I stared into the eyes that stared back at me. I saw more than the eyeliner that was habitually asymmetrical and more than the mascara that was crusted around her eyes from tears.

I saw more than the facade; the diets, the workout routines, the perpetual happiness, and the need to always be the smartest. I saw a human being, not a sum of parts. This human did not merely want to survive–she wanted to be accepted and loved. All of her actions seemed to be motivated by this yearning.

Dark circles surrounded her eyes. She was tired; tired of trying to prove herself, tired of anticipating the next dagger to the chest, tired of being the doormat, but most notably tired of self-loathing.

Despite her apparent fatigue, there was a faint gleam in both of her irises. It was enveloped by bright white fear and pitch black darkness, but it was present. It was the result of words spoken tearfully, hands extended, sincere smiles, and eyes with a soft glow. It was a fragile buoy in a tempest-stricken ocean. It was.

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