Title: Smile Pretty
Summary: Everyone thinks Emma Nelson bounced back so well. But that's just what they see on the outside. Inside, she's just learned how to smile pretty.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters I do not own. I am making no profit from this story. I don't own a thing, except the poem "Smile Pretty".
Author's Notes: I do have an idea for a continuation of this, but as of now, this is a one shot. The poem, in italics, is mine.
Smile pretty, little one
Nod your head, follow along
She had them all fooled. They saw her going through the motions; school, classwork, even lunch in the cafeteria. It was the routine of a "normal" girl. And it was even easier at home. With all the focus on her younger brother, it was easy to smile pretty while she pretended to be exactly what they wanted her to be. But behind locked doors, she was still the same. Deep inside, the part no one could see or touch, she was the same.
The lines they have drawn on you will show you the way
The first few weeks had been the worst. Everyone had been so attentive, so concerned. She had almost found herself truly falling into the role they had set for her. But then their attention had faded. It had started slowly; one day, Manny had decided to go out with friends rather than watch Emma's food intake for yet another night in a row. When Emma didn't shatter into pieces, Manny's attention had continued to waver. And then Peter had followed suit. It had taken longer for her parents, but they too had fallen into the comfortable reassurance of her perfect obedience.
Keep your chin up, little one
They'll expect nothing less
And one day, Emma realized that there was no longer an extra gaze on her food as she portioned out her dinner. No one casually suggested she sit beside them rather than be alone after eating. In fact, no one mentioned her eating disorder at all. As long as she followed their rules, no one mentioned anything at all.
It had been that easy to let it all come back in, winding itself into every aspect of her daily life. But she was careful, more careful than she had been before. There would be no confidant this time, no friend to second guess. On the outside, she was nothing short of perfectly normal. No one would ever see the girl inside again. It would be her own secret.
Step softly, don't mess up
School, classwork, lunch; she did it all flawlessly. There was no reason to worry about Emma anymore. So no one did. Why worry over something that seemed so much a part of the past? And if her clothes were a bit looser, it was probably nothing. She ate, for sure. Everyone saw. And the dark circles under her eyes were a result of late night studying, of course. Everything had a reasonable explanation, right?
No fixing what you've already broke
No one was with her in the dark of night, watching her on her knees on the cold tile of the bathroom. No one watched her body shake from the trauma of self-induced vomiting. She was alone as she stood nude before the full length mirror, eyes welling with tears of disgust. No, she was alone then.
So smile pretty, little one
'Cause if you don't, they all might know
Know the truth
Know the secrets
So ask her friends, ask her teachers, ask her family and they will all say the same. Emma is all better, of course. But watch her when she is alone, staring at her ravaged body, torn apart by her illness and feeling nothing by disgust. And then you'll see.
And you couldn't handle that