Highly Commended Story - Look Beyond
“Look Beyond” by Mishal Abid, The City School, Darakhshan Campus Karachi, Pakistan, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
Mishal is a 16-year-old teenager who aspires to become a doctor. She is a semi-introvert who considers writing to be a medicine that cures the unexplainable. She emblazons her thoughts on a paper and rarely shares her pieces with others, as she treasures it for herself. Reading novels has always been her favourite hobby and that enhanced her ability to envisage, utilising it to innovate her own stories that revolve around a whirl of emotions and social problems.
My heart thumped as fast as the storm. Blood traced the grey door of the unfurnished silver, turning it red from below, following the ash-grey tiles and leading to the broken sink flooded with gut-wrenching red fluid dropping ounce by ounce from my scarred face. The stinging pain dispersed throughout my skin where flesh was not overshadowed anymore. My face was a labyrinth where a path was minutely obstructed by my skin. The tingling sensation did not dwindle anytime soon and neither the memory evanesced. I shut my eyes for a millisecond and the moment of infirmity flashed once again.
“Why did you leave me here?” screamed Jack, his voice echoing so viciously that I shuddered. His intermittent explosive disorder led him to episodes of aggression very frequently but I was always caught off-guard. His severe intoxication made him visualise Mom. Mom, whose body had been enveloped in a mantle and buried in the depth of the world where humans bid farewell to their beloved only to come lay next to them sooner or later. “You could have stayed!!” another yell reached my ears vibrating my eardrums violently, leaving me deaf for a while. His hands reached the rose-gold glassware and hurled it to the floor. The reflecting fragments leaped on the surface till gravity enforced them to a stop. Putting my life in jeopardy, I stepped towards him with a knife hanging in my hand concealed by my body to forestall but the unexpected occurred.
A pale liquid torrent took the course towards my face, splashing round my body as I came to a halt. Frank, appalled by his action, shivered and palpitated and stormed out the door, running from his doings not realising that they travelled faster than light.
I stepped out of my bathroom. My head ached as if I was hit with a hammer but indeed I suffered from permanent damage. The skin might grow back but the pain was now rooted and it was only going to branch itself. Teardrops caressed my cheeks-still bloody and painful. The handsome young Jones was now masked into a new person and the new face only welcomed dreadful voices. I was drained after so much bleeding and I fainted.
Home was my sanctuary. I took refuge to hide from the truth. The truth that hollowed me completely. I was a 17 year-old boy, an acid attack victim. Daybreak and dawn were the same to me as I hid from the light, in case it revealed me to the world. I declined calls from my friends every hour of the day. I did not want to accept that my loneliness would be forever. Life would only get darker because faces are what people notice, not the souls. My face was what they always loved, not my heart.
Unfortunately, home was not the safe haven I thought it would be. My friends barged into my house after my constant rejected phone calls. Their reaction was worse than my anticipation. My blemished face made them jolt. They never asked how it happened. They never asked how I felt. They laughed on my face, photographed me and left my home. After all this time when I thought I had friends, I was wrong. I was a lone wolf after all.
I took a walk around the park for fresh air. No minute passed by when I did not notice people speaking under their breaths pointing at me. I had the spotlight when I did not ask for it and everyone booed around me. “What is that face?”, “How ugly”. I ran home and prisoned myself until death would dawn upon me. I lay flat thinking how this world was not full of humans but chameleons. Their demeanour changed shades and you could never judge what would come next. For me, they had all turned black, blocking my path to life and only glows the lane to my ill-fate.
Dead or alive, it was going to be the same but the agony would fade. The scars would be buried and I will be Jones again. I will be how the world wants to see me. Handsome. The thoughts cloud my brain and I lose my conscience and my body, forever.
My eyes opened to see my mom’s hands gently brushing my face. “You were always beautiful, Jones. I wish the world reminded that to you”.
The right words were spoken but spoken too late. Only if someone said that to me before. Only if they could know my heart. Only if someone praised my soul.