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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6. Goodbyes

"Tip the last":When I despair, I think that all through history, the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it. Always. 

 

The sunlight is dappled and seeps through the clouds, like a languid golden syrup. It dances on the grass and I wish more than anything that I can go outside and taste it. But I can't. It's beautiful but I'm torn and confused because Harvey hasn't been in today. It's been drizzling all week and now, when it's actually sunny, he isn't here to share it with me. I have a theory that he's a vampire. A sparkly one at that. But for now it's last period on Friday afternoon, so I'll try to get to get past the half hour left of this lesson. 

I tagged along behind Sorcha at lunch today, simply because it made me feel that little bit more secure than sitting out in the library, reading the same page of a book over and over again. I ate lunch with her and Janet and the rest of their group. I even shared my cheese and onion crisps with them. Kamira told me that she had a gluten allergy and that she couldn't eat cheese and onion crisps and was this some kind of sick joke? I told her it wasn't and withdrew the offer. The group started talking about what boys they fancied and by this point, I knew it was time to go. Because I'm Baby Face. The girl only a mother could love. I leave as Sorcha started to do that whole thing again. "Bonnie," I heard her say as I had turned to leave. "Leave it, Sorcha. Thank you, but... leave it." I don't bother to turn around. I severed it.

But now, I'm actually listening to what Mr. Beechum has to say. He's asking for our opinions about the connections between China and the western world, in particular pollution and global warming. So I put up my hand. "Bonnie?" He directs his hand at me. "Ok, tell us what you think." I clear my throat slightly running the opening of my answer quickly through my head. 

"I- I believe that we-"

"Speak up, Bonnie!" It's Aisha, and I feel my throat flutter and my cheeks grow red. 

"Yeah, I can't hear you." Graham now and my heart races. 

"Alright, Bonnie. Speak up a bit." Mr. Beechum directs and I oblige. My voice is unsteady and it quivers slightly but I keep on going. "I believe that we are too quick to judge movements in China. I-I mean, just look at the shoes you are wearing, or-or the jumper you're wearing. It's says "Made in China", right? China is the biggest export for pretty much everything in the west. So until we start producing our, er, own stuff, we sh-shouldn't blame them for global warming and stuff, because their making stuff for us." Mr. Beechum nodded his head at me. 

"Thank you, Bonnie." He acknowledges and I glow slightly. He moves on, to explain the structure of our essay that will count towards our final grade for the year. Everyone moans, as Mr. Beechum distributes planning sheets and asks us to scan the text in page 34 for examples of the causes of political turmoil. I sigh and as I rifle through my pencil case for a pen, I feel something hit my shoulder. It's a piece of scrunched up paper and I look around to see who the thrower is. No one is hinting at anything though. I open it up and read the message. It is addressed to me.

baby face,

stop puttin up ur hand, dork. if u do it again, we will fucking cut u. 

I'm looking around desperately and blood is pounding in my head. I scan the room and my breathing is laboured. It's not true is it? It's just a joke, isn't it? I carry on for the rest of the lesson, my mind firmly planted on my work. But I'm scared. I feel unconnected and apart, like everyone is watching me. Like I've put a foot wrong and now the entire structure is about to fall down on top of me. The bell rings and I leave the classroom immediately. Lingering will only cause trouble. 

I hurry down the stairs, but I can hear them following me so I dart quickly into a first floor corridor. I'm going to act naturally, I've done nothing wrong. You've done nothing wrong, Bonnie, I'm telling myself, Don't let them think otherwise. I can hear them cackling, whoever they are. I don't want to turn around, but I know that they are following me. "Baaaaaaby Face!" It's the ever persistent Graham. Jesus. Don't they ever stop? I'm trying to let it brush past, but I feel a cold rush at the nape of my neck. "Come back, ugly, we want to talk to you!" Aisha as well. I'm breaking into a run and each step reverberates around my skull, like a beating drum. I need Harvey. I need Harvey to make this all stop. "Come back, Baby Face." 

