Baby Face

Bonnie Hemingway was burned in a fire very early in life, causing her face to be contorted and "ugly". Over her 15 years on this Earth, she has gone through countless failed correctional opperations, driven her family apart and suffered bullying from her peers.
However, one day she meets Harvey. Not gorgeous, hunky or desperately heroic. No. Harvey is kind and funny and human. Which is just what Bonnie needs.

Is it, though?

This is a story that just highlights how the effects of bullying can linger long after the mental gunfire. I hope you enjoy.

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5. 5

"Tip the Fifth": Only by conquering the demons inside, will you conquer the demons outside.

 

Mum asks me about the party once she arrives to collect me. An absent-minded "Yeah, fine" is all that I manage. It's all that I want to manage because I'm basking in a sort of numbing sunshine. Someone has sought me out. I have made a friend. Or perhaps a friend has made me. I'm in a kind of deliciously ignorant trance and once I reach home, I dance to bed. Mum is leaning beside me, draping my dress over her arm. "Thank you, Bonnie", she whispers and I cringe. 

"Why?" I ask her. 

"You've made me smile." She replies. 

 

English. Period 1. Monday. Enough said. Everyone's talking about Sorcha's party and how well it went. Apparently, after I'd left, Janet got drunk on rum and coke. That makes me laugh. No one's mentioned Harvey yet. I saw him this morning, while I was walking into school. He was by himself and looked very different dressed in school uniform. Kind of washed out and monotonous but I didn't care. I had tried to avert my gaze, not sure whether to look or not and if I did, how to greet him. But yet again, he came over to me. "Hello again, Bonnie" He said. "We met at Sorcha's party on Saturday-"

"Yeah, I remember. Harvey." I blurted out, too quickly and loudly. He opened his mouth and closed it again abruptly. Great, I thought, I'd made it awkward again. Yet Harvey had a way of rescuing it. "Er, yeah. So, maybe I'll see you in the library at lunch?" My stomach fluttered. "Yes", I said back. "Yeah, sure."

But right now, time is crawling on. The air is thick and husky, the type of air that clogs up my throat and Ms. Wickers, my English teacher is warbling about how the media can fuel body-image problems. I don't try to join in with the debate because my opinion usually passes it sell-by date when it comes to validity. Besides, I can see where this one is leading. "So, Bonnie." Iman stares at me, point-blanc from across the table. "Can you share some of your own body-image problems with us? Do you get jealous when you look at a wrinkly old lady or something?" His words are meant to septic, but I ignore them. Twat, I think.

"Shut it, Iman." I hiss back and he ends the subject with a simple snigger.  Right now, I decide that I will focus on nothing other than meeting my friend in the library and what to do and say when I get there. 

 

I arrive at the library promptly, but there is no one there. I'm sort of glowing, because I was so swift that I managed to avoid any of the bullies and make my way to safety. But Harvey isn't here. I feel worried and stupid because I've been tricked and fooled. He isn't here. He isn't here. But I feel a hand tap my shoulder and I swivel around. It's Harvey. I let my heart relax and laugh a little inside. I'm an idiot- Of course he was going to come. "Where have you been?" I ask softly. 

"I was here all this time," Harvey replies and I scoff inwardly at my observational skills. I've planned what I'm going to say next, but it disappears quickly. "Shall we sit down?" He asks and I oblige, by sitting in a pastel coloured bean-bag next to the orange one that Harvey slumps into. "I'm- I'm sorry if I offended you at all on Saturday night."

"Oh, no, not at all!" I rush, slightly abashed.

"Oh, " Harvey says back.  "Good. So, er, tell me about yourself. If you, ya' know, want to." Usually, I would be cower and shy away from a comment like that. But Harvey says it with such security and reassurance that I open up and let stuff just flow. I tell him about the fire and Dad and Kevin and the bullies, but I don't let that define me. I tell him about me and Mum and music and mario-kart and swimming and normal stuff. Harvey makes me feel normal. 

"And how about you?" I inquire, but the bell rings and with a daunting quiver, I realise that I haven't had any lunch. But right now, I don't care. I haven't skulked in the library, or stayed in the toilet this lunchtime. I've been talking to someone who cares about what I have to say. Harvey skims over my question and tells me that he has to leave. "I'll see you tomorrow, then." He informs me and I confirm it. I saunter back to my form class, filled with the same hazy feeling as Saturday night. 

Pierre greets me when I come into class. "Where ya' been, Baby Face?" He snarls but I ignore him. He garbs my hair, though and yanks it back harshly. I retract and sweep my hair back over my shoulder. "Piss off, what's it to you?" Pierre's nostrils flare up and, with a sharp bash, he kicks me in the shin and I bang into the side of a desk. "Go fuck yourself" He hisses and resigns, leaving me to slump into my chair. There's a prickle at the back of my neck and I can hear people laughing. Sorcha looks over at me, apologetically, but I just ignore her. She's making it worse because she doesn't know how it feels. I've come back into a lion's den. 

 

Mum isn't at home when I arrive back. The phone begins to ring though and she tells me that she's gone out to the high-street with a few of her friends and she's asked me to start the dinner. Great, I think, Mum will get back to find this house burned down. I decide to get changed before considering a dinner game plan. I settle with pasta and tomato sauce. It's simple and I probably won't almost die in a fire. Again. Mum arrives home, just as I have finished serving up. I greet her with a tight embrace, that takes her aback slightly. "You seem happy," She acknowledges and sits down beside me. 

"I am happy, Mum. I've made a friend. His name is Harvey. He's Sorcha's cousin." Mum's eyes sparkle and she looks illuminated. I'm skimming over what happened once I'd got back into my form room. 

"That's fantastic!" She beams, "I knew there'd be someone." She's sparkling and she scoops a fork-full of pasta into her mouth. "I think it's your time now, Bonnie. Things will be OK." 

I can dream, can't I?

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