Free Flash Fiction:
She Should Wear a Mask
By: Jae El Foster
March 17, 2019
She wanted to be pretty, but as she gazed at her reflection in the mirror, she knew that she wasn’t. Sure, her mom and dad told her she was pretty, but that was their job. They were supposed to tell her that. No one else ever did though. No boys. Not even any of the girls in her class, although they called each other pretty all the time.
Her belly was flabby and she squished it between her hands, forming a mouth. Moving the flabby lips around, she spoke in a deep voice. “Me hungry! Me need more food!”
She chuckled, but she didn’t think it was funny at all. Sighing, she finished dressing.
“Carrabelle,” she heard her mother call her. “You’re going to miss the bus!”
She hated the bus. No one ever sat with her. They didn’t tease her either, which she thought could have been a good thing, but a part of her still believed that teasing would have been better than the silence they showed her instead.
“Carrabelle,” Mother called again, “if you’re not downstairs in one minute…!”
“I’m coming!” she replied and then huffed. Hurriedly, she grabbed her backpack and ran from her room, slamming the door shut behind her. When she reached the stairs, her rushed movements caused her to trip herself, and Carrabelle tumbled hard down the stairs, landing at the bottom where her head hit the floor.
“Oh, Carrabelle!” Mother shouted as she and Father rushed from the dining table to their daughter’s side. Carrabelle opened her eyes and looked at them. “Are you okay?”
Nothing felt broken but her pride. She had a headache – a massive one – and her vision was blurry, and as she stood, she felt off balanced. “I’m okay,” she whispered and picked up her backpack from where it had landed.
“Do you need a doctor?” Father asked with an anxious tone.
“No…” Carrabelle walked past her parents to the front door. “I’ll miss my bus.”
She stood in front of her house, still and quiet while holding her backpack at her side until the bus arrived. As she boarded, she took note of the other kids, fully ignoring her plain self as she walked down to the back of the bus and the seat that she always sat alone in. When she walked by the other kids, they all went silent and looked away from her, as if she didn’t exist or as if she was the worst thing they’d ever seen… both were likely true to them, Carrabelle figured.
In class, she sat in her desk in the middle of the room, listening to the whispers around her. Now, the other girls were no longer just ignoring her or whispering to each other how pretty the other was in that dress or those shoes, but they were now talking about Carrabelle.
“She’s such a dork,” one said, glancing over at her and then laughing to her friend. “She can’t even walk today.”
“Oh, I know!” added her friend. “And look at her clothes. They are so disheveled.”
“So’s her hair!”
“She looked like she’s been thrown down the stairs!”
Both girls laughed at the comment, and as the teacher shushed them, Carrabelle grew further insecure and even a little mad. She already did not feel well, and the girls were worsening the matter. A few minutes later, they began digging into her again.
“I guess it really doesn’t matter,” the first girl whispered in the cruelest tone Carrabelle had ever heard. “There’s not much you can do with that face. Plain.”
“She should wear a bag over her head.”
“She should wear a mask.”
Carrabelle had thought that being teased might have been better than being ignored, but she discovered that it hurt more. Between their harsh words and her throbbing headache, her vision began to worsen, as did her already weakened love for herself, and she felt sick to her stomach. She opened her mouth to ask to be excused, but instead she vomited down the front of her shirt.
Immediately, the class burst into laughter and Carrabelle ran from her desk, out of the room, and into the hallway.
She hid out until the bell rang, and as class emptied out, she stepped back into the room to gather her things. All of the sudden, she was nearly floored by a strong buzzing in her ears and further distortion of her vision. Her headache became more of an intense pain.
“What’s wrong?” she heard one of the mean girls ask her, and looking around, she found herself alone in the room with her. “Did your hideous face decide to suddenly affect your walking too? Or are you just so ugly that you just can’t go any further in life.”
“Where’s Mrs. Rosetta?” Carrabelle asked, searching the room for the teacher through her distorted vision.
“Gone to lunch with everyone else, or are you too ugly to see even that?”
She did not know what was coming over her, but she had heard enough of the mean girl and her cruel remarks. Walking to Mrs. Rosetta’s desk, she took the scissors from atop it and then moved toward the girl, yielding the scissors in the air.
“What do you think you’re doing?” the girl asked her, backing up to the wall.
“You said I should wear a mask,” Carrabelle said as her eye twitched and the pain in her head caused her to bleed from her ears and nose. “So, I’m making a mask.”
She stabbed the girl twice, flooring her but not killing her. She wanted her alive to feel the pain as she cut her face off for her new mask. Finally, she thought as she put the girl’s face over hers, she was pretty.
Copyright Jae El Foster, 2019