I Refuse To Hate

Today my heart is breaking. As I sit here watching the live video footage of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, tears are streaming down my face. The hate, the anger, and the violence that is taking place right in front of me is enough to bring me to my knees. Here’s the thing; I am usually not the kind of person who shares my political beliefs online. I am not typically known as the one who goes on rants about our government or the people of this nation. However, today I cannot remain silent any longer.

Let me start off by saying one thing that may offend some people: Black Lives Matter. This statement alone has caused so much controversy in the past months. By stating that black lives matter, I am not saying that everyone else’s lives don’t. I am not saying that black lives are more important than white lives or that anyone should be considered above anyone else. My point is simple. The Black Lives Matter movement is not here to offend, belittle, or degrade you. It is simply to make a point. People in the black community have suffered from many injustices that I will never be able to understand. I have never had to endure racist comments in the grocery store line. I’ve never had to be fearful for my life during a routine traffic stop. I never had to grow up in a world that was plotted against me. I am a white female, and whether you believe it or not, I admit to the fact that I have always been blessed with white privilege. When I say that I support the Black Lives Matter movement, what I am saying is that I recognize the injustices that black people in our nation are suffering from today. Slavery may be gone, segregation may be illegal, but racism is still alive and well, and by supporting rallies like the one happening today, we are only lighting their fire and giving them the fuel they need to continue on in this ignorant and hateful mindset.

The thing that breaks my heart more than anything is to know that many of the people supporting this movement publically proclaim to be Christian. It’s sick, it’s twisted, and (excuse my language) truly fucked up that people who preach love and acceptance would use such vulgar and demeaning words and actions towards people of color. In 1 John 3:15, it is written that “everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” John 15 verses 12-15 state “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 1 John 4:7-8 reads “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Now let me say something that is really going to offend some of you. If you support this movement, this hateful, and nasty protest, then you are not a Christian. God calls us to love everyone. He doesn’t say pick and choose the people that you want to love or judge others based on the color of their skin, no, nowhere in the Bible does it say any of that! God COMMANDS us to love everyone. Period, end of story. There are no excuses that anyone could make that would ever make any of this okay. Hating someone simply for the color of their skin or for the country in which they were born will never be okay. No excuse will ever be good enough.

There is so much more I could say, but let me limit it down to one final statement. I refuse to hate. It really is that simple. If everyone in both our nation and world could come together and rally around this one simple concept, our world would be a much better place. If we could all just look past our prejudices, if would could just learn to appreciate people for who they are, if we could stop using religion, color of skin, and origin of birth as a way to categorize ourselves into who’s the best and who’s not, then just think of how much better life would be! Just imagine a world where everyone could come together in peace and love and acceptance, a world in which no one would ever have to face racial or religious injustices ever again. Sadly, in light of today’s recent events, I can see that our world is far from that reality. However, we should not give up hope. Although I may never live to see a world where everyone is equal, I will spend the rest of my life spreading love to insure that my children will, and I pray that each and every one of you who read this today will do the same.

 

 

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Self-Love

Self-love isn’t about achieving self-perfection. It’s about recognizing your flaws and yet loving yourself anyways. It’s the ability to look in a mirror and not hate your rolls or thick thighs or that one patch of hair that never seems to lay flat. It’s being able to see yourself in a new light, one that highlights your inner beauty and incredible strengths. Self-love is the understanding that even in your lowest moments, you are still beautiful. And while this may be a difficult concept to fully grasp, it is one that I will strive for every day in every moment I’m alive. We must learn to love ourselves rather than rely on the world to do it for us because if that is the case, we will always be sorely disappointed. 

Alone

It was Sunday evening, and the pleasant scent of grilled chicken, roasted red potatoes, and steamed asparagus drifted comfortingly through the air. Candles flickered silently on the table, and all that could be heard were the hushed clinks of silverware against plates piled with food. 

She looked up quietly in hopes of catching his eye, but he continued to stare blankly down at his own plate of food, seemingly content with the overwhelming silence that surrounded them. Her shoulders drooped and her gaze fell. She straightened up. She didn’t want to seem too visibly upset.

