Prompt Day #213: What happened to the man who is missing half his face?
Ok here is today’s prompt. I posted one earlier that was actually from yesterday but I got tied up with a delivery and only had half of it done. Here is today’s which I have had fully formed in my mind all day, I just needed to get it typed up. There is someone I know (ahem, Kari Young) who will probably have a fit when she reads this, but I happen to like the end and unless she decides to write a new one (which I will be very happy to post as a guest writer) this story if complete.
Marley stared at Tony’s scratches and bruises. It broke her heart to see them. Practically every day there was a new, fresh wound to feel guilty about. It wasn’t fair. Autism was such a terrible disease. She tried so hard to be a good mom, she just couldn’t understand his need to express negative emotions with self-harm. She hated that she couldn’t make it better for him. He was such a smart kid and had an amazing talent for art.
“Honey,” she said. Inspecting the nail marks in his forearm and kissing them “Why are you doing this? Doesn’t it hurt?”
“It hurts, Momma.” He said pulling his arm back from her. “I told you, I don’t do it. Mean Eddy does it. He keeps coming and hurting me and saying ‘make me real, Tony’ but I don’t want to.”
Oh God. Marley thought. No Mean Eddy again. Mean Eddy was Tony’s imaginary companion. She hated to call him a friend because the only time Tony talked about him was when something bad happened. Tony’s therapist felt strongly that Marley should not play along with it. If Tony was to ever out-grow hitting himself or digging his nails into his arm, scratching himself, even pinching himself hard enough to leave a bruise, he needed to understand that he couldn’t blame someone else.
“Tony, you know Momma doesn’t like that. We talked about this. Mean Eddy isn’t real. He is not the one hurting you. You are doing it and that’s not a good way to feel your feelings” She tried to use the same terms and phrases Dr. Devereux did during Tony’s sessions.
“He is real!” Tony yelled “He is and he is mean all the time because he wants me to make him real cause” Tony leaned forward and whispered “I know how to do it.”
“Honey, please. Let’s stop talking about Mean Eddy, ok? He isn’t real. Maybe he seems really real to you because when you get upset, you do things that you don’t like to think about, so it is easier to say Mean Eddy did them.” She put her hands on his shoulders “But Mean Eddy is imaginary. So he can’t do those things.”
“He’s only imaginary to everyone else. Not me.” Tony said “You wanna see what he looks like? It’s ok if I just draw him, that won’t make him real.” Not waiting for an answer, Tony jumped up and ran to his room. He came back with his tablet. He handed it to his mom.
“Ok, this is my Mean Eddy tablet. He tells me what he wants to look like and I draw it. But that’s ok cause that won’t make him real.” Marley flipped through the pages. The drawings were far beyond the skill level of a seven year old. The sketches looked like wanted posters made by police artists. They were that good. The man that stared back at her page after page had a furrowed almost unibrow with dark sunken eyes. His lips were thin and pressed together and he wore his jet black hair slicked back off his forehead. He looked like a convict. She closed the tablet but held onto it.
“Tony, I don’t want you drawing anymore pictures of Mean Eddy, Ok? In fact, let’s try not talking to him at all.” She said, considering maybe playing the game Tony’s way. “I bet if we ignore him, he’ll go away for good and leave you alone.” She would show these drawings to Dr. Devereux, this was more serious than either of them had thought. Tony seemed to be obsessed with this “other”. Tony was shaking his head vehemently
“No, Momma. If I don’t talk to him, he gets real mad. And he pulls my hair and hits me in the head and makes me cry.” He was shaking his head still. She sensed a meltdown coming on.
“Ok. Ok. It’s alright, let’s just talk about something else. How was school today?” She brushed some of his hair off his forehead. There was a big goose egg just under his hair and he flinched when her fingers touched it.
“I’m tired Momma. Can I go to my get away room?” She nodded. Tony didn’t have a play room like normal seven year olds, he had, what they called his ‘get away room’ where he had permission to go at any time he was overwhelmed with stimuli and needed to get away. The room was filled with autism friendly toys and stress relievers. His weighted blanket and squishy balls were his favorites for easing his outbursts. But his desk and art cabinet was in there too. She would often find him in there working on something in the middle of the night when he couldn’t sleep which was more often than not.
She carried the sketch book and her laptop into the living room. Curling up on the couch she began searching autism and imaginary friends, and autism and schizophrenia, hallucinations, brain tumors, and stumbled onto a page on demon possession. The author of the article insisted that autistics are more prone to demon possession given that their minds work on a different plane and are often ultrasensitive because they are open to other dimensions which can be very overwhelming. She read the entire piece before realizing how ridiculous the idea was. She was falling prey to the “but I read it on-line” argument for ignorance. She checked the time and was shocked to discover it had been three hours. She decided to check on Tony.
Tony was sitting at his desk working away diligently. She walked up behind him making no effort to stay quiet, she didn’t want to startle him. He showed no signs of awareness.
“Tony? Hey. What are you working on, Buddy?” She asked looking over his shoulder. He had his clay out and had so far sculpted a human form; obviously male. He’s even used instruments to show clothes on the body. It appeared to be wearing a plaid shirt and jeans. He’d done the same to show hair—slicked back from the head. The form was beginning to resemble his sketches of Mean Eddy. The only thing left to do was its face. Tony had drawn a light line down the center of the face from the widow’s peak in the hair line. He’d carefully added an eye and half a nose and half a mouth. It was an unusual approach she thought but at the same time, she suspected it was a genius way to ensure symmetry.
“Is this Mean Eddy again? I asked you to try not to think about him anymore.” She said squatting down to Tony’s level. She had to put her hand on his face and turn him so she could try to get his attention. She gasped. His lip was bloody and swollen and he had a scratch running from just above his right eye down to his chin. On his cheek, the gauge was deep and bloody too.
“Oh my God, Tony! What did you do?” She asked holding his face now in both her hands.
“It was Mean Eddy. He said he is tired of waiting.” He said and pulled away from her so he could go back to work on the sculpture. She grabbed it off him.
“No! We’re done with Mean Eddy. I don’t ever, ever want to hear about him again.” She said. Furious and scared to death. He lunged for the doll he’d been making.
“Give it back! I have to finish it! If I finish it, he’ll stop.” He was hitting her now. She wrapped her free arm around him and led him over to his weighted blanket. She wrapped it around him and laid him down on his bean bag. She held on while he screamed and kicked. She bit back the tears as he begged her for the clay back. She didn’t let go; not of him or her emotions until he’d cried himself to sleep. She carried the doll out to the kitchen and put it into a plastic grocery bag. She sat the doll on the sketch book and put both on the table by her purse. She would call Devereux’s office first thing in the morning. Something had to be done.
She was too upset to sleep herself, so she poured a glass of wine and went back to the laptop on the sofa. Curling her feet beneath herself, she revisited the page on demon possession. After two glasses of wine and page after page of horror stories about autistic children ruined by demons, she began to nod off.
The doorbell startled her awake. She looked at her watch: almost a quarter after one in the morning. Who the hell could that be? She got up and padded to the door. Engaging the chain lock she opened it.
There was a man standing there. He wore jeans and a red and brown plain flannel shirt. His jet black hair was greased back from his forehead where a severe widow’s peak reached almost to his eyebrow. It was there that things got really interesting. The man’s face was split neatly and perfectly into two halves. The right half, an unremarkable form in its normalcy, the left however was a blank canvas of skin without features of any kind.