Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Beautiful (11/07/05)
By Catherine Pollock
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Everything is crashing down around us. Theyíre getting closer all the time, rooting us out as the days go by. Itís like they know their time is coming to an end, so they have to eliminate as many of us as they can. Iím living out of old soup cans, buried in a cavern underneath an abandoned warehouse and praying they donít come here next.
So why canít I stop thinking about him?
Itís the first time Iíve seen him in months Ė thatís 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 donít 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. Iíve 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 canít look myself in the mirror Red snuck in the other night because I know what Iíll see isnít me. Itís a shell, the skeletal remains of Becca Hyatt. She doesnít live there anymoreÖ I do, and I wonít ask anyone near the person Iíve become.
I think he knew that when he turned and looked at me for that brief second. Iím not the person he fell in love with, and heís 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 itís taken him months to get to where heís at now. She shudders when she says it, but I ignore that. Heís beautiful to me. The burn scars donít matter. At least his scars are out in the open. Mine are hiding underneath the surface, waiting to come outÖ to come out and show the world just how ugly Iíve become.
Thatís why Iím 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 donít think anything but themselves anymore. That was when the ugliness started coming out. Iím 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 Iím not taking care of myself and I need someone to check me over Ė even when I insist that Iím fine. As wimpy as it sounds, I donít want him to see me. I donít want him to know how bad itís gotten. He already pretends like I donít exist, so why give him reason to hate me more?
Great Ė Iím starting to get jumpy. I hear footsteps coming and the first thing I reach for is the weapon Redís been teaching me how to use. Iím holding it in my hands and waving it in the direction of whoeverís coming, praying that I can defend myself when the time comes. Problem is, I donít have to defend myself. Itís 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 Iím not, and I never will be to him again. Heís made it clear.
He motions for me to sit down, so I do. Itís so hard to be around him, to know whatís happened is my fault, but I have to do it. And I sit silently as he checks me over. He doesnít say a word, just making notes and faces. When heís finished, he gathers his bag together, says Iím fine, and leaves the way he came. I donít stop him because I donít 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 Dougís Becca again, but I canít. He knows it, I know it, and thereís nothing anyone can do about it.
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