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Bearded Lady

By , Santa Barbara, CA
tangerine was perched on the window ledge staring wistfully into the distance. she looked beautiful, the light streaming through her golden hair, her green eyes wide and thoughtful. she was one of those people who you just couldn't take your eyes off of. she exuded a strange magnetism that seemed to entrance people. below the window ledge, amanda leaned against the wall, carefully pulling a comb through her curly, brown beard. she was dressed in old slacks and one of those baggy tunic shirts that seemed effortlessly hip on some and just a little mangy on others. sadly, amanda was the latter. still, her blue eyes were peircing and her broad smile lit up her entire face. amanda remembered a time when she could glance at a man, push her long, dark hair out of her eyes and have him fall in love with her. she remembered how she used to be able to pull off the tunic. she used to be able to pull of anything. amanda sat down the comb and set her chin in her hands the way she did when she was feeling self conscious. she wished more than anything that she could somehow go back to the days when she was young, and mysterious and carefree and alive. these days, amanda looked in the mirror and saw staring back at her a mangled old hag. a bearded lady. she imagined dying, and being forever immortalized as one of those freaks in the ripleys believe it or not museum. and sadly, amanda realized that that was the most she could hope for. somehow, her entire life had amounted to nothing. here she was, an old woman sitting below her beautiful daughter, combing her beard and wishing to be something different than what she was.

when she was eleven amanda's mother gave her a book about puberty. on one page, the author gave young girls explicit directions about how to shave their armpits, and their legs. "don't be afraid if hair starts popping up in strange places. that's called growing up," the book said in bold letters. so when her first whisker appeared, amanda smiled and thought to herself, "i'm finally becoming a woman!" Amanda had always been terribly eager to grow up. she shaved the whisker with her mothers razor, thinking how mature she was, and when another one didn't appear for around four monthes amanda was a little dissapointed. she wasn't a terribly stupid girl, she just didn't put two and two together. somehow, amanda had just missed the memo that women didn't usually grow beards. and with her, it wasn't the same as leg hair or those other terribly embarrassing signs of puberty. the beard started slowly, and enhanced slowly. all through junior high it was slightly more than peach fuzz. somewhere around that time though, amanda realized that none of her peers were going through the same thing as her. she realized it wasn't exactly normal that she was growing facial hair. luckily, it wasn't hard to cover up. in highschool the beard picked up steam, but only slightly. once a month amanda would go in for a facial waxing, praying to god none of the salon workers ran in the same circles as the people she knew. in high school, amanda was the belle of the ball. she had thick, wavy, dark hair, olive skin and wide-set blue eyes. she had full lips and an expressive smile. in high school, amanda was one of those people you couldn't help but like. she seemed to be free of inhibitions, but not in an annoying way. she didn't cry out for your attention she just simply was, and because that people were drawn to her. her sophomore year a handsome boy named darwin asked amanda to get coffee. the first time they kissed amanda thought she might go into cardiac arrest. she began to shave daily and carry at all times a small compact mirror. obsessively, amanda checked to make sure her slightly larger than average poors didn't give away her secret. if darwin found out who she really was amanda didn't know how she would live with herself. little by little, though, she lost that nonchalance, that quality that made her who she was. still, amanda had friends, a boyfriend, and nobody knew. her life was full and amanda was happy. darwin told her he loved her and amanda practically shouted it back. they graduated high school, moved to the mountains, and spent every night drinking chamomile tea and yelling about politics.

