Flash fiction

BEAUTY IN THE BROKEN

There is a common saying in town that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. For Chinenye, it was a different story all together. She grew up alongside her two brothers. She wasn’t just beautiful but well adored by all. Being the last born and only daughter of her parents added aesthetics to her beauty. Her brothers protected her like a mother hen protects her chicks, never letting anyone hover more than necessary around her. She was treated like a princess and grew up feeling like one. Even though from a middle class family, her parents, especially her dad, never let her lack a thing- she was his pet!

She soon got into the University and insisted on going from home as her elder brothers were already done with school, complaining that she didn’t want to live in a place where she knew no one. After weeks of shuttling, her dad decided to gift her with his second car to make things easier for her. An act, that to his surprise didn’t raise dust amongst her elder siblings. Chinenye drove the car with pride, limiting her group of friends to “the rich and beautiful”. She wasn’t just beautiful but regarded as the most beautiful in her class. Guys flocked around her both in and outside campus like flies flock around stool.

Chinenye had grown, being always referred to as “beautiful”. Maintaining her beauty had been a calculated effort, one she had gotten used to, one she didn’t have to think about, something she does without burning a flicker of energy. One could liken it to “the act of drinking water”, it was already part of her everyday life. All she knew how to do, she learnt from no one in particular, her mum had always been that carrier woman that was rarely at home, having no time to spend with and teach her daughter some basic things she needed.

five women laughing
Chinenye and her friends

Everyone who knew her well, at one point or another had found themselves complimenting her creativity. Her father referred to her as “the best thing that ever happened to him, of course, after her mother!”. She was known to be versatile, there was barely a discussion that sprang up without her making an input- the reason her siblings included her in the planning of the family business they were currently building. Different people had different reasons for developing such a deep “likeness” for Chinenye but she always believed her beauty was the force propelling the admiration on her person.

She had just had a happy Sunday evening with her friends and was on her way home when her car had a head-on collision with an incoming vehicle. Asked what happened and she couldn’t tell a thing, she couldn’t remember, it had all happened in a flash! All she could remember was that she was on her way back from a beautiful Sunday evening outing with her friends. She had been so happy as she drove home…. The next thing she remembered was waking up on a hospital bed with her mum by her bedside.

“mum, can I go home, I feel fine” she said, after carefully surveying the hospital room where she was alongside other numerous patients. She only had to put two and two together to realize she was in the emergency room. The hospital wasn’t her favorite place. Worst of all, the emergency room was the last place she wanted to be. The view of acutely ill-looking patients made her feel so sick. If she could have her way, she would just sneak out of the hospital if that was what it would take to leave this place stacked with sick people. The sight of a man who seemingly was involved in a ghasty motor accident made her develop nausea. The man had patches of superficial wounds with fresh blood oozing out of them. She couldn’t understand how others could cope with looking at him not to mention attending to him- the single reason she considered every doctor a demi-god.

wistful black woman with eyes closed touching face in thoughts

The scream from Nenye as she got back from the hospital was loud enough to alert the entire neighborhood. The shock on her face as she starred at herself in the mirror was eminent. She couldn’t believe it was the same Nenye she knew that starred right back at her. She didn’t only look like a ghost of her formal self but also had a huge plaster on her face! The pain she felt there was enough to tell her of just how big a scar it would leave behind. She felt her world crumble right before her eyes. She felt like the only good thing she had had just been wickedly snatched from her.

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months yet, Nenye refused to talk to anyone. Even her friends in school couldn’t get around her. She sought homage on facemasks and dark googles to mask her nightmare. She deserted her friends like she never knew them, revolving her solitary life around academics, house chores, locking herself up in her room… Crying had become the order of the day. Every attempt to convince her that her best qualities were still intact fell on deaf ears.

As she sat under a tree in campus one afternoon, lost in thoughts, a phrase she was quiet used to but didn’t expect to hear caught her attention. At first, she waved it aside, not giving in to the prank her head was beginning to play on her but then, it came again…she was sure she heard something. “Hey beautiful, how are you doing?” she was forced to look up. At first, she thought the guy was going to run away the moment he saw her scar. She had gotten tired of masking it and had accepted her fate though always wallowing in self pity.

woman sitting on bench in park

She was proved wrong when the young man was just not only comfortable around her but also ready to see more of her. Months went by yet, the guy kept coming closer. Nenye, even though housing the thought that it was all a game and would soon come to an end, decided to go on with whatever it was they had going on. She had missed her friends and was so thrilled to have someone to talk to.

She was soon rehabilitated back to her usual self. Even though she wasn’t now so interested in her old friends, she still played aquintance to not just them but to everyone else in her class. Her family was most excited to have their only daughter back. The day Eddy popped the big question was the day the scale fell off Nenye’s eyes. She had gotten so close to and fond of him but never did it cross her mind that Eddy liked her enough to want to get married to her. She didn’t think any man would want an ugly woman with a scar on her face. It was then it dawned on her, the most important people in her life hadn’t loved her because of her beauty, they had done so because of who she was!