Alanna stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom and went through her nightly skincare regimen. Like all the other girlie things she was clueless about, this was a new development in her life. Thankfully, the salesgirl at Kiehl’s had been nice enough to not laugh in her face when Alanna asked, very seriously, to explain exfoliating and why toner was necessary.
Up until Lana had met Maria, she’d just used soap and water to wash her face. But she’d started to develop weird dry patches on either side of her nose and turned to Maria for help. The expression on Maria’s face when she discovered Lana’s skincare kit consisted solely of Irish Spring and tap water was almost as horrifiying as when she’d discovered that Lana didn’t own an actual handbag. Alanna chuckled as she remembered the tirade that these admissions had evoked.
Maria had rectified both of these “crimes against feminine nature” in one shopping trip. First, they stopped at Winners to snag Alanna a couple of designer handbags at a discount. Of course, Maria then decided Alanna needed shoes to match. After convincing Ria that wedge heels were the only way to ensure that Alanna didn’t impale herself on her own shoes (Lana’s natural clumsiness made this a distinct possibility when she was wearing stilettos), they left with six pairs of flats and wedges; and one pair of stiletto boots.
Next, they went to Kiehl’s at Yonge and Eglinton to introduce Alanna to the world of cleansers, toners and moisturizers. Her skincare consultation was thorough and her consultant patient and knowledgeable. She left armed with half a dozen samples of their products along with her new weapons in the war against imperfect skin. Thinking her girlie day ended there, she was surprised when Maria insisted they head down to the Eaton Centre for a little more shopping and then lunch at Chipotle’s.
By the time they headed back to campus, Alanna had one dress, three skirts, two pairs of skinny jeans and some very girlie blouses, including about three different corset tops. She figured she’d hide them at the back of her closet and they’d never see the light of day. She hadn’t counted on Maria’s dedication to “Extreme Makeover: Alanna Edition”. Alanna woke up every morning to an outfit hung up on the front of her wardrobe with shoes and accessories on her desk. Maria knew that Alanna wouldn’t risk hurting Ria’s feelings by refusing to wear the outfits she chose and she was right. Unfortunately for Damon, that meant that on the first day of classes Alanna was wearing the aforementioned pointy-toed stiletto boots as she repeatedly attacked his shins.
Alanna flushed as she remembered that day. She had never actually apologised for what had happened. She couldn’t without explaining why she’d done it and she wasn’t ready to tell anyone here about the events of the previous year. Lexie knew, of course. But she’d been sworn to secrecy and she knew she could trust her big sister. He should have hated her and avoided her after what she did. Instead, he’d sought her out and treated her with nothing but kindness and expressed a desire to get to know her better. She touched her lips as she remembered the passionate kiss they’d shared an hour ago. What surprised her wasn’t the heat of the kiss but how it had been balanced by the gentle way that he held her body.
He hadn’t tried to ‘cop a feel’ or ruin the moment by pushing too far too fast. And when she pulled away, he let her go immediately though she could tell he didn’t want to. Alanna sighed. Damon cared about her. She knew it. And she cared about him, though she refused to say the words out loud. But it was like the song said, “Baby, sometimes love just ain’t enough”. She wasn’t sure that what they felt was love and even if it were, it still wasn’t enough to change the other truths she knew. Truths that she learnt the hard way. Truths that she learnt when she was flat on her back, alone; while her world as she knew it shattered around her. Truths that made it impossible to out her world back together again. She was Humpty Dumpty and all the love in the world couldn’t put her back together again.
Alanna shut off the washroom light and headed to her bed. She was so tired that she fell asleep almost immediately. Her dream that night was strange. She saw herself as a puzzle and Damon was trying to complete puzzle-Alanna. But try as he might he couldn’t find all the pieces, so the puzzle was dotted here and there with gaps. Gaps in the middle of her face, gaps in her stomach. And a gap where her heart should be. It reminded her of a thousand piece puzzle she’d attempted when she was nine. She’s lost a piece and searched the entire house for weeks to find it so she could fill in that last bit of sky. Alanna never did find it and she knew that even if Damon did fill in most of the gaps, the piece that filled in her heart would always be lost and eventually, he’d give up just like she did.