Monday, November 23, 2009

The Half Truth

I will tell you a story that is only half true. Which half that might be is really up to you.

I used to be a gorgeous princess once. Well, at least that's what my Mother used to call me. I wore the prettiest dresses and was the admiration of everyone who saw me.

Only that what they admired wasn't the dress nor the beauty. What they admired was really, my ability to be brave. Not many girls are brave. Or rather, not many girls are as brave as they portray themselves to be.

I was once brave.

I was brave enough to stand up to the boys. Boys are full of nasty ideas, and they are big bullies. One or two tried to tease me and call me names a number of times. At first I just smiled nicely and pretended like I was too sweet to do anything to retaliate.

Then, one day, when all the boys were out playing football, I exchanged the shirts of the nasties so that none of them got to wear back their own shirts. Of course, they never knew it was me who did it. I was careful about that.

I almost fought with a teacher once, for mistreating my friend. How dare teachers just accuse people of being lazy, when the truth was my friend was busy helping her dad's business so they could earn enough money for the family so she and her other sibilings could all stay in school.

I wrote my real thoughts about school down once, in an exercise book, and handed it up as my essay homework instead of what I was actually supposed to write.

But I had girls in my class who refused to let me join in their fun and games. I was on the sidelines practically most of the time.

Eventually I watched other people my age hog the limelight, whilst I fell back into the shadows. Not because I had nothing to offer, but because others outshined me, and I accepted it for a fact.

My voice grew softer amidst the growing confidence that my peers were developing. Latest world news, current youth trends, juicy gossip. I could not keep up.

I had talent once. I squandered it. That is because I sang in a school concert, and although it was pretty good, my teacher told me instead that I had done a terrible job and my voice was not worthy to be heard in public. Which was terribly untrue.

I had always wanted to be a teacher. But then my grades got bad in high school because I fell in love with a boy who didn't love me back. One day, I tried kissing a real live frog, hoping that it might become a real prince, who would love me as I am and when he looked into my eyes, I'd feel so self-assured that I was okay and that I was lovable.

My Mum died when I was still in university. She used to say such lovely things to me every day and it kept me going. It made me feel special, that I had a unique place in this world. After she was gone, I stopped believing everything she said because I realised all the hope she had encouraged me with hadn't had the power to save her from dying and leaving me all alone here in the world.

I found a useful job, and kept at it long enough until all the good people gave up doing it, and only I was left. So I was successful because there was no one else who stuck it out as long as me. And everyone thought I was smart. And also hinted that maybe I had been brave.

I married a man almost prince-like, only so far as his choice of cars, clothes and food go. Nothing but the best and the most pricey things for my handsome hunk. I am his princess, but only when I do everything he expects of me.

I wrote a story once, about what my lfe was really like. It had a happy ending, or so I thought I recalled. It goes something like what I just told you.

What I told you at the beginning of my story is true. And then there was the other half.