Featuring Scars To Your Beautiful by Alessia Cara
She just wants to be beautiful
She goes unnoticed, she knows no limits
I never knew how my heart could hurt so much. Emberkit told me she wishes she had a prettier littermate and went off to play with Rosefall's litter. I stood in the corner of the nursery, refusing to acknowledge anyone, not even Dappleleaf who asked me why I wasn't playing with the others.
I just thought. Why didn't Emberkit think I was pretty? I stared at my reflection and...began to see all the flaws. Sedgekit had a broader face, Lichenkit had longer hair. I was nothing to compare. So of course Emberkit ditched me. I casted a sideways glance at the kits and saw them playing moss-ball. I sighed and left the nursery, hoping no one would watch me - then grabbed a huge water-vole from the fresh-kill-pile and began gnawing it in the shade of the trees. I would change their minds, you'll see. Just you wait.
I ate a total of 18 fishes each quarter-moon. "What have you been eating to get so big?" Dappleleaf asked.
My prime goal was to get Sedgekit, Emberkit, and Lichenkit to notice me. I strutted by their eating spot, trying to look as if I didn't even notice them.
"Did you eat yet?" Emberkit asked.
Huh? Was she finally being concerned. "Nope," I turned my head slightly.
"Then why is your belly distended?" Sedgekit giggled. "Are you expecting kits?"
"No!" I snapped, crouching down.
"Mintkit the fatty! Minty the Fatty!" They cheered and I quickly ran to the nursery and stayed there for the next three days.
She craves attention, she praises an image
She prays to be sculpted by the sculptor
Oh, she don't see the light that's shining
Deeper than the eyes can find it
It had been a full moon, and I was 5 and 3 quarters moons old now. A quarter moon until I was ready to become an apprentice. I watched Emberkit, Lichenkit, and Sedgekit, how they washed their slim pelts in sparkling, clear water. I needed to try again and they'd finally left me alone after a half-moon of fat jokes. Why didn't I see I needed to be skinnier sooner?
I stepped over the tiny clover leaves and noticed the tiny buds of jasmines surrounding the drinking-place in the RiverClan camp. I smelled their sweet petals and wondered what if I smelled like that. I fell on the flowers and rubbed against them until the scent was all over me. I walked back to the nursery where my mother is waiting for me.
Dappleleaf wrinkled her nose as I approached. "You smell nauseating."
"I smell beautiful," I said curtly before I strutted inside.
I didn't eat much prey anymore. Only a meager mackerel no one wanted. Dappleleaf thought I was getting depressed. When no one was looking, I would sneak herbs and plants. I started smelling better and feeling better. Even the elders began noticing me.
I heard whispers from the senior warriors and quick glances at Dappleleaf. They wondered if she had made me be like this. I sashayed over to the fresh-kill pile at the same time that Lionkit did. We didn't really talk but we did make eye contact. I remembered how Sedgekit often eyed him with pale pink whiskers. I didn't really care for this tom as he usually laughed whenever Lichenkit called me "Hopeless Wonder of RiverClan."
I picked out a skinny minnow when he speaks. "What are you wearing?"
I stared at his wrinkled nose and bewildered emerald eyes. "Oh, this Lionpaw? This is just how I smell." I stalked away, leaving him gaping.
Maybe we have made her blind
So she tries to cover up her pain and cut her woes away
'Cause cover girls don't cry after their face is made
But there's a hope that's waiting for you in the dark
It wasn't long until I became an apprentice. Excuse me, when me, Emberpaw, Sedgepaw, Lionpaw, Graypaw, and Lichenpaw became apprentices. Reedstar became Lionpaw's mentor what with the whole leaders usually become deputy's kits' mentor thing, and Emberpaw got a fairly young tom called Sardineclaw. Sedgepaw got Minnowleaf, Lichenpaw got the deputy, Petalfur, Dustpaw got Foxtail and I? Well, I got Primroseclaw. Sounds pretty. Not. In fact, Primroseclaw was anything but a gentle she-cat. I remember that cats called her "scary she-fox" and "bad breath." That she-cat was my mentor.
"What's that putrid scenting for?" She asked on our tour of the territory.