And do you know something?

It's not just their words that are echoing in the corridor. 

It's my life that is echoing in the corridor. 

And I stop. I let my catchers get me. But there are more of them. With a jolt, I let go of it all. Pierre, Graham, Aisha, Iman and Felisha catch up with me. "Did you get our message?" I feel Pierre breathe. They all laugh and it's cold because the corridor is dark and cold and vacant. I don't answer. Graham pushes me to the floor and my bags come toppling on me with a bash. The humiliation is crawling on and I scrape myself back up. Their faces are morphed and there's something that's somewhat out of place. They're feeding off a borrowed power and it's scaring me. Now is the time to run. But it's too late. Because with a violent jolt, they swing me back in their direction. "Maybe this will change your mind..." Aisha purrs and I feel myself get thrown across the W.C door entry. 

I fall to the floor again and this time I cry. The tears are hot and unwanted and there is this creeping feeling at the pit of my stomach. It's an anxiety dream. I need to get home, but these monsters aren't letting me. I want to go home. I want to go home. I'm sobbing now and I hate it because they're pointing and laughing and I'm slipping and failing. I need Harvey to pick me up. 

The crowd is smothering me and I can see Graham reach into his bag for something. By the look on his face, I can tell that he's found it. I'm scrambling to my feet again but I slump slightly as Felisha sticks me in place. And then I see what Graham has in his hand. 

It's a knife. 

I scream. But no one hears me. 

"No! Please, please, w-what are you d-d-doing?" 

"I g-g-gonna cut you, b-b-baby face." He mimics and closes in on me and I back against the radiator. 

"No, please, I'm sorry." I'm babbling and sobbing and my heart is jumping. My eyes become refined in disbelief. I don't understand. I'll wake up soon and they'll be gone. Wake up. Wake up. Please just wake up. Everyone's laughing and it's  not going to stop. 

I'm not going to wake up. 

Graham leans in, almost kindly, like he wants to unfold me and take care of me. "I'll ask you again," He whispers gently and puts the knife next to my cheek. It's cold and soothing yet sharp. "Did you get the message?" I let out a whimper and he comes closer and draws a curve down the side of my cheek. I tastes of bitter metal and coldness and I'm screaming floundering but they aren't listening. No one is listening. "I'll take that as a no." He continues. "Well here it is again." He takes a clump of hair in his hand and begins to hack away at it. I'm curdling inside and in a burst of hurt, I spew out my guts, all over him. "Ewwwww, gross!" They all recoil and scream abuse at me. Graham remains silent and instead grabs  a hand full of sick and wipes it over my face. I feel my arm become grasped in his hand and that familiar silver trickle down my arm again. I kick at him in protest but I soon realise that it won't stop. Because Graham has a job to do. After minutes of cold agony, there is something spelled out on my arm. It says:

Baby Face 

They leave. 

I sit by the radiator. The world is going on outside. Mum is waiting for me at home. But I'm still hiding. I can't stop looking at the tattoo on my arm, that Graham embellished on me. Inside I am screaming. But outside I am paralysed. I don't know what to do, so, as I let my hands guide themselves up the tiled wall, I stand up and walk to the mirror. I try not to look at my reflection because it's broken.

And, out of the corner of my eye, I see him. 

Harvey.

I turn to look at him, encased in emptiness. "Where have you been, Harvey?" I ask. The only thing that I can be sure of is my voice. For once. Harvey edges closer. He looks thin and pale and wasted. Like a ghost. "I've been here all this time" he answers. I look down at the knife on the floor and pick it up. I twist the cold blade and my hand. It means so many things. Death, pain, life and pleasure. Today, I have decided on a purpose. My blood trickles onto the floor and I look through Harvey.

"I don't want to suffer, Harvey." I tell him and push the knife into his hand.

"I know" He says. 

"I want to be saved." I tell him.

"I know" He says. "Let me help you." He places the knife firmly back in my hand. "Everything will be OK now, Bonnie." 

"I know" I say. 

 

 

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