Locked Away

Augustus Maywho made sure that his niece was locked away. He wanted no one to see. No one to know. For this terrible curse was a shame upon his family.

Noelle Maywho arrived after her parents died. A small nine-year-old girl, covered head to toe in a shapeless cloak, wearing a mask and a pair of opera length green gloves. A hideous creature she was by day, yet a beautiful child by night. He would've sent her away, but he promised his brother he would care for Noelle. After all, this was a family curse: a girl child born upon the eve of Christmas, a beast by day, a beauty by nightfall...this curse shall break should the house of Maywhos admit their fault.

Augustus knew about the curse. The story had been passed down through generations of his family. It was all the fault of his great-great-great-GREAT grandmother: Augustina Maywho. Augustina: a beauty who was vain, selfish and greedy. One Christmas Eve, she refused to give refuge to a poor gypsy witch who was shivering in the cold. The result was she was turned into a hideous monster, declaring ALL female Maywho's to inherit this curse (since most of the Maywhos were born on Christmas Eve). Her family fled, horrified at the sight of her: Augustina was now a hideous, green furry monster with eyes of yellow and green. She shut herself away from the world after that.

It was a shame upon the house of Maywhos that was only kept within the family.

Mostly there were only men born in his family until his brother, Julius, and his wife, Lelianna, gave birth to a girl. A child born with the curse! Yet they loved her anyway. She may have been a hideous monster, but she had the sweetest personality ever. Her beauty came from within...even if it was by day.

Augustus was ashamed of his niece, often he pretended he didn't have a niece...pretended he didn't know who she was. Yet Julius pleaded with his older brother to care for Noelle should anything happen. Reluctantly, he agreed to do so.

Lelianna and Julius died. Now everyone in Whoville would know the shame of his family. How he recalled seeing a green furry monster as a child in school...one he teased so long ago...and now, here was his niece: the VERY same green furry monster with eyes of yellow and green living in his house!

Noelle was locked away, not allowed to see the outside world by day. She would look out her window, wearing a mask, a hooded cloak and a pair of gruvvulous opera gloves, wondering what it would be like to walk amongst the Whos for once. Seeing the children playing outside with toys and games. She wondered why she couldn't join them.

"You're not normal by day," her Uncle Augustus would say. "That's why you can't go out and play."

He was ashamed to look upon the face of his niece as she sat across from him from the dinner table, eating meals. He hired private tutors to educate her. He insisted that she keep her mask, hood and gloves on...sometimes sit behind a screen. If she were to be exposed, he payed them extra to keep quiet about his niece's hideous appearance.

Noelle's favorite time of year was Christmas. Oh yes! It was the happiest occasion of all. She loved the colors, the decorations, the songs...plus it was the ONLY time her uncle would let her out since the Whobilation was held by evening, and it was her birthday. Yes, when Mayor Maywho brought out his niece, she was a beautiful girl with wavy hair of mahogany, eyes of green, fair skinned with cheeks dotted with freckles, the most adorable Who nose and she had the sweetest personality. She would stand by the Mayor's side, dressed in Christmas decorations. She was given gifts from all the people in Whoville...then once Christmas Day came, she was shut away.

Everyone on Whoville wondered about the Mayor's niece. Why was she locked away like a princess in a tower? Why did she never show her face during the day? Why was she only allowed outside once a year? She seemed to only appear during the Christmas Whobilation. After that, she was never to be seen again until next year. They would see a strange figure in the upper window of the Mayor's house: a cloaked, masked shadow with gloves, looking down at the town of Whoville...and wonder if that was her. Yet, the curtains were always drawn. Mayor Maywho was hiding something...yet no one questioned it since he was a private person.

The years had passed, little Noelle would soon be eighteen. Still locked away and lonely in her prison. Though she had everything she wanted, she still felt lonely. She wanted a friend. She was tired of not being able to be with anyone except her tutors, her uncle, and of course his idiot ass-kissing little aid, Whobris. Her only friend was Mabel Wholadis, the cook.

She wanted to go outside for once. Not just every year at the Christmas Whobilation. She wanted to see Whoville, see everyone decorate the town and their homes, see the shops with shiny new things this year, see the tree they decorated...for real this time. Not just watch from the window. The only chance she got to ACTUALLY see the tree was at the Whobilation.

"What should I do, Ms. Whohill?" said Noelle to her favorite private tutor.

Ms. Prunella Whohill was the kindest tutor that Noelle had. Upon their first meeting, she encouraged Noelle to take off her disguises and show herself, promising not to scream or laugh. Ms. Whohill was surprised to see that her student was a green furry creature, she did none of those things. She didn't see Noelle as a hideous monster, but said she should be happy with herself, to see her inner beauty and appreciate it. Ms. Whohill felt sorry for her...she longed to be outside, yet her uncle wouldn't even hear of it.

"You should talk to your uncle," said Ms. Whohill. "Tell him you want to see the outside world. After all, you are going to be eighteen, Noelle. This is a very big step for you into adulthood."

Noelle looked sad. "But...what will everyone think if they see me like this?" she replied. "Uncle Augustus says everyone will laugh at me. He says everyone will think I'm a monster."

