The Price of Existence
~ By Heatqueen ~
A/N: This is an old fic that I found and realised I hadn't finished. So I finished it and decided to post it. Hope you enjoy! :D
Twisted shapes in front of my eyes. I can't see, the stars are too bright, too black. Thick, sticky agony pulses through my veins, pushing itself through every atom of every cell in my body.
I am blind. Screaming.
Cold snakelike fingers wrap themselves around my wrists, forcing my surrender, forbidding me movement. My limbs writhe of their own will, my own cold sweat betraying my skin. It hurts, how it stings!
Torture spreads through my body, occupying every corner of my existence, conceding relief to not one single spot. My back arches and I thrash around, crying and begging and pleading for death, anything except for more of this.
The stars won't leave, but through them I catch sight of a needle.
I scream again. It pierces my skin and I black out.
I am surrounded by fog, and in the distance I hear two voices having a conversation. I strain my ears to listen but this causes my head to spin. I cannot open my eyes – it is too bright, too painful, and anyway I have no desire to confirm that I am where I think I am.
'Did it work?'
I can just make out the words. The other voice is softer and says something I cannot make out. Then I hear a cry of despair.
'Why!' The first voice pleads. 'What more can I do to fix this?'
Anger courses through me. Bits and flashes enter my memory and I have to force the tears not to leak. My face – in fact my whole body – is burning like it has been through a blast furnace and I let out an unwanted scream and start flailing. I cry for the comforting arms of freedom and safety but they stand outside my grasp, mocking and pointing at me, sneering that I can never have them, that I don't deserve them.
I hear footsteps and hurried voices. I know what's coming and scream my protests but the familiar needle pierces my arm and drugs flood my system.
I want to yell at them to let me leave but suddenly I haven't the strength. My limbs feel heavy and numb. My mind shuts off.
A man is staring down at me.
I have seen him many times. He has a bald patch and wears glasses and always looks at me with a remorseful expression.
He is the reason that I suffer.
My father and he often have heated conversations when they think I'm asleep and cannot hear them. I often catch bits of things that I'm not supposed to hear. I haven't managed to piece together much of what's happening to me but the precious little I have gauged has provided me with an understanding.
The man is being paid a lot of money to carry out some kind of research which involves a lot of testing on my skin. My father is paying him to do this, in order that he might be able to cure me of my condition.
The man has begged him on several occasions to stop doing this to me. But father has been insistent and the offer of that much money is far too tempting for him to refuse.
I don't understand. If my father wants to cure me, why must he put me through so much pain?
'I'm sorry,' the man says to me. 'The pain will go away soon.'
If he is truly sorry, he will leave me alone.
Father takes me home the next week.
I take the tiniest shred of comfort in that he cannot keep me there forever. If he did, people would wonder where I was.
I don't have any friends. Don't want any.
Sometimes I look beyond the gates of Nest Hardings and see people wandering around the streets doing normal, people-like things. Carrying grocery bags; pushing their children in prams; paying tag with their friends.
I am home schooled. By law I have to be schooled in some form but I have been deemed by my father as too problematic to be in school with other children. I am better off under constant supervision.
I skulk around, often with my nose in a book. I have learned to love fiction because I can live through the characters. They have the freedom to go anywhere and do whatever they want. I even invented a few stories of my own, putting myself at the centre of them, desperate to give myself a better life. But one day father found the stories and tore them all up and chucked them into the fireplace. He admonished me that I was not good enough to have the privilege of that kind of life.
I never wrote a story again.
Everything is my fault.
I am reminded of that every day. I have a little sister who is in a wheelchair, which is my fault for having my skin condition. If not for it, my mother wouldn't have chewed milk flowers all the way through her second pregnancy. Wouldn't have died giving birth to Nessarose, whose legs were all mangled from the drugs.
My fault, father says, and I believe him because how can it not be?
And because it is my fault I have to do what he says because it's the least I can do to make up for my sinful presence. Find a way to stop being an abomination, that way no one will have to deal with my abnormality anymore.
