Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/259585-Monster
Printer Friendly Page Tell A Friend
by Andrea
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Drama · #259585
If you call someone a name often enough they may soon believe it
         When I was twelve years old a firework exploded next to my face at my best friend's birthday party, as I was chatting and eating a hotdog. My mother used to take great detail in telling people the firework was called a 'golden skyrocket surprise' although that part of my party surprise certainly wasn't my first thought at the time.~0~
         The results weren't pretty. Before there had been long blonde hair, clear blue eyes and pale but healthy skin; now there was a mangled recreation of something out of a horror movie. I lost the use of my left eye and my once 'normal' young face became horribly disfigured.
         Naively, I believed my mother when she said everything was going to be okay, as there were nice doctors who could make me just as pretty again through plastic surgery. I had yet to get beyond the time when I stopped trusting my parents and my face remained bandaged - I could pretend that behind the fabric I was normal. Everything was going to be fine because bad things didn't happen to people like me, they only took place on television.
         My time in hospital is mostly a blur until they sent me back to school. There, at first, everything seemed.... well, almost normal. I was extra popular because of my absence; everybody wanted to know how I was and what I looked like behind the bandages. I think they thought I resembled the invisible man underneath, believing, like me, in a fantasy rather than the harshness of reality. So I was okay, despite the agonising pain, for those first few days. But it was too good to last. Childish curiosity soon gets in the way of polite behaviour.
         His name was Richie Beacon. I'll always remember that: the name of the boy who ruined my life forever. Most of the others were fine with my talk about what it had been like in the hospital, but Richie wanted to see what lay behind the bandages. Being the school bully, he was accustomed to getting his own way. So, after school one Thursday afternoon, he decided to forcibly remove them from me and see "the freak". The memories are almost too horrific for me to recall; anger, humiliation, pain and despair flowed through my body in equal measures as Richie tore off the bandages the doctors had so carefully applied. The cheering and his jaunts ringing in my ears until my hideous face was bare. Several other children had by this point crowded round and, as my face was revealed, there appeared to be complete silence for seconds until one word was uttered - "Monster". And so, not with the actual firework but by the words of a child my life was ruined. I could never be happy again.
         People try to be nice to you, but from that day on it was easy to spot the pity and disgust behind the smiles. When people cross the street to avoid you, or never look you in the eye, you know how they feel: disgusted that someone so ugly should be allowed to walk the earth, ruining their day by coming into sight. It ranged from bullying at school, to discrimination by employers who appreciated my skills but didn't feel my looks were exactly conducive to good customer relations. To all extents, physically I was that monster, a girl trapped by one event to have a face that aroused hate or pity, but never love. And, as you might have guessed, I've felt more than my fair share of bitterness over it.
         I am thirty-seven years old now. Twenty-five years have passed since my life was destroyed. Ironically, I probably wouldn't attract a second glance now as, ever since I was twenty-one, plastic surgery has gradually been changing how I look. Such change doesn't happen overnight and I could never be described as pretty; the fake glass eye will never be the same as a real one, but at least I now have some semblance of normality. I can do every-day things like walk down a street, go into a supermarket or get a job. Although I'm not asked on many dates, children don't point at me and run screaming to their mothers any more. So I'm pretty much cured, right? Externally, yes as much as I can be. Yet after my therapy I still felt it necessary to face my demons head on and confront my "monstrosity".
         I bumped into Richie Beacon quite by chance. I don't think he recognised me, as we just walked past each other in the street. Just seeing his oblivious, smiling face hurt. I could feel all the old emotions welling up inside, despite the years that had passed. To hate so strongly is a sin, but I have never claimed to be perfect. Yet even I knew I had to put an end to all this hatred. People can change. After all, I am a living example of that. So I decided it was worth looking good old Richie up to see the man he had become. It turned out that, although he worked as a travelling double glazing salesman, he still lived in the area and was listed in the phone book. A quick scan of the internet revealed that he'd married a local girl and they even had a couple of kids.
         I drove round there one night and observed his family. I was curious to see how Richie was now, whether events had affected him like they had me. Yet all I could see was a happy family, untouched by pain and tragedy. His little boy Benny looked a lot like Richie did back then, although slightly younger, maybe eight or nine. A good looking child with beautiful dark glossy hair.
         Now. of course I think it's a terrible shame what happened a few months later to Richie's boy. A tragedy in fact. Who would have believed that an animal, someone who harms innocent children, would have picked the child up and done those dreadful things to him? The last thing I heard was that Benny is still alive but the state the attacker left him in was absolutely horrific. He was beaten so badly that the scarring is bound to be permanent and his tongue was cut right out of his mouth. What kind of people live in the world today? The rumours say it was probably a passing drifter, rather than anyone local, and the poor boy never did get a good look at his attacker. However, everyone remains hopeful that the police will catch the barbarian who did such a thing eventually, whoever he is.
         Poor little Benny sure is getting a lot of attention and sympathy. I'm sure his parents wouldn't call him a monster, would they? All the same, I do wonder if it would have been better if I had left him dead....
© Copyright 2001 Andrea (astephenson at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/259585-Monster