The clinks continued as her mind began to race frantically. There must be something to talk about, she thought to herself as she continued to rack her brain for conversation starters. 

“How was work today?” Damn. Could she not think of anything more interesting to say? 

“Fine,” he replied with a grunt. More silence. More frantic thinking. 

“How’s your dinner?”

“Eh, could use more seasoning.” Ouch. Her heart stung. How long had she been working on this dinner? How many recipes had she searched through in hopes of finding something to his liking? Part of her was broken hearted, another part furious, yet all she could say was simply, “I’m sorry, hun. I’ll try to do better next time.” 

“Okay.” That was all he said. They continued to eat in silence. 

As dinner came to an end, she silently began to gather up the dishes. He scooted back in his chair, stood up, and without a word, disappeared up the stairs. 

Is this how relationships are supposed to feel? she thought sadly to herself as she made her way to the sink, arms piled high with empty plates. The overwhelming loneliness wrapped itself tightly around her body. It slithered its way up her legs and across her chest. Her breath became more shallow until it felt as though she may stop breathing all together.

PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, her mind screamed as her fingers gripped tightly to the counter. A single tear slipped its way down her reddened cheek. 

With the dishes done and the table clean, she made her way up the stairs. He was lying silently on the bed, phone in hand, tv blaring in the background. She quickly undressed for bed and slowly slipped under the covers. She pretended to focus on the television screen as he continued to scroll through Facebook. 

An hour passed in this way. Awkward silence, at least for her, hung thickly in the air. 

“Is everything…okay?” she asked even though she already knew what his answer would be. 

“I’m fine. Just been a long day.” 

“Well if there’s anything I can do…”

“I know.” Silence. 

“I love you” she squeaked barely above a whisper. 

“Love you too.” Her spirits lifted, but only a little. 

As he stood up to turn off the lights, she carefully rolled towards the wall. Her mind was filled with many thoughts, but the one that stood out the most was simple.

I may be lonely, but at least I’m not alone. 

Her eyes closed, and she fell into a restless sleep. 

Panic Attack

I can’t sleep. My eyes are red, my mouth is dry, my lips blistered from my obsessive licking. I roll over. My arm goes numb. I switch sides. My other arm goes numb. I roll onto my back. A brick crushes my chest, and the air struggles to fill up my lungs. In a blind panic I bolt out of bed and into the bathroom. My heart is racing, hands are sweating, knees are trembling, mind is faltering. 

No one can know. No one can see. I MUST keep this a secret. I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay. Everything is fine. Everything WILL BE fine. I’m okay. I’m okay. 

My uncontrollable sobs threaten to creep out from underneath the locked bathroom door and break the quiet silence of the night. I cover my mouth with a towel and let the tears flow freely.

They mustn’t know. No one can know. I’m okay. Please let me be okay. 
The world around me is spinning. I hold onto the edge of the bathtub and slowly lower myself to the floor. Why is this happening again? Why am I so sad? Why do I feel so alone?

I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m…not…okay. 

The realization of this sends me into another round of heaving breaths and muffled sobs. I can’t breathe. Why can’t I breathe? The air is thick and heavy and threatens to choke me. I cough and cough as if I can somehow cough up all this pain that’s threatening to tear through my chest. 

I’m not okay I’m not okay I’m not okay Oh God why am I not okay why is this happening to me why can’t I just be okay please stop please stop please stop

Silence. 

My breathing steadies. My chest begins to rise and fall, once again at a steady pace. 

Just. Breathe. Everything will be okay. Breathe. 

And it’s over. Just like that. Another panic attack has come and gone. I stand up slowly, my knees still shaking. Staring back at me from the mirror is an image of a broken girl, her face a dark shade of red, her eyes even darker. She’s a mess. Her matted hair is stuck to her freshly wetted cheeks, her nose dripping like a leaky faucet. 

I turn on the sink, check to make sure the water is cold, and then splash a wave onto my face, not caring where the water goes. It trickles down my red cheeks, washing away the sticky warmth my tears had left behind. A few more deep breathes, and back to bed I go. Sleep won’t come easily tonight. 

