I wish that I were beautiful, she thought as she looked into her full-length mirror. She grabbed a handful of pudge protruding from her sides, squeezing the fat until it reddened and pained her. She sighed and began dressing for the day. Another day of mockery and snide looks aimed in her direction as she walked down the hallways of her school.
What would gain her the least attention? She chose baggy blue jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt, pulling the hood over her short, spiked hair. Make-up wasn’t necessary because it would mean she cared; that she was trying to gain notice from her peers. She looked into the mirror one last time, facing her enemy once again before her departure.
She descended the stairs, heading into the kitchen to make herself breakfast, but her mother had beaten her to it. Laying before her was a grapefruit. Her mother eyed her wearily from the counter, waiting for the outburst, but there was none. She did not want to argue with her mother about being the daughter that only disappointed. Thankfully, her father was already at work, or he would have sat across from her, pretending that she did not exist.
She quickly scarfed down the bitter grapefruit and excused herself, telling her mother that she would take the bus that day. Her mother smiled, she hated taking her whale of a daughter to school. It embarrassed her; she didn’t have to say it for it to be understood. Her beautiful mother was ashamed to have given birth to such a human defect, a perfect family warped by their unsettling offspring.
Her mother had wanted more children she knew, but life played cruel tricks of fate, for she was the only child. She walked slowly to the bus stop, lagging behind the other kids, knowing that they would only taunt her if seen. She climbed up the three stairs to the bus, attempting to cover up her heavy breathing from the short walk from her house. She did not want them to hear.
The back of the bus was her domain, an empty seat always awaited her, for no one wanted to squeeze in beside her. She sat and listened to the events of the school-who was doing what, who was dating who-the gossip she so eagerly wanted to partake in. Yet she sat silently, ducking her head down, pretending to not exist.
“Are you a boy or a girl?” A small boy sitting in front of her had turned around and was staring intently at her. He was young, he did not know the impact of his words, so she only smiled and replied, “I am a girl.”
“Oh.” He replied, and turned back around in his seat, the conversation only created out of curiosity. She sighed, even that short conversation had made her day a little better. The words were not kind, but they were not from malice either, she could accept that. The bus ride was short, and soon she would be forced to walk the halls to her locker, she shuddered.
She waited until everyone had left the bus before she exited, making her way down the narrow aisle. The bus driver knew the routine and said nothing. She made her way into the school to her locker, walking slowly and with care to avoid bumping into her classmates.
The day passed by without incident, without folly and the day was almost over. Until he saw her, her torturer and executioner, Jameson. Most left her alone, but not him, he made her regret existing even more than her mother. “What are you doing lesbo?” He slammed her books from her hands, the contents pouring onto the floor. His friends laughed, egging him on as she bent down to pick up the scattered papers before he could see…
He reached down to pick it up, “Woah, guess you really are one!” The drawing was of a classmate, a sketched face of her only acquaintance who did not writhe away with disgust. Her name was Rebecca. She did not pine for her, but only wanted her friendship, but he would not understand. She remained quiet as he held up her drawing for all to see, “look who has a crush” he crooned as she stared at his feet.
Jameson bent down, as if he was going to help her pick up her items, but she knew better. He reached her eye level, “I don’t think she is into fatsos” he laughed at her and ripped up the drawing slowly so she could agonize over her loss. She wanted to cry, but that would show that he had gotten to her, she would wait until she got home.
The bell rang, indicating the end of the day’s courses. Jameson threw the pieces of her art into the air and dismissed her. He was no longer interested in her demise; his work was done for the day. She felt relieved and finished gathering her books from the hard floor.
“Is this yours?” A small hand appeared in her field of vision gripping a book that had been smacked away. She followed the hand upward, until Rebecca came into view. Her beautiful shining smile danced above of her, urging her to take the book. “It is, thanks.” She hastily responded, snatching the book, and standing up from her kneeled position.
Rebecca’s eyes remained on her, with no distaste. “You’re welcome” she said and stood there for a moment as if debating on conversing with this pathetic human being. This sad girl who had drawn a photo of her. “I really liked your drawing; I saw you doing it in class.” She said thoughtfully, waiting for her to say something.
“Thanks,” she replied, not knowing what else to say, she fled. She ran from the school; the bus already having departed. She knew that she would have to walk, her mother would not be there to pick her up. Kindness was not something to which she was accustomed.
