Why would anyone get a Glasgow Smile
Short storyDrama / P16 / Gen
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“With the Glasgow Smile, the victim's mouth is cut on both sides and further pain is inflicted. By screaming in pain, the cheeks tear open up to the ears and scars develop, which in their shape form an extension of a smiling mouth. "
So that's the definition that Wikipedia spits out for me about this legendary torture method. I sigh briefly. Watching what felt like a thousand films that practiced it would have been more fun. Actually, I'm only interested in this peculiar topic because it is said to have its origin in the Scottish city of Glasgow.
Glasgow. There are much nicer things that come from this city. Or should live there.
Bored, I slide my smartphone back into my pocket. I hate those newfangled things. Even if I unfortunately have to admit that I really need digital help this time.
My gaze wanders out of the window of the plane. Despite the night sky and the thick clouds, I can see the lights of Glasgow almost very clearly.
The big city reminds me of why I depend on the help of an internet-enabled phone. A village child with as bad a sense of direction as me would even get lost at the airport.
Not that it has happened before. But I would be lying if I said London Heathrow was straightforward.
The landing approach begins. I haven't flown since I was five years old. That was almost fourteen years ago. I buckle up as the voice over the loudspeaker demands.
"Why the hell am I here anyway?" I ask myself. Quietly, so that I can be sure that the fat person sitting next to me won't hear me.
The reason why I travel from the deepest part of Germany to the Scottish city of Glasgow is not vacation or study abroad. No. Even if I sometimes wish it was something so harmless. The moment I see the real reason again, I don't feel like a woman who is nearly nineteen. Rather, I remember a teenager with hopeless dreams. A poor little girl with a crush on the plague. But not the plague in the traditional sense, which would be too good to be true. But the plague that infects twelve- and thirteen-year-old girlies and turns them into screaming, poster-collecting zombies. The plague that calls itself a boy band.
Although in my eyes even this disease would be more pleasant.
Because the man I'm looking for isn't the front man of one of those child-eating plants that sprout from the ground.
No, he's the singer of a long forgotten Australian band. This band was never really known, which was probably also due to their style of music - metalcore. Most of the people I know refer to it as ear rape.
To put it simply, as stupid as it sounds, the man I'm looking for is the man who saved me from suicide. Without knowing it. Without knowing me
It was just the music. His voice, every single word he sang. Even today his screams echo in my ear day and night. And they still feel like they can heal any wound. Your origin does not matter.
The plane touches down on the runway and the resulting vibrations tear me uncomfortably out of my thoughts. I am shocked to find that tears have formed in my eyes. Pull yourself together, I think and screw up my eyes, try to be strong. As everyone leaps up and a huge lump of people forms near the door, my head sags. I pull out a photo. His photo. I find it hard to take my eyes off it. He looks extraordinary. Short, medium brown hair and brown eyes. One septum piercing and one in the lower lip, he also has tunnels in his ears. His neck, arms and even his fingers are decorated with tattoos. I find it difficult to keep my thoughts together. But I force myself. After all, I don't plan on getting lost in an airport again.
As the crowd slowly dissolves, I get up too. Through a lock I get into the interior of Glasgow International Airport. I am reassured to see that it does not take on the dimensions of London Heathrow.
Still, I wouldn't call it small. Despite this, I can get to the baggage carousel without any problems. I wait a few minutes, then locate my large black travel bag. I reach for her without hesitation. It is heavy. Maybe I packed too much for seven days. Be that as it may, I briefly orient myself and make my way to the exit.
The doors open and the Scottish night wind blows around my ears. It's cold, but it's a nice feeling. Maybe I only feel that way because he feels the same wind on his skin.
A few taxis are parked in front of the exit, I indecisively look at them and try to recognize the drivers. An elderly woman is sitting in one. Your silhouette seems likable, so I decide to get in. She greets me warmly and you can hear her accent. Inwardly, I thank my former English teacher. When I was still in school, I took an advanced course in English. Which once again benefits me here. I tell the lady where the hotel is where I will be staying for the next few days. While she drives we talk a little. About whether this is my first time in Glasgow and all such mundane things. But she is extremely nice. The journey takes about twenty minutes. During this time, my eyes wander out of the window again and again and examine the surroundings with curiosity. And my thoughts are elsewhere anyway. Despite my lack of concentration, I try not to make mistakes when speaking. When I arrive at the hotel, I pay and say goodbye. I actually wanted to close the door of the car, but I hesitate. The lady looks at me in amazement, but then I get his photo out of my pocket.
“Do you know this man?” I ask haltingly. She wants to take the photo out of my hand to take a closer look. However, more or less unconsciously, I hold onto it so tightly that she has no chance. Still, she takes a good look at it, especially his face.
It is one of the few photos where you can see it clearly. In most of the pictures you can see him singing with a microphone in hand and his facial features distorted.
Here you can see him with a dog. It's a cute photo. I really like it.
