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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Dead Face Girl, part 6

A Continuation in the Dead Face Girl series, by flickagirl

As I walked home from school that day, I considered stopping by Missus’s house to tell her about Ben, but I decided not to. I was just too tired and confused by the day’s events to do anything else than crash on my bed and listen to my iPod at an absurd volume. Unfortunately, my mother had other plans.

Our house is way out in the middle of nowhere. It’s about fifteen minutes away anything other than trees. My foster mother says that it lets her experience nature at its height, but I know it’s because, since the plows often don’t make it out this far, my mother has an excuse for when she walks into work late. She likes to sleep in.

Anyway, it’s a beautiful walk. And I have to say, it’s a beautiful house, too. It’s painted brown, and has huge windows that look out on the yard. It’s got two stories. The lower level is the basement, but also the main living space. It has windows that are exactly at ground level, so you can see the leaves in the fall and the snow in the winter in incredible detail. It’s very peaceful. On the outside.

On the inside, everything’s perfect. Depending on your definition of perfect. There are pictures on the mantle and little glass thing hung in the windows, but there’s that feeling that you get in a museum, where if you touch anything, you’ll get arrested. And I’m not entirely sure you won’t. my foster mother (her name is Julie) keeps everything exactly in it’s place. She never moves anything. Ever. Once, when I had just moved to her house (I was only five), my foster mother had gone to get groceries. I was throwing the only thing I got to keep from my previous life, a little red ball, up in the air and caching it. At one point, the ball hit Julie’s tiny glass jars that were on the mantle. Fortunately, the floor is carpeted, so none of them broke as they fell. I gently picked them up and placed them back on the mantle, hoping that they were in the same place as I had left them. But when Julie came home an hour later, she noticed right away. She dragged me out of my room and started shaking me, demanding I tell her why I had touched her things. Almost at the point of tears, I told her. She let me go and walked back into my room. After a few minutes, she came out with my little red ball. She told me that she was going to keep it until she was sure I had learned to keep my grubby little fingers off her things.

A week later, when I asked for my ball back, she told me that she had thrown it down the garbage disposal. After that, I locked myself in my bedroom and cried for about three hours. At some point Julie came down and pounded on my door shouting “You’re being selfish! You think that everything is about you! What about me? You almost broke the only valuable thing in this house!” Lie “Am I not aloud to be upset?” She waited for my reply, and when it didn’t come she walked away saying, “Think about someone other than yourself for once.”
I know that that massage was supposed to get me to re-think what I had done and make me sorry, but I didn’t care. That ball was my whole life at the time.
From then on, I hated Julie. I hated her to death. And she knew. She knew very well, because Julie is smart. And for that reason, I can’t stop. I will hate her forever.

As I stepped into the house, I noticed that something was different. It smelled different. But it was a good different. It smelled like fresh backed chocolate chip cookies instead of the usual sharp stench of cleaner.
I dropped my stuff down in my room, and took a moment to look at it instead of going to see why my house smelled so good right away. I hadn’t redecorated since I moved here, besides my annual painting the walls a different color. I have a simple brown carpet on the floor, the same as the rest of the basement. On top of that, I laid a tiny little pink rug with flowers. On the wall to my left are two sliding doors that take up the entire space. This is my closet. A little extreme, I know, but I don’t have a dresser. All of my clothes live in that closet. The wall to my right is dominated by three large windows and a desk. A very, extremely messy desk. Right in the middle is my computer (although, since it’s the only working one in the house, it’s not really mine).To one side is a little green Easter basket that I got when I was eight, full of various pieces of junk, including a  Webkinz®  stuffed animal shaped like a swan. On the other side, was a pencil holder with Wonder Woman on it.
My bed is right in the middle of the room. It gets really,
really cold in the basement, so my bed has two comforters. The one on the bottom is just plain white, but the one on the top is a brilliant swirling blue and gold pattern. The walls were currently painted bright green, but in the corner were little squares of wall that were painted a different color. There were eight of them, for every eight years that I had lived here; white, yellow, orange, pink, green, blue, red, and the current color, purple. It was a soft, lavender colored purple, the kind that is just kind of there, a background, but not something that you really notice. I liked it, but I was ready for a change. Maybe a deep blue. Or possibly black. I shrugged. I had at least a month until my birthday. I threw my backpack onto the bed and left to go see why my house smelled like something that didn’t make me my nose wrinkle.

