She Plays Dress Up

She wears the long face of an adult. Worry lines crease her forehead like the easy curves waves continuously retrace on sand. She sits on the couch, slumped. She is a beached whale, giant in her helplessness. She wears her hair in a careless updo her mother would disapprove of. Along the sides of her cheeks, bouncing over her springboard ears fall a silent stream of tears that chokes her. The room is dank, smelling of dust and pointlessness.

Tears on adults is worse than death. Why is she crying? Why doesn’t she know how to deal with the world? Look at how well everyone else is doing. They had seen it all, many times over. Grown women in dishevelled living rooms, struck by tears. She was a statistic to them, at best. They collected her tears in beakers and measured it out. She had overflown her quota. They had a name for her ‘condition’.

She was crying because she couldn’t feel the wetness of her tears on her skin. She couldn’t see the disarray of her hair in the mirror or smell the despair in the room. She was crying because she was drowning in all the tears she had shed but no one seemed to notice. She was crying because she didn’t want to cry.

Nobody told her they would help her. Nobody offered to wait it out with her. Nobody held her hand. Nobody saw her.

But when they came back to tattoo her forehead with her condition, she had changed. She was all smiles. Her eyes were clear and framed with kajal. Warm twirls of rouge danced on her cheeks and her house smelled of hope and babies. Her hair was long, her dress was crisp and she twittered like a dainty bird.

Nowadays her tears run from her head to her heart in an elusive underground river. Her heavy heart is drowning in the merciless liquid as the sun shines, lighting up her face. Being an adult is like playing dress-up, the best look always wins.

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