What is disillusionment?
In the fifth grade, I met a girl, Katie.
Among all the girls in our class of twenty-five, Katie stood out. She had red curls, pulled up into a perfect ponytail with a sky-blue scrunchie, the same hue as her eyes. Her skin was pale and milky, splattered with a band of freckles across her nose. Her poise was perfect; she walked confidently, elegantly. Aware of her superiority.
She had me mesmerised.
“Hey,” I said, tapping her on the shoulder one day. “I think you’re beautiful.”
She smiled at me then, a happy, sweet little smile. “Thanks,” she said, perfect white teeth peeping between her lips. “Do you want to sit with me?”
I was ecstatic. Over the moon. If this pretty girl wanted me to sit with her, then that is what I would do. If she wanted me to stand on my head, then that is what I would do.
And so I watched Katie as she went about her day, sitting beside me. Over the weeks and months that followed, I saw how she behaved, how she treated other people.
I heard the demeaning insults she flicked in the direction of the girls that didn’t like her. I heard the filthy words she used to describe anything that displeased her.
A year went by. I heard that she was suspended for getting in a fight with some boys in the neighbouring school.
Two years went by. She was expelled for getting pregnant.
Three years went by. She had a little girl, Ana. Rumours that she was big on drugs circled around, a fourteen-year-old girl smoking marijuana.
Four years went by. She’d moved somewhere rural to raise her daughter away from prying eyes.
Five years later, I quite literally ran into her at the grocery store. She was still stunning, but she laughed derisively in my face.
“You were a little freak in fifth grade, you know. You were so happy to have my attention.” she said, laughing, “You were pathetic.”
I used to think she was beautiful. I came to realise that she wasn’t.
That is disillusionment.