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Anika waited, not knowing what it was she was waiting for. The sunshine, the rain or the snow, perhaps a rare rainbow or a shooting star in the night sky.

She read and pondered, gazed into the mirror, but could not see herself growing up. The cells must be developing ever so slowly, it cannot be perceived with the eye. Only through time could she see the difference in her body, the strange curves and bumps building up, transforming the contours of her figure. Alien to her own looks, her musings were confirmed by the pile of clothes she had outgrown.

Teenager, they had said, when she turned thirteen. Puberty, a young adult. She felt the same, yet different. Did her heart change, as well, expand and take up more space? Maybe that was to accommodate more love, more people and new things inside. Boyfriends as well as girlfriends, other hobbies and exciting plans.

Boys, she was not sure of. They played different games and talked loudly in their cracking voices. So far, the only boy she liked best was her younger brother aged ten. He did not sound like a TV character with a distorted voice due to bad reception.

One Sunday that summer, they drove to the lake and spent the day there. She met the new boy from the neighbourhood who would be in her class, come winter. They swam, dove into the water, and lay under the sun, talking of books and movies. Something ticked inside her, a new button she was unaware of. Then a strange sensation in her tummy, when he held her hand on the way to the ice-cream parlour.

Her dreams at night had a new character, besides the princes and heroes from the books she’d read. The stories she favoured also changed. She was now solely into romance. Party dresses, smart shoes for dances and dates began to fill her wardrobe next to her casual daily wear.

A little make-up, lip-gloss, polished nails on hands and toes. Her hair blow-dried and styled, bouncing on her shoulders, her childish manners and speech transformed into a young lady’s. To complete the picture, a touch of flowery cologne. A cool look on her no longer chubby face, chiselled with fine lines, Anika moved gracefully, carrying this new person inside her.

Her parents, teachers and classmates beheld her differently, as if endorsing this character she had become. Though she never understood why her mother was sometimes hesitant in allowing her the freedom of these changes.

In the privacy of her bedroom, she looked into the mirror, stuck her tongue out, making funny faces and blowing bubble-gum. She willed the child inside her to remain there secretly all her life.

That night Anika wrote in her diary, Dear Diary, I think I have grown up.

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