I just ignored her with a huff and tried to walk faster. Unfortunately, she noticed. "Nobody beats old Primroseclaw. I beat all the apprentices in my day." With that, the burly she-cat took off in a swift run. I stopped and just stared at her. Who takes off running like a silly kit when training their apprentice? When they're supposed to be mentioning specific landmarks and which flowers would be good for collecting?
"Wait up!" I called, galloping up to my mentor who seemed like a blur of gray rabbit fur.
"I told you nobody could beat me, young one!" She grinned.
Primroseclaw was quiet for the next few moments and we were just walking along an old trail. I spotted a clump of sage flowers. I uprooted them and carried them in silence and Primroseclaw doesn't say anything even though I know she noticed. This time, I saw some sweet-sedge and Primroseclaw rolled her eyes. "What are you, a medicine cat apprentice?"
"Medicine cat apprentice doesn't sound too bad," I said curtly, tying up the herb bundle with some grass blades. Primroseclaw hissed and I barked a laugh. And she finally began to point out landmarks.
That night, the apprentices were all up and chatting about the first training day's events but I just stood off to the corner, rubbing the remains of the collected sedge-sap onto my flank. I had donated the other herbs to Nightberry who said I was a simple dear. (Not to mention my victory over Primroseclaw's scowl. She had whispered "So the rumors are true.' as I strolled by).
Anyways, nobody really noticed me in the den and they seemed as if they were happier if I just got up and left. But they certainly knew I was here (I saw Graypaw wrinkle his nose and press his nose against his paws often). I just proceeded to rub the scent all around my body, I thought it smelled good. I admired myself in the pool reflection, certainly looking slimmer and more beautiful.
It wasn't long until Lichenpaw stalked over to me. Her sniffing my pelt was what got me to notice here and attempt a guarded stare. The frizz-furred, brown she-cat produced a sly smile on her lips as she drew back. "Well," she said, tossing her head back. "you've really overdone it now, Mintpaw." Then she stalked away to where Sedgepaw was pretending not to eavesdrop.
What was that even about?
You should know you're beautiful just the way you are
And you don't have to change a thing, the world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we're stars and we're beautiful
"May all RiverClan cats gather beneath the Water-ledge for a Clan meeting?" Reedstar called. The clearing was soon filled with cats emerging from their dens or the barrier. I was already out there sitting on a small rock and watching Reedstar intently; I also notice Primroseclaw staring at me with a distrustful glare as she joined her senior warrior friends at the front of the crowd, and for a comical moment, I wondered if this meeting was about me becoming a medicine cat apprentice.
"Welcome to the meeting," Reedstar meowed, nodding at the cats seated below him and the Water-ledge. "Today we are discussing patrolling. Now many of you have thought it was okay to hunt in the river border with WindClan....and as of today, it is not."
Outraged mews filled the camp as cats turned their heads to gibber angrily at their friends. Why did I even care about this? From across the camp, I noticed Dappleleaf shushing the furious cats around her. I wondered if I should do that too because this noise was really getting to me.
"Settle down!" Reedstar yowled and everybody shut up; I covered up my snickers. "WindClan is no longer allowing any Clan near their borders since the battle with ThunderClan. So we are to stay away from their borders unless we want bloodshed. Meaning we are not going anywhere near their border."
By now I stopped giggling (not just because of a stern look from Dappleleaf) and everyone stared at Reedstar silently like he sprouted moose antlers from his tufty head. "You serious?" A kit whispered and his mother hushed him up.
"I am," Reedstar spoke out loud. "We've heard that ShadowClan planned to attack WindClan for their rights and are doing it in a half-moon, then we will rush in to claim our border. Right now, WindClan has already recovered from the recent attack, but until then, we are helpless. Now stop arguing and listen for once," The leader huffed as he jumped down the ledge and stomped towards his den.
And Tansyberry said he still hadn't grown out of his apprentice ways.
I found Lionpaw eating up a water vole by the river-rocks in camp. He looked up, disdain flashing in his emerald eyes as his golden pelt bristled. "What are you doing here?" He asked frostily.
