An horrifying mistake of the modern and natural world. An irregular display of the human race. A prime example of God’s scathing humour. A physical and mental monstrosity.
All examples of the term ‘abnormal’, but it was the name ‘freak’ that I was most commonly called, as not every schoolboy had enough words in their vocabulary to think of something a little more terminologically correct- or even something more original.
I preferred the term mutant; it reminded me of my favourite childhood programme, and a time when words other than ‘weird’ just didn’t sound right from a child’s perspective. Children always were more accepting when it came to bizarre people or situations.
This was a fact which I had learnt on my first day of upper school when I was just thirteen.
All day at school I had been shouted at, pushed, pulled, punched, smacked, tripped, spat at and ignored and forgotten as all the other kids laughed at me and told me exactly what they thought of my abnormality. I had never cried so much in my entire life.
Running away from it as soon as the day was over had been a huge relief, as I sped down the roads, tripping on cracked paving stones, skidding on mud and splashing through puddles whilst fleeing towards my sanctuary. The only place where I could be me without being pushed back down to the ground and stamped on, the only place I could ever and would ever call home.
At that time, my mother was a child minder, and I opened my front door to find the house full of screaming- my mum stiffly sitting on the sofa reading a book to three young toddlers while their slightly older siblings ran around the living room knocking things over. It didn’t take a genius to realise that all the valuables in the house had been put somewhere not even four mischievous daredevils would think to find them.
As soon as I closed the door behind me, the screaming stopped and seven pairs of large and excited but tired eyes turned towards me as the children observed the aberration that had appeared before them. My mother cast me a worried look but sipped her lukewarm tea to calm herself- only her tight grip on the handle of the mug revealed her fears through her calm persona. She was a mother to three teenage girls and a young boy; she had seen the forthcoming tears before I had even left for school that morning, and she was worried she was about to witness more.
Moments went by and not one of the children said a word to me, they just stared and tried to come to terms with what I was. I was about to disappear out of their sights when one- the youngest of the children- little Thomas Granger, stood up on his tiny two-year-old legs and wobbled towards me. Reaching me, he fell but grabbed my hand and I managed to steady him before he took a tumble towards the carpet.
He looked up at me then; every kindness in his eyes I had never seen in a human being that was not part of my family, and he slowly led me back over to where he had been sitting, telling me to sit against the sofa before climbing into my lap.
At once, all the other children clambered over to me, sitting next to me, in front of me, behind me, above me and on my knees, until I was covered by a sea of children.
My mother smiled, and picked up the book once more, “Shall we continue?’
They all nodded in unison and settled against my frame, and listened to the story of the caterpillar and the worm.
And not one of them ever mentioned how both of my eyes remained glued almost completely shut- unable to open further than a slit. No one was shocked or inquired about the long scar that ran from the edge of my hairline to underneath my chin. None of them were even curious, surprised or made uncomfortable by my lack of speech.
Even an hour later, when their parents came to collect them and each one looked at me with a look of disgust and repugnant horror, the children just leaned up high as I bent down and hugged their tiny forms for just for a split second- and from the way they calmly turned away I knew that I was just ‘quirky’ to them.
Sure, I wasn’t the typical normality that you would see each and every day walking along the street towards the park at the end of the road. Maybe there was no one else in the world that was unfortunate enough to look like me. So what if I never found ‘true love’?
Just because I was rare didn’t mean I was a ‘freak’ or a ‘monster’ it meant that I was unique, but not that I was an alien- I didn’t upset the harmony of the natural world.
A typical being of everyday life. A prevailing creature of the common world. An accustomed regular to the fixed sightings of life on Earth. An expected and traditional conformation to daily routine.
All examples of the term ‘normal’, but none of them apply to me; I’m ‘extraordinary’ and I survived something no one else would have survived.
I am imperfect…and that’s the way I’m going to stay.