I don’t understand why but
they always call me pretty.
I can’t see it, no matter how many
times I stare at myself in the mirror and
search for what they see in me.
They say that there isn’t
anything to be ashamed of. I doubt that
statement very much. I always feel like
there’s a tiny thing wrong with whatever
The complements they
give me are not exactly good.
‘You’re pretty as a flower’ they tell me.
‘You have the beauty of a butterfly’
Insect-like and delicate enough
to break at the softest touch. That’s not
the best thing to say to bring my hopes
up. That’s why I sometimes wonder why
they say it.
Beauty is in truth.
I don’t think I’m pretty.
I don’t see anything true
All my life…
I’ve been told that I am a figure of beauty.
Perfect cobalt blue eyes, lush blonde hair,
thick eyebrows, a small, sharp nose and pink
full lips that frames an excellent set of teeth.
I can’t see what is pretty about
a genetic lottery win.
My perspective of the world blinded me
from fully accepting the flooding, kind words
without mustering a fake smile. It prevents
the happiness from taking over my life.
It leaves me unable to appreciate what other
people think beauty is. I cannot see the
attractiveness of a symmetrical face or a fit
body, yet I have that. Sadly, only that.
I was once a person who burned with the
belief of physical appearance, but I have risen
from the ashes to start again with a new thought
permanently written on my mind.
The reality is always hard to embrace.
But that is the true aesthetic of the world.
It is appealing because it is true,
and it beholds a lot of obstacles, a
crazy adventure to endure.
Once I saw the world differently, everything
started to morph into misconceived misconceptions.
In one way or another, it made me into
a person who knew what to listen to.
But it also ruined me in so many ways.
The sky was absolutely marvelous.
It is red, like the way it would be
if painted with the juice of fresh
cherries. It had been that way for a few
days now, taunting the yearly rain to
finally fall. It is miraculous in its
own special way. It portrays my definition
of beauty in some manner I cannot explain.
School is a bore, a burden but a steady
obligation that could not be negated.
Today was dark and painfully slow,
forested by temporary whims of plenty
schoolmates who beg me to spend the most
valuable concept that is time with them. All because
I know how to flash a charming smile
and bat my long eyelashes.
Night is usually the best time within the
limited 24 hours to take in a deep breath
and think of everything and nothing,
of nobody and everybody.
I take the habitual walk to the abandoned
lake by the edge of the town, like I do when
I have hours to spare. I bring an umbrella
in case the sky finally makes up its mind
to let its tears fall.
ISABELLE ELISE ALDRIN
All my parents ever wanted was perfection.
That and not a single level lower than
it. They look at me and I can see it in their
eyes; the humiliation. I know that I am
everything to their dislike.
They say that there isn’t
anything I should change, only improve. But
the tension in the room whispers to me
otherwise. I don’t like to discomfort
them, but that’s the only thing I do.
I am very tired of feeling like I am worth
nothing. It makes me feel inferior of
myself. They say that I just bring myself
down, but the sanity that is left in
me thinks differently.
I can’t help but ponder that it
is not what holds me down from rising.
I think that sometimes, it’s because I can’t
reach the record that was once held on to
Perfect is nothing to me.
Lucas was once perfect.
Now look at him,
I could talk and walk, my mother and father
did everything in their wealth and power to
mold me into the closest thing to perfection,
if not perfection itself. They taught me how to
play the violin, piano and guitar and how to
speak in seven different languages. But they
didn’t teach me how to live a joyful life.
They told me to always stand tall, like
someone was pulling my head to the sky.
They didn’t know that they we’re destroying
me, pushing me beyond my fears and limits.
And it wasn’t just the heights that I feared.
They tutored me to imagine everything
into a contest that I had to win. It was
very difficult if your competitors were
people who you wanted to befriend.
They had marked it deep into my
mind long ago; ‘Your grades must be
the best grades in your year, unless you
want your two hours of leisure to be cut’.
They made sure I had the perfect voice
and the perfect hand in art, enough
to make me win international competitions
against people I could once call my friends.
