Young woman applying lip gloss
Creative Writing Fiction Short Story


May 24, 2023

From the day I was born, I was beautiful. It was a compliment I’d received so frequently that it no longer felt like a novelty, just a natural response out of some arbitrary respect for my appearance. At some point, I didn’t even bother to respond to such compliments aside from a small smile, or maybe a rushed, “thank you.”

I wonder now if every day back then had just the right amount of sunshine, or the proper lighting to conceal my obvious flaws to their eyes. Maybe then, my cheeks were rosier, or my eyes held a certain kind of brightness that unrealistically-colored contacts and fake smiles couldn’t replace. Perhaps the fullness of my cheeks or the smile on my face made up the bits of my beauty that were otherwise unfounded. Or just maybe, it was my innocence, that I expected almost absolutely nothing from others.

It’s disgraceful, it’s dirty; I’ve fallen so far from my past, and now I have become nothing.

There was nothing else I was fated to be: once I had a taste of being beautiful, of feeling someone’s love, there was no going back for me. I couldn’t stand to live the life of an average human, passing through everyone’s sight without notice. I needed to become worthwhile, to live gorgeously and untouchably in the minds of others the way I always had, yet could no longer do.

But the further I came to reaching that goal, the more I realized that I liked the effortlessness of my former beauty. I liked the baseless compliments and the rushed gratitude. I liked the double-glances and the eyes that would stay on me with little real reason to do so. I loved the love and the romance and the knowledge that I lived beautifully yet out of the reach of human error, or at least thought I did.

Yet everything moves on and becomes nothing: as usual, it’s my fault. I had it coming, so I didn’t bother crying about it too much.

Instead, I plastered on my light-toned foundation, just enough to cover the blemishes and bumps of my skin without looking too overdone. Then I applied a blush natural enough in shade to make up for the pale, paper-colored skin beneath. I finished it off with a light pink lip gloss: nothing else could complete the perfect mask like a plain. youthful hue.

“Okay,” I whispered to myself, “What’s wrong with you this time?”

I looked at my reflection. Scanned over the tiny bits of raised skin from old scars and injuries, the ones that even all of the skincare and concealer in the world couldn’t quite cover. The faint purple of my inescapable dark circles peeking from beneath my layers of foundation and the eye cream I applied beforehand was still there too, just noticeable enough for one to point and laugh at the pathetic attempt to cover my sleeplessness.

Then, of course, there was the matter of my dark, sullen eyes: if the light hit them just right, I could pretend to feel some sort of satisfaction, but the second I shifted, even if it was only a tiny movement, the sentimental glint would fade in and out, just like my emotions themselves.

There was absolutely no purity here. Absolutely no innocence. No, certainly that look wouldn’t do either.

I’d already made the most possible use of my big, round eyes: the wondrousness of my hot-pink contacts just barely beat out the black soullessness hiding beneath, and the color gave some sort of ethereal, inhuman beauty back to my depressingly mortal self.

I didn’t like that, thinking that I might never escape the touch of humanity in me.

“It’s love, it’s romance,” I mumbled, “What do you mean? There’s nothing else here for me, so this life has to be… No, it is love…”

Yet, the more I stared, the more flaws I found: the slightly imperfect blending of my foundation into bronzer and highlighter, the tiny dot of lip gloss that hadn’t quite reached the edge of my lips and instead clumped right beside it. The ever-so-subtle asymmetry of my left eye’s black eyeliner, or the two strands of my jet black hair in my bangs that fell just slightly away from their allotted place. Furthermore, there was even something like three strands of hair sticking out through the hair tie of my right pigtail.

“I can’t change.” I decided. “Can’t change, can’t change… I have nothing… I don’t get it.”

I don’t get it, I thought.

You don’t get me, I knew.

It wasn’t the right move for me to impress with my worthless face, after all: not after I’d lost all of my former beauty, not after losing all of my innocence to life in this world.

Then, annoyingly, I bothered to hope for a moment how I always had before. I really couldn’t change as much as I tried.

Maybe if I got just the right lighting, these flaws wouldn’t even show up on camera. Just post online again. My traitorous brain demanded. I couldn’t quite agree with the thought: what, with the lack of purity, or the clear desire to be wanted evident from my entire appearance and expression, there was no way I could pretend to be even close to worthy. I couldn’t be the same doll sitting in a store’s window, sitting prettily beneath the gaze of many people: not unless I learned how to purge my own heart.

