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Writing Prompt Wednesday

June 20, 2018

Write about a deformity in either a poem or short story. Here is mine.

Looks Aren’t Everything

The deformity shocked me and I could not stop my reaction quickly enough. I shook my head trying to think what to say to this neighbor, who seemed so familiar a moment ago but now a completely different person. My hand covered my mouth, the words bubbled up inside me. With an effort I changed my look of horror and pity to a smile.

He lowered his head and shrugged then took a step away.

“Please don’t go, I’m sorry for being so shocked, I had no idea. Can we start over?”

The man stopped and his dog’s leash stretched as the little animal walked away, until the leash pulled tight. The dog gave a little bark of frustration.

“Quiet Timmy.”

The man raised his face to me.

“I’m used to the reaction it’s nothing new to me. I understand it is awful to look at.”

I struggled with my pity for the man; there must be something I could do.

“Look, how can I make it up to you – how about a cup of coffee?”

His expression turned from defeat to puzzlement.

“You are asking me in for coffee?”

“Yes, of course, come along, I can find a treat for little Timmy too.”

The man followed me up my driveway and wiped his boots before placing them on the step.

“Do sit here, I wont be long.”

He looked around my lounge and held Timmy on his lap.

With coffee made and Timmy chewing happily on a treat, I said,

“I’m Andrea, thank you for forgiving me my horrid reaction.”

“Hello, Andrea, my name is Forsyth, actually my full title is Sergeant Forsyth Baxter. And again it is something I have become accustomed to.”

Not wanting to appear too nosy, I poured the coffee and smiled – curiosity burned in my chest as to the accident that took away half his lower jaw. Maybe it was an old war wound?

“You can ask you know, about my face.”

“Well I didn’t want to pry, Forsyth.”

“You are the first person in this street, I call home, to invite me in, Andrea. All my neighbors usually avoid me. It must be too difficult for others to accept my face the way it is, it is for me most of the time.”

“I have to admit I was shocked at first, I have only seen you with a hood and your face down as you pass my house.”

“Maybe if I ell you the story it will diminish my look. It is obvious I was in the military and I did receive this disfigurement by way of an explosion, however not on the battlefield but in the relevant safety of the barracks.”

I sat back surprised at his words but did not interrupt.

“I was on night patrol and an alarm sounded in the vehicle hanger. I went to investigate. As I opened a side door into a storage area, a flash of flame shot through the opening. That was the last I remember, however I learned later in hospital, that an oxyacetylene canister had been leaking with a faulty valve. The gas built up in the storage locker so when I opened the door the rush of fresh air and the spark from the light switch ignited the gas. A panel from the storage locker flew through the air and sliced my face.”

He laid a hand on mine, as my eyes grew wide with horror once again.

“How awful – it must have been so painful.”

“Luckily, the force of the explosion threw me backwards and I banged my head. I was unconscious so have no memory of the event. But the good news is I am going in for reconstructive surgery next week and that will stop the majority of scares, I hope.”

“Well that is good news. I hope you will feel more comfortable in public but know I will always be happy for you to pop in whenever you like.”

Forsyth’s lopsided smile showed his gratefulness.


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