“It takes an educated guess to see I like you little at best
and if you come here for the faces I hope you leave under duress”
– Los Campesinos!
Behind the fog in the frames of the bathroom mirror she could almost pass as her sister, angelic with a body to die for. But when the fan cleared the blurs away she was faced with what she determined as her endless inadequacy. There was nothing misshapen about her, no flaws in her skin. She just wasn’t beautiful. She was A for Average while her sister Allison was A for Amazing. The younger one should never be superior; it was not nature’s way. Yet her parents had named her Agatha, an ugly name in her opinion, like they had expected her to be surpassed. It hadn’t taken long. Straight out of the womb Allison had possessed a magnetism Agatha would never match. As they grew, two years separating them, the differences became more pronounced. Allison had blonde hair, and everyone knew blondes were more popular, while Agatha was a mousey brown. Blue eyes on both of them but Allison’s were sky and Agatha’s were arctic ice.
As Agatha finished brushing her less than perfect teeth she noticed her sister’s toothbrush left sitting on the edge of the vanity. When she left she took it with her, shouting ‘shower’s free’ as she entered the toilet.
Allison moved through life like an elven queen. Next to where they lived a national park held hundreds of birds who would flock to the edge of the bush to call down in pleasure at the girls as they walked to the bus stop. The glistening morning mist was repelled, forming no moisture on Allison’s head and her feet levitated above the ground, avoiding the dew. Agatha trudged behind, reluctantly admiring the fit of her sister’s dress and wondering if she looked anything like that from behind. Of course not, she thought. She was straight up and down, not curved but angular. Acting concerned she told Allison there was a stain on the back of her dress. Allison swivelled around in a circle searching for it before shrugging, saying she didn’t care. She continued on towards the bus stop while Agatha stood there fuming. Allison disappeared in the mist and Agatha couldn’t help but notice the bird noises faded with her. Finding the silence eerie and feeling suspended in space by the fog, she hurried to catch up.
When the bus arrived Agatha jumped ahead of her sister to get on. It was dim within, like the morning outside, until the second Allison stepped on. The lights along the roof flickered into brightness. It happened every time. Agatha strode up the centre towards the back seat where she saw some other girls had taken up position. She settled her balance in front of them.
‘This is where me and my sister sit. You should move.’
One of the girls scowled. She was pretty and raven-haired. However, she had nothing on Allison so she should have shown more respect.
‘If Allison wants us to move we’ll move but we’re not taking orders from you.’
Agatha turned to her sister. ‘Ally, tell them.’
Allison raised her eyebrows at her sister but directed her reply to the girls. ‘It’s fine, don’t worry about it.’
She turned and took a window view two seats further down. Agatha let out an exasperated sigh and glared at the other girls before taking her seat in the aisle.
‘What are you doing?’ she hissed. ‘That’s our seat, why didn’t you kick them out?’
Allison laughed. ‘What are you so upset about? They got there first. I don’t care.’
‘Don’t you see?’ Agatha replied. ‘It’s about status. You let them do that; they’ll start to do more. Pretty soon they’ll think they’re better than us, than you.’
‘It’s not a competition Ag, and I’m not the boss of anyone.’
Agatha refused to speak to her for the rest of the trip. Instead she spent the time gazing around the bus. There were kids from other high schools spread around as well as her own. Disregarding the boys she comforted herself by confirming there were just as many people less attractive than her as there was more beautiful. In fact, she judged herself bang in the middle. In the thirty minute trip the bush grew sparse and the mist burned away and by the time they got to school everything had changed. She would have to part company with her sister. She had more dignity than to be hanging out with kids two years below her, despite how popular Allison was. It also meant she was forced to spend time with her own friends, none of who were targets for the boys but Agatha did her best to be the prettiest in the group. During recess or lunch she always saw boys of all ages working up courage to talk to Allison and the gaggle of glamour she was connected to by string. It drove Agatha to distraction and she often told stories about Allison doing disgusting things at home, hoping the rumours spread.
