Charlotte stood in front of the floor length mirror lying slanted against the wall instead of hanging from it like it should be. She fussed with her once wooly hair, which were now limp brown strands on her head from years of straightening. It never looked right to her and seemed to look thinner after each chemical process. She was in 7th grade when she begged to have it relaxed. All the kids would tease her for having “baby hair” and she didn’t realize how much she needed to fit in. Her grandmother was a stickler for presentation. She always made sure all of the kids were clean and well dressed before they left the house. Even now that she was no longer with her, Charlotte felt the need to be just right at her funeral. Impeccable.
However, some things could not be changed. Like the cocoa bean shade of her skin, which always seemed to work against her. It was the first thing all of the other kids pointed out to make her feel small in an argument. It was the last thing all of the boys looked for when they chose a girlfriend. Here now, standing in the mirror, it was the one thing overpowering the thin image, adorning a white, jeweled Ann Taylor shift dress. Choosing pearl earrings from the green mosaic jewelry box her mom had passed down to her, Charlotte watched herself in motion as long, bony arms reached up to touch her ears like a tree branch void of life, but still moved by the wind. Sitting down on the bed, she slid her feet into a pair of black Nine West sling backs.
She stood to inspect herself. I love my legs, she accepted of herself in thought. They were skinny like the rest of her but long, falling down like waterfalls from under the dress, which highlighted them by stopping short of her knees. Weren’t men supposed to love long legs, she mused, and wondering why no one seemed to like hers? Her grandmother thought she was too skinny also. However, she never made her feel ugly for it. She especially loved Charlotte’s smile.
“Oh child, you have a pretty smile. You’re a beautiful dark skinned girl,” she would say with tenderness in her eyes whenever she caught Charlotte in a wide grin. She always wondered if grandma only said that to make her feel better about herself. How could anyone love her smile? She’d always have to be careful not to show her crooked bottom teeth when she smiled, to avoid giving anyone another imperfection to use as a dart.
“Char! It’s time to go! Her mom yelled. “The limousine’s here!”
“I’ll be right out! She yelled back. Her mom had a way of making her anxious. Everything always seemed to be hurried with her mom and meticulously planned out.
She took one last glance in the mirror. She felt like screaming. “Why can’t I look like, like…someone else?” She said through gritted teeth. Sighing, she left her room and headed outside to join the rest of her family who had now assembled at her house before heading to the church.