Insecure Insecurities

She pranced around the living room in her new dress, a sparkle in her eye accompanying the glitter of the clothing. The dress was as pristine as a crisp winter wonderland. It would shine bright in the darkness and seemed as though it could light up the world with its bright personality. The blue seams were invisible as the dress flowed like silk while she was twirling it again and again and again. I envied her, clothed in that beautiful dress, the most beautiful dress I had ever seen.

I continued to sit and watch her, as there was nothing else I could possibly do. It would be rude to leave the crowded room, since my parents had planned endlessly for this New Year’s Party. Although I doubt anyone noticed me, anyway. As the loud voices enclosed me in silent thought, I stared out the window. The weak winter sun, a mere orange speck fighting to restore its power, began to go down behind the spider legs that were bare trees. I remembered where I had been this time yesterday, not caring about the long, cold, Aurora winters, celebrating the new year with my friends. Scratching at some dry paint on my arm, I mindlessly looked up from my thoughts about streamers and balloons to find my sister, still twirling and twirling and twirling again.

I reluctantly stood up as the guests continued to applaud my sister, her long blond hair trailing behind her, as swift and smooth as silk while she danced. I slowly migrated over to the plates of food, sneakily snatching some: crackers, adorable mini sandwiches, chips, salsa, olives, and more. Stuffing myself with food, I didn’t notice one of my parent’s friends coming up behind me. “Hello,” she said. I jumped in surprise and turned around, chewing like a chipmunk, my dark chocolate eyes barely visible through a mess of my short, straight brown hair.

“Hi,” I replied hesitantly, fully embarrassed while talking with my mouth full. There was a moment of silence while I managed to choke down the rest of the food.

“And who might you be?,” she asked with a tone of superiority. I felt that pang of frustration I often feel when my sister is recognized and praised for her many talents, while I am left behind like an old rotten banana, that wonderful bright yellow swallowed by a dark brown cloud.

“I’m Juliette, Leanne’s sister,” I answered as politely as I could.

“Oh, I didn’t know Leanne had a sister.” There it was again. I could just never understand how people didn’t notice me – I wasn’t invisible.

“Yup,” I answered, not sure what else to say.

“So, how old are you?” Her bright green pantsuit blinded me for a moment, as I had not noticed what she was wearing before. There was a moment of silence before I answered, as I was thinking deeply.

“I’m twelve, four years younger than Leanne,” I stared into her wrinkly face. This woman looked familiar. Where had I seen her before? My mind raced like a running horse.

“Interesting. You certainly are older than you look. Well, enjoy the party!” And she walked away. Just like that.

I woke to the sound of my sister’s name, tear stains on my blotchy face. It was my mother’s voice, yelling up to Leanne that it was time for dance class. I heard Leanne mutter something while she slid out of bed like the slug I sometimes see her as.

It was Saturday, the saturday after the first week of school after winter break. I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in over a week, as the lady in the green pantsuit had slipped in and out of my nightmares since I met her. It was always the same dream— she held me by a thin thread that sprouted out of my head and held me painfully like a vulnerable doll, dangling me over an endless pit. Terrifying. Horrifying. Petrifying. Even when I awoke with a cold, white face, the fear never left me. I can still feel that pulsing blood, those cold, clammy hands, that layer of grime and sweat, that pounding head, that fear. I still just couldn’t seem to grasp who that lady was.

I lifelessly pushed myself down the stairs to find that there were not enough pancakes for me, that Leanne needed four to give her extra strength for her dance class. The usual: me living in Leanne’s shadow, making “sacrifices” for her success. As I pour myself a bowl of cereal and Leanne gobbles down her four pancakes, my mom talks to me before she takes Leanne to dance, which is a first.

“So, Juliette, I’ve been meaning to tell you did you meet a lady in a green pantsuit at the New Year’s Party? She was your old preschool teacher— and Leanne’s too. I was hoping you got the chance to talk to her.” Suddenly it all made sense. The lady in the green pantsuit WAS my preschool teacher. I remember her torturing me. She was the first person to give Leanne all the credit and leave me behind. I hate that woman.

Another week passed, full of constant thinking about the lady in the green pantsuit. Through my contemplation, my feelings about the lady did not change, however I had a new and reinforced strong hatred for one other person. Leanne. Even though there were other people to blame for the unfairness, it was not as if Leanne has ever tried to give me a chance in the spotlight— or even been sympathetic. She had just been rude to me like I was an annoying little mosquito, not even remotely important, my only contribution to the world being able to provide an irritating presence. And that time, I wasn’t going to let Leanne get away with her selfishness.

