Help Me Be Pretty

Sue Ella Brennen stood in front of her mother's bathroom mirror. Green, glittery dust lightly coated the counter and small globs of mascara left marks below her eye. Sue Ella was about to turn 16 and reenter public school for the first time in 10 years. 

Her mother Veronica, a plastic surgeon, always hinted that she needed to look after her appearance, especially now that she would be going to public school. Earlier that day, Sue Ella had been reading a book in the backseat of her mother's pearl-lacquered Lexus GS when Veronica suggested (and not the first time) that Sue Ella needed her eyebrows plucked and tamed. 

"One day I'll find someone that loves me for me! I'll find my Prince Charming!" she snarled in response. 

"Do you think Prince Charming would have picked Cinderella is the godmother didn't make her beautiful for the ball?" Veronica reminded Sue Ella. Sue Ella sank in the seat and pouted, her eyes glistening like fresh paint on a porcelain doll from the oncoming tears.

When they pulled into the driveway, a boy next to their great McIntosh tree wearing a baggy T-shirt with apple juice streaming down his hand (holding a freshly bitten apple) stared back at the car. Startled, he jumped the fence and ran off. Sue Ella's mother grumbled curses at the interloper. Sue Ella was sure she had found her Prince Charming. 

Later that evening Sue Ella snuck into her mother's bathroom and tried to make sense of the creams and dust that somehow made you beautiful. Sue Ella heard the door creak open and tried to hide the mess, but it was too late. 

Veronica walked into the bathroom, looked at Sue Ella, and gently said "Susie, honey, what are you doing with my makeup?"

Sue Ella looked at herself in the mirror, thinking of the boy under the apple tree. "Mama," she began. "Help me be pretty."


Gretchen received an honorable mention for a fiction piece that she is revisiting from another character's perspective. This is her feeble attempt at it. Gretchen is an assistant editor for Quail Bell Magazine and regularly posts her other work on her blog