Dear God, I hated Nora Miles.
Hate is a strong word. Like some people say “I hate pizza” but the truth is, you can dislike pizza but you cannot ‘hate’ pizza. And even though, I was wholly aware of the difference between the intensities of hate and dislike, I did not hesitate admitting I hated Nora Miles because I really did.
Because she is too beautiful. Because she is witty. Because she’s flawless. Because she’s a goddess.
And I hated her.
Dear God, but why?
Why did she have to be what she is? Why did she have to look the most immaculate thing in the universe when she bent down to pick her fork at the lunch table?
I saw her copper hair gather at the nape of her neck, her pale blue eyes wrinkled, her mouth curled in a beautiful smile that has the potential to overcome the glow of the moon.
I saw her stabbing her pasta with her fork, her pouty lips pulled apart then rounded, her sharp jawline etching at the sides of her square face as she chewed her food.
I looked down at myself.
My stomach jutted out.
I tried sucking my breath in.
It didn’t work.
I pressed my thighs together but they couldn’t get any smaller.
I pulled out a compact mirror from my book bag and it assured me, “Still as fat, Still as imperfect.”
I looked across at her again.
Still sleek. Still perfect.
I lost my appetite.
I gathered my books and headed for the library.
Dear God, why couldn’t I be Nora Miles?
She stood before her locker. One of her friends whispered something in her ear that made her laugh, showing all her perfect teeth.
I pursed my lips quickly, suddenly feeling uncomfortably conscious about my disproportionate front teeth.
When I passed by her, she accidentally bumped into me. The stack of books I held crashed on the ground along with my self-confidence.
I tried to grip the anger and hatred as I bent down to pick them up.
She apologized and began helping me.
I met her eyes.
I was sure the way she was looking at me implied looking down at someone ugly and clumsy and feeling sorry for them. It was intimidating.
I couldn’t hold back the envy.
I shoved her, gathered my books and trudged away.
When I looked back, she was creasing her collar. She wasn’t aggravated or cross or hateful or anything of the sort after having been pushed away by an ugly fat girl.
It pissed me of even more.
Dear God, if you could have given me the option of choosing a perfect appearance with a wretched life, I’d have taken it.
Because, I have an imperfect appearance and it’s not like my life isn’t wretched anyway.
Dear God, I saw her in the lunchroom.
I was wearing that orange dress mom bought me for my birthday. I absolutely hate that dress. When I was leaving for school she asked me to wear it for her. I did not want to make her feel bad so I did.
It is an extremely unpleasant piece of cloth to wear. It clings to my body and accentuates all the faulty places for the world to see.
And when I stood outside the lunchroom and saw Nora Miles wearing the exact same dress and looking like an ablaze firefly on an inky night, looking like a torrent of flames in a vacuum, I felt the tears creeping up my eyes.
I lost my appetite. I gathered my books and headed for the library. That was where I started spending my lunch breaks.
Why did you do this God?
Dear God, it was past midnight.
I was rounded in a corner of my room, the curtains drawn, no hint of light reaching me.
I was finding the remnants of my self-confidence hidden somewhere inside my soul.
I could find nothing.
I tore my orange birthday dress in tiny pieces.
I thought it would make a difference. Nothing made a difference.
I was careful to throw the dress away so I’d never have to see how ugly I looked in it and when I caught myself in the bathroom mirror, I wished if I could have thrown myself away along with the dress so I’d never have to see how ugly I looked.
I hated Nora Miles. I hated the orange dress. I hated my body for looking the way it did in the dress. I hated Nora’s body for looking the way it did in the very dress. I hated the mirror. I picked up my toothbrush holder and whacked it against the mirror. It broke. I could still see my wrecked self-staring back through the broken mirror.
Dear God, I just wanted to know if all of this, all of this that I go through every single day, all the physical and the mental battles that I lose, all the wretchedness I put up with-just all of this, this life, this living, would it ever end?
Dear God, I hated the formal winter dance.
My teacher assigned me a few duties and I had to go.
I spent two hours locked in my room trying on every single thing in my wardrobe.
In the end, I just sat on the floor of my room, wrapped in a bathing towel and cried.
I cried a lot. I cried to a point where I felt like I’d just lose my breath and die and it would all be over. I did not die.
My mom started knocking at my door furiously and told me I’d lose my ride to school if I’d take ten minutes longer.