She walked slowly back to her house; thankful it was only a couple of blocks away. It gave her time to process the words that her only acquaintance had spoken. Was she mocking her? Yes, that must have been it. Why else would someone say such a thing, her eyes began to flood with the tears she held in. No, she must not cry, not until her safe haven was within reach.
Her bedroom welcomed her as she entered. Here, she could let the tears flow. The sobbing racked her body, and her own disdain clouded her thoughts. For dinner her mother would give her a salad, she hated salads. She kept a box of cookies in her room, she gorged herself, then ran to the bathroom and vomited it up. She wanted to love herself, but how could she when no one else would. She was not beautiful, she was not anything, for that was all she wanted.
She knew that life would be better if she did not exist. She wanted to die, but she was not even brave enough to do that. She was a coward and a fraud. Today was the worst day yet, not because of Jameson, but because her only happiness had been destroyed. Rebecca had mocked her. She contemplated her options; does she truly have potential for anything in life or will her path continue downward?
She sat next to the toilet, wiping the spittle from her mouth. What could she possibly be good for? Who would miss her? The melancholy of the day’s events had worn her thin, she eyed the razor sitting at the edge of the bathtub. The sharp edges gleamed in the fluorescent lighting, and she grabbed the bright pink grip, holding it up to observe the perfection of this tool. A tool she knew that others had used to end their lives, but she was not ready for such a commitment just yet.
The sharp end of the razor was used for shaving, but it could be so much more. Her skin prickled at the thought. She gently laid the blade against her wrist and pressed down, lightly at first and then harder, dragging it across her flesh. She bit her lip to keep from crying out, the blood quickly oozed to the surface and trickled down her hand. The pain felt exhilarating, a different kind than the mental abuse she harbored each day.
She watched the blood continue to pour from her wrist and decided that she was not ready yet, but she would be soon. It hurt her to imagine another day in a world where no one cared for her, not even the kind Rebecca. She stared at her wrist as the blood dried against her skin, clotting the slit she created. Her mind was made up, she just had to endure one more day and then she would be forced to endure no more. She smiled genuinely for the first time in what felt like forever, she hoped that they would mourn, but she knew better.
Her mother would be secretly relieved at having lost such a failure. Her father would be happy that he no longer had to accommodate his obese, messed-up child, and he would not have to pay for her college. Her college fund could be used for them to adopt a child they could love. Someone they could be proud of; they could start over. She went to bed, dreaming of her next life.
She awoke the next morning to the sound of her buzzing alarm signaling that her last day was commencing. Her eyes danced as she picked out her outfit for the day, avoiding the mirror, knowing that today she did not care what she looked like. A red sweater and jeans would suffice, a deep red that signified what was to come. She dotted her lips and straightened her hair, let them stare today, for this would be their last image.
Trotting down the stairs, she ran into her mother, still in her robe. “You’re up early.” Her mother said with a look of surprise.
“Yes, I suppose I am.” She said and hugged her mom tightly. Her mother hugged her back with both arms and she stepped back smiling at her daughter.
“I like that color on you.” Her mother held her at arm’s length examining the change in her child.
“Thank you, I am trying something new today.” She said, smiling with the secret dormant in her chest, bubbling for an escape. Her mother smiled back and nodded her approval. “I won’t need breakfast today, I am walking to school early, I have some things to do.” She hopped away, grabbing her book bag before her mother could argue about the advantages of having a healthy breakfast. She waved at her father sitting at the kitchen table before exiting the house.
She took the long way to school that day, savoring the cool breeze on her face and all the houses lining the street that she had never given a second look at before. They ranged from the bright perky houses resembling her own, to the decrepit needs-a-good-fixing-up type. She appreciated the beauty in each structure, each one representing the people within. Her mind was quiet for once, simply being in the moment was enough.
As she came upon a pale-yellow house with peeling paint and a broken fence surrounding it, she heard voices within, growing louder the nearer she came.
“You are useless! Don’t come home tonight unless you have something for me!” She heard the booming voice cry, and then Jameson came sprinting from the house, his eyes red and his knapsack held together by duct tape. She lowered her head hoping he would not notice her intrusion, damn this bright shirt she thought angrily, regretting her style choice. It was too late, their eyes met across his lawn. He scowled, “What are you looking at?” he roared at her through his tear-streaked face. Her fear receded and was replaced with a strange sense of sympathy for the boy that tormented her.
