by D. C. Haddock
With a face as malleable as copper, I am blessed. It is a plain, unimaginable face that is neither offensive nor beautiful, one that may opt to revel in its ability to hide in mediocrity, or may act as a blank canvas on which to paint a desired façade. I do hope that in the years to come it will not change, as I enjoy my shape-shifting countenance almost as much as I enjoy my own modesty; and it is that modesty that I believe allows me to walk the line between ridicule and unwanted attention. Do not see my face, but know my words.
At fifteen, I walked through rows of white stone, fingering a similar, rougher stone in my pocket that I had collected on the beach. It would be my only souvenir from this place, save my memory. As I walked amongst the ghosts, I stopped to talk to one in particular whose name was Unknown, and who was marked with a Star of David. Being careful not to tread upon his body, I sat down next to his head, and stared into his smooth, white face. How sad it must be for you, I said to him, to be confined to this place interminably; how sad it must be for your life to end at the point where mine has just begun; how sad it must be to always hear the crash of the surf on the sand, the same dastardly noise that pervaded your conscious the last day that you stood on this earth. Who were you, Unknown, to die without any face but the stark white stone that reflects sun into my eyes and blinds my vision? Did you shine so bright in life? Did you wonder, as you waded through the salty water and put boot to sand, if you had crossed the Rubicon? Did you wonder if an unknown girl with a face as plain as yours might someday be kneeling next to your grave fifty-four years later, ruminating on your missing identity?
My lips were like magnets stacked atop one another, clamped shut, and I severely hoped that ghosts could read minds, and that he knew I was sorry that his name was Unknown. And being a child, with a mind as impressionable and ductile as bread dough, I wanted him to somehow knead the answers into my brain with his translucent ghost-hands, wanted him to bend time and space and tell me his story and help me to know; I could not paint a face on him as I did myself, and he had no identity anymore. But I did. And so, like plucking a feather out of my tail, I pulled the pin out of my hair and handed it to him. His face remained smooth and emotionless as I placed it upon his stone head, entrusting him to a little piece of me, and as I walked away, I rubbed my thumb over the similar smooth stone in my pocket. His shapeless face would forever be in my possession.