To Prove You Wrong

There was nothing remotely beautiful or remarkable about her. No breath-taking power or charm the eye could detect. She was every bit as plain as the ensemble of Old Navy jeans and a T-shirt, as she stood on the dim stage. She seemed even more mundane in contrast with the tempestuous sea of platinum hair and gaudy clothing that was her audience. She clutched a microphone in her right hand, holding it before her like a lone saber in the center of a pack of raging wolves. She was swaying in a slightly unsettled fashion, but her green eyes were the very picture of serenity, her face swathed in cool determination.

The spotlight clicked on and moved slowly to where she stood, the light catching the top of her bowed head and the tips of her long eyelashes. She lifted her head and just stared out at the audience for several minutes, slowly turning her head so the spotlight spun each strand of her straw-brown hair into gold in turn.

She let herself be as struck by their sameness as she had been ever since she had arrived, each girl and boy an exact replica of the one beside him. Several of them sniggered and commented on her dowdiness, but she was far too used to this to care. Finally, she spoke.

"If someone told you that you were perfect," she began in a clear, even voice, "that you should never change a thing, that you were a glorious, irreplaceable work of art that no one else could even dream of mimicking, would it matter to you who it was who said so?"

"That depends," yelled a particularly doltish and obnoxious boy, "Was she a hottie?" His followers all shrieked with laughter as he made a huge show of bowing so his ridiculously long hair fell into his face then back to its original residing place, more tousled then ever.

"Would it matter to you if she was homely and squat, disfigured and woebegone? Would you still take heed of her? Would you still believe her if she was encircled by a myriad of the stunning who were all listing every single thing wrong with you in their equally glamorous voices? If she told you that you were unique and your greatest perfection was your flaws, and they said you were queer and ugly, who would you believe? Her or them?"

The girl turned and gave the arrogant boy who had spoken a look of pure ice. Her eyes were remarkably green, phosphorescent beneath the spotlight's undying glow. The intensity of those eyes somehow trumped their splendor.

Ignoring another outbreak of derisive laughter, she continued. "But you decided to believe them. You went to every length to change yourself, to make yourself perfect in their eyes. You threw out each and every shred of personality you ever called your own, and congratulations, you became one of them. What if they told how great you were every day, while wordlessly foxing you into sinking deeper into their pool of semblance, into loosing more and more of yourself? And what if everyday, she walked passed you, shaking her head sadly and murmuring that everything fine in you had died. Then who would you believe? Her or them?"

An uncharacteristic ferocity was building in her every word as she advanced, closer and closer to where stage ended and audience began. Even though the glare of her eyes was directed at no one in particular, one boy felt them burning holes through his very existence. He tried to sink lower in his seat, to look away from her striking vehemence, but he could not remove his own eyes from her pacing, leonine form. He considered mocking her as the other boy had, but something he could not identify held him back.

"And now," she continued, her voice diminishing with every word she spoke, never losing its authoritative tones, "you have fully succeeded in ruining yourself. You are the copy of a copy of a copy of many different copies of a worthless original. You have nothing to call your own, no one to call yourself. And if you've no one to call yourself, how can you have anyone to call your friend? But I guess it's all the same, because you're all copies of each other. Aren't you?" Without warning, her voice became loud and booming, boring into deep intangible corners. "And what if she was standing here before you and all of them, as they derided her for sticking out and being who she is and having no shame?" Her voice shook with anger's pronounced vibrato. "What if she was standing where I stand on this stage, telling you all that I have? Who would you believe, then? Her or them? They or I?" She took a few audible breaths to steady herself. "Maybe I got through to all of you, half of you, ten of you, or maybe I only managed to change one of you. But no matter, it will have been worth it to me, and maybe someday it will be worth your while too."

"But 'what if' you didn't 'get through to' any of us?" sneered the obnoxious boy from the back row.

"Then," said the girl, "God save us." With that, she let her mighty saber fall from her grasp and exited stage left. The auditorium was thick with the first complete silence it had contained all day for several minutes, before it exploded, once again, with noise.