Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Chpt. 1: It started with the landmines on my head; two humble, yet painful little nubs spread equidistantly across my crown.

Mom had initially put some salve on the red buds. Still, they’d continued to grow, rounding out to become two glowing globes the size of silver dollars, connected to the head by a bit of skin that remained hidden beneath the swollen intruders.

Thankfully, my hair was thick enough that I could tease my set of twins into invisibility. The pain that this routine caused was worth it. Still I constantly wondered if the others could see my strangeness. Maybe the student that sat behind me during my classes was silently contemplating who he should tell first about my head pom-poms.

I prayed that it was just some weird hormonal reaction. Maybe a prelude to my first period, which was long overdue. Maybe the genes had gotten temporarily mixed up, mistaking my head for my chest. Or worse! Maybe I was a boy.

But, the doctors didn’t agree with my theory, despite having none of their own to proffer, much less a cure for me. Oh sure, there were pills to help me deal with the depression, anxiety and paranoia. Just nothing that would help address the roots of the problems.

It was time to take matters into my own hands. Searching on the internet, in libraries and literary journals yielded no clues. Finally, at my wits end I gingerly held one tender bulb between thumb and forefingers, as my other hand approached with a pair of sterilized scissors I’d placed nearby.

Though unable to see the blades, the metal taste seemed to fill my mouth, the glint of the light off of its surface flashed in my mind. Most disturbingly, they shivered. These round mounds of flesh shook. Or, perhaps that was my hand, or my whole body.

Either way resulted in me waking up on my side, my view of the world limited by a dark frame which gradually dissipated as I came to my senses. My cheek had lain on the corner of the bed for so long that when I rose I could feel the deep indentation caused by the weight of my head.

The same thing happened two more times, ‘cause I’m a hard learner.

Finally, I entreated my mom to do what I could not. She refused under the excuse that she couldn’t hurt her baby like that. That I was still her daughter. “You’re the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen. And, you’re certainly not the first to develop…uhm...birth marks,” she said, with all sincerity.

I didn’t bother pointing out that I’d never seen birthmarks of the “uhm…” variety.

For only a moment did I consider asking one of my friends. Fortunately, I wasn’t socially suicidal, yet.

Finally, I decided that these nubs would not dictate my outlook. And, had finally resigned myself to a life with these odd growths.

I woke up the next morning, stretching my arms wide over my head, as usual, when an unexpected smooth surface brushed my inner arm, causing me to yelp and jerk my arms down and my head up.

I was prepared to come face to hairy face with a giant arachnid or a kidnapper. What I didn’t expect was the glimpse of some things just before they whipped out of view, nor did I appreciate the tug at my scalp or the dull thud of two small objects as they pounded against my shoulder blades.

Tears sprung to my eyes as my hand slowly rose past my temple and the fingers descended gently onto the two sore spots I’d come to hate. What impressed me first was its warmth and its strength. The long sprout, rooted in my head, felt like a skin covered cord. My fingers rode the slight ridges of muscle that made up the fleshy length which, when relaxed, reached to my shoulders where it ended in an all too familiar bulb.

Pain seared my lip, blood leaked into my mouth and I realized I’d bitten a bitter tear in my full lip. The acrid taste blended with the realization that this was not a dream, producing a sickening concoction that my stomach could not stomach.

It’s probably the only thing that kept me from going catatonic, having to make a mad dash to the bathroom.

Which brings me to what I love about living on my own: your own private bathroom; something I lacked at the time, being that I was still, technically, a child that lived at home with a bathroom that was private only when no one else was around.

Which was never.

As a result, my sprint to the toilet found me running past my parents’ bedroom door, as well as that of my great-aunt’s and over the heads of visiting family who stayed in the guest room (read: living room sofa-bed) below. And, I realized how unbelievably hard it is to make quiet mad dashes.

Soon enough Mom and Dad were pounding on the door as I sat on top of the toilet seat, wailing. During gasping breaks used to catch my breath, I heard my dear aunt shrilly voicing her opinion on the calamities of catering to a spoiled child such as myself, and as accompaniment our visiting family ascended the stairs, asking to be updated on the cause behind all the raucous.

There really had been no need for me to scream at them all to go away, “I’m horrible!”

But, I was 17. A late bloomer. And, an mutant.

You can’t get much more dramatic than that.

It didn’t help that the wiry tentacles that had thoughtfully stayed out of the way during this self-incarceration stiffened as I yelled, and when I stopped to resume my mourning of any normal life, the two antennas drooped right with me, its bulbous tips falling directly in front of each eye.

And this, I now know, served as my proper introduction to my new bizarro world.

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