This story was one of the two I've written for the Trip to the Playground theme at AHA.
This story is a little different than what I thought I'd write when I first saw the new theme, but it is the reality of many girls (and some boys too). I hope you'll forgive me for being so depressing in such a theme as childhood. It has an HEA, and the mature bit happens when Lizzy is all grown up. It's unbetad and has many grammar mistakes, I'm sure.
Blurb: How is it to be your mother's least favorite daughter?
Trigger warning: eating disorder
Who Doesn't Like Pizza?
You are always compared to your beautiful elder sister, she is everything that is kind and sweet and sunshine. You are pretty, of course, your mother tells you, but if only your complexion was lighter, your waist slightly thinner, if only your hair wasn't so unruly.
You get a new dress and twirl it in front of your parents. Your mother tells you it'll look prettier if you had a few less pounds. Your father tells you that you are just a silly little girl. You are three years old. You resolve to never be silly again, and give up twirling and dresses.
At age four you give your dolls a lecture about diet and cancel their afternoon tea. Instead, you go play with Lucas and his trucks at the playground. When you get back home, your dolls look at you with an empty stare and you feel bad, so you give them a chocolate bar and eat it with them, of course.
You are five when you try to hate your sister. But she really is all that is sweet and kind, and so you envy her slim body and sunshine hair and have the pleasure of suffering from guilt trips the size of your waist whenever you wish her to gain a pound.
When you are six, you learn to hide sweets in your pockets. You eat them quickly, so you won't get caught, and you dream of a day when you'll be able to enjoy the pursuit leisurely.
You eat a chocolate bun, happily munching and humming to yourself, when a shadow creeps behind you, only to say "Do you really need that? Eat an apple instead." You are outraged. "If it's so bad for me, why do we have it at home?" Your mother answers in a most tactful way that it's not your sisters' fault that you are fat. You are seven.
Boyfriends are explained by your mother when you are eight. Boys like pretty, thin girls. You must eat less or you'll never get a boyfriend. You can't bring yourself to give up that blueberry tart, and so you never get a boyfriend that year, or the year after that. Lucas doesn't count.
Age nine brings more frustration with it. You have four sisters by now and you learn, quite by accident, that you are all being catalogued. Jane is the prettiest, Mary is the smartest, Kitty is the funniest and Lydia is the most adorable creature in all the land. And you? You're the one who has potential.
When you are ten, you learn that not all sisters are kind. When your adorable little sister snarls "fat ass" in your direction, you learn to hit. It is totally worth the detention you get.
At age eleven you learn not to look in the mirror. Your biggest achievement is evading the camera, and there are no pictures of you from that year. Your only consolation is that you have no pimples and you say it to yourself whenever you try on a pair of jeans. You also learn that a compliment is always achieved at the expense of another. Your legs are shapely, your mother says, as opposed to Charlotte's heavy logs. But your sister's arms are thinner than yours. Always compare.
You are twelve when you try to vomit. You eat pizza, not even a good pizza, and you are hungry, and you eat and eat and eat, and when you realize you just ate five slices you are filled with guilt. You go to the toilets and try to get it all out. It hurts and smells and it feels like being chocked to death. You give up the pleasure and vow to never eat pizza again.
By age thirteen you learn to bend your back in a way that will hide your growing breasts. You learn all the crudest jokes. Is that your birthday? Then what are the balloons for? Working in a dairy farm? How much does your bra cost? I'll hold them for free! You learn not to run in front of people and to always walk with headphones.
Disappointment is learnt by age fourteen. You are starting to like Lucas. A lot. He looks at you sometimes and you are filled with hope. But one day you two have a long talk and he tells you he really likes you, and he would have happily been your boyfriend, but he isn't attracted to busty girls and so it would never work out. But he still wants to be your friend! You bite your lip hard so you won't cry and agree that friendship is better.
You get used to it afterwards, the disappointment. You shut everyone out. By the time you're twenty five you are a tough, successful woman, impeccably dressed and with many conquers in your bag. Yet you still hate your waist, and pizza. You go to a party dressed in your favorite dress, and your sister's boyfriend's best friend insults you in everyone's hearing, claiming you are not pretty enough for him. You are a three years old again, twirling your pretty dress and getting only a cool reaction. You try to laugh it off, but secretly you hate that man for transporting you back to those dark times with just a few words and a sneer.
A few months later, when the same hateful man confess his admiration, you are still a bitter hag. You are quick to remind him that he thought you are not pretty enough for him, that he is conceited and a downright snob, that you will never have him. In return you receive the most beautiful explanation letter.
"I will not demean your intelligent by saying that I did not mean what I said that night. I thought you were rather pretty, though nothing special. I looked at you afterwards, trying to find your shortcomings, but instead found only beauty. I don't know how it happened, but not even a month passed and I thought you were the most beautiful woman I have ever met. You were right, I am vain, but I swear to you on my parents' grave that I will change. I will be a better man. For you. You deserve it and so much more, because you are a wonderful, compassionate and amazing human being. And one day I will be worthy of you."
It makes you want to hit yourself when you realize you threw away the only person who ever loved you for who you were, all in the name of a petty grudge. You don't love him, but you see the potential that was wasted, just like yourself.
There comes a time, when you can no longer blame your parents and childhood for your fuck ups. You live your life, believing that your phobias and little quirks are all the result of your mother's thoughtless remarks or your father's sarcastic lashing. You excuse yourself of the consequences, because it is not your fault, it's all your mother's doing. And then one day you wake up and realize how much time you wasted, trying to cover up your messes, and you decide that enough is enough. It is now time to move on and take responsibility on your own mistakes. You may be twelve, thirty five or sixty three, but that day will come. It's called growing up.
You promise yourself that you will change as well. You cannot love another if you do not love yourself. And so every day you tell yourself you are beautiful in front of the mirror. You start eating what makes your body and your soul happy and not what your mother wants you to eat, though never pizza. You make origami from YouTube tutorials, because it's fun, you forgot what fun was in the last few years. You wear yellow and pink and red, and even horizontal stripes! Because black doesn't really make you thin, only boring.
You are happy.
You meet him again on your sister's wedding, he's the best man and you are the maid of honor, so you sit at the same table. He is kind enough to get you a plate from the buffet. Your mother's horror at the juicy steak with the slab of butter on top is priceless. "Your daughter is smart enough to know what she wants to eat," he says and you know he is perfect. You nearly choke on your steak when your mother replies, "Of course, I always told her she was smart!". You swallow your bite, along with a healthy "No you didn't!" and decide that it doesn't matter. You are done living in the past.
You dance and you laugh and then you take him to your bed. He takes your clothes off like he's unwrapping a present, gently and reverently. He kisses your breasts like they are manna from heaven. He caresses your bellybutton and your stretchmarks, signs of the abuse your body suffered, with utmost tenderness. His lips touch every finger, every hair strand, every piece of skin available. And when you come, panting and heaving, he tells you he had never seen a more beautiful sight. You laugh shakily.
You are glad that you refused him two years ago, because you had the chance to save yourself, instead of waiting for prince charming. You are stronger than you were, a better person. And he deserves only the best, just like you.
And you both live happily ever after, even though you still hate pizza.