? SLAB | Sound & Literary Art Book

Issue 12

Creative Nonfiction

Delaney Heisterkemp

Explaining Phthonos

Jealous of her eyebrows. Jealous of her waist. Jealous of his clear skin, her shiny hair, his thin nose, her long, long lashes. Of white teeth, straight teeth, of that cupid’s bow smile. Jealous of high cheek bones, slim thighs, sloping fingernails. Of confident bodies. Of big eyes, any color but brown.
Jealous of eighty-dollar leggings. Of that perfectly distressed pair of jeans that can only mean money. Once, I considered saving up for a Vineyard Vines shirt un­til I realized the only difference between that and my oth­er t-shirts was the associated name. Jealous of the ability to call $30 cheap. Jealous of hands warmed by chai tea lattes, Septembers with back-to-school wardrobes, and replacing beat up shoes. Every time I buy groceries, I think about how studies show that using those insidious little plastic cards in our wallets instead of paper money separates the pleasure of consumption from the pain of payment. Jealous of those who don’t notice dimes on the sidewalk, jealous of saying yes to dinner plans. Jealous of living without the weight of expens­es. Of financial stability, of choosing a college based on what you dream, not what you can afford.
Jealous of living without the anxiety from still trying to dream, anyway.
Once back in grade school, I pocketed a large quartz rock from my friend’s car while her mom drove us home, then turned to show her through the rolled-down window as if I had just discovered it in my front lawn. The stone burned in my hand. As the car disappeared back around the corner, I threw it into the bushes.
Jealous of those who look sincere when they apologize. Jealous of those who weep during sad movies without feeling ashamed.
Jealous of tap experience, physiognomic dexterity, eye contact, vibrato, nasal resonance, she who could belt above a high C, he who could slip into personalities like second skins, they who fit the director’s visual cast of the character. The it cliques in my high school drama department were corroded by years of exposure to peer comparison, hierarchical power structures, and survival-of-the-fittest mentality. To befriend was to envy; at the end of the day, we were all enemies cling­ing to one another.
Athena’s jealousy created war, snake-haired gorgons, and spiders. Mine just perpetuates pathetic self-pity.
Jealous of realistically drawn portraits, well written prose, new ideas; jealous of feeling that invigorating spark of the creative genius, of the semblance of originality. Jealous of conveying exactly what I mean out loud, not only on paper. Of the minds that create around me, if only because they are not connected to my own. Jealous of enough sleep. Of foreheads without furrows, yet also of foreheads furrowed in concentration. Jealous of un-torn lips, hairlines without bald patches from constant pulling. Of easy grins. Of small acts of kindness, a listening ear, thinking without bias, the ability to be selfless. Jealous of calming voices, caring hands, of quick trust and incautious friendship. Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains, but I have to drive over every one I come across. Of internal monologues without the corruption of static, and being able to defend the truth in the face of blackmailed affections. Jealous of integrity. Jealous of loving others far from the looming guillotine of hyperbolic thoughts.
The truth is I like my eye color. Only in photographs do I find it lacking.