Dolly stood still as she listened to the girls chanting “you’re just second best, second best, second best”. They laughed as they walked passed her in their fashionable group. She slammed her locker door and walked in the other direction down the hall, feeling everyones eyes on her while they grinned.
She bragged last week that she was going to get the first place medal. She was sure of it. Pretty girls didn’t work hard and they couldn’t possibly be better than her. And she almost got it too, if it wasn’t for her stumble and fall. Who would have expected her to stumble and fall? Everyone on the bleachers couldn’t believe it either, but it happened. It was a disaster. Embarrassed she had picked herself up and continued to run, but Tracey zipped right past her and was at least two feet ahead. A simple stumble gave Tracey the gold medal.
Everyday this week, Tracey pranced around with her groupies, chanting second best to her, constantly reminding her that she was nothing.
It was exhausting hearing the chants. She listened to her footsteps, concentrating hard, to drown it out. “I’m going to get her, that A student, Tracey,” Dolly whispered to herself as she walked home.
Slamming the door behind her, she plopped down on the living room couch and turned on the TV.
“What is it? Why are you slamming my door?”. Her mother had a roller pin in her hand and flour all over her.
“Nothing mother. I just hate Tracey”. Dolly mumbled.
“Tracey! Tracey again. You’re still complaining about Tracey?” Dolly’s mother shook her head and went back to the kitchen.
Dolly flung the remote control on the carpet and decided to sketch. The chants were still echoing in her mind and the TV couldn’t be loud enough. Sketching was the only thing she could do. It was what calmed her down. She could think about anything and make it real, sketching anything to life.
A self portrait, she thought.
There was an old picture of her and her grandmother in the hallway. It was perfect. She was going to redo her look and change herself into a better person, the best, not the second best. She took the picture out of the frame and took a second look. Her grandmother had dressed her in a matching outfit. She looked like a younger version, with wild curly hair.
She remembered her grandmother’s story of how she hunted with grandpa and took home her favorite game, a lion. Maybe she should sketch a lion, she thought, but decided not to.
“I better stick to my plan, that’s how I will become the best “. Dolly spoke to herself as she grabbed her sketch pad and her pencil.
She had sketched herself many times before, each time making a slight change, hardly noticing the difference.
She sketched her nose slightly wider, her cheeks slightly smaller. It wasn’t much, but it looked better. He dark brown eyes needed to be more noticeable. A lighter shade, dark brown to light brown. Perfect. It wasn’t much, but just enough. She still looked like her grandmother with the rag doll curly hair.
“Maybe a little less curl. Maybe grandma didn’t have so much curls.” Dolly thought as she twirled her pencil. But instead of sketching her curl looser, she made it tighter. She laughed to herself, thinking there was no way that her mother would be able to put her comb through it.
“Ha ha, no way.” She said grinning. Her hair was still soft and manageable, just not for her mother. No need to comb her hair, Just pick it.
Dolly’s mother saw it and said, “it’s the best one yet. So, who are you now?”
“Mother, you’re not supposed to notice any difference. I’m the same.” Dolly laughed.
“I’m your mother. Do you really think I won’t know the difference?”
Dolly put a couple of dots on her face, “freckles”.
“Freckles?” Her mother grinned.
“Yes, now I’m the best.” Dolly said.
“You are already the best. You don’t need to make a whole new you. Forget about Tracey. You’ll get another chance.
Knowing there won’t be another chance, Dolly kissed her mother and ran to her room with her sketch, soaking it in water. She remembered what her mother told her, that water brought life. She was going to bring her picture to life. Just a few words of wisdom and then it will be done.
“A little seed I plant in need to sprout a gang of vegetation. It’s the very greens I need to do well in my education”. Dolly whispered.
Looking at herself in the bathroom mirror, she saw it happen. Her freckles, her hair, her cheeks, her eyes. Everything had changed.
The next day Dolly dressed herself fashioning her new afro, blue jeans, green t-shirt and smart looking earrings.
That day everyone looked at her walking in the hallway, smiling and admiring her in every way.
Tracey snickered and asked, “hey Dolly, what did you do? What are you wearing and what did you do with your hairdo?”
“Oh nothing, it’s still me. I’m just wearing what I like to do.” Dolly was all smiles. She had outshined Tracey.
“That’s the problem with you Dolly. I don’t need to do anything. I already know I’m the best.” Tracey pat down her fro and said “later” as she switched her hips to go.