I grabbed the largest of the large black hoodies and pulled it over my head.
My mom expected me to come out all dolled up and when I didn’t, I told her this was a dress code for the students on duty.
She caught the inhibited tears in my eyes and the roughness in my throat but she let it go.
She did not argue. She did not snub me. Nor did she make me feel better about myself because she knows better.
We did not talk on the way to school.
I smiled at her before I got out of the car because I was sorry for her for having to put up with an unfortunate, ugly daughter like me. I was sure she would’ve wanted a beautiful, gorgeous daughter with whom she’d shop for beautiful, gorgeous winter dresses and then she’d snap beautiful, gorgeous pictures of her before she left for the dance.
I didn’t know what sin I had committed to have to deal with Nora Miles the first thing I entered the school gymnasium ,where the party was organized, when I had consoled myself to avoid seeing her, seeing through her beauty only to find more beauty within.
She stood in the middle of the dance floor, the slow beat of the music adapting to the tranquil movement of her body.
Her sleek silhouette was wrapped in a long magnificent icy-blue gown. Her dress was nowhere as beautiful if it hadn’t been Nora Miles wrapped inside of it.
I saw her swing around. Dizzy and confident and drunk. Smooth and untouchable and esoteric.
So phenomenal, so out of reach.
I wanted to be beautiful. As beautiful as her.
I wanted to throw back my hair and let my arms loose and swing around free from all insecurities.
But I could not. Because I was not beautiful. Not even close.
I spent the night with my hood over my face so no one could recognize me but anyone could recognize a big, ugly, envious blob of disgust from a million miles.
I felt like trash. And all the oogling eyes around me, like houseflies feeding off my destructed confidence.
Dear God, something changed.
Nora Miles lost her dad.
Then Nora Miles lost the glow of her face, the beauty in her eyes and the spark in her smile because she doesn’t smile anymore.
Misery on a perfect face.
I was glad she was going through something I had to go through every day because of her.
I didn’t know I was capable of such hatred when I smiled on seeing an unsmiling, miserable Nora Miles.
Dear God, Nora Miles wasn’t exactly Nora Miles anymore. She was still beautiful. But when you’re miserable, too miserable, what your body reflects is the misery in you, not the beauty. Her misery took over her beauty.
It made me wonder if I could have stopped being envious and miserable, I could have found hints of beauty somewhere inside of me.
Maybe my misery was too strong to let my beauty come through. Maybe my misery was what kept me from having friends and from being nice to people and from being nice to myself.
But then, I wasn’t thinking about me.
I was thinking about Nora Miles.
Somewhere inside me I felt disgusted at myself for not feeling sorry for her loss. I was disgusted with myself for being too engrossed in celebrating the gain of her misery to focus on the loss of her life, her life that was corroding away slowly.
I watched her bend over her locker. She looked pale and skinnier. She wasn’t twirling her hair around her fingertip or pouting her lips or wrinkling her eyes. She looked dead.
Like a wilted flower.
Somehow, I felt responsible for it.
I felt as if my silent envy was strangling her to death slowly.
It was only a moment of contentment when the misery kicked in. I had prayed for Nora Miles to be ugly, to stop making me feel self-conscious and if anything, I felt more miserable and ugly than I ever did before.
I cried myself to sleep. I cried for being too unfortunate. For hating others and then hating myself for hating others.
Dear God, I’ve always believed that human fate exists as threads between stars that binds them together into constellations. And with each falling star, the thread of fate breaks and the alignment of the stars changes. If the thread is left hanging in the outer space, it results in unwanted changes of fate and if it’s lucky enough to come across a vacated star, it aligns back the stars of fate and results in inviting changes of fate.
When I found Nora Miles in the girl’s bathroom, it felt like my broken thread of fate had suddenly found a place of attachment. My stars aligned.
Nora stood before the sink of the bathroom, her hair shaping her bony face, her eyes swollen. She was crying. It was hard to compare the picture of beautiful and happy Nora with a beautiful and wilted Nora.
She couldn’t help but look like a goddess even when she cried. When I studied her closer, I saw a trickle of red tracing down her wrist, a stranded piece of blade bathed in blood on the floor.
The next thing I knew I was tearing my extra-large buttoned shirt down the hem and wrapping it across her tiny wrist.