The doctor keeps saying there is nothing more he can do. I feel a desperate mixture of fury and relief tearing me into two anguished halves. I hate myself for feeling relieved because it means I have failed my father.
But still, father never gives up and continues to insist that the doctor keep trying. Something will work eventually. It has to.
If it doesn't, then I don't want to exist anymore. Not when my presence does nothing but hurt other people.
Freedom. Unprecedented freedom.
I am only here for my sister, of course, otherwise father would never allow me to be here. It is my duty to care for her because it is my fault she is in a wheelchair.
Still I feel excited about the possibilities here.
Then I see the eyes and faces of the girls around me, and I can practically hear their thoughts. Green. That is what they are thinking. Look at how ugly her skin is. Is she contaminated? Is this a joke? Better stay far away from her just in case.
I see brief flashes of hospital beds and needles. I can almost feel the pain, hear the screaming.
I tried, I really did! I want to scream. I went through so much to try to become normal, all in vain, in vain, I tell you!
Instead I turn my gaze away and skulk off to the library. The books are my comfort and release. They are the only thing that can take me away from the painful memories of things which have long passed.
Rainstorms make me cry.
My roommate does not know this. I do not return to my bedroom once I have run inside to avoid those dreaded raindrops which burn my skin. Instead I run to whatever blessed, empty corner or classroom that I can find, and weep into my sleeves while trying to keep my face as dry as possible.
Galinda sometimes sees the track marks the tears have engraved onto my face, angry and pink, painful in appearance to her but non-existent to me. The pale and dainty thing has spent her life being loved and doted on and catered to by parents who would do anything for the sake of her happiness. Pain, to her, is the minor spat she had with her friend over whether her chosen shade of lipstick suited her outfit.
I wish that was my idea of pain.
No one here knows about my allergy and I have no intention of telling. Whenever this happens, and I return to the bedroom with a red face, I usually insist that I am just tired. Pretty little Galinda Upland seems to buy it – or if she doesn't, she doesn't say so.
She makes a jab at my skin colour thinking that it's going to hurt me.
I feel nothing.
Galinda called me beautiful.
I feel a crushing weight around my chest because I know that can never be true. I see my reflection in her mirror and my mind spins with the voices of people telling me that the colour of my skin is abhorrent; that my existence is sinful; that everyone would be happier if I simply didn't exist. My brain cannot process the compliment and my hands begin to tremble.
I bolt from the room in tears. I am so, so stupid, I realise, as I try to find somewhere to hide. I should never have believed that Galinda would actually want to be my friend. Of course she would lie to my face. She would probably tell all of her society friends later and they would have a good laugh about it.
Beautiful. That is something I will never be. Something I never have been.
I find myself in a bathroom but I don't dare catch my reflection now. I lock myself in a stall and bury my face in my sleeve.
It is easier to exist when I cannot see myself.
That's more like it. I suppose it's what I've been all along.
Since I was born, and my skin was green.
Since my mother died at Nessa's birth; since Nessa came out disabled.
Since I came to Shiz, contaminated with magic, unable to control myself.
And now. With the cries of 'Wicked' from the Wizard and Madame Morrible behind me, as I soar away on my broomstick; as I silently bid farewell to Galinda, who must be mistaken in her assessment of me as beautiful; I embrace the term.
It's all I am, really.
This is what it has come to. Galinda is weeping; the witchhunters are coming. The foolish girl should leave. Oz knows what she wants with me after all this time.
Soon it will be the end. As the witchhunters approach I am reminded of the white coats, of the needles, of the hands restraining me, of the voices. I suppose this will be much the same, except there will be no waking up on the other side, just blissful, blissful darkness and no more thinking about what a misery my life has become.
They barricade the door. Galinda runs and hides. It's just me that they find – perfect, now they can dispose of me. I welcome them with open arms.
The little girl has the bucket. She aims. Fires. A thousand needles pierce my skin all over again.
They think that they are punishing me with death but they are wrong. They're setting me free.