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Hannah was a pretty girl. Beautiful, even, some said. The trouble was, Hannah had three breasts. There was one on either side, where they ought to be, and one right in the middle.

As if things weren’t bad enough, Hannah’s breasts were very big; she had to buy oversized shirts and special tops. She even wore maternity wear sometimes.

Once, in gym class, a girl named Darla Wexler caught Hannah undressing and saw it for herself. Oh my god, said Darla, and called the other girls over.

They roared and howled so loud it seemed to shatter Hannah’s ears. They called her a freak and danced around the locker room, three fingers held up high, and when Hannah wouldn’t cry, they called her a bitch.

That day, as Hannah walked home from school, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was a golden afternoon. A beautiful day, she thought to herself, and Hannah laughed.

When Hannah got home, she told her mother about Darla, about what happened that day in gym. Honestly Hannah, her mother sighed, what did you expect.

Hannah lived with her mother. Her parents were divorced. It was right around the time when Hannah’s third breast really started to show that her parents split up. No one ever said anything. No one said that was why.

But sometimes her mother looked at her, and Hannah could see it in her eyes. The anger, and the blame. And the fact that her mother wouldn’t say it made it worse.

After high school, Hannah worked as a cashier at Wilmot’s Cafeteria. That’s where she met Scotty. He was dark-haired with big brown eyes, and every day he ate lunch at Wilmot’s, just so he could see Hannah.

He asked her out. Hannah politely declined. He asked again. Again, Hannah said no. What time do you go on break, he asked, and Hannah said, at three. Three o’clock, Scotty said. I’ll be here.

She had never had a boyfriend; she had never been on a date. And Hannah’s mother had warned her about how cold the world could be.

What if things got intimate? What if they started dating, and everything was going well and then she told him, what would Scotty say? What if he laughed, what if he looked at her in horror?

What if he said the worst thing anyone could say. What if he said, that’s more of you to love.

Hannah made up her mind to tell him, when he came at three o’clock. And when she did, Scotty took her hand. That must be very difficult for you, he said.

Hannah held back her tears.

Will you come again tomorrow, at three, she asked, and Scotty squeezed her hand. You know I will, he said, and Scotty smiled.

When she came home from work that day, Hannah was on cloud nine. What are you so happy about, her mother asked, and Hannah told her about Scotty. How kind he’d been, and how good-looking he was.

She told her mother what Scotty said. Hannah’s mother bit her lip. They say a lot of things, Hannah. For what they want, men will say most anything.

Hannah tossed and turned that night. He would be there tomorrow, at three. She thought about Scotty’s eyes, and about how he took her hand. She thought about how he came to see her every day.

At three o’clock, Scotty walked through the door at Wilmot’s. Hannah was at the cash register. He nodded toward the dining room. It was empty, except for them.

Scotty smiled. He tried to take her hand again. Hannah wouldn’t let him. What’s the matter, he asked, but Hannah only glared.

I thought…Scotty began. Well you thought wrong, she said.

Walking home, Hannah thought about her mother. She thought about her mother’s words. She thought about Darla Wexler.

Hannah knew, deep down, her mother thought like Darla did.  

Deep down, Hannah knew, her mother felt the same way Darla felt. And one day, so would Scotty. She knew it like you know, even if your back is turned, when someone’s lying next to you in bed.

The sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was a beautiful afternoon.

And I’m a beautiful girl, she thought to herself, and Hannah laughed.

 

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