“You’re very pretty”, he whispers to me, his mouth inches from mine.
What does that mean? I wonder.
He spoke that same sentence to my friend Danielle last year, when he took her to the same waterfall he took me to, with his arms around her like they’re around me now.
Should I really be doing this? I ask myself. After all, Xavier Veccia bruised my heart quite badly last year. He pursued my best friend, the prettier one, instead of me.
Despite that high school history, he remains the only man with whom I can really share my writing. In return, he shares his. We’ve created a vignette exchange, and it’s priceless. It has bound me to him and him to me. That’s why he is in my bed right now at three in the morning, two days before he leaves for college.
But why did he feel compelled to call me “pretty”?
I’m not pretty. At least not to him, I know that. Of all of the ways he could have described me, he chose “pretty”. What an empty word, a mean compliment out of his pretty lips. Pretty after Danielle’s pretty, pretty ugly, pretty far from beautiful, pretty much the same as any other shallow girl, pretty easy to seduce, pretty easy to fool, pretty easy to leave.
I don’t want to be “pretty”. I hate pretty. Pretty is hollow, and I want to be full, spilling over with joy and love and wisdom and compassion; full like the opalescent moon that defines my name; full like Syria’s streets during the Easter parade; full like my father’s eyes when he laughs and like my mother’s coffee cup in the morning. If the world declares “pretty” to be the new beautiful, then I’d rather be ugly. And if all I am to Xavier is “pretty”, then I’d rather be alone with my liberating ugliness.