We Are All Perfect Girls In The Dark

Michael McAuliffe

This is beneath me.

I think the words even now, as I force myself to sit down and write. Teenage nonsense, and, Aren’t you OVER it yet? I don’t need to imagine my friends’ reactions to this piece, because I’ve thought of them all. Don’t be undignified, don’t let them see your hurt. Rise above.

I have no problem rising, usually. I take well to water, as do you. We can swim for miles at a time without stopping or getting tired.

But I’m not swimming now. I’m barely keeping myself afloat, limbs laden with exhaustion as I fight the tide. My desire for dignity – even in private – has left me stranded with no sense of where I am or how far the shore is.

I’m tired. I’m so tired of not feeling.

So I guess I’ll be pathetic, and drown in feeling instead.

*

You know, I never understood what you saw in me. I guess that was part of fooling myself – assuming that somehow, despite all the evidence to the contrary, someone thought I was beautiful. Someone thought I was worth making an effort for.

So I figured – screw the fear, screw the self-hatred, screw the over-thinking. I might not get another chance to do this.

I got close.

I trusted you.

And you were right there with me. At least, that was what I thought at first. Why would you give me the time of day, otherwise? Why would you bother?

That was naive, of course. People give each other the time of day for a whole lot of reasons – because they are drunk, or bored, or lonely, or just looking for a quick fix, a notch on the belt, a trophy for their wall. Shallow validation to cover up for bigger scars; or else a big payback for a shallow slight. And that’s when there’s reasons at all – most of the time, it’s as simple as seeking a warm body, the illusion of shelter.

Maybe it happened because we were drunk. Maybe it happened because we just happened to be there. From where I’m standing, it makes the same difference. Even my thinking I was somehow special wasn’t unique. Everyone who breaks their own heart does it because they assume they are the exception.

Truth is, I could have been anyone. The outcome would have been exactly the same.

*

I spent so long, trying to be stoic. It doesn’t matter, it’s no big deal, move on already. You’re not that special. Stop making a big deal out of nothing. Even as I write this piece, the word “I” makes me cringe. How needy! Is there literally no other topic to write about?!

Girls these days are raised by the same maxim as Jessica Mitford: that in any room, we are the least important person. Mannequins or statues have more personality – the best of us should present a totally blank canvas, an empty screen for others to project their desires onto.

Failing that, we must be angelic, we must be stone-faced; unflappable, even as we tear each other down. Rising above. Being responsible. Staying dignified.

A club is excellent for projection. Abject darkness and wild noise, cancelling everything out. The only way to communicate is by shouting in each other’s ears… or with our bodies. (Bodies that are so deceptive. Bodies that are so easily interchangeable.)

What is better, though? A calm face. Serenity. The smile that says ‘I forgive you’ as easily as it does ‘It matters not’. The eyes that never show hurt. Quietly slinking off in your room without causing drama at the end of the night.

After all, who wants to get messy? Who wants to admit they’re human?

I didn’t. You didn’t.

The less friction, the better.

We are all perfect girls in the dark. TC mark

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