A small pinprick of light made her turn her head, staring.
It was just a little candle, one of those tea lights used for heating scent oils. Still, she became absorbed in it, watching it dance and tilt and flicker and bend and warp.
It was so odd, how such a tiny thing could change itself and still stay exactly what it was. It was tall or stout, steady or moving, but it was still a flame. It always would be a flame until it stopped existing.
And for such a simple thing, it could affect so much- destroy the house if it got turned over, break her skin if she got too close, change the smell of an entire apartment. It could give her a signal in the darkness, or trap her as it had now.
So if such a tiny little thing could exist as itself and so many possibilities, why couldn't she?
She had a frame she had to follow, expectations to live up to. But that didn't mean she couldn't still be just what she was, right?
She just had to figure out how to not go out.
This was her night. It was prom, and she had a date, and she wouldn't have to sit in a corner feeling lonely because she had no one to dance with for most of the songs. She wanted the shoulder-resting slow dance and the gentle kiss that became a passionate one. She wanted to do things her parents could never know about.
She was excited, planning out her big entrance. She knew it was childish, but she wanted to appear at the stair landing and make everyone pause and then descend the stairs to quietly meet with her date. She wanted to feel her heart clench in excitement and see a look of shock that she could truly be on a level with everyone else even if she didn't do so normally.
So she started getting ready five hours early, taking a shower. She shaved everything, and washed her hair four times and conditioned it three times. She scrubbed her body once with cleansing soap and once with scented. She put moisturizing lotion on her skin and combed her hair out and even figured out how to actually use bobby pins for once.
And then she had her dress on and she felt amazing and there was no way this wouldn't be perfect.
Except she had no balcony to appear at, no grand staircase in full view of everyone. Her date wasn't punctual, and even with a reservation dinner took forever, and the one time she had a date was the one dance that there were no slow songs at.
And thanks to a curfew they couldn't even slip off somewhere so she could experience the less accepted parts of a teenage romance.
She wished she hadn't had a date to expect things from.
She always carefully divided people up.
There was her family, who raised her and gave her a home and let her just zone out but who she couldn't talk to.
Her acquaintances, who she knew the names of and had a general idea of what to ask about for each specific person. There were the not-quite-acquaintances who she knew by sight and felt comfortable making small talk with.
Then there were her friends, who she could spend an hour around and have it be "hanging out" instead of "dealing with people", the latter of which tired her out immensely. After that were her sometimes-friends, the ones that she liked and wanted to talk to more often but was at the point with that she felt uncomfortable starting a conversation because, well, what was there to talk about? What was she allowed to talk about, especially with those who had blogs she read? Could she mention personal things to them and not be crossing a line?
And then there were her close friends, the ones that had no such thing as "TMI", that she showed her writing to in person and that had both her real name and her handle. The ones that she could cry around and be sleep-deprived around and she could ask to make a store run with her because she was always kind of nervous going to the store on her own. Still, none of them knew absolutely everything.
And then she met a person that she could tell everything to, someone that she let down all of her barriers around. Someone that she didn't worry about crossing a line with because no lines existed with them.
She'd found a companion, and wondered how to get more- the fewer boundaries there were in her life, the sooner she could see just how deep her scars went.
TW: Body image issues, eating disorders, unhealthy/obsessive weight loss
She had to lose her weight.
She was chubby, fat, nothing that anyone could ever look at.
So she joined color guard. She dropped thirty pounds.
She was still fat though, her stomach bagging out from her waist like it always did.
So she started skipping meals. She started just throwing perfectly good food away because she had to lose weight. Her father was so proud of her and she had to keep losing. But if she was doing so well, why was no one noticing, and why did she still have her goddamned stomach?
She spent a semester absolutely feverish and with a constant headache because she only ate one meal a day.
She ran on a treadmill to the point of having to sit for a half an hour because she felt so dizzy and light-headed.
It finally clicked that there were two issues. She was just built chubby, and even if society hated that there were individuals who would like it. She also had to actually watch what she ate, notice it, not just cut it out. Most of the stuff at home was processed, and all of it at school was. So there was simply nothing to be done until she graduated.
This gave her a point of calm. She settled into a pattern, and leveled out.
Now she just needed her family to notice that she was happy with how she was, and things would be alright.
It was all too bright.
She looked over her case, frowning. Everything she had was too bright, too pale. It blended in with her skin, considering that all of the chains were very fine and didn't stand out much even when she wasn't wearing them.
But she needed to wear something! She was finally wearing something that just barely covered her bra, instead of an old t-shirt, and it felt weird, but she was determined to do this. She just needed something around her neck to somewhat make up for not having fabric there today.
Finally, she found just what she needed. A silver necklace, just an aquamarine on a silver chain. She put it on, and even though it was just long enough to potentially fall into her cleavage as she walked, she felt better having something hiding a bit more of her skin.
She'd have to go get more chains later.