The Power of Beauty
There was a girl once. And like in every other story, this girl was beautiful. But beauty is a tricky toy to play with. One day you are on the shelves, selling to billions and the next day you are in a dumpster somewhere, waiting for cats and dogs to have a feast of you.
The girl in our story had that kind of beauty. The one that could easily be thrown away.
Nevertheless, she was beautiful. Her eyes were the perfect oval shape, her nose small, her lips symmetrical, her smile gorgeous, her body perfect. Angelica was her name. Quite an old name for a young soul. Angel her friends called her, Angelica he called her.
Angelica met him when she was nine. Of course then she had no idea just how much he would become the cornerstone of her life. She was a happy girl then, and he was him. Her protector. But this is not a story about him, this is a story about Angelica and her perishable beauty.
Our story starts the day Angelica discovered the power of her beauty. She was fourteen then, and her body was just starting to become that of a woman's. The two growing lumps in her chest seemed to draw in the male gaze and so were the slender smooth black legs that appeared underneath her school skirt.
Yet, even then, Angelica had not realized how much of a rare commodity she was. Until that day.
They say when fate visits you, it does so so stealthily, like a thief in the night, and before you know it, your soul is sealed. Angelica feels that way whenever she remember that day, like her soul was stolen.
It was around four in the afternoon, and fourteen year old Angelica with her navy blue school skirt that reached just below her knees and her white ironed shirt was walking home from school amidst a company of five of her classmates, laughing and talking about nothing in particular.
"Angel," the boy to her right called to her quietly.
Angelica's eyes turned and then rested on his dark round face.
"Yes Fred, "her lips moved, and for some reason, she could feel her heart moving.
The rest of her friends continued their silly stories, behind them remained Fred's round face and Angelica's beating heart.
"Am sorry about yesterday," Fred let out.
Ah, yesterday, Angelica's mind jumped to it. Yesterday Fred had given her a letter. In it, he had written only one thing,
Angelica was not stupid. She knew what that meant . She had crumbled the letter and into the class dustbin it went. She had no time for stupid boy games.
"It's okay, I forgive you,"she rushed to utter the statement, and her slender black legs walked faster to catch up with the rest.
Before she could reach them, a hand held on to her left hand, and Angelica stopped on her tracks.
There behind her, pleading with his eyes and his whole life, Fred begged her to look at him. And there, with her eyes not daring to look back, her beating heart had picked up a faster pace. She knew what he knew. This was it. This was what she had read in books and watched in movies.
"Hey, Angel, Fred, quit vibing , you are slowing us down," Molly, their friend was the one to break the magic.
Angelica, the magic still fresh in her mind, reached home around six and straight into the kitchen she went. With her navy blue school skirt on, and her white shirt, and her brown shoes and her neatly combed hair, Angelica bent down to light up the fire with the little firewood that was left.
"Angelica," his voice came.
She looked up and saw his tall reflection standing by the mud kitchen door. She smiled as she always did when she saw him.
"Papa, I need more firewood," she said.
"Ah, child, always demanding eerrh. And where is your mother? Should she not be here?"
"Papa, sometimes I wonder just how old you are. Don't you remember mama said she was going to visit her friend in the city tonight?"
"Hmm," was all he said and then proceeded to ax more firewood.
Angelica shook her head and smiled. Papa could be so forgetful at times. She waited for the wood, and as she did, her mind went back to Fred. Sweet round faced Fred that did things to her heart. She remembered the feeling of his hands in hers. Her memory then took her to that letter, the letter that contained only her name written in the fanciest handwriting a fourteen year old boy could manage.
"Angelica, your smile is bigger that shosho's ugali. Whatever are you thinking about,"
Papa was the one to wake her from her thoughts.
"Am thinking of how really old you are and where we will bury you," she said laughing.
"You naughty girl," Papa was saying as he set the firewood down.
Time for Angelica to start dinner preparations, his actions seemed to say. And Angelica, still with her school uniform on, and with both knees on the muddy floor, started to light up the fire.
"What are you planning to cook?" Papa asked as he sat down on the kitchen stool.
Papa never remained in the kitchen when her and mama were cooking. Angelica found this weird but quickly dismissed it. After all, she could use some company. God forbid her thoughts go Fred-wild again.
"Mama said to cook ugali and omena," she answered, her face moving slightly away from the brightness of the fire she had just lit.
