Harsh Reality

May 1, 2010
By , Royal Oak, MI
The Story of Marcus Brown

“Does this dress make me look fat?”

Marcus Brown raised one perfectly shaped eyebrow, narrowing his ice-blue eyes in disdain. “Well,” he started, tone annoyed, “it doesn’t exactly make you look thin… But you always look fat, so does it really matter?”

Anne Weathers, Marcus’s (soon to be ex) girlfriend, laughed in disbelief. “I don’t know why I put up with you, I really don’t. I mean, it’s not as though you’re good-”

“It’s not as though I’m good looking? Au contraire, my dear. I’m afraid I must disagree,” Marcus said, running a hand over his amber locks—no flyaways were allowed, not with Marcus Brown. “You know, I’m not sure why you’ve stuck with me, either. Perhaps it’s your low self-esteem that you try so hard to hide. Though, to be frank,” he added, looking her up and down, “if you wish to raise it, you may want to dress in clothes that fit you better. Just my opinion, darling.”
Anne clenched her jaw, reared back, and punched him in the face. Her hand left a large, fist-shaped bright red mark that would turn into a bruise, she was sure. It was, however, the only flaw on his otherwise perfect, pale face. “I am so out of here,” she snapped, storming out of the store.

Marcus held his shaven jaw, watching her go. “You call that a punch?” he muttered. “I’ve met happy toddlers that punch harder then that.” Still muttering, he turned and left the store as well, walking to his apartment—she had been his ride. He, it appeared, was far too critical of other drivers to safely drive.

Third girlfriend out this week, he thought. A new record? I- But there was that one week, in Puerto Rico… Was that four?

He finally arrived home, and spied his neighbor across the hallway.

“Hello, Mrs. Anderson!” he called, waving. She turned back to smile at him, and he winced. “A bit of bleach will get that stain out of your dress,” he promised, “and I’ll bet that acne’ll clear up if you get some medication for it!”

Her jaw dropped, and she glared at him before running inside. “You call that being angry?” he started, then stopped, starting to whistle. “Ah, some people just can’t handle the truth.”

The next morning, something seemed different. Marcus washed up the same way, filed (polished) his fingernails the same way, even ate the same breakfast he always had—egg whites on wheat toast, with a glass of orange juice that he made himself. He couldn’t allow himself to regrow his paunch; it had taken him far too long to achieve the weight he had dreamed of. The 18 freckles on his face were the same, and his coarse hair was the same as well. He’d brushed his teeth for the regulated 5.5 minutes—he had to keep them shining. But Marcus felt different, felt that something was off, wrong. Was it his review? As the head critic of his paper, The Crinton Chronicle, he had written many an article bashing one performance or another. But the most recent one had been a dance recital, and he couldn’t seem to stress enough the nonexistence of talent. There didn’t seem to be words enough to explain how he had felt, wringing his hands in unentertained anger.

Pedestrian was a fine enough word, but it didn’t explain the off-beat, boring performances, one after another. Hideous was a lovely word, as was abhorrent, but the performance had just been so revolting, he couldn’t bring himself to compliment the dancers in such a way. He was always like this, he mused. He was never satisfied. And so what if the girls were only three years old. Did that mean he had high standards? Well, if he did, he thought, then why should he have to ‘get over’ them to please a bunch of little girls?

If he wanted to complain, he’d complain. It was time for the girls (and boy, but there was only one word for that—disgusting) to learn that reality was harsh, and people weren’t always your friends. He’d had to learn that at a young age, and it had done him well—he was a damn good critic, teaching others what he had been taught. Tough love, that was what they called it.

But he did this, his philanthropy, merely out of the goodness of his heart—he felt no love for them, had no respect for these people.

And if he couldn’t find the right words, then it would be a treat for them. He promised himself he wouldn’t dwell too much on it—he was 22, still learning, still growing. And he was only human, after all.

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