No one must know. No one can see. 

My Journey to Self-Love

It is never easy to write about your own insecurities, and yet here I am, dedicating an entire blog to them. Maybe I’m crazy, or maybe, just maybe, this might be the best thing I’ve ever decided to do. Either way, here’s the deal. Whether a thousand people read these posts, or only one, my goal still remains the same. The purpose of this blog is for me to begin my journey towards a little concept known as “self-love”. 

For those of you who don’t know me that well, and even for many of you who do, I suffer a daily struggle with my own self worth. While I understand that many people often have days where they don’t feel great about themselves, for me it’s different. Pulling myself out of bed everyday is a struggle. Seeing myself in the mirror is torture. Going out in public alone is terrifying. The point is that on most days I literally hate myself. There, I said it. Everything becomes a struggle, and while I usually have a fake smile painted onto my face, it’s almost always in response to me trying to hide my own fears and anxieties, or even to simply keep myself from breaking down into a mess of tears. 

Now, before I get any negative comments, let me go ahead and say this: no, I have not been diagnosed with any type of mental illness, depression, or anxiety disorder. However, most likely the reason for this is because I’m too scared to go and get tested. That being said, I am not trying to self diagnose myself with any kind of condition. This blog is simply a way for me to come to terms with myself and hopefully bring me to a point where I can finally look at myself in a mirror and not absolutely despise what I see.  

If you have managed to read this far, congratulations. I know my writing style can be a bit “rambly”, so I am thankful to you for sticking through it to the end. Please understand that this blog is not going to be easy for me. I’m typically the type of person who listens to everyone else’s problems rather than ever talking about her own. It’s difficult for me to open up to others, but I believe that if I try to document my journey, while also trying to come to terms with who I am and what my purpose is, then maybe I will be able to inspire someone else who struggles from similar issues to my own. 

At the end of the day, I would like to hear that someone else found some sort of inspiration from this blog; however, my main goal is to simple: I want to love myself. That concept seems foreign to me, but hopefully by the end of this journey it will feel natural. Thank you for taking the time to read this little introduction to the future of my blog, and if you continue to follow me on this journey, I hope I can inspire you while also inspiring myself. 

Rain

When the rain begins to fall, and the skies begin to darken, I think about my own mind. Depression threatens to intrude upon my happiness like the looming clouds threaten to choke out the light of the sun. The rain falls from the sky like tear drops down my cheeks as the last remaining rays of light slowly disappear. But then, something magical happens. The rain falls and falls, bringing with it sadness, but something else as well. There’s hope. Hope that the day will become brighter again. Hope that tomorrow will be better. Hope that this rain will wash away all of the cobwebs from your soul and give you a new sense of life, feeling, and belonging. And as you look outside your window, you realize that it is all true. The rain washes away all of the dust, pollen, and grime that cakes the world outside. But when the rain stops falling, and the clouds go away, don’t think about the mud that’s left behind. Rather, look upwards towards the sky as the sun begins to shine once more. A rainbow will appear even after the worst storm as a reminder that things will get better. They always get better. And as the flowers begin to soak in all the nutrients from their freshly watered soil, remember that growing is a process. Rain makes the flowers grow stronger, just like tears make the heart grow fonder. 

Enlightenment

There was an eerie silence in the abbey that day. The morning prayers had been said, and the nuns had quietly floated their way back into the solitary confinement of their tiny rooms. Lilly Madison, tired of a morning spent all alone, slowly and carefully turned the smooth silver knob of her dark wooden door and slipped into the empty hallway. The door let out a silent whisper of protest as it shut behind her. Glancing in both directions, Lilly glided gracefully down the stairs. The smooth beads of her silver rosary swayed back and forth as she pushed past the heavy wooden doors to the chapel and made her way down the aisle towards the heavily adorned altar. She glanced briefly up at the image of Christ before kneeling at the foot of the cross.