“Think about your mom for God’s sake”, I shouted at her.
It was like she was existing inside a bubble of grief and when I mentioned her mother, it felt like my words burst through the bubble, draining the grief with logic and consequences.
We stood there awkwardly.
I felt intimidated by standing this close to her. By taking in breaths of her scented hair.
She felt intimidated by an ugly, fat stranger who saved her from taking away her life.
We kept on standing there, staring at each other awkwardly.
She bent over, wrapping her arms around the folds of my back. She didn’t hug me. She held me. Like holding her favourite book to her chest.
I didn’t hold her back.
I felt uncomfortable.
First, she could only see how fat I was. Then, she could feel how fat I was.
That was the only thought spiraling my mind.
I wanted it to be over soon but she stayed there for a long while.
She whispered, “You feel warm.”
I didn’t say anything.
It felt like she was making me feel better about being fat and unattractive. That was what it always felt like when I tried on a dress and my mom complimented me.
She whispered, “Thank you.”
I only gestured toward her wrist, “That was my favourite shirt.”
Then I backed away and exited the bathroom.
In my unlit room, I cried. I cried not because I was fat or ugly. I cried because I was envious and unworthy. I cried because I had hated a beautiful girl for being beautiful. I cried because I was petty enough to crave beauty over righteousness.
And the reason why I stopped crying was because I had saved Nora Miles from dying. The Nora Miles I hated. It could not compensate for all that I had done but it was something.
Dear God, something happened. It’s the kind of something that never usually happened. But it did.
Nora Miles emailed me to meet her at Forever 21.
I had no idea where she extracted my e-mail from but I was sure it took her a lot of effort for the sake if which I agreed to go.
For a day, just for a day, I tried not to focus on my fat rolls and wore the first thing I found in my wardrobe instead of trying on everything.
I knew I was going to be hanging out with Nora Miles, going to be seen publicly with a living goddess and going to feel more trashy than I had ever done before but I told myself
“It’s just for a single day. Don’t let the mirror get you. Don’t.”
I met Nora at Forever 21.
Her hair were strongly coiled on the top of her head and it made her look stronger than she looked last time, in the girl’s bathroom, escaping death.
She was twirling a sundress in front of the mirror when she caught me looking at her.
She turned to see me and I could see a genuine happy smile creep up her beautiful lips.
Such a goddess.
Such a goddess.
Such a goddess.
I couldn’t help it. I smiled. Just a little. I hated my smile.
I was sure I looked constipated looking a her like that but she raced toward me and held me against her and grabbed my hand and said, “Let’s shop”.
As if I was already too body positive, she lured me in to buy matching jeans.
I was so embarrassed when I realized she’d be aware of my jean size.
But it was like, everything was like, she didn’t notice. Either she accepted my ugly fat self or either she was ignoring it.
I figured she didn’t have the ability to intimidate me if I didn’t allow myself to be intimidated.
For a moment, I felt I was capable of letting my insecurities go. I was capable of enjoying myself.
It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t really bad when I jean shopped with Nora Miles.
We sat on the roadside eating burritos from a food truck. I had no intention of eating in front of her but she insisted.
A light breeze was blowing. It kept on disheveling my hair.
Nora dug her teeth in her burrito which left the crumbs at the corners of her mouth.
“Not such a goddess after all” I thought and smiled.
She caught a flying strand of my hair. “You have beautiful hair.”
Within two hours, I concluded Nora wasn’t what I had made myself believe she was.
And no matter how surprising it was for me, she was the first person who put my mind away from my insecurities. Every compliment she made, everything she said, felt genuine and meaningful and kind and happy.
The truth was, she really was a goddess.
Sitting there, on the roadside, eating burritos with a Nora Miles I hated, because of whom I cried every single night, I learnt how Nora was a goddess.
She was a goddess because the beauty of her soul surpassed the beauty of her body.
She was a goddess not to be envied.
But to be worshipped. To learn from. To seek light from.
She was beautiful and when she looked at me and told me, “I know you hate me. I just know. I felt it that day when shoved past me. I don’t what your reasons may be but the fact that you still saved my life means so much to me, I run out of ways to thank you or pay you back. Just like a goddess. With Gods, you just can’t pay back and just can’t thank them enough.”
Suddenly, we started existing on the same planet where all our threads of fate were perfectly aligned.