An Account of the Woman With (Almost) Two Faces

An Account of the Woman With (Almost) Two Faces

A Story by Oceana

My school in SoFla has been looking to hire new English teachers. The candidates have been teaching lessons in my class. This is my account of the most recent one. Yes, I do this with everyone I see.

She looks and sounds younger than I believe she really is.  For one, she’s married. I know this in part because of the diamond on her left hand, not so big as to indicate affluence, but not small either. I also know this because she has been introduced to me as Mrs. H-something who came here on a plane from Hawaii. I couldn’t quite make out the name exactly but I know it started with H and it was one syllable. Hunt, possibly, but I remember the words feeling bigger than that inside the mouth of the man who introduced her.

By the simple assumption that she changed her last name upon marriage, I cannot discern where her ancestors are from, though I would suppose her fair and freckled complexion and sharp angular features, lovely as they are, are evidence of northern European descent.

Mrs. H-something’s body is plump; not fat by any means, but there is skin to spare. Her patterned blue dress is not flattering around her ample chest or otherwise, but she looks secure and comforting. Like a mother, though the appearance of her youth means I cannot fathom her with offspring. She looks like the woman I would go to on the off chance I needed to be placated.

Her face. I am too concentrated on her face to understand the lesson. I hear her voice, melodic and fresh (again, sounding too young for her age), but do not hear the words formed by her wide, pale lips, accompanied by a singular dimple on the right side. Her teeth are white and straight, though when she smiles, seldom as it is, her eyes don't match their shine. I don’t think she’s sad, I just don’t think she cares enough about the twenty-two Monday morning students she’s seeing for the first time (a mistake, really, this could determine her future). 

Although they do not light up with her smile, Mrs. H-something’s eyes are nothing short of magnificent. They are light blue, the kind that can often be confused with clear, but I think she’s too reticent for that color. They are simply light blue. If her eyes were to be placed in the waters on the shore of her home Hawaii, the effect would be breathtakingly minimalistic. 

One of Mrs. H-something’s eyes is focused; the one on the side with the dimple. The other is not. It is not as subtle as my father’s lazy eye, but it is not distracting. Not distracting, but noticeable. 

The unfocused eye has a scar underneath it, and this is my favorite part of Mrs. H-something. It's easy to find irony in this, for I’d be willing to bet it’s not her favorite part, yet I don’t know her as well as she knows her. The scar starts at the outer corner of her left eye, and descends diagonally toward her nose.

If one hadn’t seen the wart on her right temple (exposed by the mess of curls pulled back on the crown of her head, suggesting she's not ashamed), one might begin to imagine she was two different people to the two groups of students she was teaching; the ones on her right gazing at a sweet dimpled woman, the ones on her left never quite catching the unfocused eye above the smooth white scar. But alas, the growth on her dimpled side ensures she will always be Mrs. H-something in full, not half a pretty girl and half a scarred girl (though I may be inclined to call her scarred side her prettier side; it is nothing profound, simply an aesthetic preference).

Truthfully, I have not read the essay she is teaching the lesson on, and I’ve still not paid attention. My mind is stumbling over snippets of stories (is that what the essay was about?), glimpses that may provide insight as to how she acquired the scar on her visage. It is straight and smooth, which may imply surgery, yet I believe the wound has a direct relationship with the eye that never quite looks. Sees, but doesn’t look.  I suspect at some point, maybe by the hand of a man with a knife or maybe a tragic mishap by clumsy feet, an incision found its way to her face, mangling her cheek and severing a nerve that once gave her eye control. I imagine the way the blood must have run warm down her cheek; if it had hurt or if she went into shock immediately, how scared she was (if at all), how her husband reacted (if she was married at this point), and about the nurse who stitched her up. I wonder where she was and I wonder if she has nightmares about it. 

So here is what I know about Mrs. H-something. She calls Hawaii home, but there is something about it that makes either herself or her husband want to leave. Subtropical climate can be ruled out, as the job she is applying for is in southern Florida. Maybe her husband has been reassigned somewhere. There are too many maybes to be sure of anything but the fact that she has been in Hawaii for so long she replaced the name of the state with the word "home."

I know there is something about her so intriguing and so lovely that it once made a man claim his eternal undying love to her. I don’t know what that is. Maybe there’s nothing special about either of them and this is why they work so well together (assuming they work well). On the contrary, she’s either a native Hawaiian or someone who once bravely picked up and moved to an exotic island thousands of miles from her previous home, so there must be something there. She’s an English teacher, no doubt well versed in literature and all its adventures and romances and villains and martyrs. A woman like her, with almost clear eyes and a scar on her cheek, doesn’t settle for just any character. Maybe this is what is so special about her. And who’s to say it isn’t safe to assume her husband has the kind, generous qualities of a common protagonist. After all, a woman who has spent days and nights in the shoes of one ought to know she cannot walk with anyone but, especially not an antagonist. 

So again, here is what I know about this woman. She doesn’t mind humidity (despite what it does to her curly hair), she is loved by a just man (and in turn, loves one), she has been molded by fine art, and, most importantly, she is not ashamed by her almost two faces.

© 2013 Oceana

Author's Note

So, should she be hired?

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Wow. Thank you for the introduction to Mrs. H-something. (I really liked that she stayed Mrs. H-something throughout the entire piece). Your observation skills are excellent, and your writing skills the same. You had me at "words feeling bigger than that inside the mouth of the man who introduced her". I couldn't look away. Awesome :)

Posted 6 Years Ago

I could really care less about the teacher - I want to hear more from the "speaker"...this was a spectacular dissection with several fantastically insightful lines (Maybe there's nothing special about either of them and this is why they work so well together...). You've an incredible voice...few write prose with such clarity and lack of awkward moments. Again, I'll enjoy reading more from you.


Posted 6 Years Ago


6 Years Ago

Thank you very much! This means a lot

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2 Reviews
Added on May 7, 2013
Last Updated on May 15, 2013
Tags: essay, florida, teachers, hawaii, scars, stories



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