I remember during my high school days I’d get out of bed to go look out the window as soon as I woke up. I’d roll up my blind and watch for movement in the foliage of the trees or stray leaves dancing on Mum’s freshly cut lawn.
Anything more than a breath of air and I’d cringe at the thought of crossing the football oval on my way to school. Most girls worried about the wind lifting up their summer dress, but I worried about it revealing what was under my heavy blunt fringe.
One evening, I walked into the formal lounge room to wish Mum and her partner Dave* a good night. I sat down on the floor in my satin pyjamas and leaned my back against the cream upholstered couch where they sat.
Dave commented on the length of my shiny brown hair before brushing his hand up over my forehead and resting it on top. My thick fringe was pinned underneath, exposing my light brown birthmark the size and shape of a 50 cent coin.
I quickly ducked forward and hissed “get off me”. I was so horrified and embarrassed that he might have seen what I managed to hide so well, I immediately left the room. Dave apologised the next day, explaining he had no idea and was sorry for causing such discomfort. He had a soft look in his eyes, as though he sensed my deep hurt. I don’t think he, nor I for that matter, knew why I got so defensive. But when I started to write earlier today, I remembered a damning experience that occurred around the same time, which probably had a big impact.
I don't think I've retold this story to anyone since the day it happened. As I play the incident back in my head now, I can feel my eyes turning sad-looking. The memory is so powerful my mouth is doing weird things, as if it’s trying to recreate the look on my face of utter humiliation.
I was sitting crossed-legged out the front of my Year 7 classroom. Friends and I were bouncing a ball against a wall and chatting as we waiting for the bell to ring. An energetic girl named Beccy* bounded into our circle like a puppy dog. A crowd of sheepish looking boys crept closer, eager to see whether she’d carry out their dare. She dropped herself into my lap, pinning my legs under hers. Then she scooped up my fringe with her hand and forceful tilted my head back to reveal my birthmark. Her eyes were gleaming like she'd achieved some long-standing goal. As I fought her off, the boys were laughing like hyenas and shouting “mole”, along with other insults.