Beauty Is Her Beast

Terrorists entered in the darkness of night and rampaged her small town, causing hundreds to flea out of desperation for their lives.  She barely escaped five days later, but now Vanya was free and having landed on American soil, she felt relief, but still frightened of the unknown.  After finding refuge in a state-run shelter, she knew that she needed to assimilate and the only way she knew how, was to learn the English language.  With the help of one of the resident social workers, she was enrolled in night classes, as she managed to get a day job tailoring clothes at the local dry cleaner’s.

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Her first night at the school was spent filling out forms, in which pictograms were offered. relaying information that told the teachers at which the level her course of instruction should be taught.  Vanya was in the top percentile for mathematics, but her language skills needed help.  The school  was praised for their forward thinking and the student/teacher ratio was excellent, as Vanya was assigned a tutor to help her learn how to speak and write in English.

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The basics were covered over the first three weeks and she seemed to be catching on to all the American phrasings for asking questions and getting answers, but it was the euphamisms and ways that American’s stressed, or didn’t place stresses on language, that she was finding it difficult to grasp.  On top of this, the New York dialect was foreign, as were the sarcastic remarks that she took all too literally.

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Vanya found that watching television helped also, as she was the model student to mimic what she heard, but this was also, as she found later, not to be the best instructor. 

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It was a Saturday night and a few residents from the shelter decided to go to the movie house.  While they were standing on line for admission, a few small groups of teenaged boys began hasseling them, making fun of the the ways they spoke.  One boy, walked right up to Vanya and said, “Oooh, la la, Mama’s brought me some eye candy tonight!”  Vanya didn’t understand him, as she was getting nervous and wondered why he spoke about eating her eyes!  She backed-up from him and as soon as she was able, she took off, running away from her friends. 

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When they returned to the shelter after the movie, they found Vanya curled-up in the corner of the room.  Her face bloodied, her body shaking.  Conchetta knelt down asking her who did this to her, but she clearly saw that they were self-inflicted scratches and she motioned for someone to get the nurse.

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A week later, Conchetta was summoned to the infirmary.  She entered the room and upon seeing Vanya and that her face was bandaged, she sat next to her bed and grabbed her hands, just as all caring friends do.  Vanya wished to apologize for her behaviour that night.  She told Conchetta that she thought those boys were going to harm her, so she scratched at her face to become ugly, so they would never come after her again.  What Vanya didn’t realize was that her beauty was so overwhelming, the boys were actually paying her a compliment.  “Oh, for my shame, I have scar now,  no longer have beauty”, as she sobbed herself to sleep, dreaming of how she will never find a man who will love her in America, and sewing seams on other’s pants wasn’t the American Dream she had when she was young.

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-dld January 20, 2011-

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ThinkingTen – Plot Thickens, Thursday:  Candy

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2 responses to “Beauty Is Her Beast

  1. A rather sad story my friend..having taught a second language class to doctors and nurses…this one hit home.

  2. good, I figured it was the way non-American English speakers would take such phrases (but not good, in that they misconstrue them so) ;-(

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