by Leslie Loo
A world where people look on the inside rather than the outside. Two points of view
Her eyes don't match each other. Her hair is unmanageable. Her teeth are crooked. Her skin is splotchy. Her clothes look like they come out of a seventh century horror film. That is what Elsie is looking at in the mirror. Her appearance.
However, she is respected among her peers. People enjoy her company. Why? Because she is beautiful. On the inside.
It doesn't matter if one looks like some creature that just came out of the sewer after living there for decades. That person will still be respected as long as they are kind. It also doesn't matter if one inherits their looks from Aphrodite. If one is cruel, they will be disregarded.
As Elsie enters school, people welcome her. They smile at her and she smiles back. Someone asks for her help with homework. She accepts their request immediately. Another asks her money for lunch. She gives it to them. The more she helps, the more respect she receives.
In first period, she earns more greetings from everyone, including her teacher. Someone asks her to compare notes. She does it.
The meanest girl in school comes in with her beautiful dark hair swaying back in forth. Her olive skin is flawless, no acne in sight. She sits with her gorgeous minions between her. Others try to avoid her. They don't feign to respect her. They don't toss any fake compliments her way. They just ignore her. Whenever she demands a request, they ignore her. Even though they fear her, they deny her orders.
The girl glares to Elsie who was reading and stomps to her desk.
"Hey, nerd. Do my homework," she barks.
Elsie looks up to her, but calmly. "Carrie, if you want help with your homework, all you have to do is ask. Nicely."
Ignoring her advice, Carrie grabs Elsie's book and chucks it by the back table with a plant by it. Luckily, the book does no harm.
"Carrie, that's enough!" the teacher orders. "Go to the principal's office!"
Carrie despises this society. People are expected to be kind. But Carrie does not wish to be kind. She misses the town where one gains more respect if they have more agg- no- assertiveness. Boldness. She has heard the saying that "nice guys (or girls) finish last", and she will not finish last!
"Miss Carrie," Principal Humphrey starts, "if you don't show kindness to your peers, you will be suspended. If you continue your cruelty after that, you will be expelled. Understood?"
As much as Carrie wants out of this nightmare of a school, she doesn't want her expulsion to ruin her chances of going to college. Her parents always demand her to be "bold". In other words, they want her to act selfish and treat others with contempt.
"Understood," Carrie finally says.
After the principal dismisses her, Carrie looks back when she showed kindness, people took advantage of her. When she gently requested for things, she would get tossed a hard "no" in her face. She didn't want to be the nice girl anymore. She wanted people to respect her. To fear her. It worked. For a while. She was sent to this school. To a town where one will gain popularity if you were nice, even if you were considered ugly. She hates that.
She thinks to herself, Maybe the nerd's right. Maybe I need to be a bit nicer. But it won't be easy.
Speaking of which, Carrie notices Elsie with her friends during lunch. Instead of hanging out with her minions Crystal and Fae today, Carrie decides to ditch them to sit with Elsie.
"Hi, girls." Carrie sits across from Elsie. The two girls between her don't even look as unattractive as Elsie. In fact, they almost reach Carrie's level of beauty. Almost.
Elsie looks confused for a second, then smiles. "Hi, Carrie. Glad you could join us."
Carrie glances over to Elsie's food to notice a Lunchables in front of her.
"Lunchables, really?" Carrie scoffed. "What are you, like five-years-old?"
Elsie's two minions glare at the obnoxious girl while Elsie herself remains calm. "Carrie, did you really come here to insult my choice of eatery?"
Carrie panics. "N-no. I'm s-s-sorry. I just...think you're a bit too old for Lunchables." Swallowing all the mean words is so hard.,
"You're never too old for Lunchables," Elsie says confidently.
Carrie opens her own lunchbox and takes out a veggie sandwich with wheat bread, low-fat yogurt, and a small parmesan salad.
"Wow," one of the girls say. "That's one heck of a meal you got there."
Carrie smiles with pride and digs into her sandwich.