"No, I'm sorry." She sounds sad. “Are you looking for him?” She asks me in the same tone.
"Yes," I answer shortly. I sigh. But then thank you and say goodbye politely.
My gaze turns away from the departing taxi, in the direction of the hotel. It's neither big nor small. It's not a luxury hotel, but it's not shabby either. For my circumstances it is completely sufficient. Any pompous celebrity hotels would blow my budget. And because of the jacuzzi, anti-aging treatments and any gala events, I'm really not here.
I drag my bag to the front desk and check in. This is the first time that I'm alone in a hotel, which is why I feel a little awkward.
A friendly concierge offers to carry my bag and show me the way to my room. I accept his offer with thanks.
Once at my accommodation, I thank you again. I have the impression that I am being too friendly at times. I let the door shut behind me, pause for a moment, and then lean against it. I'm slowly sinking to the ground. I'm sobbing. Hoping it will distract me, I untied the laces of my Chucks and tossed them in the corner. A few seconds later my jacket follows them. Exhausted, I get up, go to bed and let myself fall on it. My final thoughts are with the search that begins tomorrow. I snuggle under the covers and wrap my arms around the second pillow that's on the bed. Tears begin to form in my eyes again, but I lack the strength to hold them back. I'm embarrassed, but no one is here. Nobody can see it. Completely overtired and crying quietly, I fall asleep.
Sun rays touch my face. You are warm. I slowly open my eyes, I'm a little blinded. Like every morning, I find it difficult to get up, even if I was able to sleep in. My legs are wobbly, but I still go to the window and see the city by day. I have a direct view of Glasgow Cathedral. The sight of it is truly overwhelming.
Despite its age, or perhaps because of it, it pretty much surpasses all buildings I've seen so far. Whatever the end of my search, I decide to visit the cathedral while I'm still here. Nevertheless, my actual goal has priority, which is why I quickly get away in the bathroom to make myself at least halfway handsome.
I shower, wash my hair and blow-dry it. Fortunately, they are reasonable today, so that I don't have to do anything else besides combing them again.
As an exception, I apply make-up. Which I am always too lazy to do. I fantasize a little - if I really do find him, I don't want to scare him off with my face. It rarely happens, but I giggle at the thought of that encounter. Almost like a little girl. In the process, I accidentally slip off my red lipstick. I look at myself in the mirror and realize that I now look almost like Batman's archenemy Joker. Incidentally, his face was also decorated with a Glasgow smile.
So I wipe the lipstick off again just to reapply it. This time neatly.
I look at myself in the mirror. Despite my best efforts, I hate the way I look. But the paste on my face at least saves it a little.
Back in the bedroom I get dressed, throw the most important things into my black combat bag and then go on my way.
I hope I don't get lost.
Before I left, I picked out a few addresses, some trendy shops where you might have seen him before. There aren't that many, but maybe I can find a clue there. Next to these shops, I head for passers-by. I don't care about your appearance, age or gender. The main thing is that you can help me somehow. Contrary to my hopes, every damn resident answers me with “No, I'm sorry”. If I get an answer at all.
The same situation overtakes me in cafes, shops and various other public facilities. Even at the researched places, nobody can remember him. I wonder if he's a ghost? Or underwent a bloody facelift? Got all of his tattoos removed? Somebody must have seen him at least once. Glasgow is not a cursed metropolis!
In the afternoon I go to a kind of residents' registration office, I got this tip and address from an old lady. She seemed to have a lot of compassion.
When I arrive at the office, I present my request. Not very detailed, just that I'm looking for someone. I am asked to wait. Some time goes by, then I am called into an office. There, too, I will not admit what exactly it is about. The other person seems to notice that I am uncomfortable talking about it. I answer all of his questions. Briefly, but honestly. In the end, it boils down to the fact that I am not allowed or will not give any information. Anyway, I still don't intend to give up. When I leave the office, it is already dark. But I don't plan to go back to my hotel yet. I pull out my smartphone and search the internet for a club or bar nearby. Maybe I'll be successful there.
A club is only about a twenty-five minute walk away. Even if I hate clubs and am breaking one of my own rules, I decide to continue my search there.
It's a seedy shop. I hesitate for a moment, but then go inside. The figures floating around inside look about as bad as the outside of the club. I try to ignore this fact as much as possible.
I pull out the photo again, ask the bartender and some of the guests. Again no one can answer me. Some strange guys noticed me. I feel uncomfortable. I mingle with the guests on the dance floor - hopefully they won't see me there right away. Despite the crowd, I make my way towards the exit, without annoying appendages.
By the time I finally made it out of this shed, it's late.
Again I ask my smartphone how best to get back to the hotel. A bus stop is a few meters away. From there a bus goes at least close by. I am lucky. Especially since at this time of the day there is still some kind of public transport on the way. At home in Germany, in the village, we don't have this luxury.
As the bus rushes through the night, my gaze wanders out of the window again. I only realize late that I have to get out. I almost missed the station.
