A young boy comes to understand the agony of empathy
|Her eyes scream at me like truck brakes. They say the words that the skin and flesh of her face can’t anymore. I think she was burned. Her skin is warped, and everything from her forehead to her neck looks like melted plastic. Stretched. Twisted.|
I look down to her hands, and they’re gone too. An insult to injury, Mom would say. In their place are hooks. Not like pirate hooks though- they’re rectangular, with rounded corners. More practical. Less spectacular.
I think about it, and I hope she wound up this way through a good cause. I mean, I hope whatever sacrifice she made was worth it. Maybe something like out of the movies- saving her infant daughter from a chemical fire, or maybe pulling three people to safety out of a burning building.
I want her to be ok with whatever ruined her life. I want her to be able to wake up in the morning, look at herself in the mirror, and not hate what she sees.
She turns away from me, and I know I’ve hurt her. I’m sorry for staring and she’s sorry for going out in public. She’s sorry for looking the way she does and she’s sorry she survived whatever horrific accident disfigured her. We’re both sorry and I’m so mad at myself for staring.
I am 13 years old, first learning the agony of empathy. And I finally understand what Mom means when she says “There but for the grace of God go I.”