“I think she is scared,” Patrick said in his nasally voice. Taylor and Patrick could not have been more different. Whereas Taylor was tall and athletic, Patrick was short and every bit the epitome of a bookworm. He was awkward and didn’t have a lot of social skills. But he was brilliant at what he did.
I opened my eyes slowly. Patrick was right; I was scared. The anticipation of seeing what I looked like after almost three years of continuous work and hiding behind bandages was too much. I hadn’t even been able to comfortably go out in public because of the bandages. I’d lived almost like a hermit. Luckily Taylor had been there with me as much as he could. He flew in most weekends to be with me. At first it had started out just as a friendship, but it had lately started to escalate into something much more. And even though he told me several times that he didn’t care about the bandages or the burns, that he found me beautiful inside and out no matter what, I still would not let myself be seen naked by him or anyone else. It was just too painful. I was filled with shame at my appearance. I felt disgusting.
But I cared for Taylor immensely. We’d become so close. The romantic spark between was almost immediate. The way he spoke to me as if I didn’t even look differently from other women, and the lengthy, in depth conversations that we had with each other that often stretched until the wee hours of the dawn—all of it was sweet, romantic, and filled with the connection that we shared.
I wanted him. I’d known that we shared something beautiful from shortly after I’d woke up in the hospital, where I stayed for almost a week before I was stable enough to be moved. I’d come close to death and if it weren’t for finding Taylor right then I would have died within hours. He saved my life. And for that I owed him everything.
Suddenly, there I was.
My eyes were wide open and I was there staring back at myself in the large mirror before me. I saw a woman about my age, possibly younger, with the same eyes I was used to, but a very different face. I was beautiful. I could say that as an observer looking at another woman I realized was very beautiful and admiring her from afar. Except, I was that woman. I was staring at myself.
Goosebumps rolled over my body and I started to shake slightly as a small panic attack overtook me. I felt almost sick, but giddy at the same time. It was the giddy feeling I’d felt as a five-year-old on Christmas morning bouncing down the stairs as fast as I could without breaking my neck to get to the Christmas tree and see all of the wonderful, shiny presents that Santa had brought me.
“Is… that….” I tried, but I couldn’t speak. Tears rolled from the corners of my eyes and emotion tied my throat closed so that I couldn’t utter a single word. I was just too overwhelmed to breathe.
I was beautiful. I was even more beautiful than I’d been before. I almost felt that I didn’t deserve it. I was happy beyond belief, but at the same time I felt such insane guilt. If I hadn’t been born rich, then I wouldn’t have been able to pay for this. I decided right then that I would use my wealth to help others in a similar fate. Patrick deserved to be known the world over and when I was done with my ultimate plan I was going to make sure everyone knew that he and Taylor saved me.
“Yes,” Taylor said. He hugged me lightly from behind and rested his head on my shoulder, looking straight ahead into the mirror at my reflection. “That is you, my love.”
Taylor had never actually called me that before. He’d told me he loved me a few months prior and I hadn’t been able to say it back. I was too scared. I was still too full of shame and I still felt like a helpless victim. But I did love him. He’d been so amazing through it all and I knew that I wouldn’t have been standing there if it hadn’t been for him.
I was crying full on now. I couldn’t stop the tears. I was so happy, so overcome with joy and emotion. I didn’t feel I deserved it, though. I was aware of just how lucky I was. I’d been given a new lease on life.
But after the shock was over and I stood there embracing the new person that I now was—I felt a strong sense of calmness and a powerful sense of urgency.
It was time to start the plan.