She doubts

The world watched her go by, a startling red streak of hair that spun like flames in the breeze of the winter air.

Many admired her, the green of her wide, doe eyes that sat between sooty lashes; the curve of her hips, her bottom and breasts; her soft, unblemished skin.

But inside she crumbled like the ashes of a dirty cigarette. Her head was full of monsters, like those that haunted the nightmares of children, skulking like hungry wolves in the shadows. But hers weren’t the doing of some unfortunate dream. Hers wouldn’t be banished with the warmth of her mother’s arms, or the shake of her shoulders. Because even when they weren’t creeping from the corners of her mind, they were still there, their voices still hissing, taunting, flicking their vile tongues with words that stuck like ugly, thick sludge.

They weren’t normal monsters. They were a part of her. A curse she had learnt to deal with, because she knew – and so she had been told – these monsters would not go away. These monsters must be coped with, dealt with a firm hand, handled with caution. No drug could release her entirely.

For all the beauty that the others saw, she could only see flaws – hair that stuck flat to her skull; eyes that were circled with the wrinkles of time and the worry she so constantly endured; and a sagging stomach. She picked at herself like a scab, ripping at her self-esteem that tore as quickly as tissue paper; and the voices urged her.

When there are so many voices it’s difficult to smile, to push those lips into an upwards curve, but she also knew that it was easier to lie to the world than to admit defeat. If she told everyone of her problems, what would they say? Everything she feared. She was mad. She was insane. She was sick.

Her mask may slip, but she was always there to nudge it back upwards.

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