Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Outgoing (05/05/11)
By Sara Harricharan
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I was used to it.
I expected it.
Then it appeared.
By that time, I’d learned to let her alone and to keep my mouth shut when I really wanted to say something. Soon, I didn’t think anything of it when she made that little detail a bit more permanent, it was like adding more ribbon to a brightly wrapped package. There really wasn’t anything wrong with it.
I should be working.
I really should, but I’m stuck on a thought that recently stalled in my brain, halting all other mental functions. It shouldn’t bother me, but somehow it does.
Cartoon baby penguins do not belong on eye patches.
I didn’t realize it was an issue until the eye patches appeared.
At first, it was a simple, plain black that didn’t blend very well with her too-white, too-blonde and too curly hair. She looked like a creepy, modern pirate—the female, high school edition. But then it didn’t change the people around her at all, in fact, it’s almost like it drew them towards her even more than before.
There were all sorts of questions—the kinds that were polite and the kinds that weren’t. There were all kinds of people asking the questions and sometimes I felt like plugging my ears. It wasn’t anyone’s business what had happened to her eye or why she’d suddenly taken up the pirate look overnight, but I did want to know what on earth had gotten into her. The patches were starting to match her outfits.
And yet, she’s still the same.
It hurts a little.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I should do anything at all. It probably isn’t even my place. Then again, what could I possibly do when Becca’s constant Barbie doll smile merely hides and cache of practiced phrases to answer any questions I throw at her.
She makes me worry.
I don’t know why. She’s always fine—even with today’s eye patch of cartoon penguins—she’s still fine. Surrounded by people who adore her, care for her and look out for her. Surrounded by love.
She gives as good as she gets.
She’s always so outgoing. It’s as if she doesn’t know she’s missing an eye—and that there’s so much more she could do if she had it. It doesn’t bother her at all. She still smiles at the cute boys in the cafeteria, still blows up experiments in science lab and always turns in her English papers a day early. She makes me smile and laugh even when I want to be my normal, boring self.
I don’t understand it.
Her shadow across the floor of the office alerts me to her presence. I know she’s standing there with another request I’ll be incapable of refusing.
“…could you make the bank deposit for the bake sale for me?” Becca danced from one sandaled foot to the other. “I-it’s not urgent or anything, just…you know…banks…and me.” Her smile is a tad crooked, but her single eye—brilliantly golden-caramel—is shining at me.
“Too many pirate jokes?” I am already accepting the money pouch and pre-written deposit slip. “Need the receipt or you want me to enter it?”
“Kind of.” For a moment, her smile is real. “Receipt please, I’ll enter it. Sorry.”
“For what? Get going—you have drama club, don’t you?”
Her smile hurts.
But I return it.
As she disappears from view, I try to breathe.
Watching her uneven gait stabbed one memory deeper into my head. A painful, torturous recollection. I hated remembering it, because I don’t see Becca that way—the way the bank robbers had, the way they had taken her as a prime hostage, the way they’d used her to order the authorities around, the way they’d viewed her as less than human when they fired a warning shot.
I still don’t understand how shooting her knee managed to injure her right eye.
I still don’t understand why her parents had to die so needlessly.
But I’ve already found my keys and I know no one will notice if high school principal leaves early. At least, when they see what I’m holding in my hand, they won’t say a word. They know better.
I’d do anything for my adopted daughter.
Absolutely anything, until she's ready to handle it herself.
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