She reached for the kitchen cabinet and found the heaviest sufuria and poured water from the jerrycan in it and set it on the fire-stones. She then found the omena and setting herself comfortably with her slender black legs stretched out, started sorting out the omen.
Ten minutes of silence had passed. Angelica could feel that Papa was staring at her. Why, she did not know. Had she done something bad? Before her mind could go to that lane,Papa spoke up suddenly,
"Angelica, do any boys disturb you at school?"
Angelica's heart went still. Had he heard from someone about Fred? Had one of their friends sold them out?
"Angelica, I asked you a question."
"No, Papa," her voice came out weak.
"Are you sure?"
Did he know? Was this all just a test to see if she would lie to him? Perhaps she should just come clean, after all it was not that bad.
"Yes Papa," her lips answered for her.
Papa was silent a long while. Angelica's omena picking pace slowed down. Each breathe she took felt forced. Surely Papa knew all about Fred. It was just a matter of time and he would confront her. Angelica had never seen Papa angry. Will he beat her like mama does? Or would he just yell?
"Angelica, do you know you have a power?" Papa spoke up before her trail of thoughts were over.
A power? she thought.
"A power?" she asked out loud.
"Yes Angelica, a power."
"Like Spider man? Superman? The likes?"
Papa laughed then. But his laugh seemed different today. It had a kind of roughness in it. Papa had a soft voice, and his laugh has always been soft. Why did it sound so rough today?
"No, definitely not like Spider man and Superman my dear."
Angelica ignored the fact that his voice was also getting rougher, and that he had just called her my dear. It was just all a coincidence and she should stop worrying about every little thing. If Papa knew about Fred, he would just tell her. He had never been one to beat around the bush before.
"Then like what?"
If this was a game Papa had just invented, then she was going to play.
"You have the Power of beauty," his voice had gone lower and he spoke silently,as if he was telling her a secret no one in the entire universe should know.
Angelica, baffled, turned to look at him and then almost suddenly, wished she hadn't. There, beneath the black irises of her Papa, lay something that terrified her soul to the core.
Quickly looking away, Angelica replied Thank you with the smallest voice.
Her right hand was shaking as she tried to continue picking the omena, her breathes became shortened and fast.
"Why do you look scared Angelica?" he asked.
His voice now sounded like metal gritting metal.
"Am not scared Papa, just a little cold. Would you mind if i go fetch a jacket?" Angelica was honestly surprised at how brave her voice sounded then.
She was not going to wait for a response and standing up, she made for the door. Only, she never got to reach it.
For the second time that day, her left hand found itself in the hands of another. Only this time, when her heartbeat increased it wasn't because she was scared of how much she loved her hand to be held. And when she refused to turn around, it wasn't because she was afraid she will find love staring back.
"Angelica."His voice was tearing her soul apart.
"Angelica, look at me."
Breath in, breath out. Breath in, Breath out; was all Angelica could think of.
"I said LOOK AT ME!" and with that he forcefully turned her around.
Don't cry. Don't cry. You are a big girl, don't cry; Angelica's mind repeated in her head.
Her dry eyes looked up and there, in the almost darkness of the night, he faced her Papa. And almost immediately her mind jumped to when she was nine years old. To the day mama came with a man at home and told her, Angelica, this is going to be your new papa since God took your old one. She remembered him stooping low to face her and how he told her she was the most beautiful girl in the whole world and he was going to protect her forever.
"Angelica, you surely have no idea how much power you hold? " his voice was gentle yet it felt like someone was ripping apart her flesh piece by piece.
His grip on her left hand got tighter, and then slowly, he moved her hand towards himself, towards there.
"See the Power that your Beauty holds. See what it does to me Angelica."
Angelica with her soul shattered and her left hand on the crotch of the man she had called Papa, tried to master all the strength she could.
"LEAVE ME!!" she screamed and kicked and tried to remove her hand from his grasp.
Papa was too fast and too strong. With his other hand, her mouth was shut. In a spun of seconds, his huge tall body had pushed her weak small one to the muddy ground.
Angelica was not one to give up. Her legs kicked, her body wriggled, her closed mouth muffled.
Papa still had his way.
Her white ironed shirt torn, her navy blue skirt raised to her waist, both her shoes removed, her hair pulled.
In Papa went, and out he came. Hard Angelica fought and harder she tried not to cry.
In, out, In , out.
With every rhythm, Angelica could see her soul perishing.
In, out, In, Out.
And then he was done.
"See Angelica, see what the Power of your Beauty made me do," he said as he zipped his trousers and rose from the muddy floor.