Perfect

The scalding coffee burnt her tongue as she gulped down her half milk, half sugar. It had taken the employee three tries to get the order right, feeding in to the girl’s complex that she was, indeed, a pain. No matter, she thought, grieving over her newfound mouth injury, it isn’t like I liked to taste things anyway. Just another daily inconvenience, was her high-maintenance order. Much like the hour long drive to the city each day, a semblance of a commute, bane of her morning. When she was sixteen, she had declared with certainty that she would never deign to commute, belying her innocence and unwavering trust in her ability to snag a job, apartment and love in one city. Four years later and she found herself buckling up every morning at seven thirty, breakfast in Tupperware and music blasting, barreling down the country roads that would lead to the rest of her life. Funny, she thought, how the very things we were so bent against could serve as salvation from a life not lived. In fact, the commute had become a way of life, for these past four months. Serenaded by heartthrobs on the radio and belting out Broadway, driving those familiar bends and hills now gave her some time to think- that is, when she wanted to think. She was a girl like so many others, in most ways. She cried over bad hair days and daydreamed about Prince Charming, true to stereotypical notions of female folly. Outwardly, she was the picture of normalcy. In high school, her group had been named “second” by social labelers, unbeknownst to them. She and her friends lingered around the upper-middle class of high school society, never quite reaching that page-six scandal status but neither were they ostracized. Involvement was her middle name, in those prime years. She was a member of clubs, a leader in the school community, a player of sports. Extra-curriculars ruled the day, every moment scheduled, every day premeditated. Each night she would make a list of things she needed to do or bring with her on her various outings- she was type A from the get-go. In so many ways, the girl seemed painfully average. The funny thing about average is that it can so easily translate to not good enough. And that is how she felt. Beyond fishing for compliments or begging for attention, she simply professed to enjoy her middle of the road status. No compliments at dance class? Fine. No “gifted” label at school? No problem. Once again, to the outside world she was perfectly content to float along. She attended the right parties but was not the centre of attention. She dated on and off, before settling down with a high school sweetheart at age sixteen, to become one of the school’s known couples, safe in their bubble of contentment. She had, in short, much to be grateful for. Despite her tendency to not stir the proverbial pot at school, she was in some ways a typical angst-filled teenager. When her dad left at fifteen, she cried and listened to Dashboard Confessional, before she found that people quickly tired of tears and anger. It seemed to her that she would have to cope in a quieter way- or that perhaps she didn’t deserve to feel that way at all. After all, unlike many of her friends, her parent’s dissolving marriage did not incur court battles or even ex-bashing on the part of her mother. No, she really had nothing to complain about. She was, for all intents and purposes, perfect.

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