She wasn’t perfect. “Throw the ball,” her tough sports coach yelled at her. “Ahh,” she said, and she squeezed her eyes closed, and threw. The ball exploded. Then she fell down the stairs. “Oh no,” she moaned. “How am I supposed to do business at the bottom of the stairs?”
She wasn’t perfect. She had two different colored eyes, which is definitely a flaw and not a magnetic, compelling, unusual form of beauty.
“It makes you so special,” he told her. She shook her head.
“Bad special,” she said.
“Good special,” he said. She didn’t know what to believe.
“I don’t know what to believe,” she told him. “You think the thing I think is bad thing is good thing.”
“That’s good thing,” he said.
Oh no, she thought. I’m going to start blushing. It was terrible. It subtly drew attention to the beautiful colors blooming across her face, and also made her look vulnerable and childish and full of deep feeling, which was very bad for some reason.
“You’re fired,” her boss said through a mountain of briefcases. “I can’t have you blushing on the job!”
“She’s not fired,” said a voice nearby. It sounded like granite and honesty. “I’m an even more important Business Man and that blushing is a sign of her honesty and virtue.”
“Wha-wha-whaaaa?” her boss said.
“I’m giving you the business,” the granite-voiced man said. “But you can quit whenever you want, because I love you.”
She wasn’t perfect. Her mouth was, if anything, a trifle too full, like an overflowing Cupid’s bow.
“Would you…do you think you would like to go to the dance with me?” she asked sportsball captainback.
“That’s disgusting,” he said, sneering. “Your lips are beautiful and kissable and someone better than me is going to point that out to you in just a few years. Get out of my way.”
She cried out of her eyes. One of the eyes had a little freckle in it, which made her disgusting.
“No one will ever love me,” she told the guy who was older than her but not creepy older, just commandingly older, like maybe seven to nine years older and was also sort of her guardian or her teacher in some capacity, but again not in a gross way, like he wasn’t her teacher boss dad or anything, just a little more in charge than she was and also he had shoulder muscles. “I’m only half-elven [or half-vampire or half-dhampir or half-Watcher or half-Lycan or half-whatever amazing mystical race she was half a part of] instead of all the way, which gives me pretty much all of the same powers but none of the weaknesses and also I’m strong and beautiful. I’m a freak.”
He kissed her mouth with his mouth.
“Whaaa,” she was all like, because she was totally surprised that he had secretly loved her this whole time because he’d been so gruff and aloof and ten times harder on her than on any of the others, but it was because he had secretly loved her this whole time.
“I’ve secretly loved you this whole time,” he said with his mouth, then went back to kissing her.
I’ve always been different. I like books and animals better than people. Why, I don’t know. Maybe because books and animals are physically incapable of talking to me or having needs that supersede my own, so I can be in total control of them. Books can’t judge you or hurt you. They also can’t talk or eat or build a life with you, but whatever.
“You think too much,” her best friend who was this real free spirit who was always living in the moment instead of traveling back and forth through time like she did said. “That’s your problem. When the rest of us are just flinging ourselves through time and space with our brains entirely shut off, you’re always, like, off in the corner thinking, like, oh is this a good idea, what are the ramifications of my actions, and that’s why your life is such garbage.”
She worried the edge of her lab coat with her fingers and took off at least eight pairs of glasses. “I know,” she said. “But I don’t know how to stop.”
Then her friend made out with her and she got better.
“You only thought that was a flaw this whole time,” his mentor that he thought was dead but totally wasn’t dead at all, at least not “dead” in the way you traditionally think of dead told him. “It was actually your secret strength. You don’t have any flaws at all and you’re going to destroy the bad guy so much.”
He totally did.
“Your legs are too long.” How embarrassing!!!
“I just want to be normal,” she said, even though she had amazing powers and a super-family and was mega-gorgeous and better than normal in every way and the entire book would be terrible if she were normal and she had no conception of what normal was to begin with.
“That’s your problem,” her friend said. Normally her friend was all crazy and doing shots and saying “Girl, you need to kick him to the curb,” but not now. Now her friend was being quiet and serious, so you knew it was a really quiet and serious moment. “You would do anything to take care of your friends. But when was the last time you did something to take care of yourself?”
It was true. She hadn’t showered in four years. Her house had exploded and she didn’t even care. She hadn’t eaten in four months, and she was dead.
“I just don’t know what to do with this,” her hairdresser moaned, comically letting his arms fall to his side. “Your hair is just so wild and unmanageable, a lot like you. It can’t be tamed.”
“Neither can I,” she said, and she roundhouse kicked him in the face, and then she ran outside to find a real man who could handle someone who played as hard as she worked.
“You’re so noble,” the villain sneered, because he’d totally expected him to do that noble thing he’d just done but he was totally secretly impressed. “Not like me. I do whatever I want. So why do I secretly admire and maybe even love you a little bit?”
“Whoa,” he said.
“Wait,” the villain said. “I didn’t mean to say that last part. What I meant was why does your goodness shine through the light of my evil deeds and make me wish I was worth of you somehow?”
“Wait,” the villain said again. “You’re noble in a bad way, not a good way,” but it was too late. He was secretly good now, and they were going to become heroic friends.
“I’ll make dinner,” she said. “Oh, no, you won’t,” all her friends chorused in unison, and they picked her up and carried her to her favorite restaurant, so even though at first she was a little upset they didn’t like her cooking it was okay because they still got to be together and go to her favorite restaurant.
She called and ordered a dinner that she ordered a lot from the same restaurant she always called for delivery. “I know who you are,” the voice on the line said. “I remember your order,” because that was his job.
“This is so embarrassing,” she said in her amazing apartment. “Someone remembers my order. I’m such a loser.”
“It’s just my job to remember orders,” the voice said, but it was too late. She was already booking an around-the-world trip with that guy from work she was always fighting with.
“It’s really hard for me to trust people,” she said.
“Me too,” he said. “It’s hard for me to trust people too.” He thought for a second. “Do you want to trust me, though?”
“Okay,” she said, and they did, and then they made out.
[Fritz Eichenberg’s Heathcliff Under the Tree via]
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.