I grew up with people telling me that I was special. I didn’t know what it meant when I was little, but I quickly realized that it was merely a term of patronizing endearment.
It wasn’t my fault I couldn’t express my thoughts as easily as others around me. It was how I was born and there wasn’t really anything I could do about it. To everyone else, my words seemed strange or awkward. I just wanted them to listen to me. My speech impairment, of course, only furthered their notion that I was in need of special help when, in reality, I could handle myself very well.
True, I did get amused by minute things, like airplanes. I absolutely loved airplanes. I could read about them all day, and I did. All I wanted to do was be able to tell people how great they were. How they were a physical anomaly and way ahead of their time. Getting something as large as a 747 off the ground is a miracle, but flying through the air, controlled by a pilot, able to land at a predetermined spot was near impossible. But still these impossible possibilities are created anew everyday, people entrusting their lives in order to cross oceans. These beautiful bird imposters allowing families to be reunited, allowing friends to come together for celebration. It only creates more awe and wonder at the fact that the first ever airplane-
Sorry, I did it again. My parents told me that I fixate on things; it’s part of what made me special, the fixation. I suppose the only reason I fixated on airplanes was because I oftentimes felt like a plane myself, pushing through the barriers that this life threw at me. I started stationary, oftentimes people laughed at the notion that I could even get off the ground. But with dedication, with persistence, with the right people behind me, I was able to fly.
They put me in a nice community. When I was eighteen, they drove me to a house where I met a nice lady, a few years older than me, who I would later find out was studying to become a special education teacher. Sweet girl. She left a year later, I never found out where she went, and I never saw her again.
My parents visited me from time to time, the length between their visits growing more and more at each following year, until eventually they only came once in the week between Christmas and New Years. It was fine though, I made a new family with the people here. Bethany was my girlfriend. We didn’t start out that way but she was like me. In a world full of strangers, it was freeing to be see someone misunderstood like me, desperate for others to see me like how I saw myself, as someone who isn’t fragile, someone who wasn’t in need of constant companionship. I appreciated all the support, but it oftentimes felt overbearing and I would get frustrated. Nevertheless the caregivers came and went. Bethany and I grew closer to the extent that the caregivers would allow. We even got married!
I was told to find employment and I did. I was so proud of myself and everyone at the community was proud of me too. The caregivers threw me a party and it was the best night of my life. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. But then Bethany got sick, really sick. This was years down the line, after we’ve been working for a while.
We were both starting to get older, both starting to look like our parents. I could tell because she was always screaming. The screaming wouldn’t stop. She was in so much pain that she couldn’t even walk. They eventually drove Bethany to the hospital and, despite my pleas, they said that I had to wait back at the community.
Couldn’t they tell that I wanted to know how she was? Didn’t they know that I loved her?
They told me that I could see her, but when I did, I would have to tell her goodbye. I told them, or tried to tell them, that I would tell her goodbye when I leave because there’s no point in saying goodbye when your first arrive, that doesn’t make for decent conversation.
They let me in to see her and she smiled the biggest smile I’ve seen in a long time. We hugged each other and she told me, tried to tell me, that she loved me. I told her that I loved her too. We talked about airplanes. I got a new model for my birthday party last week and I told her that I would wait until she got home to open it and start building it. She died later that night, after I left.
When I got home I felt a strong pain in my gut. It felt like a stomachache, but worse, and it didn’t go away no matter how many antacid medicines I took. I couldn’t even eat. They told me that I should be happy that she was in a “better place”, but how could I be happy when she wasn’t with me? The reality of the situation was dawning on me slowly and I was realizing that my best friend was never coming back, that the model airplane would never be built.
My parents came by shortly after Bethany died. They told me that it was going to be okay, that they understood, but they didn’t. I lived in a world where nobody understood me and I was forced with the label of “special”, but Bethany understood, she knew what it was like.
I died a few years later, it was sad. My parents were there and my sister. They all cried as I closed my eyes. They cried but I smiled. I smiled because I knew that I was going to go back to my love, to Bethany.
I had a good life. I had a special life. My mom told me once that I should forget about the bad parts of my life and remember the good parts. I told her, I tried to tell her, that we should always remember the good and the bad because without the bad there can be no good. With light inevitably comes the shadow. So I am here to tell you my story now that I can properly convey my thoughts into sensible words (this language thing is pretty nice and I’m very upset I couldn’t utilize this back when I was alive).
I am here to tell you the good and the bad. As for right now, think of this as an overview.
I lived and I died, now I can reflect. My life truly was fantastic. I guess that’s why they called me special.
Thank you all for reading this! I hope you enjoyed it and are ready for more from this story, because I have A LOT of inspiration from this particular character. I have been thinking about this story for a while and how it would be told, and I’m excited to say that I’m actually working on the rest of it for you. I’m not sure how many parts it will be in, but as for now I hope you enjoyed part one of “They Called Me Special”.