when amanda got pregnant the beard, once again, picked up steam. it seemed her hormonal imbalance was causing the hair to grow thicker and faster. she became even more compulsive about it, paranoid that darwin would find out. he really was the love of her life, she thought. she would die without him, she thought. he would leave her if he ever knew. but her secret was becoming harder to hide. the weeks before her due date amanda was having to shave hourly. her face was raw, and her skin dry but she had that pregnant glow you hear so much about, and darwin was always there to hold her hand. she gave birth on a sunday afternoon, to a six pound little girl who was everything she had ever dreamed of. amanda thought that once she had the child her beard would go back to normal. that is, she wouldn't have to shave so much. instead, it just kept growing. and with an infant on her hands amanda couldn't stop and shave all the time. she knew that somehow she would have to confront darwin. she hoped he would see past it. he was a wonderful father, maybe at least he would stay for tangerine. that was what they named her, the baby that laughed at everything and had the same huge eyes that amanda had but in a striking shade of green. one night, tangerine had an upset stomach and wouldn't stop crying. amanda watched her, and fed her and rocked her and read her poetry and by morning amanda was completely frazzled. she fell asleep without even thinking about shaving, and when she woke up darwin was gone. amanda cried and cried, and held tangerine a little closer. he never sent a note, a check. she never saw him again.

without a husband, amanda needed to get a job. but with a baby, that was hard. and with a beard, it was harder. it seemed the beard just wouldn't stop growing, and now it was impossible to hide. amanda wrote to her family, asking for a little help but her mother was dead and her father was senile. she moved to a city and went door to door selling anything she could find. she made a little money, but not enough. she got some welfare from the city, but it certainly wasn't much. still, amanda found a small apartment in the city and everyday made sure she bought a boquet of flowers. and even when she couldn't eat, tangerine never went hungry. despite, amanda felt hopeless without a stable home for her growing daughter. and tangerine was growing. she looked completely different from her mother, with golden hair and light skin. but they shared that same mysterious nonchalance. from the time she could speak tangerine was instantaneously charming. her soft curls and big eyes enchanted people and her melodious laugh made them fall in love. amanda would look at tangerine and she would get that feeling, like your heart was sort of swelling. she would cradle her daughter in her arms and sing to her, and even as tangerine grew too big to sit on her lap amanda would hold her. amanda sewed her daughter beautiful dresses, and sent her to school. and tangerine grew to be vivacious, but soft at the same time. she was one of those children you could tell thought things through. through her teenage years tangerine was tall, and gangly and could write the most beautiful poetry. amanda still couldn't hold down a job but tangerine didn't seem to mind. she began to sew her own clothes, inspired by the beautiful dresses her mother made for her. tangerine's dresses were bright and expressive and she would sell them to the girls at school to help her mother pay the rent. whenever tangerine brought amanda money, amanda would do that thing where she cupped her chin in her hands and would just stare at her daughter with the strangest look on her face. and when tangerine turned nineteen and got a paid internship with a very famous fashion designer amanda hugged her daughter and thought she'd never be able to let go.

tangerine had moved into an apartment with a few of her friends, but still saw her mother every few days. still, with tangerine out of the house amanda felt lost. she would stare at herself in the mirror for hours like an angsty teenager and remember the "good old days." she would read trashy romance novels and stare out the window at the cold concrete world of the city. sometimes amanda would go to a restaraunt to see tangerine but when she did all she could concentrate on was the inquisitive stares of passerby's. "everyone is judging me," amanda thought. amanda never stopped thinking. gone were the days when she would write, and talk politics and sing to her daughter. gone was her youth. amanda struggle to pay the bills, refusing to accept the money tangerine sent. the days trudged on and suddenly amanda was fifty. fifty years old, bearded, alone and poor as dirt. amanda took a bunch of pills. she did it that way because she figured it was slightly glamorous, but not too pretentious. it didn't work and when she woke up tangerine was sobbing at her side.

amanda moved to the country and lived in a big house, with high ceilings and painted tiles. tangerine lived there too, with her husband, a man with an even thicker beard than amanda's. tangerine was sitting on the window ledge, thinking about how much she loved her mother, looking wistful as she remember how amanda had sang to her and bought them flowers even when she couldn't pay the rent. it was almost poetic, tangerine thought and when she looked at her mother she saw the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. amanda sat below her, back against the wall, wishing she had done something with her life. then she looked up at tangerine and realized that she had.





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Hope_PrincessThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 21, 2009 at 9:14 pm
That was a really great story! But you did forget to capitalize a lot. Still, it was good and enchanting.
Keep writing!
 
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