This was unnatural for a nun of her status. As a new member of the convent, she knew that she was not supposed to be wandering the halls alone, nor was she allowed to enter the chapel without a guardian; however, none of this stopped her from slipping her rosary from around her neck and letting the cool beads grace the soft tips of her fingers. With each bead her fingers passed, she prayed a small prayer: one for guidance, one for forgiveness, one for peace and understanding. She prayed for strength, and that God would provide her with the means to accomplish her task.

During the many days, weeks, and months that she had spent alone in her room praying and meditating over the scriptures, she had come to an enlightenment like no other. Lilly truly felt as though God had spoken to her directly, but she kept it quiet for fear of condemnation from the other nuns. She was well respected by everyone, a promising new nun surrounded by a cloud of potential. The abbess had become quite fond of her, and had taken her on as somewhat of an apprentice, mentoring her in the ways of the abbey and helping her to reach a new level in her relationship with Christ. Every day, Lilly fell to her knees in sovereign adoration and prayed that God would make her more like the abbess. After months of waiting for an answer, she finally felt as though she had discovered the very will of God.

The sturdy sound of the chapel bells pounded her out of her thoughts and pulled her to her feet. The abbess would be making her way to the garden for afternoon prayers. Her time to act was now. Rosary in hand, she eased her way out of the chapel. A brilliant smile spread its way across her rosy cheeks. The beads now felt warm in her hand, and she clutched them tightly to her chest as she cascaded down the hallway, through the front door, and across the lawn to the prayer garden.

The gate let out a scream of resistance, startling the abbess from her afternoon prayers.

“Lilly? What are you–”

There was hardly enough time to react before Lilly wrapped the silver string of beads tightly around the neck of the abbess. Pulling her to the ground with all of her weight, she held fast to the rosary, making sure to cut off all air as the abbess struggled for a breath. No screams could be heard as her face slowly changed from a rosy pink to a deep shade of blue. Lilly stroked the hair of her suffocating mentor and began to pray.

“Lord, guide me in my mission to serve you. Cover me with your grace and protection. Allow me to complete the task that you have so clearly made known to me. Give me the peace and understanding to know that your will must be done. Forgive me of my transgressions, and help me to forgive those who have done me wrong. Restoreth my soul, and lead me down the path to righteousness. Guide me as you have guided the mother abbess, and allow me to continue on with her vision for the future of the church. Bless her in death as you have in life, and lead her safely to the pearly gates of heaven. In Christ’s holy name I pray, Amen.”

 

What it Means to be a Woman

7 AM: the alarm blared “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” as Samantha sleepily rubbed her eyes. She let out a lazy yawn and rolled over to shut it off. Sleep threatened to pull her back under, but she forced herself to sit up, carefully placing her perfectly manicured feet onto the plush white rug that adorned her bedroom floor. She paused for a moment, letting the sweet softness greet her toes, before begrudgingly pushing herself to her feet. She glanced at the clock. 7:10 AM. Only one hour and fifty minutes before she had to be at her interview.

Quickly slipping on her favorite pair of slippers and silky black robe, Samantha headed to the kitchen to whip up some breakfast. The room was spinning, but she tried desperately to push away her frayed nerves. As she listened to the sweet sizzle of the bacon cooking in the pan, Samantha could hold back her fear no longer. Today’s interview was the most important interview of her entire career. Working as an editor for her small town’s local newspaper, she had always dreamed of moving to New York City and becoming a writer for one of her favorite magazine company’s The New Yorker. Never in her life, however, had she believed that she’d actually have the chance to pursue this dream. At least, never until three months ago.

After seeing an ad online for a possible job opening at The New Yorker, Samantha had immediately sent in her resume, desperately hoping for a miracle. An entire month had gone by without any word, causing her to almost lose all hope, until that fateful day when she received a phone call from the magazine’s chief editor, Mr. Marks, congratulating her on being one out of three possible candidates for the job. Samantha’s excited shrieks were enough to let everyone in town know of her good fortune. Not wanting to wait any longer, she decided to use this interview as her excuse to leave her small town of Abingdon, Virginia and moved all of her belongings to a small studio apartment located in the heart of the Big Apple. Life in the big city was hard, but Samantha wholeheartedly believed that it was for the best.