I walk the last few meters back to the hotel. My head is empty. Inside I only feel frustration. Even though I knew I definitely wouldn't find him today. If I could find him at all.
The same scene is going on in my room as last night. I throw my things in the corner and curl up in my bed. The only difference is that my sobs are louder this time. I find it increasingly difficult to hold back my tears. Although I was sure I had perfected this in the past few years. Apparently a mistake.
In the morning I follow the same pattern as the previous one. Tormenting out of bed, looking at the cathedral, washing, putting on make-up and getting dressed, only to leave my accommodation without breakfast. There is no time to eat.
A new search begins again. I proceed like yesterday. Passers-by, restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, any shops. I will even visit run-down neighborhoods. If not today, tomorrow. The results remain the same. Only the clock keeps moving forward. When asked what I could do differently, I can't find an answer. Again with an empty head, but with a full heart, I return to my dump.
My evening behavior slowly takes the form of a ritual. Even if you meanwhile don't make any effort to hide my tears. I don't care if the fat old man hears it or the thin snipe next door.
I also go through the same daily ritual in the morning. Only my view of the cathedral is getting shorter every day. Not that I was tired of her. But now it's enough to look at them to burst into tears. Even if these should be used up slowly.
As smart as I leave the hotel every morning, I come back at night as smart. Namely without an answer. Every detail in my daily routine is the same.
I hope it will be different today. It is the day before departure. Again he starts my morning ritual. When I get to the door, I pause. “It's pointless. So damn pointless! I'm really no better than a fucking little pubescent girl, ”he said at full volume. My voice almost derails. I'm not going to look for him today.
As much as it hurts, I have to learn to let go. Even if it doesn't correspond to what I want deep down inside. I decide to just visit the cathedral today and then prepare for my departure. As I leave the hotel, I tell myself how stupid this whole trip was and where I would have better put the money.
The concierge from the other day tells me the best way to get to the attraction. He and the taxi driver were the greatest help on this trip. I smile and then leave.
A bus takes me to my destination. The journey takes a while. Even if I don't have to cry, my thoughts are with him all the time. I will certainly not be able to forget that easily and, above all, that quickly, as much as I want to.
Why am I even here? Why am I looking for him? The reasons shoot like needles in my mind. My suicide attempt, his music. How is he? All the rumors that are being spread about him - that's not true! He is a good man. I know it. I'm still here because of him. No matter what it sounds like. I hope he is better off than me. I hope he is happy now.
My heart is racing. I feel a little queasy in my stomach. My goal is not far away. I am nervous. The bus stops. Today I get out quickly, pushing past the other inmates. Glasgow Cathedral extends right in front of me. She is majestic.
Everyone who got out with me is spread out in all directions, as if they weren't interested in this building. I watch the traffic and want to cross the street quickly.
But when I was about to start walking: Medium brown hair, despite the closed jacket you can see a tattooed neck. I examine his face, the piercings. My gaze devours his hands, his fingers. Without a doubt - it is.
I still carry his photo with me, without hesitation, without even thinking, I pull it out of my pocket. "Wait!" I burst out. He's the only one on the opposite curb. Again I shout “Please, wait!”. This time just louder, more desperate.
I wanted to forget you, it shoots through my head. But I ignore it. He turns in my direction, tilts his head and looks puzzled. It feels like my heart is going to burst my chest at any moment. I want to run, I'm not interested in the traffic. My feet only take me a few steps, but far enough to stand in the middle of the road. His eyes are on the picture in my hands. He can clearly see his face. No doubt he sees it.
He smiles. Right in my face. He looks me in the eye. I hold his photo to my trembling chest and smile at him too. I hesitate and stay on the street for a moment. He's fine, I assure myself. Then I turn around. It starts to rain. Suddenly the street is swept empty.
Back on the curb, I walk in the opposite direction. I don't know where i'm going. But I don't care. I know now that he is fine. And that's all I ever wanted to know
He's a bitch. He's a fucking cunt. That's what they say about him. I don't know why, but I know they are lies. Right now I am more aware of it than ever before.
"Thank you," I whisper to myself. Then I turn around one last time. He's already gone. I take a deep breath, hold out my hand, and catch some raindrops.
I look at the sky He's grayed out.
I start crying. But the rain will hide it.
The humming noises on the plane drive me crazy. I also got the same disgusting seat neighbor as on the outward flight. I sigh. The return flight couldn't be worse.
My gaze wanders out of the window. I don't see anything this time. It looks like it feels. Empty.
I would have preferred if one of those shady guys had given me a real Glasgow smile, back then, in this club. External scars heal because plastic surgery is almost limitless.
But mental wounds will never really go away, especially if you've just made the biggest mistake of your life.
Hoping to feel at least a little something, I look at his photo again. I've stopped counting the number of times I've watched it. Only for once do I dare to look at the back.
Ich liebe dich.
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