There’s nothing else, that same hopeful, half-hidden part of me mused, that will ever make someone love someone as dirty as you.

“Right,” I whispered. That, at least, I knew to be true. “Okay, I’ll just… crop out everything but the eyes. Maybe that should be enough.”

I snapped a quick photo of myself, eyes widened with false surprise and innocence. My skin was just pale enough to qualify for the beauty standard, but my skin wasn’t smooth, and the lip gloss was too obvious: not natural enough, with absolutely no purity. Disgraceful.

Cropping the photo didn’t ease my nitpicking much at all: already, I could spot a few red blood vessels in my eyes, again showing how disturbingly human I really was. Some of my false eyelashes were about a paper’s width too long, and my pupils were still as black as my real eyes. Not even to mention my false double eyelids that I couldn’t yet make real.

Of course, photoshop is a culture too: as with all of the popularity and trends, I knew this one like the back of my hand.

There’s nothing you can do about your worthless, sappy feelings. Just photoshop out the physical issues and maybe, you’ll finally be worthwhile. Maybe that’s love.

I didn’t think much more after hitting the post button on my newly photoshopped selfie, at least not about my flaws. All I could focus on were the likes, the occasional comment, or even a few shares. When the initial post-submission explosion died, the likes settled around 5000 or so.

I almost let myself be fooled into thinking it meant something.

Sure, 5000 people had liked it, but did that mean a thing? I could name countless girls who dressed just the same, acted just the same, used the same products, had the same hobbies as me… who found far more likes or comments (the love and acknowledgement I craved). All in the very same place. 

Distantly, I wondered how many of them had fallen from their former glory the same way I had.

Even all of the comments I received were all the same old boring things anyone else could offer, or the common, meaningless words I knew too well: gorgeous, or wow!, and even the occasional where did you buy your contacts?

“It’s love,” I declare to the open air, “It’s love, it’s romance, it’s…”

It’s nothing, my mind declares. We show all of our dreams to one another, and yet, nobody bothers to fulfill the wishes of others for even a moment. Wouldn’t it be easier to let yourself fall back into your humanity?

“I don’t want that,” I declare in return.

At least then, you wouldn’t even bother to hope for a moment that you can change. Let’s fall, let’s fall… Forever. Because you and I are just the same: dreamers who will never become worthwhile or achieve anything, no matter how wrong that is.

“Maybe then, I wouldn’t be so lonely,” I decide, “Isn’t that love too? Is my hopelessness love? Is it romance?”

It’s okay because you’ll be one of us hole-dwellers. And we won’t escape from you, because we won’t even be able to dig ourselves out of our mess. We’ll add your dream to the pot of failures, and we’ll even mix it in like it was worth a second thought.

“Hm.” I hummed. Really, giving up had to be easier than photoshopping all of my worthless selfies or pretending to like the same worthless, mundane things as any other girl. There’s no place for individuality for a person like me, after all. Someone so disturbingly human.

You’re nothing, right? My thoughts continued. So stop trying to change; you know you can’t. Don’t bother dreaming, thinking, or even dancing, screaming, or trying to get yourself away from fate. There’s no chance, and if there was, it wouldn’t be yours.

A long time ago, I still bothered to sink into my true self. They said my mental health was getting worse, then, as I was becoming the “me” of now. I, knowing how unfortunately common such issues are, chose to ignore the warning. After all, I just couldn’t get it: wasn’t that crushing feeling love? Isn’t the ecstasy of being adored romance? Isn’t it my elixir? My mind and my heart? My lifeline and my purpose?

But it must have been my fate to slip farther than I could even dream of redeeming myself because my least romantic thoughts had even found a way to mess with my brain and get in my head: so disgraceful, inelegant, and absolutely no purity at all.

It’s not that those thoughts were wrong though: it would be easier just to resign, and dreaming of finding something based in reality was too far off for someone as dirty as me.

It’s funny: I knew I couldn’t escape or change myself from the very beginning, and still I bothered to try it for even a moment. 

But for me, there was nothing in the first place, so I gave up on thinking after that dismal thought. Instead, I stared at my ceiling, face still caked with the aftereffects of my worthless failure of a dream, falling, just as I was always meant to. Back into the hole of human life and reality, away from my desires and hopes and dreams.

The worst part wasn’t the falling—giving up is easy, sinking back into my human nature is easy, and doing nothing was even easier than both.

Only, I knew that it wasn’t the first time I tried to give in.

And as such, I was doomed to fall again.

Anonymous Bulldog '25
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