"You're not a monster, Noelle. You're special. Just because your appearance isn't normal to everyone else doesn't mean they can't look past it and see what a really beautiful person you are."

Noelle smiled a little. She seemed to recall her mother saying that she was special...that she was beautiful...

"Why is he so ashamed of me then? He's always embarrassed to bring me out in public."

"Your uncle...he has a lot of pride," says Ms. Whohill with grimness. "Pride can make people do things to avoid being embarrassed. He wants the world to see him as a perfect man...he sees you as a flaw in his perfection."

"I guess that makes sense," Noelle said. "But...isn't pride a good thing?"

"Of course. But too much of it can bring out an ugly side in people. You should have pride in yourself, in your work...but don't become like your uncle."

Sitting down at the table to eat lunch, Noelle looked at her uncle, eating in silence. He would hardly have a conversation with Noelle, not even looking at her. The only words they exchanged were mostly about more food or passing something. Otherwise it was always silence. Even dinner time was terrible since Noelle was in her Who form.

"Uncle Gus?" she said.

"Mm?" he said, munching his food.

He didn't like it when his niece called him that. He preferred his real name. Augustus. A name that made him proud to have. Proud to be a Maywho.

"I was wondering...maybe...I could go outside...just this once..."

"You can when the Whobilation comes," he said dismissive. "That's in a few days."

"I-I know," said Noelle, nervous. "But maybe this time...just this once...maybe I could do it before Whobilation."

"You know why you can't go outside, Noelle," he replied.

"I-I know," Noelle said. "But...I want to see Whoville. I mean, Christmas is coming...yet I hardly get to see everyone decorate...and I would like to see it...for real."

"The answer is NO, Noelle!" he said pounding the table, the dinner utensils clattering. "You know I have to protect you from the outside world. If ANYONE would see you in this...what you are...they will think you're..."

"Yes, I know," said Noelle, defeated and lowering her green head in shame. "A monster. Everyone will tease me. The outside world is a cruel place...and they wouldn't understand."

Yes. She had heard this many times. Her uncle was always ashamed of her. He made her feel ashamed of herself.

"But, I'm going to be eighteen," said Noelle. "Ms. Whohill said...I should...go outside and see the world...it's tradition for someone who turns eighteen that they're becoming an adult."

"That's true, sir," says Whobris. Augustus glared at him. "B-but your uncle is right, Noelle," he stammered, knowing he was going to get beaten up if he dared to disagree with him. Typical ass kisser. "You can't go outside."

Noelle sighed.

"Fire that tutor," he whispered to Whobris.

"Please don't fire Ms. Whohill," Noelle pleaded. "I really like her."

"Tomorrow we will get you a new tutor," said Augustus.

"No!" Noelle said petulant, feeling the beginnings of tears pricking her eyes. For Ms. Whohill was the only person who told her about the outside world. "I don't want a new tutor! I want Ms. Whohill!"

"Noelle!" he scolded. "Don't talk back to me! My decision is final!"

In a childish rage, Noelle turned over the table with incredible strength; the sound of clattering plastic plates and metal clinking split the silence. Whobris screamed like a little girl when Mayor Maywho's green monster of a niece did this, shrinking in his chair. Noelle's green-and-yellow eyes were tearful and full of anger. Noelle always had a bad temper whenever she got angry: her strength got the best of her and her screams could shatter glass.

Augustus recalled the first time it happened when Noelle threw a tantrum: all the windows and the glass items in his home shattered. Everyone had questions about the screaming little girl inside. Of course, Augustus came up with a clever excuse about the broken windows and everyone forgot about it with shrugs. Because of his niece's destructive tendencies during her tantrums, Augustus had shatterproof plexiglass installed in the windows and most of the things in his house were plastic.

"Noelle Christina Maywho!" he said in a voice of thunder. "You go to your room this instant, young lady!"

"I HATE YOU!" she screeched, making the glass in the mirror crack.

She ran upstairs, crying. She hated her uncle. She hated being locked away in this prison all her life, never seeing anything. Always making her feel ashamed of herself. Like it was her fault she was born this way! She hated living here. She wished she could just be with her parents again. At least they loved her and they weren't ashamed of her. Died when she was only nine-years-old.

No. Not this time. Noelle thought to herself. I will go out into Whoville and see the world myself.

She grabbed her hooded cloak, mask, and put on her green opera gloves. She would see Whoville. All she had to do was be careful...don't draw too much attention. Don't talk to anyone. Just be invisible. Well, everyone was sure to notice a cloaked, green-gloved, masked figure walking around Whoville.

She waited until her uncle and Whobris were out of the way...sneaking out the back kitchen door. She saw Mabel working in the kitchen.

"Going outside this time, Noelle?" she said with a smile.

"Don't tell him," she said.

"You know I won't, dear," she said. "Just be back in an hour. Who knows when he'll be back." Then reached into her apron pocket, "Here. Buy yourself a nice gift."

"You don't have to do that, Mabel."

"No. Go shopping. You will be eighteen this year. Get yourself something."

Noelle took the money and tucked it into her pocket. She slowly opened the door...and saw Whoville for the first time...during the day...