He read her mind for his next slandering sentence was, “Don’t look at me like that, I don’t need sympathy from anyone, especially a fatso like you.” He turned away from her and went the opposite direction of the school. She wondered if her torturer was in fact the tortured himself. She wanted to continue towards her objective but instead she made a choice that normally she never would have made. She turned and followed Jameson, wanting to know more about him before she could no longer inquire.
“Where are you going?” She yelled at him, as she struggled to catch up. “School is the other way.”
He turned around and sneered at her, “Does it look like I care? Don’t follow me.” She ignored him and trotted up beside him, her fear palpable but her strength to confront him even stronger. She did not answer at first but studied his features. His clothes were obviously second hand and two sizes too large, his cheek showing off a fresh bruise only now purpling. His hair was disheveled, and his nose was too large for his face. These things that she had never noticed were now discerning to her.
“Did the man yelling at you give you that bruise?” She bravely asked. He turned to face her, continuing his fast pace.
“It doesn’t matter.” He said, which was not a no.
“I’m sorry.” She replied, which she meant. She was terribly sorry for this boy that had bullied her into her decision of self-sacrifice.
He sighed and stopped to look at her, the menace that he usually held in the school yard no longer there. “I don’t need your pity.”
“I know you don’t, and you don’t deserve it either.” Her fire had grown within her, and she was not afraid of this boy who now seemed so small. He shocked her by smiling at her retort.
“I don’t.” He laughed at her anger. “I have never seen you angry before. Even though I have tried. Something is different about you today.” His eyes began twinkling and she was unsure of what to say to Jameson, for she had built up all the horrible things she would tell him, but now her anger was deflating like a popped balloon.
“I am different today.” Was all she could think of to say. She crossed her arms and waited for the torrent of insults to come flying at her, for this odd truce they wrought could not last long she knew. His eyes searched hers for the meaning behind it and the kindness they flashed in her direction was not what she needed, not today. “Okay, I am going to school now.” She said and turned away from him, fleeing in the direction of her courses, her plan, her normality.
She heard his footsteps behind her, “wait, I want to tell you something” she heard him behind her. She did not want him to tell her anything, she knew it would not be the reinforcement of her pain that she needed, that she desired so. So, she darted towards the sidewalk across the street, forgetting to look…
“Farah!” He shouted her name, reminding her that she too was someone before the car collided.
A flash of red swamped her vision, she could not feel anything, is this what her death will feel like? No, she was not yet ready to die she know knew. She had not fully appreciated her life until today, and she had not noticed that others knew a pain far greater than her own. Life’s funny sometimes.
“Oh, Farah… Someone call 911!” She could hear Jameson shouting, her head was soon padded by his lap, a different kind of comfort than the rough pavement had provided. He clung to her, crying. “Farah, can you hear me? Please hang in there… Please… I am so sorry. I am so so sorry.” Her torturer did not hate her, after all this time. He was lost himself. She struggled to get the words out. “Jame…” She whimpered in his arms; she could not feel her limbs. She was terrified. And then her world faded to black.
She was flying, flying through the darkness. She was soaring so high, and nothing could touch her. She smiled, where was she going? It did not matter, all that mattered was that for once nothing could stop her from reaching for the distance. She wanted to stay here forever, flying towards the unending darkness, but the light threatened to sway her from her passage. “Is she going to be okay?” She heard her father’s choked voice interrupting her course, but she wanted to continue flying.
Then a quiet female voice, “Please come back to us, Farah.” It was a voice she knew as well, it sounded like Rebecca’s. Did Rebecca really know her name too? She fought to sink further into her oblivion. No, no one knew her name, for she had no name worth the effort. She was the unknown girl who ate too much and talked too little. She was the forgotten, the ones that were not meant to be here, she did not fit into the mold that society had given the rest of the world. She was not beautiful, she was disposable. Her subconscious wanted to escape, but she was not sure where she yet wanted to go.
This was what she had wanted, this was what everyone wanted. But here she was, hearing the voices of the ones that she had thought did not want to hear. She could hear Jameson crying in the chair next to Rebecca. The misunderstood boy who sought her attention in the only way he knew how. Rebecca, the girl who always went out of her way for her but could not go further than the hints of friendship for her own shyness.
She could now clearly see the things she had been missing. She could hear her mother consoling her father. Her mother. Did her mother care? She thought back to the smile her mom had given to her earlier, it was not a smile out of malice or abhorrence. It was a smile filled with love. She reached out to touch the treetops once more before she made up her mind.
“Mom?” She whimpered, slowly opening her eyes to the blinding light of the bright hospital room and the four people staring back at her. She chose life.