As she finished up her breakfast, Samantha glanced at the clock once more. It was almost 7:30, and she knew that she would have to hurry if she was going to be there in time. She hastily threw her dishes in the sink, and raced to the bathroom. Stopping in front of the mirror, she carefully looked herself over. Her long hair rested messily on her pale shoulders, and she self-consciously brushed it into her face to hide her masculine features. She had always resented the way she looked. Her chin was sharp, her eyes looked crooked, her nose was too big, and her lips were too small. She envied the women who had been born with beauty, their flawless smiles and perfect skin mocking her at every corner. Why couldn’t she look like all the other women her age? Why had she been born….like this?

Looking away from the mirror, Samantha pushed away the negative thoughts and stepped into the shower. Letting the warm water trickle down her back, she began to scrub away all her worries. She let the sweet smell of Dove shampoo fill her nostrils as she ran her fingers through her smooth hair. She was not going to let her insecurities ruin her excitement over this day. Samantha had worked hard to get this interview, and now all she wanted to focus on was making a good first impression. Switching off the faucet, she wrapped herself up in a towel and headed to her closet. She had laid out an outfit the night before, but was now unsure of her decision and began to flip through the multitude of dresses hanging in her color-coded wardrobe. She tried on dress after dress, before finally deciding on the same one she had laid out, slipping in over her still-damp hair. She posed in front of her full length mirror, gazing happily at the way the dress made her look. The soft, black fabric flowed freely from her waist, hiding her thin thighs and unshapely hips, and the lacy accents at the top made her lack of breasts much less noticeable. She smiled, proud of the way she looked for the first time in a long time, before making her way back to the bathroom to finish getting ready.

The next step in her beautifying routine was makeup. She had spent countless hours as a teenager watching YouTube videos in order to learn how to create the perfect face, and had finally perfected the art of contouring and winged eyeliner. Looking in the mirror, she began to lather her face in foundation, creating triangles and lines in all the right places before finally blending it all together with her brush. Grabbing her eyeliner, she guided the tip of the pencil over the curve her eye, letting it end in a nice, sharp point. She repeated the process on her other eye before examining her progress in the mirror. Feeling satisfied with the result, she quickly applied her mascara and eye shadow, and then finished off her masterpiece with a light pink lip gloss. Her hair, now mostly dry, flowed softly around her shoulders. Samantha ran her fingers through it to brush out the tangles, and then carefully tied it up into a neat bun at the base of her neck. Stepping back, Samantha looked at herself proudly in the mirror. This was as close to a beautiful women as she was ever going to look, but she was okay with that. For once, she actually felt good about herself.

The clock in the kitchen read 8:15 as Samantha quickly gathered up her purse and resume. Confidence bubbled up inside of her, causing a dazzling smile to spread across her freshly painted face. She stepped out the door of her apartment building at 8:20 and let the morning breeze gently tug at the skirts of her dress. Stepping to the edge of the street, she leaned out to hail a taxi. However, with each gesture she made, more taxis flew past her, almost sending her resume flying from her hands. She tried again, but was ignored once more. Giving up, she sadly walked down the street. Her watch read 8:30. There was no way should could make it there by 9 if she had to walk the whole way. In her brief moment of despair, a bright yellow taxi pulled up to the curve, letting out a sharply dressed man in an expensive looking suit. Thinking fast, she rushed to the taxi, grabbing the door before he could shut it.

“I’m sorry,” she said apologetically, “but I really need to get to an interview.” At first, the man smiled at her, but after getting a closer look, his face quickly turned red, and he hastily rushed away muttering something she could not understand under his breath. Samantha looked down at her dress, wondering if it had blown up in the wind, but everything was perfectly in place. Confused by the man’s reaction, she slipped her way into the backseat of the taxi. “I’m heading to The New Yorker for an interview,” she said to the driver as she shut the door. Without saying a word, he pulled away from the curb and out into the line of traffic. They rode in silence. Samantha, who had been staring out the window, felt a chill run down her spine. She uneasily glanced up at the rearview mirror. For a brief second, her eyes met those of the driver. His icy, judgmental stare made her flinch as his eyes quickly focused back on the road.

