August 11, 2016.
By all accounts, a perfectly ordinary Thursday.
But for beloved defender of the kingdom Aliya Sparkle-Hair, it was the day she would become a legend. It was the day she would march into the women’s all-around final, gaze up at the glowering, blood-encrusted maw of that notorious villain Actually Doing An Acro Series, and utter those brave, immortal words, “NOT. TODAY.”
Not all heroes have swords, we learned from Aliya, and sometimes the strongest choice a hero can make in the face of a villain is to do nothing at all. (Like literally nothing. She didn’t even come close.)
No, Aliya Mustafina did not perform acrobatic series that day, or even attempt one, but if bravery, integrity, and the quest for justice were composition requirements, she would receive All. Five. Tenths.
But how did we get here? How did we reach such depths in this epic conflict?
It wasn’t always this way. Like most hero-villain duos, Aliya and Actually Doing An Acro Series were not so different at first. Some might say, even friends.
They laughed and played, frolicking through the lush meadows of the Sparkle-Hair kingdom, blithely ignorant of the fierce battles that would await them in the coming years.
It was not until 2012 that Actually Doing An Acro Series began to reveal her true nature, to expose her jealousy and aggression through her pattern of petty efforts to take down the rightful queen.
But like any proper monarch, Aliya Sparkle-Hair simply smiled, adjusted, and endured.
Sadly, Actually Doing An Acro Series’ schemes only grew more insidious with each passing year, and our hero Aliya was left with few options.
“Whatever,” she said. “Your mom’s face doesn’t display true rebounding action.”
And then fewer options.
She only ran like two errands in between the walkover and back handspring, you guys.
And then no options.
That absolutely counts.
No you shut up.
Walkover directly into waitress-in-a-windstorm is a completely legitimate connection series.
As we all know, the world is but a corrupt cesspool and the judges, deep in the pocket of Big Acro Series, were unwilling to recognize the enduring brilliance and bravery of walkover-waitress. Or the myriad definitely real acrobatic series that Aliya Sparkle-Hair performed over the years in her campaign of resistance against the forces of darkness.
Like walkover + turned to stone by witch + walkover
Or walkover + eat a ham sandwich + call grandma + onodi
Or onodi + One Hundred Years of Solitude + side aerial.
Or the world-famous “I’m basically still getting credit for this as a series and you know it, Love Aliya.”
Yet these were but temporary measures. A hero can only run from a villain like Actually Doing An Acro Series for so long before she must take the fight directly to her foe.
Which is when Aliya Sparkle-Hair had her most genius strategic breakthrough. She invented…The Mustafina.
And shortly thereafter, The Mustafina II.
An epic development in our shared artistic history.
Her piece “I’m sorry, this back handspring has been delayed 30 minutes, please enjoy a meal voucher” currently hangs in the Louvre.
The cultural influence of the Mustafina and Mustafina II was so pervasive and immediate that Aliya Sparkle-Hair managed to strike a near-fatal blow to Actually Doing An Acro Series earlier this year when she performed The Mustafina I and received credit for it as an acro series.
TAKE THAT, FOUL FIEND.
Actually Doing An Acro Series was incensed that this clever ruse had defeated her so easily. From that moment, she vowed to track Aliya Sparkle-Hair to the end of the earth and destroy her once and for all.
Which brings us to the Olympics. The boss level. The final showdown.
Would Aliya Sparkle-Hair, worn down by a quadrennium of senseless warfare, finally acquiesce to the campaign of aggression from Actually Doing An Acro Series?
In qualification, it first appeared that Aliya would return to her trusty weapon, The Mustafina I, a risky gamble because this time Actually Doing An Acro Series and her legion of yes-judges knew it was coming.
But we should have known better than to doubt Miss Sparkle-Hair. Just as it seemed she was beginning to enact the famed The Mustafina I, she did the unthinkable and courageously leaped off the beam in protest, sacrificing herself for the greater good.
Her enemies stacked against her, cornered with no way out, Aliya Sparkle-Hair still refused to give them the satisfaction of an acro series.
The townsfolk swelled with pride at the sight of their hero. A 13, yes, but a more noble 13 there has never been. They will write sonnets about this 13.
Then, for her great encore, Aliya Sparkle-Hair arrived at the all-around final with no more ruses. No more tricks. No more waitress-windstorm games. She simply refused. She simply raised her head, smiled, and said no to the acro series. Her last stand, as steely and sparkly as her first.
Because the only way villains are truly defeated is when we take the power away from them.
And that was how Aliya Sparkle-Hair triumphed over evil once and for all.