I dropped my sardine next to him. "I can eat wherever I please, Lionpaw," I scoffed, tossing my head back. He gaped at me for a long moment before huffing and going back to his vole. I picked at my sardine, not really interested in the smelly fish. Finally, I initiate a conversation. "So how's your mentor?" I asked, careful not to mention his teacher being the leader, in case that offended him.
"Fine," He murmured, eyes narrowed. Then he actually continues the conversation. "How's yours?"
"Horrible," I muttered.
"Please don't tell me you don't know Primroseclaw!"
Lionpaw barked a laugh and I noticed Sedgepaw and Emberpaw glancing in our direction every now and then. Which was exactly what I needed. Emberpaw's whiskers twitched and Sedgepaw's dappled coat bristled as they whispered.
"What does she do?" Lionpaw asked, and I almost forgot he was here.
"What doesn't she do?" I retorted, rolling my eyes. "She always mocks me and then goes off running, trying to prove she's faster. Not to mention her hideous breath."
Lionpaw nearly fell over laughing and I giggled too. Now a lot of cats were staring at us including Dappleleaf. A few queens quickly looked away when I glanced at them, retreating to gossiping. My gaze finally rested on Emberpaw, who gave me an "Are you serious?" look before stomping off to her nest, Sedgepaw swiftly following.
Oh yes, this was getting fun.
And you don't have to change a thing, the world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we're stars and we're beautiful
She has dreams to be an envy, so she's starving
You know, "Covergirls eat nothing."
I notice I still haven't lost my kit fat and since two minnows a day isn't cutting it, maybe I'll go a few days without anything. I mean, it's possible, right? But the attention that comes with it is both pleasuring and overbearing. "What's gotten into you? Why won't you eat?" Tansyberry had asked.
"Are the fishes that stinky?" I heard Mallowfur murmur.
"Mintpaw, if you're trying to break a record, please do one that's healthy." Dappleleaf's strict mother commands were one of the worst.
And finally Emberpaw's. This morning she stalked over to me. "Mintpaw, this little charade is so kittish!" She had snapped.
"You're just jealous," I had smiled while leaning back on my nest.
"What?" Emberpaw's green eyes widened.
"You can't accept the fact that-"
But Emberpaw had left. So much for getting that anger out. At least I had Lionpaw, who I used to think of as a nasty fish butt but here he is, my new comrade. He noms on his fourth fish while I sat calmly, trying to resist the temptation.
The ginger tom looks at me for the fifth time. "You sure you don't want some?"
"No Lionpaw," I say sternly.
"Why are you even dieting?"
"Because!" I tossed my head back. "It's a she-cat thing."
"I don't see other she-cats doing it. Frogflower's had her third bass today."
"Well the fish is horrible and I can't stand their stink. So I'm taking a break from them and nothing else is good enough to eat. Ugh, StarClan why do cats have to eat?" I asked hastily.
Lionpaw just stared, his mackerel finished. "Thank StarClan I'm not a she-cat."
All the mentors (excluding Reedstar, he had important work to do) and apprentices met in the Training Sands where we would learn battle. I sighed quietly in relief as the hot beach air swept over me. I needed to come here more often and harvest the river plants growing around here. I also can't help but notice how the three fox-hearts seem to be so interested in chatting today, their backs turned to me. Lionpaw was talking to Dustpaw until Petalfur finally spoke.
"Welcome, apprentices! It is only your second moon of training but we have decided you are all ready for the basics of battle training!" Petalfur said excitedly, her gray and white tail waving. "Today, we are starting out with the common swipe, ha! I even remember learning it your age. Foxtail, step forward. We're doing a demonstration."
When the ginger tabby tom stepped forward, the RiverClan deputy stood on her hind legs and swiped at Foxtail's face. "Ow!" He yelped as he stumbled away. "Very effective, indeed. I even remember when she taught me that move."
Petalfur grinned and I suddenly remember that Foxtail and Grayheart were both trained by Petalfur, previously. "Well, let's stop talking about the days when I beat Foxtail's paws and get on with the pairings. Sedgepaw with Lichenpaw, Mintpaw with Dustpaw, and Lionpaw with Emberpaw. Start swiping, but don't be too hard! And take turns!"