What is up with everyone today? She wondered as she self-consciously tugged at the lace on her dress. She began to worry that maybe her dress was not appropriate for an interview, or that maybe there was lipstick on her teeth. Pulling out a small mirror from her purse, she wearily gazed at her reflection, but she couldn’t see what everyone was staring at. It’s just all in my head, she decided, and began to focus on her interview. This was her one chance to finally fulfil her lifelong dream. Her nerves crept back into the corners of her mind, but she pushed them away as the taxi finally came to a stop in front of her destination. As she handed the money to the driver, she noticed that he was avoiding her eyes, but she brushed it off. His rudeness was not going to ruin her self-confidence.

Feeling sassy and beautiful, Samantha strode confidently into the building, walking straight up the skinny blond receptionist at the front desk. Her shiny silver name plate read Mrs. Angela Peters. “I’m here for an interview with Mr. Marks,” she said with a smile. The receptionist slowly lifted her eyes from her magazine before letting them stop on Samantha’s face. Her eyes widened, and she opened her mouth as if to say something before slowly shutting it again. Samantha could feel the confidence oozing out of her as the lady gave her another surprised look.

“Umm…your name?” she asked hesitantly.

“Samantha Hathaway.”

“Do you mean Sam?”

“No…it’s Samantha.”

Angela scrolled through a list of names on her computer, before finally glancing back up at Samantha. “He’ll be with you shortly,” she said hesitantly before pointing her to a seat in the lobby. Samantha made her way to the sofa and took at seat. She smoothed her dress down over her knees and stared back at the receptionist. Angela avoided her eyes and continued to stare down at her copy of the latest issue of The New Yorker. Samantha let her eyes fall back to the floor. What was going on? Why was everyone giving her such strange looks? She hardly had any time to consider the possibilities before a handsome younger man stepped out of a nearby office. He glanced around the lobby before calling out her name.

“Sam Hathaway?” he said, slowly letting his head tilt to the side as he looked her over. His eyes widened slightly, and his lips were pressed into a stern line on his handsomely sculpted face.

“It’s Samantha,” she corrected as she stood up. She reached out her hand, but he looked away, ignoring her small gesture, and waved her into his office. Samantha let her hand quickly sink back to her side as the last of her confidence began to dissipate. Taking a seat, she carefully slid her resume across the desk, and the interview began.

Ms.….Hathaway,” he started. “Why do you want to work for this company?”

“Well, it has always been my dream to work for you, sir,” she began with a small smile. “I’ve been reading The New Yorker for as long as I can remember, and I know that I have the skills necessary to–”

“After reviewing your resume again, I’m not so sure if you’re the right fit for this company,” he interrupted suddenly. Shocked, Samantha stared blankly into his eyes.

“B-but sir, you haven’t even given me a chance! If you’ll just let me prove–”

“I’m sorry, but I think we have already decided on who to give the job to.” As he spoke, he stood and made his way to the door. “However, thank you for your application, and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.” He made a gesture towards the door as Samantha continued to stare in shock at his face. Slowly pushing herself to her feet, she made her way out the door. Her hands were shaking.

“If I could just have one more chance—” she began, but was greeted with a door to the face. Tears threatened to fall from the corners of her eyes as she gathered her composure and pushed her way past the front desk. Angela gave her a brief glance before quickly looking away.

Out on the street, Samantha made her way to the small coffee shop that was nestled next to the towering office building. The ding of the bell greeted her as she stepped inside. Climbing into the seat at the counter, she asked the waiter for a tall black coffee. Her eyes never met his as she stared blankly at the ugly yellow countertop. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a small child, probably no older than six, curiously looking in her direction. Tired of all the uncomfortable stares she had been receiving all day, she angrily looked back at him. His eyes grew wide, and his little hand reached to tug at his mother’s sleeve.

“Mommy, mommy!” he whispered loudly. “Why is that man wearing a dress?”

