Tuesday, February 21, 2017


So, in starting this writing project, I've been posting each month's story on a public Facebook page which you can find and follow here:

But, since it turns out lots of people on the interwebs do not have Facebook accounts, I'm thinking I may start a separate blog just for the 13 Stories series.  In any case, I thought I'd post the first two stories on here in the hope of reaching a broader audience.  Thanks for having a read.

by Darren Webb

In a small New England town, very early in the last century, during the month of October, when the colorful leaves had begun their migration to the ground as the breath of winter approached, Stephan and his wife Louisa welcomed into the world their first and only child, a daughter that they named, Hortensia.

They noticed something different about Hortensia the moment she arrived, her skin was not pink as other babies they'd seen but, totally transparent so as to allow all who looked upon her to view her internal organs and bones. At first poor Louisa thought that her precious child had been born inside out and passed out from the shock. The doctor assured the new parents that despite her appearance Hortensia was indeed, right side out and that as unusual as this was, her skin should acquire its correct pigmentation as she grew. The doctor was correct, almost. Hortensia did grow as all children do but, he was not correct about her skin, for it remained as clear as glass. She also remained completely bald.

While Hortensia was an infant, her parents would always keep her bundled up under layers of clothes and blankets to hide her from prying eyes. But as it reached time for her to attend school, there were few options left. Her mother covered her as best she could with high button collars on her dresses, long knickerbockers down to her shoes, a large tight bonnet wound tightly around her head to keep her bright orange wig in place and delicate lace gloves shielding her hands. This left only Hortensia's face exposed, which could not be hidden beneath layers of clothing. Instead her mother would apply a rather liberal coat of make up, disguising her transparent skin the best she could. The result of all of this made Hortensia resemble a living porcelain doll.

The children at school thought Hortensia a bit odd for all the clothes she would wear, whether it be winter or summer, but for a while the disguise worked. Then one day, a fierce wind and rain storm began during Hortensia's walk to school. By the time she had arrived, her bonnet and wig had blown away and all of her makeup had dissolved in the rain. When she walked into the classroom, her bald head transparent for all to see, her teacher and classmates alike were dumbstruck.

One of the girls vomited up the oatmeal and toast she'd had for breakfast. A boy grew weak with horror and passed out, falling into several other screaming students, all of them ending up on the ground shrieking in terror. Hortensia's teacher thought she had been in a terrible accident and called for the doctor, despite Hortensia's attempts to assure them all that she was quite alright. When the doctor and Hortensia's parents arrived it was indeed confirmed that she had not been in a terrible, disfiguring accident, she was simply transparent.

Despite being assured that Hortensia was normal in every other way except one, the other children did not like to be around her. They began to call Hortensia, "The Glass Girl" and repeatedly smacked her with pointy sticks to see if she would break like glass. She did not break, but she was broken hearted. Hortensia thought that maybe as she grew older people would begin to get use to the sight of her. They did not. The teacher would often have Hortensia stand in front of the class and use her as a living diagram during biology lessons. If it was the correct time of day, one could see Hortensia's body digesting her lunch. A truly unique lesson, but not one that made Hortensia feel at all like a normal girl.

One day Hortensia could take no more. She packed up a small bundle and when she left for school that morning, she kept on walking and did not return home that night.

At the end of her first day walking toward what she hoped would be a better life, she came upon a carnival, which had a Bearded Lady, a Strong Man and an acrobatic set of Conjoined Twins. Hortensia watched as crowds of spectators eagerly swarmed to see these very unique people. As she watched the crowds applaud and cheer, she thought, this is where she belonged, a place where she could be happy and accepted. Hortensia found the Barker in charge of the carnival and informed him that she should like to be a part of the show and join his troupe of wonderfully unique people. Not seeing what was so unique about Hortensia, he refused and said she should go back home. Hortensia took a deep breath and removed her clothes and wig and stood in front of the Barker in all her transparency. The Carnival Barker fought back the urge to be sick, then quickly realized how famous he would become with Hortensia, The Glass Girl, in his show. He showered her with compliments, apologized for not recognizing her uniqueness sooner and invited her to join the show as the star attraction. Now, Hortensia thought she would be happy, but it was not to be.

The Carnival Barker kept Hortensia hidden from the other performers until it was time to unveil The Glass Girl to the adoring crowds.
The Strong Man lifted much weight mightily, The Bearded Lady wove her whiskers into intricate patterns and the Conjoined Twins performed acrobatics one would have thought impossible for two people joined at the hip. The crowd loved them all. But, when the Barker brought out Hortensia, The Glass Girl a solemn hush fell over the crowd and other performers alike. Hortensia removed her cloak and stood before the world, transparent.

The onlookers watched as her lungs inhaled and exhaled, her heart beat rapidly and her stomach churned in anticipation. The Crowd roared their amazement. Cheering and applauding they threw silver coins upon the stage in approval of the shocking and bizarre sight that the Barker had provided. Hortensia smiled as she basked in the approval and acceptance.

When the show was over, the money collected and the crowds gone, Hortensia went to introduce herself to her fellow performers. Upon entering their tent, she saw the Bearded Lady remove her artificial whiskers, the Strong Man deflate his pretend weights and the Conjoined Twins unzip their costume and step apart like the two distinct and separate individuals that they in actuality were. Hortensia was stunned. They weren't like her at all. Upon seeing Hortensia, the now Un-Bearded Lady shirked in terror. The Not-so-Strong Man and the Dis-Joined Twins spoke very harshly and most unpleasantly to Hortensia. She found herself more of an outcast then she ever thought she could be.

Hortensia ran from the tent, away from the carnival for as fast and as long as she could, racing through the night forest, branches scratching at her cloak, tearing pieces from it as she ran and ran and ran, until she collapsed into a bramble of bushes, unconscious from exhaustion.

She lay there unmoving and barely breathing for hours, when a Hunter and his son came upon her in early hours of morning. Seeing her lay there in the dim light of dawn, her internal organs exposed, and her cloak torn to shreds, they thought the poor girl lying in front of them must have been the unfortunate victim of a wolf attack and so, they buried her in a carefully dug grave among the brambles where she lay, Hortensia so exhausted she never woke.
As they were about to leave, the Hunter noticed a plant that bore round, delicate, transparent buds, that looked like silver coins growing next to Hortensia's resting place. He removed a handful of the dried, glass like buds, opened the fragile pods and removed the seeds within. From that day forward, he would plant one seed each year to the day, in honor of the poor, unclaimed girl they'd found in the woods that early morning. 

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