Editor's ChoiceFlash FictionLife and General Fiction

The Cost

They never called me beautiful. Ever. Caregiver, helper, helpmate, virtuous, I was called but never beautiful. Why would they? Big and black as I am, beauty bypassed me and I became that furniture you feel to make sure it’s there but don’t really notice. Or see.

I receive—Ngoho is my name, and in a family where my sisters were called Dooshima—beauty heart, and Wuese—praise, I was shuffled into the rear, while they had and held attention. They were beautiful. With those polished caramel skin, milk white eyes and gleaming ivory teeth. They were the toast, but not I. I remained, constant. A book closed. A book unread.

In August, after I first bled, something opened up for me, like a bud—boys. I began to see them, no watch them. The ones that played football after school and smelt like grass, the ones that missed school to smoke hemp with bloodshot eyes, the ones that sang in the choir and lifted tear-soaked eyes to the heavens. They all fascinated me. Coloured my reasoning till all I could think of was what to do with them, how to do it with them and how I could get them to notice me long enough to do it with me.

Mr. Johnson did. Notice me. Right after lessons, on the evening of that rain soaked Saturday. No one was around save he and I, so the line between teacher and student blurred. He called me beautiful and replaced my underwear with his member.

As I wobbled home, with his juices trailing down to soil my socks, it wasn’t the throbbing pain I felt, but gratitude, of being seen, for being called beautiful. It is finished.

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