In the afternoon, Agatha decided she’d had enough of staring at Allison’s flawless bone structure as they did their homework across the table from one another. She slid her chair back and announced she was going for a walk in the national park. Allison wanted to join her but Agatha wouldn’t have it.
‘I want to be alone.’
She trekked deeper than she ever had before, striding along the track, occasionally sucking a mountain devil when she saw them close to hand. Affinity with the bush was more Allison’s thing but Agatha pushed on. She wanted as much distance between herself and her sister. Eventually she came to a small clearing on the rocky track. She noticed a route shooting off in a direction she was sure they’d never taken before. Figuring it was impossible to get lost if she stayed to the tracks, she took it. Only metres into her new journey she felt the bush close behind her back. The track was still there, trailing around a corner but the clearing was gone when it should have been plainly visible. Undeterred, she continued. The birdcalls grew louder as she walked and she took it as a good sign. Time passed, slowly or fast; Agatha couldn’t tell. She had no idea how long she’d been gone. Suddenly though, the track opened into another clearing. This one was a grass field with purple flowers growing around the circumference of a blue pool. Steam was floating upwards and she deduced the water would be luxuriously warm. Something emanated from it that Agatha was unsure how to respond to. First she was afraid, then intrigued. In all the years her family had walked this area, how had they never discovered this? Maybe it was just for her. Maybe it was her turn to be special. Lord knew she deserved something, having to deal with Allison all the time. Venturing closer, she felt the urge to submerge herself but remained reluctant. Before she could make up her mind a boring green-brown bower bird dived down into the water. Agatha gasped, thinking it would die but it exited just as quickly, emerging a shining golden and larger in size. It had become a proud and truly beautiful bird, changed forever. It flew off into the scrub, many other birds followed it. Agatha returned her gaze to the water, and to the flowers that grew nearby. She drew one to her nose and was immediately overtaken. Unable to resist she threw her clothes off and jumped in. Bliss encased her the moment she touched the surface. Warmth and vibrancy flowed through her like an electric charge and she felt herself morph. Not sure if it was dangerous to stay in too long she got out and exclaimed. She was… she was different in the most amazing way. Her breasts had become round and full. Her bum was defying gravity above her gorgeous legs. She couldn’t see her face but it felt different as well, strong and alluring. Her hair had turned a rich charcoal black. She almost screamed in delight. Gathering her clothes she rushed home, the track taking her back to the original clearing in no time at all.
When she re-entered the house Allison was still at the table doing homework. She looked up and gasped.
‘Agatha! Agatha you’re beautiful.’
‘Yeah, I am. Probably more beautiful than you now.’
‘You are. You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve seen.’
‘That’ll teach you for thinking you’re better than me.’
Allison frowned. ‘Agatha I never thought that. You’re my sister, I love you.’
Agatha shrugged. ‘Whatever. Have fun at school tomorrow when everyone is looking at me instead of you.’
Agatha headed upstairs to the bathroom, leaving Allison in shocked silence.
The next day everyone was certainly looking at Agatha. She caught a lot of admiring glances, and some open stares. She was feeling on top of the world until lunchtime. She wasn’t attracting as many suitors as she expected. Large groups still seemed to be forming around Allison. What had she told them? Just before the bell rang Agatha was fed up. She approached the most handsome boy she could see. She tapped him on the shoulder and smirked as he couldn’t help looking her up and down in appreciation.
‘Want to go out with me?’ she asked.
He clawed his eyes away from her body and up to her equally pleasing face. He seemed to struggle within himself before replying: ‘No.’
‘No.’ he repeated.
Agatha was flummoxed. ‘And why not? Look at me, I’m stunning.
‘You are.’ he admitted.
‘Even more beautiful than my sister now.’
‘Yes,’ he was forced to agree.
‘Then why won’t you go out with me?’
The boy shook his head as though she should already know.
‘Allison has always been nicer than you. She’s kind. She’s friendly. You’re not.’
The bell rang and he walked off to class.