31st December, a date so bold on the calendar pinned to the fridge in the kitchen. It is New Year's Eve. Maria couldn't believe her eyes, afterall, no one really bothered about tearing the pages of the calendar. It all seemed too abrupt for her. She shunned days which inevitably called forth glorious celebrations-all except for Christmas, a day in which she regards as 'The Most Heavenly Celebration'. She couldn't stand the idea of having to force a fake smile, meeting the hippocrates in her family, and above all, having have to remove her paperbag off her face. "Geez, I hate my nude face," muttered Maria in disgust. She could, like how the other lasses do their trick, patch the canvas of her face in makeup if she wanted, but that's just not a 'normal' thing in her life. Maria has eversince been granted no liberty over cosmetic products and any other face products, be it face wash, face cleanser, face mask, etc. According to her mother, it is all "a waste of money, It will do you no good,..". To make things a lot more peevish for her daughter, she always finished her lecture on replying her daughter's inquisitiveness over such matter with "..trust me, I've tried it all...but to no avail".
Maria busied herself with trying on her new dress her mother got her for the following day. She spent hours in front of her oblong mirror, sighing at intervals. It was not just her face, but her dress too, this time. It was a plain red dress, with white polka dots all over it. Maria's 16, and yet, she is less treated like a young woman. She perseveres throughout each day, though at the end of the day, she always questions herself as to why she's being held slave to a guardian who has such overpowering dominion over her regardless of her now semi-adult age. "Can't voice this out to mom,..", said Maria, tempering her mounted disapprovements. And so the day passed, and it was New Year, a significant day which marks a whole new year after a complete revolvation of the Earth around the Sun as we all know it, also a time where people write out lists of what they call 'New Year's Resolutions' and attend late-night parties to drench their system in alcohol-- at least that's what the majority in the west do. But to Maria, it was another ordinary year, mundane as it is, life's still gonna be the same for her. Still a school-going girl, a lass tied to her mother's apron strings and an earnest seeking-for-life teenager.
"Pack those books you devour on...," Maria's mother joked,sinisterly. "Oh and you better ditch those paper bags!" said her once again, but this time in a rather stern manner. She was not gonna compromise this time, as they were about to 'get-together' with their kins and she better not let her daughter ruin it this time, like what she did some few years back by putting on her warped paper bag, thus, deriving her sobriquet, 'The Paperbag Girl'- right from her own family members. Upon reaching her Uncle Tommy's house, Maria braced herself to enter the house as she saw there were many cars parked outside the house, reckoning those belonged to her relatives. She entered the house anyway. There in a fair distance, stood Pevensie, that sassy girl in the family who was about the age of Maria. Pevensie had long, sleek hair and a fair complexion and hazel brow eyes that added a lot to her beauty. Pevensie inherited most of her impeccable feature from her Irish mother. Yes, she was a lot like that beauty queen, Deborah Henry, with the blood of a Cashmere Indian and that of an Irish. How heavenly. And there was everyone, indeed, almost everyone admiring her while she stood rather nonchalant, as the mundane and monotonous acclaim of her beauty came about. And there was poor Baghead Girl, at one corner of the house, avoiding everyone, standing all by herself, feeling inferior.
At dusk, Maria was back home, her thoughts disrupted by ladened anxiety. School restarts at two days time and she's all but overcome by nervousness about school. School has always played quite an important part in her life. Acing her exams made up most of her merriment. In concise words, school has never failed in evoking that tingly sort of feeling in Maria. Now that Maria is in Grade 11, she sought to double-up her effort and performance as she will be sitting for so many a test to conform to the inevitable stress every studious student would have to go through as part of preparing themselves for a major exam.
Fast forward to the 3rd of January and school had restarted. Maria's bleak thoughts about school and herself was a little gnawed away by her excitement about her new school supplies. School supplies have always given her the oomph to do what she does best. She had,therefore, always put aside part of her savings in considerable amount to gratify her obsession over school supplies. Sitting at the far right of the classroom, Maria suddenly found herself gazing, gradually gaping at a female student who had just walked in the classroom. The girl, she was Suma, a new student at Lower Elm Road High School. All eyes were fixated on Suma as she casually promenaded into the classroom, heading for an empty seat by the far right corner of the classroom. No, she was not an embodiment of flawless beauty nor was she a daughter of some big-shot. Suma was an unfortunate individual. Unlike the other girls, Suma was stripped off the privilege to enjoy the beauty she was born with. Her face was marred and had a permanent look of twisted agony. Everyone in the classroom starred at her in disbelief. There was a momentary awkward silence until a male student from the back broke it. He jeered and ridiculed Suma incessantly. His fellow members then joined in a wicked laughter, taunting Suma all the more. But Suma couldn't care less. She was phlegmatic about the mockery that was trajected right on her.
.....to be continued..
p/s: never thought this 'short' story would develop into a long, elaborated one!