Once again I found myself sitting in the living room, watching Leanne show off one of her many talents. At that moment she was showing us her singing that she was preparing for an upcoming competition on Saturday. However, unlike many other times I had been sitting in this same spot, that would not end in silent tears and me playing sad songs on my clarinet, an instrument I had played since I was six. Until now, my clarinet had been my only outlet for frustration, but now I had another plan to finally release the anger that had been be boiling up inside of me.

As Leanne belted out the final word to her song and my parents started to applaud, I ran up to her and joined in the last few words. I sang loud. I sang as loud as my heart would let me, bursting with passion, letting my wonderful, strong, singing voice go, the voice that had been caged inside of me for twelve years. Those wonderful few moments, when Leanne’s voice melted away, it was just me. A spark ignited inside of me, something I hadn’t ever felt before. I heard fireworks, I felt fireworks, and I made fireworks. This time, they weren’t Leanne’s fireworks, they were mine. And that was the best feeling in the world.

Leanne gasped. My mother looked astounded with awe and my father was just sitting there seemingly paralyzed. I smiled at the amusing scene before me, and took a bow.

“Thank you, thank you,” I laughed. My parents applauded vigorously for me, just me. Leanne just stood where she was, continuing to look offended.

“WOW, Juliette, I can’t believe you would do that! Always trying to steal the spotlight…” Leanne suddenly burst out accusing me. I began to fume, angry as ever.

“WHAT? ME? I’M TRYING TO STEAL THE SPOTLIGHT FROM YOU? You are the one who always gets the credit, who always get the praise, and who always gets the applause! It’s not fair! I’M TALENTED TOO! DON’T YOU ALL SEE THAT?” I yelled.

“THAT’S NOT TRUE! Don’t you remember that time when…” Leanne trailed off, clearly at a loss for words.

“SEE?” I bellowed.

“Girls, girls enough. We both love you equally,” Mom tried to sympathize, but she was never good at sympathy and she never will be.

“You see, the thing is, a lot of the time it seems like that isn’t true,” I angrily stormed off to my room and slammed the door, hard, leaving my shocked family behind.

I entered my room strong and defiant, but by the time I reached by bed, I crumpled into tears. Sobs. All that anger and frustration I had built up inside of me just melted away, and a feeling of complete sadness and hopelessness took its place. I had tried many, many times, but it just has never worked.  Leanne always won, while I never could. I just didn’t know what to do anymore, I felt like a squashed flat cartoon character that couldn’t get up. I cried and cried, deeper and deeper into my pillow, feeling more and more pity for myself. It was as if I was drowning in a black hole, drowning, drowning, drowning…

After a few minutes of crying, I had to come up from my pillow for air. I turned on my back and looked up at my ceiling, at my room, at my life. The calm green walls and the fresh white ceiling, my pine wood desk, my creaking wood floor, my colorful carpets with neverending patterns and shapes, and my sliding glass and gold door leading to my vibrant closet. That was the only place where I had ever felt at home. No one bothered me. My room gave me a sense of sympathy no human had ever given me before. I suddenly felt very lonely, realizing that I didn’t really love anybody. I buried my face in my pillow once again and continued to sob.

About an hour later after I had been hearing hushed voices I could never seem to make out, Leanne knocked on my door. She had never done that before.

“Um, Juliette?” Leanne said unsurely.

“What?” My voice was muffled by my pillow.

“I uh, I wanted to say sorry.” That was a first.

“Continue,” I said, not trusting Leanne’s words. Leanne slowly opened the door and walked in hesitantly.

“I was thinking about what you said, and I realize that you’re right. I guess that I should give you more of a, uh, chance to shine,” Leanne admitted. I was both surprised and honored.

“Leanne, that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.” Leanne smiled and walked over to my bed.

“I do love you, Juliette.”

“Then why don’t you ever say it? Or show it?”

“I don’t know, I just get so absorbed with being the center of attention…”

“I’ve noticed.” There was a moment of silence before Leanne spoke again.

“You know, we used to be really close when we were little.”

“Really? I never knew that.”

“It’s true. I’m going to try to take a step back now, I promise. I want to have what we used to have, and I want to you to remember it this time.”

“OK, I will try to.” I smiled. Leanne reached over and gave me a hug. I squeezed her tight, not wanting to let go of my new friend.





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