Friday, January 24, 2014


My father will not let me be beautiful.
             "Beauty is for silly girls," he says. "Beauty only causes pain to others."
             I avoid my reflection in the mirror as the familiar burn of embarrassment turns my cheeks a shameful red. My hair falls over my face and I let it stay there; the less of my face that anyone sees, the better. I know that that he relishes in the fact that I will never be beautiful. The doctors said they could fix my skin. They said they could turn the thick, leathery scars that covered my face and arms into skin that I could be proud of again.
But Father told them no. He told them that the scars would remind me of who I really am inside; that they would remind me of what we both lost the day of the accident. The scars are my lifelong punishment for my mother’s death.
             Of course everyone teases me at school.  Teenagers are usually merciless when it comes to pointing out other people's imperfections, and I had enough of them to fuel their entertainment for the rest of their immature lives. As I wash my hands in the girl’s bathroom, I feel the presence of another person walk up beside me. I avoid eye contact as usual, never wanting to give anyone a direct line of vision to my hideous face.
             "You know that Gabe will never go for you," I hear a sharp voice say to my right. I inwardly cringe and look out of the corner of my bad eye. I already know that it's Marilee, but I want to know if she is looking at me. The accident changed her as well, though her physical appearance was as beautiful as it had always been. Only her soul had been damaged that day.
             As always, she is staring straight ahead, avoiding me as she slowly runs a brush through her perfect blonde curls. I let my gaze fall back to the sink, and wash all the soap bubbles from my hands, ignoring her statement. I hope that she will let it drop, but it's in her newly defined personality to drive the knife a little deeper.
             "You know that he would never date a beast like you". She drops the brush into her purse and turns to leave. But not before she leans over and whispers in my ear, "So stop staring at him. You're only embarrassing yourself."
             She smacks her lips and leaves the bathroom, her platform heels clacking on the tile floor behind me. When I am finally alone again, I force myself to look in the mirror. Out of habit, I immediately want to look away, but I don't give myself that pleasure. The glass windshield had shattered into my skin, slicing it open like a ripe grapefruit. The right side of my face had looked like something akin to a lump of raw hamburger meat for months after the accident, and Marilee had felt sorry for me for a little while. Now she just shuts everything out so that she doesn’t feel anything at all. I run my fingers over the jagged lumps on my face, and watch as a single tear zigzags its way through the scars. It's my fault that I look this way. It's my fault that Marilee turned into a cold bitch. And it's my fault that my mother died. I pull the hood on my black jacket as close to my face as possible so I can block out the world and get through the day as best as I can. What else can a beast do?


