December 11, 2011
A pessimistic atheist is what people believed she was. Her black bangs covered her pale blue eyes outlined in pounds of mascara. Her shoulders were always slumped over and her head was always down. Joanna only had one article of clothing; a gray hoodie. Her back seemed lumpy, everyone in the school thought that she was anorexic, and perhaps her bones replaced her skin. She was a freak of nature; nothing could make her or break her. Everyone constantly teased her. If she was hurt by the words, we couldn’t tell. She hardly responded to any compliment, any criticism, any question or statement. I wondered if she was deaf.
It was the day where we had a group chemistry project. My group had gotten Joanna by default. This was the huge quarterly project which was worth seventy percent of our grade. To get more work done, I invited my group to my house, including Joanna.
The chemicals and materials were all laid out perfectly on the kitchen table. With our gloves, lab aprons, and safety goggles on, we were ready to work. “First we have to mix chemical A with chemical B,” I said. Amir clumsily mixed the chemicals, allowing some to spill on Joanna. After two seconds, it was already burning through her hoodie. I quickly gave her my old white shirt and told her to change in the bathroom. She took the shirt then walked off. Amir didn’t apologize or anything. Hardly anyone thought of her as a human being.
Fifteen minutes passed and Joanna still didn’t come out the bathroom. I began to think that she breathed in the fumes and it managed to get to her brain. I pictured her lying, still, on the cold tile floor in the bathroom. I panicked. I took off my gloves and safety goggles and ran to the bathroom door. I opened the door without knocking. She wasn’t on the bathroom floor.
She was in my tub, completely naked kneeling down to the water in the faucet. Her back was turned to me. Small white wings were engraved in her back; millions of black words covered her pale skin. The biggest word was “hope.” I didn’t say anything; I don’t even think I breathed. I just stared. I guess a gust of wind came through the open door because she shivered then turned and saw me. She turned off the water and silently stood, dripping wet.
There was a goddess in my bathroom. For the first time, I saw her bangs pulled back. Her eyes were big and pale blue. She didn’t move a muscle. She didn’t say anything. Her whole body was covered with black words and blue roses. They weren’t tattoos. I didn’t know what exactly they were. My hand was still on the door knob, it suddenly became slippery. I was sweating up a storm.
Joanna’s sudden movement frightened me. She stepped out the tub and walked over to me. I smoothed my hair back and bit my lip. She whispered, “I’m a freak of nature, cant you see? Are you intimated by me?” I tried to make out words, but my mouth was dry. I nodded yes.
“Do not be afraid. I am a product of God. I was asked to come down here to experience what being a human feels like. All I feel in pain and hurt. This message will be sent to Him. The world will end and will be flipped upside down. Perhaps the next time around there will be no Eve to bite a spoiled apple, or a Pandora to open a box full of negativity. This was all not meant to be.”
A warm tear slid down my cheek. And she was gone, leaving nothing but the stained gray hoodie behind.

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