La Réflexion
by: angelforshow

I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl—

Tenten thinks this over and over and over again when she looks into the mirror, cringing at her plain brown hair and her muscular frame. She can't be striking or gorgeous or exotic, but pretty is attainable. She isn't cute and she most definitely isn't beautiful, but she can be pretty, the shitty in-between.

Lee doesn't understand why she wants to be pretty. He doesn't understand why she's stopped wearing her hair in convenient, boyish buns, or why she's taken to wearing mascara and perfume. You're youthful and full of vitality, he says to her, that's what's important.

But Lee is her best friend. Lee grew up with her and they made mud pies with each other and practiced karate together and have told each other everything. Lee will never see her as anything more—or less—than the five year old Tenten with scraped knees and a squinty-eyed smile.

But Neji is completely different. Neji is the mysterious boy from down the street who moved in when they were twelve, just on the edge of growing up, when everyone was ugly and awkward and required to have braces and wire-rimmed glasses.

He isn't mysterious and unknown anymore. Tenten and Neji are friends. They study together and occasionally see movies with Lee. They eat lunch at the same table and text message each other and he's seen her cry and she's seen him lose his temper.

Neji is one of Tenten's closest friends. Neji is also the boy with a gentle voice and hardened eyes that Tenten has been in love with for five years since she first saw him.

I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl—

But Neji doesn't love Tenten. Neji doesn't see their relationship as anything more than platonic, because, like Lee, he's practiced karate with Tenten and watched action films with her and she's no more than his best friend, the girl who had a mouth full of wires and could punch him in the stomach fair and square when she was twelve.

He's much more into the beautiful girls, Tenten learns with despair when they turn sixteen. Sakura is one of the lucky ones. She's beautiful and exotic and lithe and adorable and kind and clever and her head seems to fit perfectly tucked under Neji's chin when they hug.

Tenten knows she has nothing on Sakura, because Tenten isn't even pretty, and she's too athletic and rail thin and stands at an awkward 5'8" and her head goes up to Neji's nose. She's a monster when compared to Sakura, full of sharp angles and long, thin lines.

When she sees Neji and Sakura kiss each other or walk together at school, Tenten feels her chest caving in and she feels as if she can't breathe for the rest of the day.

I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl—

So Tenten tries.

She tries to be graceful and she tries to float and be airless and she tries to make herself girly and lovely.

She isn't trying to become the perfect girl for Neji. She tries so she can finally see the day when her reflection stop taunting her in the mirror, when her own eyes, bitter cappuccino, will stop mocking her.

I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl—

Lee is worried.

You're being stupid, Tenten tells him, sitting on the hood of his car while he confronts her. He is agitated and antsy, shifting from legwarmer to legwarmer, obviously upset and flustered. It's definitely not panning out that way, Tenten tells him. Thanks for your concern.

Lee is, for once, irritated. He's irritated with bitchy Tenten, who barely seems like herself anymore, and he's irritated with busy Neji, too preoccupied with his girlfriend and his job and his family to notice one of his best friends stray to the wayside.

I am sorry if you think I am being stupid, Lee replies to Tenten, biting back his tongue to keep even more bitter words inside, wrapped up and away. He gets into his car and starts the engine, forcing Tenten to slide off the hood and stand awkwardly on the blacktop.

Tenten is bony and frail and cranky and smells like a pornstar, the hard-earned results of her efforts. She's stopped playing sports and has sacrificed muscle definition for minimal curves on her wiry frame. She's stopped sleeping until 7:30 so she can wake up at 5:30 to put on makeup and carefully style her hair. Her eyes are watery and rimmed with black and she just doesn't look like Tenten anymore.

Lee is irritated as he drives home. He doesn't even have a best friend anymore.

I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl—

When Tenten stares into the mirror she doesn't know who she sees anymore. The girl there is sharp and bony and dull and nothing like what she wanted to be. She feels like shit and she can't seem to talk to anyone anymore and she her hair is dry and things are just falling apart and she can't fucking take it anymore.

She is nothing like Sakura or Ino or Hinata and she can't change her height or frame and she can't saw away at the bits of herself she doesn't like. She is Tenten, a prisoner in her own body. She is Tenten, changing herself because the boy she loves has taken over her mind. She is Tenten, empty, empty Tenten.

Tenten stares into the mirror and notices that her eyes are hollow and blank and they don't speak anything to her anymore.

I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl—

And so she sheds it all away.

It starts with the mascara. She didn't even know how to use it anyway, clumpy and sticky. Then it's the perfume and then the clothes and then the shoes and then the attitude and then lip gloss and then the glitter.

It's a silent fuck you to Neji. It's a fuck you because he could never see past her twelve year old shadow. It's a fuck you because he never notices how much she loved him. It's a fuck you for ditching her and Lee at lunch for Sakura, and a fuck you because he hasn't talked to her since he met his new girlfriends.

It's a fuck you because she was never important enough to him to apparently even matter.

It's a fuck you and it's a goodbye.

I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl—

Tenten hits the snooze at 7:20 and finally manages to drag herself out of bed ten minutes later. She brushes her teeth and she changes into her school clothes and then she snaps two hair elastics onto either side of her hair, twisting, twisting her pigtails up until she has identical buns on top of her hair.

She's almost late to first period and she has plans with her friends to play soccer after school and she's thrown that nasty perfume away into the garbage where it belongs.

I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl I'm a pretty girl—

And this time, Tenten believes herself when she says it.

Yeah, I don't even know. I started this a while ago and then never finished it, so I thought I'd finish it up and post. I'm not really happy with it, but whatever. Nothing special, just something to show that I'm not totally dead yet.