After school, I begrudgingly climb into Father's car. He picks me up every day and drives me straight to our house on the outside of town, furthering my outcast status. I am allowed to go nowhere but school and home, school and home, school and home. The pattern grew old and annoying very quickly, and I frequently think about sneaking out after he passes out every night. But where would I go? I have no friends. Marilee was my best friend before the accident, and she has since turned everyone against me. Nobody wants to be friends with the town beast.
When we get home, I go straight to my room. Father and I have as little contact as possible with each other since Mom died. Having finished all my homework in study hall, I have nothing to do but read; just the way I like it. I settle into my latest favorite novel, when I hear the thundering rumble of a car.
 I walk over to the window and see a black Mustang sitting out front. My heart flutters in my chest because I know that Gabe drives a Mustang. But there’s no way he would be coming to see me, right? Surely he is just pulling over to send a text message or something. But the driver's door swings open and I watch in amazement as he climbs out.
             Gabriel Bell, the hottest guy in school, is standing in front of my house. I watch him indecisively walk back and forth between my house and his car, and I bite my lip in desire. I habitually let my hair fall over my face, wondering what in the world he is doing here. I watch him for a moment longer, and he finally begins walking up the pebbled path to my front door. I can read the curses spewing from his lips as he mumbles to himself.
What could that be about? I wonder as I fly down the stairs to answer the doorbell.
"Hey, Emmy," he says. My heart flutters as fast as a humming bird's at the sound of my name coming from his mouth. He knows my name! "Um, can I come in? We need to talk about something.”
"Of course,” I squeak. I cringe at the sound of voice because it seems to have gotten lost somewhere inside my throat. I know that there will be consequences if he comes in, but his eyes seem to have locked into mine, and I can’t help it. No one ever looks me in the eyes, and it’s like he doesn’t even see my scars.
I step aside and let him come in, hoping that he doesn’t sense the danger in my house. If Father finds out that he is in here, I will never be able to see daylight again.
“Can we go to your room?” Gabe whispers, and I am suddenly afraid that he knows my secrets. “I don’t want your dad to know I’m here.”
My voice lost again, I nod at him and begin climbing the curved, wooden staircase.  We enter my room, and I am suddenly glad that I keep it clean. Gabe makes himself at home and plops down on my bed. He looks so perfect there; like he was made to be a permanent ornament in my room.
“Emmy,” he starts, sounding like he doesn’t want to say what he is about to. “I have something to tell you.”
His sea green irises are burning into mine and I can’t look away. After years of not seeing my reflection in another pair of eyes, it’s like a drug to me.
He drops his gaze and stares at my carpet for a few moments, so I decide to break the aching silence. “Um, Gabe? Why are you here?”
“I… I am the one who killed your mom,” he finally whispers, so low that I almost don’t hear him.
“No. I fell asleep and hit a tree. No other cars were involved.”
He lifts his eyes to mine again, and I am suddenly not so sure that I am right. “I was drunk. I shouldn’t have drove, but I did. I didn’t see you, and my car must have drifted over into your lane, and I freaked out and left the scene… It’s… It’s all my fault.”
My legs suddenly feel like noodles and I fall to the floor. I don’t feel it; I only hear the thump my body makes as it lands in the plush carpet. For years I have blamed myself for killing my mother, and it was never my fault.
Gabe is beside me immediately, carefully cupping his hands on my face, crying for me. He wants me to feel better. He wants me to forgive him.
I want to scream at him. I want to tell him to take his hand off me, to never ever touch my scars, but it is too late.
I hear another thump as he hits the floor beside me. A single tear runs out of my undamaged left eye, and I roll over to face him. I run a scarred finger over his lips and consider kissing him. I have never kissed anyone before. But I can’t bring myself to kiss a dead person, no matter beautiful he is.
I hear footsteps in the hallway and my door slowly creaks open. Father lets out a disappointed sigh behind me, but I ignore him. I just want to lay with my beauty for a little while longer before they have to take him away.
“Emmy, how could you let him touch you? You know why I had to do that—why I had to curse your scars. Beauty only causes pain to others.”
I continue to ignore him, hating him with every fiber of my being for doing to this me. I hear his heavy footsteps retreating down the hallway, probably going to get a shovel. Gabe’s green eyes stare eerily back at me, and I can’t help myself. If no one can touch my scars without dying, then I will never get my first kiss; my lips were torn into pieces during the accident.
Father won’t let me be beautiful. He doesn’t want me to fall in love and end up filled with emptiness and horror for the rest of my life like he is. So he cursed my scars so that anyone that touches them meets the same fate that my mother had to face all those months ago when I—no, when Gabe—killed her. But what Father doesn’t know, is that I have cast a curse of my own. He forgets that he’s not the only one with special blood running through his veins.
I lean over Gabe’s face, careful to not touch him until the moment that I choose for our lips to meet. I hover over him for a second, trying to will myself to not do what I am about to do. It’s wrong. But I can’t help myself. I softly press my lips against his.
Gabe suddenly gasps for breath, and he violently throws me backwards into the wall.
He stares at me in horror. “What have you done?” he chokes out. He knows what he is now—that he’s no longer human. He knows I have turned him into something dark.
A slow smile spreads across my leathery lips, and I crawl towards him, cupping my hands around his face, just as he had done to me earlier. “Don’t worry, my beauty. Now we can be together forever. Now we will always have each other to love without consequences.”
He grimaces and pulls away from me, but I know he will come around eventually. He will have to. Being undead is never easy. But now I have my beautiful Gabe who will have to stay with me always. The curse that now wraps around his un-beating heart will be forever bound with the curse that intertwines in my scars.
Beauty and the Beast. Two hearts forever lost in a scarred world.

Photo By: Kostas Kitsos
Story By: Stefanie Marks


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