The eyes were a drab shade of green. The skin looked plain with fading freckles. The shape of the face was too long, as was the nose. The chin was large like her father’s, and the ears were set too far back. The hair, though clean and shiny, appeared to be a mousy kind of brown that would not behave after it dried. Heather held some of her hair in front of her, somehow hoping it would change appearance. She stuck out her tongue at the face, and it did the same to her.
Why am I so ugly? she inwardly demanded. Why can’t I be beautiful, like J.Lo or Britney Spears? Why can’t I have more of a body? At 16 I should be seeing more development.
She turned sideways to view her figure, but the bosom was little more than a ridge, the hips about the same size, and the thighs were skinny. Heather put her hands on her waist to see how much thinner it would be, but she didn’t see much difference in diameter.
"It’s not fair!" she cried—truly cried because tears were starting to flow. "Other girls my age have great looks, great bodies. Why must I be cursed with a … a beanpole?"
She left the bathroom and went to breakfast, feeling depressed. It was bad enough that she didn’t like herself, now her parents had left her to stay with Aunt Mae and Uncle Lyle for the weekend. A second honeymoon, they had said. But Heather had a different interpretation.
They don’t want me anymore. I’m so ugly, they’re disappointed in how I turned out and left me here forever. They’ll never come back for me.
Never mind that her two sisters were also here. Not only did Heather compare herself with singing stars, but she felt inferior around her older sisters as well. June was going steady with a handsome young man in college. Sarah was the most popular girl in her high-school senior class. Why do they hafta get all the looks? her aching heart demanded.
Though she usually liked waffles with eggs and bacon, Heather stared at them without seeing them. She ate tiny forkfuls without tasting them. That’s when Aunt Mae noticed her.
"Why, Heather! What on earth is wrong with you? Are you sick?"
"I’m fine, Aunt Mae," said Heather somberly.
Her sisters harmonized a tolerant sigh between them. "She’s in another one of her ‘I’m ugly’ phases," said Sarah. "We keep telling her she has lots of friends, that everybody likes her. But she won’t listen to us."
Tattletale, Heather’s mind said, but outwardly she remained silent. She glanced up darkly from her syrup-drenched waffles, her nose almost in the plate.
Mae regarded her niece with sympathy. "Heather, my dear, would you come with me, please?"
"But my breakfast."
"It will be here when you get back. Please."
Reluctantly Heather joined Mae out the back door, where a meticulous flower garden grew. Usually the array of blues, reds and yellows thrilled her, but now in her depressed state they seemed to mock her.
"These are my babies," said Mae. "I’ve been gardening since I was a little girl, and your mom sometimes helped me. Which flower is your favorite?"
Offering a tiny shrug, Heather said, "Dunno. The hibiscus, maybe. But the gladiolas are nice, too."
"What about that bed of daisies over there at the edge? Or the phlox on this side?"
"They’re kinda small, compared to the others. But they’re pretty, too."
"That’s right, my dear. Do you know which one is my favorite?"
Heather slightly shook her head.
"All of them."
Startled, Heather turned and stared. "But … how can all of them be your favorite?"
"Because, they’re my babies. My babies are different colors, different sizes, different shapes. Some are showier than others. But they are all beautiful to me.
"It’s the same with us, my dear. We are all in God’s flower garden. He doesn’t have a favorite, because to Him—and to everyone else who loves you—you are just as beautiful as that hibiscus. He loves you for you, Heather, not for what you look like. And any boy worth having is also going to love you for you. The glamour of the world is a trap, my dear. Outward beauty only lasts for so long, but beauty of the spirit—that lasts forever."
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