It begins with a line, a single stroke of black night. Tears wash away my efforts to line her eyes with black, accentuating the beauty of radiant blue gems. And then more tears to choke on as solid air fastens my throat. I gag on the air as it tries to escape my life. My world becomes a shrivelled mess that consumes everything in its path, swells with momentary pleasure, then leeches away the moisture, sagging to nothing once again.
Hope is a blessed thing: spotlights flashing small rays of glory onto the goodness in life. The hope that they do exist and will save us from misery reveals shimmering pearls creep-creeping out from between my upturned lips. There is always hope. Tears melt to salty remains, allowing the black line to mark her eyes and emphasise the yellow stain cursing my cheek. A pair of digits press the bruise gently; pain bursts to the bone.
One strike and I was done. One blustering bully’s swinging fist was all it took to knock me to the heavens. A peaceful blanket swallowed my mind and rocked me away. The true damage from the soccer boots rests only in my imagination. The number of penalty kicks known only to the brutes who swept me away into the darkness.
I snap the pencil against the table, discard it, the fit of rage stemming from my cowardice. I allowed the attack. The obvious trap obscured by a tantalising bait, the one dangling treat my heart wouldn’t allow me to refuse. The thugs caught word of my forbidden crush via the usual schoolyard gossip grapevine. They heard my heart flutter and snagged it on their hooks to wind back into their net. I bit. I handed myself to their fists.
I shake my head clear of ruminations and return to my work on her. The lips that mark the entrance to her heart I gently coat in red, lending colour to words that comfort, a laugh that inspires. She knows I am blameless.
Doubt, however, refuses to unlatch its talons. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I deserved it. Or maybe there could be a chance for him and me. No hand has he yet placed upon my skin. No striking knuckles, but neither caressing fingers. Could he too be society’s subject, a pawn to the ploys of his team mates? Claws sink deeper. My yearning wasn’t reflected in his eyes. He didn’t return my smile. He didn’t save me, didn’t intervene as his friends had their way with me. Or maybe he wasn’t even there.
Her lips contort, smudging my artistry, and I’m once again dragged from my reverie. I retrieve a tissue to correct the unwanted lipstick. Here is one picture I don’t wish to mar by colouring outside the lines. The bruise still shines bright, a baking heat within my flesh. Swollen ribs ache for attention, but receive nothing more than a shrug. Drapes of clothing hide the purple cabaret dancing on my skin. Luckily, she has the cure: dry liquid to mimic my skin. It spreads and hardens leaving my face fresh canvas.
Glory hands me her golden locks, the final addition to this masterpiece. I look into the mirror and she stares back at me. She is complete, sparkling with confidence that beats away the claws of doubt and the pain of hatred. She is everything I need to survive. She is my hero.