I stare at myself in the small rectangular mirror that sits propped up on the desk, and focus on the small hairs that connect my two eyebrows. Or what I thought were two eyebrows.
“Be honest with me, have my eyebrows always looked this way?” I ask, squinting my eyes and leaning closer to examine the beasts. I want to use my hand to pick at the excess hairs, to rid of their existence altogether, but instead my left hand holds a large sheet of paper on the desk, and my right hand documents each awful hair with a pencil. I see myself frown in the mirror as I move onto attempt my eyes.
“Your eyebrows are fine,” my best friend Sarah says, her tongue sticking out the side of her mouth in concentration as she half-heartedly attempts to draw her left ear. She brushes her short brown hair behind the ear about five times before her pen actually touches the paper. Immediately, she picks up the eraser and the desk shakes back and forth. “What is not fine,” she mutters, whisking away the eraser shards onto the tile floor, “is asking middle schoolers to draw a ‘self portrait.’ Are you kidding me? I cringe every time I look in the mirror every morning, and now I have to stare at myself for 45 minutes? And try to draw it? I don’t even know which is worse.”
I laugh, and catch a glimpse of my braces in the mirror. Listen, I know it was a cute choice to pick the colors orange and black at my last orthodontist appointment two months ago, but that was when everyone was watching scary R rated movies and sneaking into abandoned houses on the weekends. Now it was snowing outside, winter break was upon us, and my mother had just sent two hundred and fifty Christmas cards out with my stupid Halloween themed braces plastered on the front.
Mrs. Metz wanders over to us, her hands clasped together as they always are, a smile stuck on her face as it always is. She peers over my shoulder and I catch her reflection in my mirror. The smile dims slightly, before she says “you’re doing a wonderful job.”
“It’s okay, Mrs. Metz, you don’t have to lie to me,” I say dully, “I know this looks more like a Martian than a human.”
She chuckles but doesn’t offer any rebuttal, and floats over to Sarah’s side of the desk. She tilts her head to the side before asking, “Sarah, my dear, how can it be you’ve only drawn your nose?”
“That’s my ear.”
I cover my mouth and look away at an attempt to not burst out in laughter. “Of course,” I hear Mrs. Metz say in her sing-songy voice, “and what a wonderful ear it is.”