I hopped up the stairs two at a time, calling as I went up, “What smells so good?” Julie liked it when I act like I’m a normal kid, even if I don’t look like one.

You should know that I am not easily surprised. I’m really not. But some-times Julie manages to just render me completely speechless. This was one of those times.

When I emerged into the upstairs, there was Julie, standing in the middle of - the room, flower-covered apron tied around her tiny waist, with complete satisfied grin on her shining face. In her hand was a huge Tupperware full of chocolate chip cookies in her hand. She picked one up and held out a glass of milk to me. “Want one?” She asked in her most motherly voice.
 An hour later, when I had eaten as many cookies as I possibly could, I decided that that was enough fooling around. “Alright what’s this for?” I asked, bracing myself for the answer.

Julie frowned. “Nothing, Sweetie!” She said in a mock surprise voice. “I just thought that it would be nice to make cookies for my daughter.”

I flinched. “I’m not your daughter.” I replied stiffly.

Julie wasn’t fazed. “Whatever.” She said, brushing off my complaints. “I just wanted to do something nice for you.” She contorted her face into mask of hurt. “Were they not any good?”

I sighed. “I don’t have time for this.” I got up from the table and started heading back down stairs.

“I’m going to a party tonight.”

I turned back around. Julie still had the fake smile on, no sign of defeat on her perfect face. “I needed to make cookies. I thought I’d make extra for you.”

“You need to bring me, don’t you?”

“All of the mothers are bringing their daughters.”

“I’m not your daughter.” I told her absently, my mind was on something else. Why would Julie want to bring me? As far as I knew, I didn’t exist in her and her friends’ world. But now that I did, I was going to need to be changed. Majorly changed. I shuddered at the thought.  “So what evils are going to be committed on my face this time?” I asked, giving in to my fate.

Julie considered me. “I think maybe the usual, mascara, eye shadow, lipstick. But then, that’s never enough on you, so I think we’ll also use some rouge to make your skin darker and I’m going to have to pluck you’re eyebrows, and I’m going to make you a blond.”

“You’re going to make me what?”

“Blond! Everyone loves a pretty little blond. It’ll look good on you.” Though, even as she said it, I could see the distain on her face. Nothing looks good on me.

“I will not be blond. I refuse. No. Do I need to be any clearer?” I shuddered at the thought. Never ever.

“Come on, think about it!” Julie said in a tantalizing voice. “Think about what it will do for you! If this works, you could be pretty! You already have perfect eyes! You could be more than pretty, you could be georgous.”

For some reason, my mind flashed to Ben. If I could become normal, his wanting to be my friend might actually work! I thought about his laugh. What if I could laugh like that?

“Besides,” Julie went on, “if it doesn’t work, I can just dye it black again.”

That’s what finally got me. “Fine.” I told her, “But I’m not doing it for you.”

She smiled. “Of course not.” She replied.

She led me into the bathroom and became all business.

“The party is tomorrow, so the dye has time to set.”

She went to the closet and pulled out a box showing a woman with perfect tan skin and perfect blond hair smiling a perfectly beautiful smile. Out of the box came two plastic bottles, a little piece of paper labeled “Instructions”, a pair of gloves, and a box of conditioner. She placed the box on the counter so the perfect woman was facing me. I think she put it there just to harden my resolve to do this. It didn’t work. All I felt was sorrow for the woman in the picture. I decided that I didn’t want to look like her; I didn’t want to have that perfect tan and that perfect smile. Perfect is so boring.

I could have stopped Julie. I could have told her that I didn’t want to do this after all. I was going to. My lips were forming the words, when I remembered what she said to me when I was five. “Think about someone other than yourself for once.”

I said nothing and let Julie frown at the instructions as she tried to figure out what to do.

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