Adolescent Angst

a short story by   IAN WYNNE

I woke feeling the red throb of a giant zit on my face. I knew that it was a disaster in the making, even before I looked in the mirror; a building volcano of a zit that would grow and grow until it exploded from the side of my nose into a giant pustule.

Why now? I screamed to myself as I examined the monstrosity. It was red, and sore to the touch. But it didn’t have a head yet; wasn’t big enough to squeeze. Perhaps if I tried… my eyes watered from the pain and the lump just got bigger, angrier.

Mum reckoned Dettol was the go. As if! She just patted it on with a piece of cotton wool, as if that would make a difference. All it did was make you pong for half the day and that made people stare even more. As if the zit wasn’t bad enough without everyone staring because of the smell.

I could feel them looking at me as I sat down at the table. Mum concerned, Gary smirking behind his hand as he tried not to giggle, Dad pretending not to notice.

“God hates me,” I said. The tears were welling in my eyes and I couldn’t stop them. And wouldn’t red eyes be just great to go with the zit. Why not tell the whole school. Perhaps they could announce it at assembly. Bruce Willis, age thirteen, had a good cry because of a zit on his nose. Think of he fun they could have with that. As if it wasn’t bad enough being named Bruce Willis in the first place. Baby Bruce, or Brucie, they called me. “What happened, Brucie? Did a nasty zit bite you on the nose?” Or “What’s that on your face, Brucie? The latest pus-launcher?” I could hear them already. Perhaps if I didn’t go to school it would be alright. If I just stayed home and worked on the zit, maybe I could squeeze and squeeze it until it formed a head, and then I could get rid of the pus and it would get better. But it wasn’t going to happen before tonight. No way!

“God doesn’t hate you, honey. He loves you like all his children,” Mum tried to placate me.

“Then with 356 days in the year, why did he choose this one to give me the biggest zit of my life? Why? What did I ever do to him?”

“Don’t be silly, honey. Here, show me. I can’t even see a zit.”

“Yeah right.” Gary couldn’t resist, even if he knew he’d get punched for it later. “It’s like he’s got this whole second nose thing happening, like two heads or something. Maybe he’s going to explode.” He held up his hands and cowered away as if in fear. I thought of punching him out there and then, right in front of the wrinklies. But he’d keep. For now I just gave him a death-stare that I reckoned would let him know that he would pay for it later.

“It’s a little bit red. Perhaps some Dettol…” Mum was as predictable as ever. “What do you think, Fred?”

“Boy’s got a zit; could see it from a mile off.” Dad barely looked up from his paper. “Going to be a beauty about twelve hours from now, a throbbing, white-headed monster. Aren’t you taking that Budgie girl to the dance tonight? Could be awkward!”

“Fred, don’t!” But Mum was too late. Dad could be a real bastard sometimes. And he knew that I didn’t think calling Kylie “that Budgie girl” was the least bit funny. It wasn’t her fault that her surname was Budge, or that her voice was a bit squeaky sometimes. If only, just for once, he’d said something nice! I could feel the tears again and quickly got up from the table. “I’m not hungry,” I blurted as I headed for the bathroom.

“What’s gotten into you, Fred!” I could hear Mum getting angry with Dad as she always did when he teased me. “Couldn’t you, just for once, say the right thing?

And there it was when I looked in the bathroom mirror, bigger than ever. Gary was right. It looked like I was growing another nose. I tried squeezing again but it didn’t make any difference, it just got redder and more painful. I thought of Kylie and her clear white skin, and how beautiful it was; and I couldn’t stop crying because things were all messed up and it was my fault. If I hadn’t nicked Gary’s chocolate yesterday and eaten the whole thing it wouldn’t have happened. Everyone knows that chocolate causes zits.

I pictured Kylie trying to look me in the eye with that giant zit on my face, trying to ignore the pussy white head that was sure to have developed by then. And I pictured her looking down and bursting out laughing like everyone else. I cringed inside just thinking about it. I could see myself trying to laugh it off, stumbling over the words as I always did when I spoke to her. She’d see me for the dweeb I am, I know she would.

I tore off a few pieces of toilet paper and got the bottle of Dettol from the cupboard below the basin, upending it against the pad. Geez, but it stank as I dabbed it on my nose.


© Ian Wynne, 2018

 ^  Contents page