A Personal Memoir
By: Leo Kim, English Column Writer
It was a cloudy afternoon, one of those lethargic days when time moved like maple syrup oozing down pancakes. I sat on a haystack, one of the many mountain piles of hay stacked for Halloween. While my eyes struggled to stay open, I plucked a corn straw and slowly munched on it.
A kid - probably no older than six - passed by with his mum. I smiled at him and motioned to give him a corn straw. With a blooming smile, he toddled towards me, until his mother abruptly put her hand on his chest. Although no words were uttered, the meaning was clear: “He’s a freak. Don’t touch him.” Buffering, I slowly retracted my arm, like a hermit crab too timid to walk on anything but water. I was a hermit crab out of my shell.
From birth, I grew up with the stench of blood. Wherever I went, the metallic smell hounded me.
Took a while to realize it was coming from me.
Oh the pain.
The fucking pain.
I remember swimming in Waikiki Beach, where the salty water electrified my skin, as if a thousand needles were poking me with barbed points. I could not do anything but claw at the irritated skin. Ripping into raw flesh, I was a sadistic child who bore countless lacerations made by tiny 8 year old fingernails.
I remember dreading school, not because of tests, the scary cafeteria lady, or the strict teachers. No, I dreaded the locker room, where everyone had to change into their PE clothes. I loathed the locker room, I despised its existence. It seemed like a malicious trap designed for me to fall victim to reveal my true identity. But, oh my 7th grade insecure self could not bear the peer pressure of my friends urging me to change.
So I did.
Haltingly, I took off my clothes. Slowly, I could feel eyes scanning me, wondering why I was covered in scars oozing dried blood. I scrambled to put my PE shirt on when I malfunctioned. It was as if everyone whispered my name simultaneously. I turned around, frantically. I heard the words, “Freak, abomination, what the hell, retard, disease,”. Emotions exploded inside me, like a firecracker gone rogue, so I burst out the locker room and ran. Just ran and ran, over bushes, crashing through fences, taking the most direct way to my house until I collapsed at the doorstep where my dog was barking excitedly for my abrupt arrival.
I eventually moved states.
Back in California, it was a lazy afternoon. I spent my Halloween on a haystack. Just standing there because the people who hired me wanted monsters.