Crystal and Faye stop Carrie before next period.
"What was that about?" Crystal asks.
"Yeah, why were you sitting with Geekface?" Faye adds.
Carrie has them huddle. "Okay, so you know how this town sees beauty? Where you have to be nice to people?"
The two girls both nod.
"Well, I'm trying to act nice now so I can outdo the geek's...kindness. Also, the principal forced me to, or else I'd get kicked out of here."
"So, what do we do?" Faye asks.
"We kill them with kindness. Just watch me." Carrie turns, flips her hair and struts over to a girl who cries over her papers falling down. She picks them up and collects them. The girl is confused, but without answering, Carrie returns to her squad. "Now, do it with me."
The girls exchange looks then back to her.
"Don't you want to be popular here?" Carrie demanded them.
"Yes," they both say in unison with a reluctant tone.
"Then, let's go!"
The bell rings.
"Maybe we'll do some nice deeds in class," Carrie says. Then they go on their separate ways.
As Carrie walks into Mr. Fletcher's science class, she sees a girl sitting in her seat. She starts to get up, but Carrie stops her.
"No, no. That's okay. I'll sit in another seat." Carrie gives her the sweetest smile then sits in the second row. A boy next to her releases the biggest fart ever.
"Oh! Are you kidding me?" Carrie rises from her seat. "That's-" She stops herself and looks around her. Then she turns back to the big guy staring up at her. Her smile returns. "Not appropriate. We're in class."
"Oh. My bad." He turns back.
This is going to be harder than I thought.
Weeks go by and Carrie continues to practice her kindness, so much so she gained more respect and trust from her peers. She even becomes friends with Elsie. She starts to enjoy doing good deeds for others. Even her parents, Christopher and Amy start to notice. Like Carrie, they hate this town. Like their daughter, they are horrible, selfish people. They don't like having to be forced to move. And they don't like the impact that it has on their daughter.
"What are you saying?" her dad, Christopher asked after she suggested being nice.
"That maybe we should be kinder to people. That might gain you guys respect."
"I don't give a rat's tail about anyone's respect! I'm one man, dang it! No one's going to tell me how to act. Not even my own daughter!"
"But, Dad. There are o many good things that come out of being nice."
"Like what, being stepped on? Remember at your old school, you were treated like a pack mule?" Christopher was red in the face.
"But here's different. No one treats you like a pack mule, and if they do, they immediately realize it and apologize."
"Hogwash," Christopher snarls.
Carrie turns to her mother, Amy. "Mom, what do you think?"
Amy, sitting on the chair, has her hands laid against her lap. "I agree with your father," she says calmly. "You are letting this town control you. And we when we moved, we have all agreed to not let it."
"But for the first time in a while, I feel happy. I feel safe."
"That's it!" Christopher barks. "We are moving out of here and never coming back."
"No. Dad! You have to understand. It's not so hard being nice. Just try it. You can start by paying the guy who mows our lawns. Or compliment the maid's cooking and cleaning. Or-"
Amy interrupts by chuckling. "Oh, Carrie darling. Don't be ridiculous."
"But I'm not! Being nice doesn't always have to mean being stepped on."
"Does it?" Christopher said.
"No, it doesn't. Just...for a month. And you'll see the results."
"A month?" Amy scoffed. "Seems like a very long time."
Her father still looks angry. "Fine, but on one condition."
"Yes, Daddy. Anything."
"We move out as soon as the month is over."
Carrie frowns. She is just starting to get comfortable here, and now they have to move out in a month?
"Deal," she finally says.
During the first week, things seem to be going well. Christopher does as his daughter suggests. He raises the lawn person's salary and, along with his wife, compliments the maid. It is tiring at first, but like Carrie, they seem to get more used to it. Like Carrie, they gain more respect from their peers.
After the end of the month, the family decide to continue with the kindness. They have made a good number of friends over the years and have never felt happier. They decide to stay in the town until they feel obligated to move somewhere else.
Prompt: Beauty ▼