Pretty hurts?… Does it really?

Cindy stood outside the school gate waiting for Angie so that they could go home together. The sun was setting into an orange horizon and it was clearly getting late. Cindy’s mum would definitely be outside their gate waiting to embrace her with a thorough caning because she was late. Why did this always happen on Wednesdays after P.E.? The boys would look for Angie to try to make her laugh so that she could smile at them and they could in turn steal glances at her flawless legs; legs that flowed from the mysteries of her short skirt and glided into her Sketcher sports shoes, in their light-skinned glory. “Angie! Come on! Twende!” called Cindy from the gate, as she enviously watched the boys flock around Angie, the latter twirling her hair around her fore-finger flirtatiously and laughing animatedly. She enjoyed basking in the limelight, and the boys were getting more daring with each Wednesday. Before, they would stare from afar and whisper among themselves like a bunch of little insecure girls; but as the weeks turned into months, their adolescent confidence grew and some started approaching Angie, at lunch, buying her break, asking to walk her home, they were growing balls. Cindy did not like it. They were stealing her friend. They made her friend feel superior in a twisted kind of way. Angie was not openly condescending; no, but Cindy would have preferred that to what Angie did instead. Angie was hot, and she knew that she was, so she got all the attention from the boys. The girls who did not like her ignored her while the others were so keen on kissing her ass. She had beautiful, soft but strong jet-black hair from which the sun’s rays reflected of their own volition, flawless light skin that had just a few pimples, but not enough to take attention away from her radiant smile. She was hot, and she knew it; flaunted it. Cindy was lucky to be her friend; because they were next-door neighbors, they would often find each other leaving their respective homes at the same time, so naturally, they could not avoid each other seeing as they were going in the same direction anyway. Soft conversation turned into chit-chat about class gossip and which boy was hot and wanted who; who was lying about whether or not they had a Play-station and who had called Mr. Rading an SOB the day before. One night, Cindy woke up to bashing sounds and soft screams from the house next door. She did not bother to switch on her light but sat silently in the dark, trying to make out what the hell those sounds were. She could hear a door being slammed shut, footsteps pounding heavily against the floor and were quickly muffled by louder footsteps that seemed to be behind the first set of footsteps; a thud and a slap as the soft screams became louder and more daring. These were rapidly followed up by a series of quick slaps and then silence. The next day, Angie was not in school, and the day after, then the day after that. Finally, Cindy decided to go and check on her. They were in Form 2 and the workload was fast becoming heavy; Angie couldn’t lag behind this much. Cindy knocked on Angie’s gate… no answer, then again, still no answer… then one last time. Just as she turned to leave, convincing herself that she had tried her best, she heard gentle, almost graceful footsteps stride towards the gate, then hands fumbling with the padlock until finally the padlock gave way and the gate was easily swung open. “How may I help you?” asked a handsome man seemingly in his forties who sported a neat hair-cut, donned a well-trimmed three-piece suit and golden cuff-links that presented well-manicured hands. “I…well, is Angie in?” Cindy managed to ask. “That is none of your concern. You’ll see her when you see her.” And with that, he slammed the gate in her face and Cindy listened as the footsteps faded back into the house. She turned around and intuitively knew that that was Angie’s father. She also knew what he was doing with her and knew that Angie was not okay.
“Angie! I’m leaving you! AH!” Cindy exclaimed, stomping her feet, already feeling the wooden cane landing on her legs as her mother scolded her for being late. “Fine! Fine! I’m coming!” Angie said, breaking away from her herd of admirers and skipping towards Cindy. “Took you long enough, kwani you don’t know that I’m already late enough? Nkt” Cindy said, half-jokingly but half-seriously. “I’m here now, shut up, let’s go then…” Angie replied. They walked in companionable silence as Angie hummed softly to herself. Cindy could not help but compare herself to Angie in such moments, wondering whether the differences between herself and Angie warranted the difference in treatment by other people. Cindy was unusually tall for a girl, darker than Angie and did not have a bust as voluptuous as Angie, she had comfortable mounds that said “hello, how’re ya?” Unlike Angie’s that screamed for attention. However, in the bum sector, she did much better than Angie, she had a sizeable cushion, unlike Angie who was sufficiently lacking in that area, but she made up for this in smiles and charm. She had dark legs that were marked by odd scars as a result of her adventurous pre-teen years of playing football with boys and climbing over walls. She was not proud of these, but they did not give her sleepless nights either. She had a few pimples and a gap on her upper jaw that she could never get to look attractive. She was not ugly by any standards, and often thought that her greatest shortcoming was being a shade darker than chocolate. In such moments of silent companionship, she flirted with the idea: would she be as popular and as perceptibly pretty if she was as light as Angie?
They were almost home when they spotted some university boys idly sitting on a low, paved flower-bed. These guys seemed like trouble. “Hey! Hey! Sister! Come with us. I’ll buy you a drink and we’ll find something to do with your sister over there…” sniggered one of those idle nincompoops. Angie looked at Cindy with a well-meaning pity, her eyes full of things unsaid that floated in the heavy air around them. “Don’t pay any attention to them, they’re just foolish boys. I won’t even take him up on his offer. Let’s go home.” This was always what Angie did; always trying to protect Cindy from becoming a victim of her unwarranted spotlight. Cindy looked up, in a bid to stop the threatening storm of tears from breaking their banks and muddying her already soiled esteem. What bothered her was not what the guys had said, no. What bothered her was the fact that the guys had not specified who they were calling for the drinks, but Angie had already assumed that she was the one being invited. A condescending, well-intentioned pity.

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