That was hurtful
Fri Sep 1, 2017 15:51

Claudia stared at the polishes in her hand. One was called Blush, the other was called Fawn. They were neutral, and unobtrusive. Safe. Permissible. They were not designed to draw attention, not designed to stand out in a crowd. They suited Claudia perfectly, she thought, as her eyes flickered a couple of times to the door, her escape from this conversation, from the enclosed space of the store with its bottles, boxes and vials, and its cheerful cashier, and the older student who kept looking at her. The third year could hear a distant buzzing sound trying to creep into her consciousness and take over. She knew it well - if she ignored it, it would only get louder, and then her vision would start to blur, and a blackness would creep in, and then she’d reawaken somewhere and feel shamefully embarrassed that she had fainted, but at least the awkward situation that caused it was no longer her concern.

Kaye had called her pretty, which was disconcerting: firstly because being called pretty by someone who looked like Kaye was paramount to an insult, and secondly because Claudia was relatively certain she had called Danny pretty just moment earlier. Fawn and Blush looked quite similar. Danny didn’t like Kaye, she reminded herself. Or, no, he hadn’t said that - they didn’t get along. That was right. This polish would chip less than the other brand. She was wearing a scarf indoors, and she was too warm, but at least her underwear wasn’t visible.

“Why not experiment?” A direct question. That was goood. Distraction worked. If she could latch onto a coherent thought then the haze usually receded. So Claudia thought about it.

“I don’t feel confident drawing attention to myself,” she said slowly. That was about the crux of it. She liked to look pretty, but she wanted to blend in. Attention seeking was for people like Danny, or Marley, or Kaye, who had no concerns that they were constantly being judged, that everyone who saw them would think about them negatively, if, in fact, they even thought about them at all. Claudia didn’t kid herself that people were even aware of her most of the time, but when they did think of her, as long as she was quiet and polite, and good at her school work, and she dressed and acted respectably, then she would probably sail through just fine. She wanted people to like her, and she’d managed to find some friends. It wasn’t always easy - she didn’t understand everything that Marley said and she only agreed with about half of it, and Connor had innumerable good qualities, but he would probably judge Claudia’s faults more harshly than anyone - but Claudia enjoyed having company.

“And I do try,” she added as a whisper. Did Kaye believe that Claudia could get dressed in the morning without trying on countless outfits and discarding most of them because they clashed, or fit poorly, or made her look too much like a porcelain doll? Did she think the make-up that Claudia was wearing at that moment had taken any fewer than three attempts to be passable? That she hadn’t agonized all day that the boots and coat she was wearing weren’t really the exact same shade, to the extent she had been considering taking a calming potion before wearing them out together? Claudia supposed she should be pleased that her act of perfection was working, at least on those who certainly weren’t watching her too closely.

With her free hand, Claudia re-selected the dark, cherry pink Kaye had originally shown her. It wasn’t the precise same shade as her coat but it was close enough. It matched better than her boots, probably. Besides, looking at the tiny bottles was better than looking at Kaye. At least the buzzing had stopped.

  • Literally anything else. - Kaye, Thu Aug 31 15:05
    Kaye grinned, proud to know she was right. It hadn’t been too hard. She looked quite a bit like Danny, except with lighter hair. Kaye couldn’t recall ever seeing them spend time together, which was... more
    • That was hurtful - Claudia, Fri Sep 1 15:51
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