She looked across the room at her prize. The hard work has finally paid off. She spent most of her youth to earn this. She has many bruises to prove it. She’s lost friends in the process, gained some enemies and stunted her personal growth for this.
She remembers when she first became aware of her longing. She had wanted this for quite some time now. And as everything else in life, a prize is not a prize without some competition. In fact, having someone to compete against was what fueled her drive.
She also remembers being made fun of in the 6th grade for having enormous eyes. They called her goldfish. She pretended she did not care, pretended to have a thick skin. But like most things that are not real, they do not fool others for long.
He on the other hand called her beautiful. He was her prize. He allowed her to feel helpful. He allowed her inside of his intricate world. He allowed her to win. He changed the rules of the game and permitted a runner-up to wear the crown and wave at the audience.
And even when the audience dwindled down and her crown turned into rust she valued the title that she was once given.
Even after the bruises she endured and the time she had squandered she still holds dear to her figurative crown. She looks back at the moment when last year’s runner up took the crown from the girl who won three years before her. The previous winner decided to give up her title to the girl with goldfish eyes.
She remembers the moment when the girl decided to give up her title; when the girl decided to give him up. She remembers the moment when she lost a friend and gained an enemy. She remembers the moment when she introduced her newly turned enemy to the man that made her feel included before he had yet to make her feel beautiful.
She remembers the man who made her feel valuable choosing her now enemy as his love… instead of her.
She remembers regretting giving him an ultimatum; giving him a choice. Giving herself the option to feel unworthy.
She could have sworn she was better. So she swore to never feel this way again and in her eyes he was a prize. He is the Prize. In her eyes he validated who she was, who she is. The only way she could ever feel worthy again was to win.
She remembers the couple choosing each other as their first. Just like he remembers the moment when his first love gave up the title to the runner up.
He had no choice but to include the girl who made herself available. The girl with goldfish eyes.
She remembers the way he mistreated her. The way he made her feel included yet ostracized her in public.
What she doesn’t remember is him mistreating her then competitor. She remembers the way that he spoke of her now enemy, with such spirit and passion. She remembers the way he never spoke of her. She remembers the way he kept her a secret. She remembers the way in which her enemy was always present. Not physically, but in spirit. Maybe he thought that if he spoke of the devil the devil would appear. Luckily for her he thought wrong.
And now she looks at her prize. ..She looks at him.
Has she really won? And if so, what did she win?
Was her prize the fact that he made her feel loved, even if it was for a fleeting moment? Was the prize having something over her then friend, now enemy?
Is it considered a prize if no one wants it anymore? Is it a prize if the audience that once cheered is now silent? Unable to make a sound, exasperated from booing. She has sacrificed so much for this prize.
But she rather have the memories and corroded crown than nothing at all.