Before me, there was Lucas. He was
everything they ever wanted. A prodigy in
many, many ways and the best brother anyone
could ask for. But he took his own life. He
harshly woke me up from my little fantasy.
The sky looked daring and dangerous.
It was a terrifying shade of red, the color
of both life and death. It had been like that
since the night Lucas committed suicide.
It was usually like that during the rainy
season, but it hadn’t started pouring yet.
It displayed that horrible truth of
my situation with my loss in a
way words cannot.
School had been dull, empty
but a distraction from doing what is
forbidden to reason. Today had been cloudy
and dragging with the wind whistling a sad
tone. I barely ate and barely listen
to the tedious words of education, thinking
of that I wanted to do when
the darkness of the atmosphere no longer
distracted me. I wanted to see
Lucas again. I miss him.
Night is symbolic and silent, the
excellent time to reunite with
my beloved sibling. The deserted
lake also suited the event, cold and
gentle water pooling its deep spaces.
I fill a bag to carry on my back with
heavy rocks that laid still on the edge of
the dark body of water. I fill it slowly,
one by one, thinking of all the
times I came here with him.
There was a girl by the lakeside and she
was putting something in her bag. I
approached her, cautiously and curiously,
and stopped a few meters away when I
heard the miserable sound of quiet
sobbing over the soft flow of water.
As the moon glows,
I take a shaky breath and approach the
sorrowful mystery before me. The closer
I got, I realize that she’s putting large,
uneven rocks into the bag. I immediately
recognize the intention of the crying girl.
I don’t want her to go on with
what she’s planning, but I also don’t want
to startle her. I think on how to get her
attention and decide on frankly calling to her.
“I hope the water isn’t too cold.” I say silently,
in almost a whisper.
She turns to me in alarm and I am taken back by her beauty.
Her hair is a faint ebony tint, strands sticking to her
tear-dampen cheeks. Her lips are cracked and covered
with blotches of dried blood. Her eyes are also ebony,
holding a deep tragedy but also so certain and so sharp.
She looks dead into my eyes and says “Nothing is ever
too cold for me.”
She looked so real, so
driven and so true. I thought she was
the most beautiful person I ever saw.
I couldn’t help…
But stare at her in awe, at the strength
she displayed even if she was in the brink
of breaking. She ignores me and continues to
fill the bag with rocks. I had to change tactics.
I couldn’t chase the ugly thought away but I just
had to ask. “Are you the sister of Lucas Aldrin?”
I regret saying it as soon as the words leave my mouth.
“I’m sorry. That was very insensitive of me.” She
doesn’t look at me but I seem to have her attention.
“I can’t say I know how you feel about losing him,
but I know it hurts real bad. I had an aunt once. ”I pause
for a moment, remembering the bravest person I ever
knew. “She always stayed with me when things were rough.”
“My parents were collateral damage. The negativity they
were giving could even be labeled a monstrosity.” I sucked
in a deep breath. “But my aunt did her best to chase away
the storm; her best was so good, that sometimes, I
couldn’t hear the thunder of my parents screaming
at each other. But one day…”
I couldn’t finish without shedding a tear. I gathered all my
bravery and spoke again. “One day she was just gone. I
didn’t even say goodbye.” She finally looked
at me, fresh tears rolling down her cheeks.
“She died in a car crash. I couldn’t stop crying when
I found out.” I was tearing, but I gave a low laugh. “I
think in a way, my aunt helped me prevail. She was
there for me while she could be. In the end, my parents
got divorced; but I still felt like she was the best thing that
ever happened to me. She helped me swim through.”
I look at her damp eyes and see hope.
“In the simplest way, my aunt helped
me swim through the difficulty.” I looked
at her and gave a small smile. “No matter
how cold it was.” She looks at the quarter
moon and gives me a ghost smile.
“Ever since, I vowed to myself to never
make anyone feel like they don’t have
anyone.” I carefully hold her hand and
thank God she doesn’t pull away.
“So please don’t do this. I wanted to see
Aunt Delilah too.” I gently let go of her
hand and showered her the long,
horizontal scars on my wrist.
