Never before had Maggie had problems with her skin. Her hair had always been a little flat and her teeth a little wonky, but never her skin. Maggie’s skin had not one blemish.
It was a blisteringly hot day. Feeling the heat of the sunlight on her skin, Maggie’s eyes slowly opened. The date was July 5th 1959 and Maggie wondered why her mother’s voice hadn’t roused her. Even when she had no school, her mother never failed to wake her early.
Peeling the blankets off, Maggie crept bare-foot out of her room and half-way down the staircase. From there she peered through the banister and saw her mother sprawled in the armchair with all the windows open. Her hair and make-up had been done, but it looked like she had given up not long after. She still wore her nightdress and Maggie could smell no breakfast being cooked. Her mother had done little other than dozing and sweating that morning.
Maggie tip-toed back into her room, grateful for the break from her mother’s constant nagging. Crossing to her bed, she glimpsed herself in the mirror. Stopping, she turned back and went right up to the glass. There on the bottom of her chin, was one large, red mark.
Instantly Maggie forgot her mother and ran downstairs to the kitchen to grab some ice for the redness and soon-to-be swelling.
‘There’s no ice left Maggie, not on a day like this’, her mother said from the armchair where she was watching her daughter.
Exasperated, Maggie rushed to the tap to splash cold water on it instead. The last thing a 16-year-old girl needed, was to get a spot just before summer.
That was when Maggie began itching. Subconsciously, Maggie scraped her nails across her face, that day and the day after. The spots were irritating and inflamed and Maggie knew she shouldn’t touch them, but half the time she didn’t realise she was.
More days past and Maggie’s skin got no better. Her face had become a mountainous terrain, spots had now formed around her mouth, nose and all over her forehead.
Maggie was aware of the itching now, as was everyone around her. She itched as she walked to school, as she ate lunch, even when she was in bed at night supposed to be sleeping. Every morning she would awake to a face that looked increasingly more like it had third degree burns. She cried and wept to her mother about it and was finally taken to see a doctor.
‘Puberty.’ That was the Doctor’s answer and one her mother was satisfied with.
‘You’re going through changes as you have been ever since you were 11 and there’s nothing that can be done’ Maggie’s mother assured her on the bus on the way home from her appointment, ‘Even I had a touch of acne when I was younger.’ Maggie wasn’t listening, she was too busy staring blankly out the bus window and scratching.
A week later, Maggie had been taken out of school weeks early. Her face had become covered in sores and was constantly bleeding from at least one place or another. Maggie was distraught, not only because of the ordeal, but because the rest of her body was fine. It was the one place everyone looked at most, that was covered in breaking, flaky scabs and pus.
Even Maggie’s mother had started to become a little more worried. It was a bad case of acne, but surely it can’t last much longer? Her mother was starting to feel that perhaps something more needed to be done, when on a Tuesday night, it all came to a head.
Maggie had been in the bathroom, washing herself and brushing her teeth, when she noticed the fresh, new giant boil bubbling underneath her lip. Her rosy, fairly juicy lip that had been compared to the likes of Grace Kelly. They were the last feature of her face she had left, other than her rather dull grey eyes. It was too much for Maggie.
She raised her hands, her nails sharpened almost into points due to not being trimmed for a while, and began.
She dragged and pulled them down her lips, cheeks, brow. The blood rushed to her face.
She clawed and grazed them up and down, gashing parts of her face almost wide open.
It was like taking a pair of scissors, opening the blades flat and using them to lacerate what was left of her skin. She screamed and sobbed as her mother banged on the door. Her tears fell into her open wounds, salt mixing with blood, muscle showing and glinting off the harsh bathroom light.
Almost as if she had been in a daze, Maggie stopped and stood still. Her eyes opened wide and her mouth dropped open.
Skin was falling away in scraps from her jaw, the tops of her cheeks had been ripped off entirely and her hairline was completely gone, along with the skin from her temples.
Maggie’s skin was torn off, her face and life in pieces.