by Cristina Legarda
I am not a different person from the one I was before but now that people see the signs – disfigurement, the crawl of death all over me, the ugliness that makes them think I am a man no longer, but a worm – they want me crushed, out of sight, expelled. I see the way they run when they see my tattered hood approaching, as if I were some monster, which I suppose I am. The braver ones will scare me off with booming voices, brooms, and threats of chamber pots they’d pour on me, anointing me with the worst of themselves, a baptism of piss and shit to make sure I know how little I’m worth, how unwelcome I am even among my own family. All I want is to be well again, to walk without hurting, to recognize my face and hands. I dream of perfect skin, a perfect body for my imperfect soul. Someday, someday I think I will wake up, and every scar will be gone. But perhaps the answer is to burn it all; perhaps then the monsters will be satisfied. If I set myself on fire will I be pure enough at last to exist with them, side by side?
Cristina Legarda was born in the Philippines and spent her early childhood there before moving to Bethesda, Maryland. She is now a practicing physician in Boston. Her work has appeared in America magazine, The Dewdrop, Dappled Things, Plainsongs, FOLIO, Ruminate, The Good Life Review, and others.