day finally arrived. The matric dance was a complete joke. Brad Joel, a very popular boy, invited her to the dance only to stand her up. He told everyone about it and she cried of humiliation and for being so naive, but graduation day was different. It was now Sarah's day to shine as she graduated from high school and went off to study law at the best university in the country. She was ecstatic that she got in, she felt like she was on top of the world if only for that one particular moment in time. Of course Sarah was a top achiever and received numerous well-earned trophies and medals. She put in lots of hours of study to achieve those things. Sadly, even that day was ruined by the mean people that just could not take to see her happy. The stronger she grew, the weaker they became. For each award she received, instead of the common applause, she received a not so friendly booing sound from her grade. Another boy also tripped her on the way up to receive a medal and she smashed her nose on a step leading to a nasty nosebleed. Sarah cried tears of desperation that day. Why wasn't she allowed to be happy? Why couldn't they just not look at her if she was so disgusting to look at? Why couldn't they just leave her alone if they disliked her so much? Sarah felt as if she was going to be sick. She never went back into that hall ever again. A coward. She couldn't face the humiliation. A coward. She couldn't face herself. A coward.


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Ten years later, a top grade and very wealthy lawyer, graduating from university, a successful career, an engagement to her first ever boyfriend of five years, and a hugely successful art career. After Sarah's graduation day one of her closest teachers found one of her pictures she had scribbled on the back of her note book and was blown away. He finally persuaded her to pursue a career in drawing, which led to her drawings being displayed in both national and international art galleries in most of the continents around the world. It was now Sarah's high school reunion, and this time she was prepared. She walked into the room wearing not the best clothes or being the prettiest person in the room, but she wore the clothes that she wanted to wear, the way she wanted to wear it. She was full of confidence and no one could bring her down, not even herself. After a brief conversation with an old friend she was amazed at what she heard. Francesca Reed, one of her bullies, never went on to university and instead bounced from job to job struggling to make ends meet. After she finally realized that her so-called life of partying was not acceptable her parents kicked her out. Lucas Smith left her for another woman he had been having an affair with for 2 years. To top it off she unexpectedly became pregnant after a one-night stand went wrong. Both her and Lucas were too ashamed to show up for the reunion, and Sarah was the most popular and successful person in the room, but this time she did not need an applause or anyone's acceptance, this time all she needed was the acceptance of herself.


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You see, after starting university Sarah met Joanna Delacour, a teacher at the university. They struck up quite a bond as she took a liking to Sarah right from the start. Joanna could somehow sense how Sarah was feeling; she could smell the negativity oozing off of Sarah. Then she did something that changed Sarah's life forever. She took Sarah, now 20 years old, and brought her to a sort of institute for people with eating and self-esteem problems that needed professional help. Sarah could remember the uneasiness she felt in the pit of her stomach as she looked at those poor people, the deep gashes all over their shockingly skinny bodies. Their eyes seemed to just hold back from popping out of their bony heads. They looked so sad, so alone. Sarah cringed in utter disgust and disbelief in what these people had become. They were just like Sarah, normal people that had been led astray by others and finally, themselves. What scared Sarah the most is that she could see her self just as they were, feel what they were feeling and know how they thought. "Most of them wont survive, those who do will forever battle to stay healthy and alive." Joanna told her. They had no life and no ambitions. That was not the way Sarah wanted to turn out. She did hate herself, but not as much to want to do that. "But that's just what you're doing to yourself, slowly but surely." Joanna told her. From that day on Sarah looked into the mirror and saw that through out all the abuse and brutality she had endeared, the person staring back at her was the only person that never left her side.


The End


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