Changes. Short Story.

Marie sat in the dark. She didn’t want any light, when the lights were on she could see how she really looked. The way her skin was mottled, the way her fingers were twisted and bent, the writhing of her forearms, like there was something buried alive in her arms. No. It was better to be in the darkness. Her hair had all fallen out, she had felt it earlier, the lumpy skin of her scalp. Her teeth had dropped out too, in ones and twos, until there was nothing left but gums. She had hoped that maybe they’d grow back, but she had started giving up on that.

She was told it would make her important, special. Instead it made her a freak. Marie was the only one this was happening too, everyone else was fine, no, better than fine. They were showing off their cool new powers, fire, ice, wind, super strength and more. She had held out for so long for fear that something like this would happen. The injections came on the market almost a year before and no one was having any side effects. Everyone was healthy and happy, everyone but her. She didn’t even get any goddamned powers. Unless you counted losing your hair and teeth as a power. She only had a few more days until her parents returned from their trip. She had waited until they were gone for two weeks so she would have plenty of time to learn to control and hide her new powers. She knew her parents wouldn’t approve so it seemed like the best way to go about it. They weren’t cool like some of the other kids parents. Derek’s dad even bought it for him. Marie had to get an older boy to do it, she didn’t know him very well, Mike or Mick, but her had done it for her. She knew he expected something in return, a hand job, maybe a blowjob. Marie wasn’t going to do either of those, but she never outright denied it either. She had flirted with him, hinting and teasing, knowing it would get her what she wanted. What did she care if people called her a tease? It was better than being called a slut. Besides, everyone would believe her over him, he was a well known liar.

Marie had gone over it again and again in her head, there was no way he could have switched them out. She watched as he bought them, she was waiting outside in the car, the cashier wrapped it up and handed it over, then he handed it to her. She had checked, everything was still intact, the seals weren’t broken. She had taken the real deal. She had been scared before she took it, she didn’t like injections. The only saving grace was it wasn’t a needle. It was a plunger, all she had to do was hold it against her thigh and press a button and it was all over. Marie had made sure to research every step so if anything did go wrong, she would go straight to the hospital. Only it had gone off without a hitch. There was no swelling, no itching. Even then they were only supposed to last for a short time. Everything was fine until she woke the next morning and found her skin to be all blotchy. As the day went on it turned from a bright red to a dark grey, then her body started to shift. Moving in unnatural ways.

She had always thought that if something like this happened she would go straight to the hospital, consequences be damned, but now, living it, it was so much worse. It wasn’t just the shame and embarrassment of lying to her parents, or getting someone else to buy it for her. She didn’t want people to see how she looked, to see what she had done to herself. Marie had looked it up herself, there was nothing that could be done anyway. There was no cure to the injection. Once done it was there for life. She was stuck like this and the worst thing was the changes kept coming. Who knew how long it would take her to reach the end.

Marie was lying as still as possible. Whenever she moved her skin tugged at the sheets, it wasn’t painful, but it was uncomfortable. Her skin felt rough and jagged, there were no smooth spots so she didn’t think they were scales. The thought of turning on the light, of examining her ruined body was too much, so she lay there, eyes tightly closed.

It was time to take action. Marie wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but she didn’t think it would be long before her parents would be home. They couldn’t find her like this, she didn’t want them to see how much she changed. There was only one logical thing to do, leave. Just go, she’d find somewhere eventually. Maybe there were more people out there like her, ones that had all these horrible side effects. She’d pack a bag and go. Marie pulled herself from her bed, wincing as bits of skin were pulled off her. It didn’t hurt, but it was distinctly unpleasant. She turned on a light, just one, so she could see into her wardrobe. It didn’t take her long to fill her bag with clothes. Once her bag was packed she placed it on her bed beside the clothes she was going to wear, a thick, heavy hoody that would hide her face when the hood was up, and a pair of jeans. She added in a scarf and gloves. It wasn’t too cold out but no one would notice if she had those on. Before she dressed, she would need to shower, she couldn’t remember the last time she had showered.

The hum of the electric shower was soothing, as was the darkness. Marie reached out carefully and pulled the door of the shower open then stepped in. She knew it was dangerous but she didn’t want to have to endure looking at her entire body at once. Maybe, when she was ready, she could do it slowly. Get used to it all. She lathered up her hair and her body, enjoying the warm water. It seemed to pull and tug at her skin. Every so often she would have a sharp stinging sensation that was gone almost before it registered. Marie ignored it, the water was hot and it felt so incredibly good to get clean again.

When she stepped out of the shower Marie wrapped herself in a towel, then bundled up her hair to keep it out of her face. She stood in front of the mirror, or at least where she thought the mirror was, and released a breath. There was no time like now to take a look. She needed to be sure she could pass for normal. Her hoody would help hide things, but people might still notice. She reached out for the light, then froze. Hair. She had washed her hair. She reached up and felt the towel wrapped around her head. Suddenly she was very aware of her tongue pressing against her teeth. Her fingers were trembling when she pressed the switch. She winced at the bright light, her skin was clear, no spots or blemishes, smooth and pale. Her eyes were a brighter shade of blue, but besides that she looked normal. Her arm was no longer spasming, it was no longer twisted, her fingers looked as they always had. She undid the towel and let her hair fall around her shoulders, it was about the same length as it was before, though now it was a deep red rather than the blonde it had once been. Slowly she ran her fingers through it, it was real and it was definitely hair. She smiled, her teeth were white and straight. Her vision blurred as she started to cry. She’d just tell her parents she dyed her hair, everything would be fine. Hell, she could even dye it back to blonde before they came home if she wanted to.

After she dressed, Marie emptied her backpack and hung everything up again. There would be no need for it. She smiled to herself, she didn’t know what her power was, she didn’t care, not anymore. Everything had changed now that she was normal again.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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