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.


3. Invites

"Tip the Third": By judging someone, you will never know them.


It's tedious and mind-numbing. The table is packed and stifling and the rhythmic chomping on my cheese roll is simply adding to the fuzzy hum. I had decided at the beginning of lunch time to tag along with a group of girls that I found barely tolerable and who didn't (at the time) seem to mind me too much. Now, though, in the lunch hall, they are ignoring me completely. Mid-bite, Angela tells me that she and the other's are going to the girl's bathroom for a secret pow-wow and that maybe I shouldn't come along. I'm crest-fallen and my throat is clogged up with false hope. So, naturally, I smile. "That's... that's cool. Erm, maybe I'll catch you later?" It's what they all wanted to hear, so I cater for their needs. Sorcha, a small girl with dyed pink hair smiles, somewhat apologetically, but it'll fade away soon. She's kind but in a few minutes she'll have forgotten about the girl who spent the rest of lunch sitting in the library, reading the same page of a book over and over again.

I go straight to my form class once the bell rings. Finally, I have a place that I'm actually meant to be. I slump my bag under the table and tuck my hair behind my ear and as I do so, I notice that I have a splodge of butter smeared across my cheek. I become involentarily flushed and the nape of my neck feels prickly. Great. I've given myself another reason for people to stare. Ms. Rotheram, my form tutor, flutters into the room, bouncing smugly on her ridiculously high stilettos, her light blue blouse buttoned down as low as she dare. She teaches music but she is a massive flirt and should probably not be a teacher at all. Thirty more years of that and Ms. Rotheram will be wearing pumps, grey v-neck jumpers, knee high courduroy skirts and her supple features will have disintegrated into flab and wrinkles. My table are trying to smuggle in a last minute conversation about last night's episode of Big Brother. I don't watch that show, so there's no point in even attempting to join in. Graham catches me starring out the window blankly. "What's wrong, Bonnie?" He jeers. "Ah, is Big Brother on past your bed time?"

"N-no!" I reply, rushing to defend myself, "I just don't watch it, I stay up 'till 10:30..." He's ripped up my one shard of confidence. Besides, I've just embaressed myself.

"Yeah, whatever." Graham guffaws and he snubs his nose up at me. He leans over to Ooma, who is sitting next to him and says: "What's a good bed-time for a freak?" Ooma tries to smother her giggles, because although she knows it is wrong, it's a little sample of cruelty and power. And she likes it.

As Ms. Rotheram begins to take the register, Graham performs a sad little mime. He uses Pierre's glasses to pretend that he is an old man doing a cross word. He peers over his spectacles and hisses: "It's a six letter word that means "freak". Hmm... Oh, I know! It's B-O-N-N-I-E!" The table erupts in cackles. I laugh it off and roll my eyes, but secretly I am dying. That was a fatal blow.

Ms. Rotheram has an announcement to make and the laughter is flattened and compressed. "Ok everyone, Sorcha would like to hand out her invites to her birthday party. She tells me that you've all been invited so there's nothing to worry about." Even me? I think. Of course, I've been to birthday parties before, the last one being when I was 11. It was Susie Lee's and I remember her mother's face when she opened the door on me. She was temporarily paralysed, but luckily Susie had bounced to the door to greet me, her plaits jiggling along the way and pulled me into a snake pit. I had spilled cola on my new dress and Angela ended up locking me in the wardrobe during hide-and-seek. Some party that was. Nevertheless, Sorcha gently places the invitation adorned with crafty flower embellishments infront of me. "Oh!" I let out a small, soft gasp. I stare at the decorated cardboard for a few moments and trace the intricate gold caligraphy that shows the venue, time and date. It's at Sorcha's house, in Brunswick Crescent, this Saturday evening.



Mum's not in when I get home. Out shopping. She left me a note on the kitchen counter, alongside a banana and a can of coke for my after-school snack. I take them up to my bedroom, fling my bag across the bed and turn on the computer. Dad's email pops up on the screen again, so I craft a hasty reply:


Hi Dad,

How are you and Kevin doing? I'm fine at the moment, thanks for asking. Mum's applied for a job at the Dental surgery near Golding Avenue, so hopefully she'll get the post and I'll be starting my GSCE mocks soon. Wish me luck! I've got Chemistry and Maths in two weeks time, so I'll be busy revising. I might be doing my Grade 4 Piano soon. How are Kevin's A-levels going? I hope he's not too stressed. I've been invited to a birthday party by someone at school too.

Hope you are all ok. I'll talk soon.

Love from Bonnie xxx


It's hasty and slightly pathetic but I have greater plans ahead, like finding a present for Sorcha's party on Saturday. I scower the online world for anything worthwile, and I narrow three of the best into a short-list:

1. A Clinique make-up set.

2. A red leather coin purse with white polka dots.

3. A glittery tote bag with a purple S embelisshed in the middle.


Mum arrives home once I've chosen. The red leather coin purse, it seems like a kind of Sorcha thing. Mum drags her feet laboriously up the stairs to my rooms, clearly drunk with fatigue. "Mum," I murmer, making sure that I cushion all audible noise for her comfort. "I got invited to Sorcha's birthday party". Mum pinches her nose and masages the space inbetween her eyes. "Who's Sorcha? Is she alright?"

"Yeah, Mum. She's nice, if she wasn't then she wouldn't invite me."

"I told you that you've got friends..." She grunts, through a medley of dribbles and snores.

Mum's wrong. Sorcha is nice, nice enough to invite me to a party but she's not a friend. No. Friends are the ones that you read about in story books, who walk hand in hand with you, down to copper fields on the out-skirts of town, who paddle with you in pearly streams, who sleep around your house, who will stick up for you, who will not let you down, who will remain sturdy and tainted by your love and wear until the end.

Once Mum's dribling and snoring has ceased, she makes a beans on toast dinner, because "it reminds her of being a little girl". It's mainly because she can't be bothered to make anything else, though. We have our dinner in the living room, on trays and once we've bolted dinner down, we put on a DVD. Lord of the Rings part 1. And, for those 2 and a half hours or so, I feel almost transported. Detached from life and it's fragmented insanity. Or something like that. Plus I find hobbits kind of cool. Mum's fingers, with the jagged, rough cuticles, trace the lines on my face, over stiches and translucent burn scabs. It's an intense, ferocious, effulgent love that she wraps her soul around, encasing me with it.

I'm lying spread-eagle upon my matress. And I think life's alright.

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