Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Beautiful (11/07/05)
By Catherine Pollock
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Everything is crashing down around us. They’re getting closer all the time, rooting us out as the days go by. It’s like they know their time is coming to an end, so they have to eliminate as many of us as they can. I’m living out of old soup cans, buried in a cavern underneath an abandoned warehouse and praying they don’t come here next.
So why can’t I stop thinking about him?
It’s the first time I’ve seen him in months – that’s why. Months of hell on earth, and everything fades away the second I look into those mesmerizing green eyes that hooked me the first time. They take me to a time and place where I don’t have to worry, where being in his arms means safety and security, where fear has nothing to do with my life.
Those days are gone. I’ve been through too much. I feel cheap, used, uglier than that scrawny rot/hound mix running around with gouges down to the bone from crawling underneath the fence around the warehouse. I can’t look myself in the mirror Red snuck in the other night because I know what I’ll see isn’t me. It’s a shell, the skeletal remains of Becca Hyatt. She doesn’t live there anymore… I do, and I won’t ask anyone near the person I’ve become.
I think he knew that when he turned and looked at me for that brief second. I’m not the person he fell in love with, and he’s not the person Becca fell in love with, either. Red said that he was in an explosion, that his face was disfigured from the fire and it’s taken him months to get to where he’s at now. She shudders when she says it, but I ignore that. He’s beautiful to me. The burn scars don’t matter. At least his scars are out in the open. Mine are hiding underneath the surface, waiting to come out… to come out and show the world just how ugly I’ve become.
That’s why I’m hiding in my little corner of a cavern underneath an abandoned warehouse. For awhile I could have gone out into the world and pretended to be a part of it. No one would have known the difference. No one would have cared because people in the world just don’t think anything but themselves anymore. That was when the ugliness started coming out. I’m paying for what I did wrong in the worst way possible.
Red wants to bring him down here. She thinks that there might be something wrong, that I’m not taking care of myself and I need someone to check me over – even when I insist that I’m fine. As wimpy as it sounds, I don’t want him to see me. I don’t want him to know how bad it’s gotten. He already pretends like I don’t exist, so why give him reason to hate me more?
Great – I’m starting to get jumpy. I hear footsteps coming and the first thing I reach for is the weapon Red’s been teaching me how to use. I’m holding it in my hands and waving it in the direction of whoever’s coming, praying that I can defend myself when the time comes. Problem is, I don’t have to defend myself. It’s him, looking through me with that thousand yard stare.
So I set the weapon down, shaking my head wearily and wishing for the days when seeing him made everything better, when his gaze made me feel beautiful. I know that I’m not, and I never will be to him again. He’s made it clear.
He motions for me to sit down, so I do. It’s so hard to be around him, to know what’s happened is my fault, but I have to do it. And I sit silently as he checks me over. He doesn’t say a word, just making notes and faces. When he’s finished, he gathers his bag together, says I’m fine, and leaves the way he came. I don’t stop him because I don’t have the right to. I lost that a long time ago, and I can never get it back.
I wish I could go back and be Doug’s Becca again, but I can’t. He knows it, I know it, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
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