Sam watched as all of the color drained from the woman’s face. She quietly scolded her son, before grabbing his hand and pulling him out the door of the shop, muttering her silent apologies as she passed by.

Picking up his coffee, Sam made his way back to his small studio apartment. As he walked in the door, he stepped out of his sleek, black heels and made his way to the mirror. He stared blankly at his reflection. No amount of makeup could hide the masculine features of his face. No dress could hide the bulkiness of his broad shoulders. No amount of hair could make him look like the woman he so desperately felt that he was.

Sam angrily pulled the dress over his head and threw it to the floor. As he sank to his knees, the softness of his fluffy white rug greeted his pale skin. The tears he had been holding back for so long finally began to fall.

The Little White Dress

One by one, Madeline slowly slipped her pale legs into the smooth cocoon of her tight black stockings. She carefully eased them up over her thick thighs and brought them to rest at her at the base of her hips. Next, she carefully laid out three different dresses: a sliming black one with dazzling sparkles that traced the neckline, a short and sassy red one that clung to her hips and accentuated her curves, and a skimpy white one that revealed just a little too much skin for her usual tastes. Madeline let her delicate fingers trace the silky fabric of each one, before picking up the black one and holding it to her body. She stood facing the mirror as the dress hung in front of her. She laid it back down again. Madeline once again repeated the process, this time with the red dress, but again, she laid it back on the bed.

After pausing for just a moment, she very slowly picked up the white dress and slipped it over her head. She pulled, tugged, and wiggled until the skin-tight dress clung to her waist. Madeline analyzed her appearance in the mirror. The sheer see-through cutouts on each side displayed her curves in a revealing manner, and the low-cut top barely covered her fake breasts. She self-consciously tugged at the bottom. This would have to do.

Madeline reached for her tube of bright red lipstick. She painted her face just like her mother had taught her when she was younger. Thick black eyeliner lined her dark brown eyes, and her bright pink eyeshadow sparkled in the light. Her lips were as red as a freshly picked apple, and she curled them up into a small smile. Madeline could remember a simpler time when her mother would sit on the floor in front of her, crisscross-applesauce, and carefully apply each layer of makeup. She always started with the lips. The lips are the centerpiece of the face, she would say with a smile as she spread the brightly colored lip gloss onto Madeline’s tiny lips. Beautiful! She would exclaim when she had finished, sending little Madeline running to the mirror to see.

Her father, on the other hand, had never agreed. Are you trying to make our daughter look like a skank?! He would yell as he raised his hand towards her mother. He would then proceed to yank Madeline up by her hair and drag her to the bathroom, watching menacingly as she angrily scrubbed the makeup off of her tear-stained face.

Madeline quickly blinked away her tears, careful not to smudge her makeup, and hastily slipped into her tall red heels. Taking one last glance at her reflection, she grabbed her coat and rushed out the door of her LA apartment. She slipped through the darkened streets, made her way into the deepest alleys, and slowly pushed her way to the curb. There she would wait.

It wasn’t long before a sleek, silver Porsche pulled up beside her. The window tent was definitely past regulation, and it was clear that this man had money.

“How much?”

“Depends on what you’re looking for.”

“I want it all.”

Madeline thought for a moment before making her decision. She looked him over. He seemed to be in his forties, handsome, in good shape, and clearly privileged. His expensive suite fit him perfectly. A Rolex adorned his arm and on his left hand, he sported a shiny golden ring. “$2,000” she said bravely. She knew it was a stretch, but she would not back down.

“Deal,” he said without hesitation, and soon they were pulling into the parking lot of a dingy, cheap motel. As she walked into the dimly lite room, she could hear the screams of her father. What the hell do you think you’re doing?! No daughter of mine is ever going to be a prostitute! She felt the sticky warmth of the man’s hands as he began to viciously tug at her zipper. His hot breath wreaked of alcohol. Her body screamed in protest, but she couldn’t think of any other solution. No one wanted her. No one had ever wanted her. This was all she had.

As she slipped into her usual unfeeling state of mind, Madeline was absolutely sure that her father would never have wanted her to feel so alone.