Ruby: Imperfectly Perfect

"Yes, I'm so very glad you could attend! It's a pleasure to see you!" Amelia Munro laughed as she raised her wine glass and smiled at yet another guest. Anxiously, she scanned her beady blue eyes around the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of her thirteen-year-old daughter Ruby.

Recently, she had become worried about Ruby. Reports from her school showed she was failing in almost every subject, and her friends had said she was distant and cold towards them. Amelia wondered what was wrong with her daughter, what was causing such a distinct personality change. Ruby had always been a fun-loving little girl, full of smiles and happiness, friends with everybody. Now it was as if Ruby had been replaced by a ghost: someone distant and dreamy; always in a world of their own. It was her duty, her resposibility as a mother to get to the bottom of it and do everything in her power to help her only daughter. If she couldn't do it, nobody could.

Amelia was a ruthless businesswoman, high up in the society of New York's technology system. She had worked fucking hard for everything she had got, and in the process developed a can-do attitude. She had taken it in her stride from day one of Ruby's life to be the best mom she could be; arranging play-dates for Ruby and her friends since her first day of kindergarten, making sure she had the best birthday party that would be talked about for weeks down the line, dragging her along to lots of Miss Mini America beauty pageants and making sure she was the best in everything she done. Ruby was a natural-born leader, with the brains and the beauty to make it big, and Amelia never let her forget it.

Dave Munro, Amelia's husband and Ruby's father, had been less enthusiastic to go through with trying to make Ruby into a mini Amelia.

"You gotta let the kid be herself Ami, if she wants to be a doctor or a scientist, then great! But again, if she wants to work behind the tills at Walmart, then we're her parents; and we gotta support her through thick and thin. It's our job." he had said when his wife was insisting putting Ruby through summer school to help better her grades.

Ignoring her husband's clear discomfort, Amelia done it all the same. According to the letters that Ruby had sent once a week, she was having a great time and making lots of new friends. Amelia didn't really care that her daughter was top of the social ladder there; all she cared about was the fact that Ruby would be ten - or at least five - times smarter when she came home.

Amelia sighed and looked around the room once again, hoping to catch a glimpse of her daughter's pretty face. She was sick of the way Ruby was always in a dream; although she had never said so. She didn't want Ruby's confidence being ruined, because then she would feel insignificant, something that she most certainly was not. Besides, if her self-esteem was ruined, she would probably want a shitty job and go out her way to piss Amelia and Dave off. Amelia shuddered at the thought, and turned around.

Ruby was perched on the arm of one of the black leather armchairs, engrossed in a book. Amelia sighed with exasperation. She wanted Ruby to get smarter, yes, no doubt about that, but why did her daughter always have to pick the wrong time and place for everything? She walked over to where Ruby was sitting, her Louboutins clicking off the polished wooden floor.

Sensing a presence, Ruby looked up from her book, straight into the eyes of her mother. She sighed silently and dog-eared the corner of the page she was on, sitting her book down and standing up straight.

Ruby was sick of the way Amelia lived her life for her: making all her decisions, all her friends, deciding which subjects she could take in school, dragging her along to pageant after pageant and enrolling her in clubs she had no fucking interest in. She wasn't a little kid of three anymore, she had a mind of her own and she should have been entitled to tell her mom that she didn't want to be a big-shot in the law firm, nor did she want to take violin practice or attend tuition after tuition of subjects she was convinced she had no chance in. She was thirteen, surely her mother could accept the fact that Ruby was growing up and didn't need her mommy by her side every second of the day, picking out her outfit for her and forcing her to become friends with snobby girls whose only thing in common with Ruby was probably her age.

But that was probably what Amelia hated most about her only daughter. The fact that she wasn't a clone of herself and she had a mind of her own.

Ruby became aware of the way that Amelia's smile had become strained, and the fact she had her arms crossed, something she only did when she was really pissed off.

"Ruby darling, go and talk to someone instead of sitting there like Lipton's orphan!" Amelia hissed, shoving Ruby a little.

"I don't know anyone, Mom." Ruby replied truthfully, looking around the room and seeing nothing but businessmen and women in smart suits and designer dresses. There wasn't a child or teenager in sight.

"That's not the point! You can't sit there engrossed in some shitty book with no plot and virtually ignore everyone. It's rude, and I brought you up to be polite. Now go and make some casual conversation with some of our guests, and show them that you are the perfect daughter that I paint you out to be." Amelia replied, her tone sharp and snappy.

Ruby felt her face flush. Why couldn't she make one decision of her own in life, instead of having to rely on her mother to make them for her?

"I told you, I don't know anyone here. I can't exactly go up to people I don't know and ask how their Mom or Dad is, can I? Besides, nobody really gives a shit about me being here, all they care about is comparing the price of their ties and swimming pools! And stop trying to make me into something I'm not. If I wanted to make conversation, I would have done it long before now." Ruby snapped back, her tone bitter and resentful.

To Amelia, it felt like a slap in the face. As she watched her daughter pick up her book and walk up the stairs, back to her bedroom she felt a bittersweet feeling of loss for the happy young girl that she had loved so well. She walked over to a small coffee table sitting in a corner of the room, and picked up the photo frame that sat there.

In the photo, it was a smiling Ruby, her first seventh grade photo. Her glossy brown curls had been brushed to a sheen and were sitting daintily on her shoulders, bouncing against her crisp white school shirt. Her blue eyes were sparkling with laughter, her mouth drawn into a smile, baring all her pearly white teeth.

Amelia felt tears prick the backs of her eyes and she longed for the old Ruby back. The one that was happy and carefree, not really giving a shit about anything or anyone. As long as her parents were getting on, and all her friends were still holding her hand and making jokes, she was fine.

Amelia put the photograph back down on the table and closed her eyes, trying to stem the flow of tears that were threatening to pour down her face, smudging her perfect eyeliner. Right now designer clothes, her high-power job and even looking her best at all times didn't matter. All she wanted was the Ruby everyone knew and loved back.

Her perfect little girl.

well, how was it? first actual chapter of the story, not an introduction! please leave a review telling me what you think, constructive criticism would really be appreciated. i'll probably go back and edit parts but for now it's okay i suppose. hope you're enjoying! -S xo

with special thanks to the amazing theliterarykoala, cerebral1, annabella7 and lasmeninas1104 for your lovely reviews so far. it's definitely gave me some motivation to carry on knowing that people like it, and are reading. it's very much appreciated and i'm so glad that you're enjoying the story.