The last part of I’ll Never Be today on the Tale… You can find Part One here and Part Two here as well…
Sometimes the truth is what it is …. We just need to see it for what it is…
I’ll Never Be
Sometimes there is a moment that happens. Sometimes it happens just once and only once. Sometimes it happens again, if not quite in the same way.
Beverly scrambled under the bedcovers as the sound she knew so well came closer. There was, just barely, enough time to burrow underneath them, her tail the last thing to disappear under the comforter and for her to curl up into a ball there.
The footsteps stopped at the doorway, pausing there. Was she listening? Did she know? Was she looking at her indistinct form, hiding under the bedclothes? Did she know? Did she … could she … was she disappointed in her?
The young purple tail tried to stifle the chocking sob in her chest, pushing it down again so that her visitor wouldn’t hear it. She could hear her heels turning as if to leave and relaxed … but then the sob escaped her … and when the sound of those heels came into the room … they were so close now … Beverly tensed up tightly and tried not to move, not to make another sound.
The bed shifted as her idol settled there on the edge. Beverly wondered if she was disappointed, sad, upset … so many thoughts of all of the things that might be, could be, would be wrong.
Nothing happened for the longest time. She didn’t speak, though she was sure that a pair of eyes was looking at her … into her … through her. Again she felt so disappointed that her own eyes would never look exactly like them.
She felt a hand nearly touch, but not quite actually touch her own tail. She didn’t dare move it, for once she did, the woman above the comforter would know that the one underneath, the one who was supposed to be asleep, wasn’t, that she was hiding … ashamed now that she was doing so. But it was far too late to change her mind; she had made her bed and now she had to lay in it. She actually had a small smile as she realized now what that old saying meant … at least to her.
But then … the visitor spoke: “A long time ago, long before you were you, I was in a room like this, under the covers, thinking about what might be. I had spent the day being miserable. Everything about me was wrong. I didn’t like me, did not care for me. I wanted to curl up somewhere and just hide away from the world and fade away.”
She felt that hand brush over the covers slowly, as if it was tracing randomly over the comforter, possibly tracing the stitching, possibly not.
“I wasn’t good enough. I was not the vision that I was supposed to be. There was no possible way that I could meet the role that everyone around me said that I was …” she chuckled before the next came “… destined to be. ‘You have to wear this. You have to speak like that. You can’t act that way. You cannot be that way.’”
Listening to those words, Beverly wanted to tell her that she was perfect, that everything she did was just right, that every word, move, thought, expression was flawless.
She continued: “For the longest time I took all of their words and twisted myself into knots, trying to make myself be what they wanted me to be. If I changed the right thing, if I looked the right way, if I did and said what they said was right, then everything would be right, wouldn’t it?”
The younger woman had to think about that, how everything spoken of was how she looked at herself, thought of herself, expected herself to be.
She went on: “So, eventually, that night came where I wound up in my room, looking at myself and pulling at my hair, the frustrations piling on top of me until there was nothing of me when I looked into the mirror. All I could see were the things that were wrong, so wrong that I could never fix them.”
The hand stopped moving, and Beverly wondered what was coming next.
“I just about gave up. The worst thing about not knowing yourself, being yourself, and accepting yourself is that, if you cannot find your way back to that, then you are lost.”
She took a deep breath and blew it out again.
She heard her visitor do the same thing: “It took me far too long to realize something: that spending your life trying to be who you are not is not a life. It is hardship, disappointment, and, most of the time, it wears upon your soul. It beats you down, takes away all of the joys within you, and leaves only emptiness behind that you cannot fill. All you do is make that void within your bigger and bigger, until all you have inside of you is that emptiness.”
She understood that feeling … She felt it so much, so often now.
“The day I realized that being me was the most important thing, the void began to be filled. It didn’t leave all at once—it never works that easily and anyone who tells you that it just vanishes in a puff of smoke isn’t telling you the truth. But I did, after a long time, look at myself and realize that I didn’t feel empty inside.”
Under the covers, she nibbled on the inside of her cheek.
“Sweetheart, be yourself. Learn that lesson and take it to heart. You can be anything you want to be. You can do anything you want to do. But the one thing that so few manage is to be themselves first.”
She felt the bed shift as she rose from it, her story finished. She stood there, likely considering, and then said: “Maybe I should have sooner.”
The footsteps came again as her hero began to leave. Lying there under the covers, she thought about the story and called out to her, “I’ll try.”
The footsteps stopped. Then Tera replied: “I know. That’s all I ever ask.”
Then she left, closing the door behind her. The purple tail didn’t come out from under the covers … not right away. She was thinking … a lot. It was almost two hours later when she realized something: no one was perfect. That was the point of the story. Understanding that took longer, accepting it longer still, but, in the end …
Tera was who she was and Bev—yes, Bev—was who she was …
… each perfect in her own way …
… each not so perfect in her own way …
… but each herself, first, last, and always.