“Never think no one is here. There
will always be someone who understands.”
I hold her hand again and give it a firm
squeeze. “So always hold on tight, okay?
Don’t let go. Please, don’t let go.”
“And I promise I won’t let go too.”
By that time, the floodgates open
and wet my eyelids, cheeks and neck.
“Don’t let your hopes go away. I’m sure
one day, you’ll be someone else’s warmth in
the cold.” As soon as the last word leaves
my mouth, the beautiful mess in front of
pulled me into an embrace and sobs.
So does the sky. And I forget all about my umbrella.
ISABELLE ELISE ALDRIN
I feel the moon shine
against the rain and on our touching
skins. I couldn’t pretend to be flawless
anymore; strong, standing tall and chin up.
I finally let the bullet break the shield and bled
away the misery in a stranger’s arms.
She just holds me in silence with
the heavy drops of rain mixing with our tears.
I weep all the saltwater of my stormy oceans
back to the ground. I whisper with a shaky
breath “I miss him so much.” And if it’s possible,
she holds me closer, but delicately, like I’m a
figurine that could break in a matter of seconds.
It feels like everything
around us is disappearing slowly, the rain, the trees,
the moon and the crimson skies. I couldn’t be more
grateful. I didn’t need anything now but the grasp
of an angel.
She releases me after what feels like hours. Her imperfect
smile tells me everything I have always
needed to hear. It’s my turn now to hold her hand.
I give it a weak squeeze and say over the still rain,
“Thank you. So much.” She squeezes back and I
feel so full of love because all I see in her in is the
part of Lucas I miss the most.
I never knew that
there could ever be anyone more
perfect than him. Yet there she was.
I couldn’t save…
Myself from my deepest depression.
I knew I would lose it sooner or later. But just
when I was in the edge of exploding, she prevented
me from destroying myself and a life that Lucas would’ve
wanted me to have.
“Thank you. For not letting me waste the
life I could live for him” I tell her again, meaning it
with all the pieces of my mismatched jigsaw puzzle
of a heart. “I promise I won’t let go.” When I am done
talking, she breaks into a quiet cry and I quickly
pull her to me for a comforting hug.
“Hey, hey. Shush now.” I say, my hand running
through her damp, tangled hair. “Sometimes,
the battle seems harsh, but in the end, we’re
victorious. I’ll follow you into the dark, I promise.”
She pulls away from me and looks straight into
my soul. “Should know that I love you. Everyone
deserves that, especially you.” She laughs lightly
pass the tears and adds “Because you promised
to hold on. We’ll win it, I’m sure.”
For the first time in days, I let my teeth show into a
smile. “Lucas once told me: ‘We’re just in the
wrong place in the wrong time trying to make things
right.’ I never understood him before, but now I do.”
“I can’t thank you enough.” She gives me a smile
of a soldier who came from war; brave,
dignified and proud. She tells me “Thank you.
Thank you for teaching me how to forgive myself.”
I look at her eyes and see freedom.
“It’s crude humor that we’re here like this.”
I tell her. “Crying on a rainy night.”
I try for a joke. “The soil has enough
water.” To my surprise, she actually
laughs and I can’t help but smile wider.
“You know, my aunt thought she was a
disgrace to my mom, her sister.” She informs me.
“She promised me that she’ll do better
than what my mom said she didn’t do enough.
And she made me promise to do better than her.”
“My aunt was one of the better people I knew.”
She says, looking to the ground. I say to her:
“If your aunt was the better ones, then she’d
be quite proud of you. You’re one of the best.”
And with that, she smiles.
“My brother taught me the courage of
stars before he left; how light carries
on endlessly even after its death.” I look to the
moon. “He was so brave, brave enough to
illuminate me when I thought I was
a lost cause. That’s why loved him so much.”
I look back at her. “I love you too. You are
one of the brightest. I’m sure he would’ve
loved you too.” She pulls me into an embrace.
When we pull apart, she stands up and I follow.
She puts her arm over my shoulder and we walk back
to town. I abandon the bag in the dark and the rain stops falling.