PERFECT by Ann marie Houghtailing Instagram TrailsnotPaths

She wore a cape
And a tutu
And light up sneakers
And a crown
And a smile as wide as possibility

She walked through the airport
Like she owned it

She couldn’t have been more than five

She was filled with confidence
And purpose
And certainty about her place in the world

I stood behind her and her mama at the cafe
I looked down at her and said, hello
And she looked me in the eye and boomed, “HELLO!”

She thought she was perfect

I turned away from her with my black coffee and heavy heart
And I cried wild, uncontrollable tears
Fat, hot and salty
With knowing

Knowing she would be poisoned
Every day
A little at a time
But never enough to kill her

Just enough to make her sick

Enough to make her question her perfection
Enough to erase her and replace her

With a woman who would be told
You’re too much
And eventually
You’re not enough

I cried because I was perfect too
Once
A long time ago

Before the poison spilled from all those mouths
Into my small soft ears
And made their way into my blood
And bones
And brain

We were all perfect once.

Ann marie Houghtailing is the co founder of Story Imprinting, a communications firm that teaches clients the art and science of storytelling.