I padded over to Dustpaw, who subconsciously wrinkled his nose. I honestly did not see anything wrong with wormwood leaves. I rose up on my hind paws and batted his face. He flinched then scowled at me. "I can do better!" He shouted, then reached up and slapped my muzzle. "Toms can't hit she-cats that way!" I hissed. "And you did it all wrong mouse-brain, you are supposed to go on your hind legs. The effect is much stronger that way!"
"Oh," Dustpaw said, tipping his head thoughtfully. "Well, in that case..." He swiftly stood up and I rolled out of the way just in time. I was aware of hideous dust on my snowy-gray pelt, but when I turned back I saw a vicious Dustpaw, his lip curled back into a snarl. "Cheater!"
"I did not cheat!" I hissed as Sardineclaw ran over to us.
"What's the problem?" The white tom asked.
"I swiped at her and she ran away!" Dustpaw snarled.
"But Dustpaw, do you expect your foe to take your blow on the battlefield?" Sardineclaw asked the tom gently.
Dustpaw blinked, and spoke slowly. "No."
"Exactly, dirt-face." I huffed as I began grooming my formerly wormwood-coated pelt.
"Mintpaw." Sardineclaw warned.
"Alright!" Petalfur yowled. "Meet up again." We circled our deputy and she began speaking. "So hopefully you've learned the basic. We'll do a few more moved and later today, you will practice them with your mentor."
So we learned the pin-down and the hind-leg blow. (The latter was my favorite because if an enemy comes up behind you, you can just kick their face without a second glance. (And not to mention how fun it was to do that with Dustpaw)).
"Great practice! Go and get yourself some fresh-kill and meet up with your mentors at mid-sun." Petalfur said.
I walked the way back with Lionpaw, talking about how we'd kick our mentors with our hind-legs. "Well, I hope I don't get exiled for kicking my leader!"
I laughed. "Oh, we'll sure miss you!"
"Well, you're not better off," Lionpaw pretended to look indignant but couldn't hide his grin. "Primroseclaw might not take a kick in the face well."
"Or a blow to the head."
"As if your toxic scents aren't enough to knock her out."
"Hey!" I elbowed him and we both nearly fell over laughing. But not for long.
"Excuse me." A she-cat said as she shoved into my side.
"Oof!" I fell over onto the sticky marsh. I looked up and saw Sedgepaw. She briefly glanced at me and looked at Lionpaw.
"Excuse me, Lionpaw, could we talk?"
They left me gaping.
And she didn't even apologize.
She says, "Beauty is pain and there's beauty in everything."
"What's a little bit of hunger?"
"I could go a little while longer," she fades away
She don't see her perfect, she don't understand she's worth it
I pretended not to look at Lionpaw and Sedgepaw as we walked back. I leaned closer, trying to listen but they just talked too quietly. I sulked, defeated until I noticed Sedgepaw abruptly break away from her crush and pad over to her other friends. What happened? Was there a fight? I lingered closer to Lionpaw, but the ginger tom still didn't acknowledge me.
"Welcome back!" Petalfur meowed. "Hope you all had a wonderful lunch break. Now you'll be getting together with your mentors to practice the moves."
The mentors stepped forward to guide their apprentices to a chosen spot. I glanced at Lionpaw for the last time but he stalked over to Reedstar as the RiverClan leader guided him to their spot.
"Come on," Primroseclaw cuffed me by the ear and I snarled as she dragged me over to our spot. The next few minutes were just me fore-leg blowing Primroseclaw as she kept a stern face. After a while, she let out a long sigh. "I've seen my former apprentices surprise me. Unfortunately, you're no surprise."
I frowned at her. "That's because your old apprentices are boring and cliché. I'm special and I'm different. I don't have to surprise you."
"You're also a spoiled piece of rat dung." Primroseclaw stated flatly.
I unsheathed my claws and Primroseclaw glanced at mine briefly before unsheathing hers. "Great job!" Petalfur called from her spot. "That's all for today! Your mentors will dictate what you do tomorrow."
We head back to camp but my thoughts aren't of Lionpaw. They're of Primroseclaw - she seemed unusual today; she is rude in general but something was off. I glanced at Lionpaw, who was lingering around Lichenpaw, Emberpaw, and Sedgepaw.
I narrowed my eyes.