Thursday, May 3, 2012

Outward Appearance

The stares.  The whispers.  The pointing, and the comments.   “Freak,”  “weird,” or even “ugly.”  She was used to it.   Her sideshow act,  The Tattooed Lady, toured the country with a  traveling circus.  People came from miles around,  paying good money to gawk at her colorful skin, inked with an array of designs  in a rainbow of colors. 


She had been an exceptionally beautiful baby.    As she grew into childhood, and then adolescence, her beauty increased, although it hardly seemed possible given that her face was simply stunning to begin with.  Word of  her attractiveness spread, and her parents quickly realized she possessed a face that could be their fortune.   Always dressed  in fine clothes, she was paraded around her town for people to admire, and her looks often stopped the passing traffic of horses and buggies, and occasionally one of the new “horseless carriages.”  Never allowed to play outside, or inside for that matter, she was simply told to sit quietly throughout the day so as not to muss her appearance when curious visitors dropped by to look at her.

When she reached the age where girls begin to dream about their weddings, her parents seized the great opportunity that lay before them- to see to it that their daughter, with her gorgeous face, might win the affections of a rich and socially powerful young man, and marry into his family.  At many parties and dances, she was presented to a myriad of eligible bachelors.   Indeed, the right men were drawn to her because of her great beauty, and it did not take long for her to realize that her beauty brought out the very worst qualities in her would be suitors.  Qualities like jealousy, possessiveness, and distrust.

At the age of 20, she simply packed her small suitcase one early morning and slipped away unseen.  She was headed for San Francisco.  (That very evening, her parents were to announce her engagement at a lavish dinner party, having found an ideal match for her.)   Walking along a seedy street down by the waterfront her first day in town, she found herself standing in front of a tattoo parlor.  Her curiosity winning out over her apprehension, she went in.


In all the times, over the years, that she appeared as the Tattooed Lady, not once, as far as she could tell, did anyone seem to notice her face.

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