"I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell..."
I'm different. I was born different. I always have been and always will be different.
I've always been treated differently. I can trace the memories back to as long as I can remember. Normal children are blessed with the utmost ignorance that comes naturally to one of tender age. Whereas a child is usually not perceptive, but partially observant, I have always been exceptionally both. It's both a blessing and a curse, though more of the latter, if you ask me. My earliest memories are not that of the typical kid's. Mine consist of people giving me strange looks, edging away from me, and lots of whispering. So much whispering, please stop whispering, I'm right here.
The only times I could forget that I was an anomaly, if only briefly, were times spent with my grandmother. Unlike all the others, she always smiled at me instead of gawking at me like I was a strange creature. She always held me like she wasn't afraid that I was somehow contagious, always made me feel that in those moments, maybe, just maybe, I could be normal. Maybe not just Grammy could smile at me and talk to me like I mattered. Maybe if I smiled like I always smiled at Grammy, everyone would see that I was just like them.
"Grammy, people treat me different."
"That's because you're very, very special."
What was special about me, I've never been able to decipher. But maybe, just maybe, if Grammy could see something special in me, maybe everyone else could, too.
My visits with Grammy always ended with me ignorantly hoping those things. The strange thing is, I kept hoping. No matter how many times I would be reminded of the cruel reality whenever I arrived home, Grammy would always make me start hoping again, believing that things could change.
They never did. And I was a fool to think even for a split second that they ever could.
I'll always be different. There's nothing I can do to change that. I'll always be the receiving end of curious or disturbed glances. For awhile, I tried smiling like Grammy had taught me to, but that just earned pitied expressions in return.
"Grammy, people stare at me."
"That's because you're so beautiful."
Grammy was the only one who had ever called me beautiful. I'd noticed from very young that it seemed like even Mom had trouble looking at me sometimes. Dad had always been hesitant about holding me, like he could somehow catch the pigment mutation through contact with me. Even when he did hold me, his arms were loose and unsteady around me. I never felt protected like a little girl should in her daddy's arms. I always felt unwanted.
My father wasn't the only one who didn't like to touch me. Whereas a normal little girl usually has lots of friends and grows up playing with them, I never had a friend to call my own. Children edged away from me in school, eyeing me nervously like I would eat them, yelled various forms of "ew" whenever someone would happen to touch something of mine. They treated me like I was sick and contagious. I was never called by my name in school by the other kids. They called me a monster.
"And I know, I know they've all been talkin' about me. I can hear them whisper, and it makes me think there must be somethin' wrong with me.. out of all the hours thinkin', somehow I've lost my mind..."
Aside from time with my grandmother, I always felt lonely. Grammy would always do her best to compensate for my lack of real childhood and companions. She threw me tea parties, took me swimming, took me bike riding and on picnics. The most fun I've ever had was with Grammy.
Grammy said I saw things that people even her age couldn't. Once when Grammy and I were out, I saw a timid little boy with wide eyes who shied away from any adult males that came his way. I remember thinking aloud and quietly remarking to Grammy that the boy must have an abusive father. I've also always remembered the way Grammy gazed down to me with surprise conveyed in her amber eyes, then the soft frown that graced her composure as she patted my head. "You'd be much happier if you didn't have those eyes." It took me years after that incident to realize that she hadn't been talking physically (even though that would have been true, anyway), but rather, she'd been referring to my keen perception.
It was only fitting that the most important person in my life would be the one to pass down what would become my reason for living.
The passion of writing.
Grammy was the one who gave me my very first notebook. It's old and worn from much love now, but I can still remember how brilliantly purple it was the day she presented it to me. I distinctly remember being so amazed at the swirl of intricate colors and designs on the small notebook, how the spine of it was woven in lace. In my eyes, at that time, the notebook was befitting for a queen.
"You have such lovely handwriting. It's about time you put it to work."
"What do I write, Grammy?"
"Anything you want. You can write your thoughts, or your dreams and wishes, or fairytales, like the bedtime stories I read you."
I remember being so entranced, so tantalized by the thought of having such a world of possibilities to call my own.
"Next time you feel lonely, write to me in that notebook, whatever you want to say. And the next time you come to visit, I'll read it, and write something back to you right before you go back home. It'll be like writing letters."
And so that became a game between us, a beloved game that became undoubtedly my favorite part of our visits. From then on, I wrote. About anything and everything. Whereas a typical child would perhaps watch television or have their way with coloring books in their free time, I read and wrote and wrote and read. I started asking for notebooks, books, new pens and pencils for my birthdays. To me, there was no greater thrill than putting fresh ink to a crisp, new piece of paper. Grammy instilled the greatest gift and pleasure in me. I soon neglected the world of shallow gossip and blatant stares to lose myself in a world of fantasy. This world, my world, I could control. I could make it whatever I wanted, and that kept me blithe and sprightly through a perilous childhood.
"Grammy, I hate my name."
"Oh, but why? You have such a beautiful name."
"It's weird, like me, so I hate it."
"But you're named after my favorite flower. It's so beautiful, just like you. It's a perfect name for you, Wysteria."
Grammy became the reason why I started liking myself. Very gradually, I was making the transition from hating myself, to tolerating myself, to beginning to like what was different about me. After all, if Grammy thought what was different about me was beautiful and special, why shouldn't I think the same?
I started letting people call me Wysteria. I started not minding when people stared at me. I started smiling in public, I started being happy and lively in mixed company again. My ability to perceive began to diminish and thus began to stop tormenting me.
"But stay a while and maybe then you'll see a different side of me..."
But then Grammy left my world. And with her, left my flawless fantasy world she had bestowed upon me. With her, left my smiles, my passion for reading and writing, my hope for life.
The two friends I had ever known, Grammy and writing, abandoned me all at once, leaving me to spiral back downwards from my uphill climb and to land hard on my back on the cold ground.
Accompanying the turmoil, my unique sight returned. I began to see everything again, the trials transpiring to everyone around me. I had nowhere to run anymore. I no longer had Grammy, no fictional Utopia to engulf myself in.
Alone. I was completely and utterly alone.
I continued the game Grammy had instigated. I resumed writing to her in that old notebook, our game of letter tag. But never again did she write me back.
"Soon enough, you're gonna think of me and how I used to be."