Miner Claim
Anita Moscoso

This is my story about fear. Fear is a very real place here in the Mines. It can be mapped, charted and people do all sorts of things to make sure you don't enter these places. But sometimes you have to. And this is real life, sometimes you can win. This is how I've done it. This is my part of the mine.

I was told that on old maps to warn other ships away from dangerous places they use to note, " Here there be Tigress ".

Here are my Tygres.

*************

I entered the Mine in search of a girl with a cut up face and a bruised and swollen head. I call to her and just as she's about to step from the shadows, before I can tell her it's okay to come closer; she looks into my face and her eyes narrow and flare with a terrible light, her mouth twists into a feral snarl and she turns away.

The Malice and hatred is there on that young ruined face and I'm afraid of her...for her and for what she is now after all of that time living in the dark and the shadows.

I wonder what she's been doing down there with the monsters and demons and anger that live in this place. How could I have left her there? Why did any of us find it so easy to let her slip away? How could any of us sent a child to that place?

*************

If I were to map my heart, if I were to show you how she ended up in those mines all the roads would lead back to the time when I was 14 and assaulted by a group of students at my Junior High-school. They cut my face up and another boy sat on my chest and pushed my forehead into the ground while the girl who started this fight kicked at the side of my head until I threw up all over the ground.

There were six of them.

Over 20 kids saw what happened that day.

I was asked to leave school two days later; the Principal told I that I would probably be happier at another Junior High, so they ' let me leave'. The girl responsible for this assault was allowed to come back to school and the only punishment she got was community service. She wasn't suspended because the assault happened two feet over the school property line.

I'm not kidding.

It was more painful then the assault; how people I thought were my 'friends' that watched, who didn't bother to walk the twenty feet to the nearest classroom to tell a teacher what was happening were anxious to seek me out the next day and tell me how this girl and her friends bragged about their plans throughout the school day. How the girl had collected over 15 rings to wear on her fingers so that she could ' pound my F*&^! Head in and how she told the owners of those rings what she was going to use them for. How she had spent all day sharpening her nails to points in classes and how she explained she was doing that so that she could cut my face up and not get into trouble...because she wasn't using a knife.

I remember how a girl I thought was my friend smiled and how her eyes shone when she told me how this girl was a hero of sorts in the lunch room because she got rid of that ' skanky bitch '

Before that day I was the outcast already. It was my existence; my role and I didn't question it. I was planted that firmly in my place. Sentenced to the role of Ugly Girl, Stupid Girl Dog Girl and then there were the racial slurs, the name-calling.

The worst were the taunts the daily reminders I was different and an outsider.

Once I tried to get out of the box and tried to at least look like the other girls.

I tried to do it with a pair of jeans.

They were the same type everyone else was wearing, flared things with a little fox sewn on the back pocket. I caused great offense by buying and wearing them.

Boys laughed at me one even insisted I take my ugly ass home and take them off. He walked behind me for a full five minutes yelling at me, pulling at my hair and pushing me into a locker until I stopped and allowed him to scream in my face about what a pile of crap I really was.

Then he spit on me.

I didn't start crying until I got outside. Then I ran home and took off the jeans, the jeans I bought with my own babysitting money so that I could blend in and threw them away.

Most of my eighth grade year was spent having the most popular boy follow me around between classes barking and mooing. He would throw food at me in the lunchroom and say, " sit Fido sit"

The most popular boy.

He was on the field that day too, he stood above most of the other kids and I could see him laughing...the school hero, the boy a lot of the girls had a crush on. He was yelling and laughing with the rest of them. He was laughing and cheering that day with the rest of them. When I think back, his is the face I can still see more clearly then the others.

I work with his Mother now at different community events and she once told me, " I don't believe I never saw you at the house Anita, I'm sure Jeff would have been begging you to come over and hang out with the kids...you were such a pretty girl and he liked those pretty girls! "

I was stunned and passed over her question by saying that I worked a lot and didn't have much free time then.

I still wonder why it was that no one living on the school's border, or that the teachers in the classrooms who's windows faced the field where I was beaten didn't think it was odd that over 20 students were standing in a circle for over an half hour after school let out. Only one person needed to look up and out and my entire life could have been different.

Only one.

What's made it worse over the years is that I think people did look up and out and I wasn't worth caring about. I'll be shopping or eating dinner or doing the laundry and I still wonder; what did I do to deserve that? If I could ask the Great Creator one question that would be it. What did I do?

Was I really that awful? Did I smell as bad as the girls told me I did? Was it because of my deformed ugly face they told me I had? Was I really that offensive? Why did this happen? I don't know, not really. This girl, this monster didn't like me; she found me offensive...the color of my skin, my face, and my voice. And for some reason the signals were all there. It was written on my forehead I guess; I was an outsider. I was the undesirable one I was expendable.

I was no more value then a stray dog, a cow waiting for the slaughter. Who worries about them when they disappear, cease to exist?

Of course, I was also told she was a bully and there are bullies and self made victims like myself and I need to get over it. After all, if something like this happens, you did something to deserve it, right? People just don't wake up one morning, put together a mob and beat a girl senseless, right?

Somewhere down in the mines, among the zombies, werewolves, ghosts, devils, haunted graveyards, cannibals and headhunters a fourteen year old girl with a ruined face laughs. The sound of it startles them all and a Werewolf that the Girl With The Ruined Face created when she was 12. He wonders what is so funny.

" I hope she gets to the good stuff soon " and tells them all why she left me down here.

She may not want to admit it but the girl has her hopes. The monsters that live down here with her have their hopes too. They hope Anita sees the swinging lantern at the opening of the Mine, that she hears their voices. They've been hearing calling in for some time now. They want her to be free because if she is they will be too.

The first time I went into the mines searching for the girl the mob beat senseless I remembered how scared I was of the dark. Down here the dark is like fire. It can consume you.

There's a tunnel that the train comes through everyday, it's not a good place and that's where the Devil's Train lives. That's what the Girl calls it. It's the only thing down here that travels that road.

The Devil's Train is made for this place. It almost looks too big for the tunnel, it doesn't run on tracks and it breathes. Like some awful monster it creeps along the hard dirt ground and it can make itself smaller or bigger depending on where it wants to go and when you can see through the windows that's the worst. That's when you can see the passengers.

They don't have faces; some don't have eyes or mouths. They're all crying. Well, they all cry down here but on that train it's different. It takes them far away into the mines. No one knows where that is or what it's like. No one has ever come back from that place.

Unless you count the train.

The entrance to the mine is cut into the hillside in a town that died a long time ago.It's a terrible dead place and I found it to easily and to quickly.

I followed the tracks in and hoped against hope I wouldn't see that train. But I could hear it and that was enough to almost make me turn back.

But I wouldn't.

The mines here are dark and dangerous and forgotten. You can hear the sounds of the world above drift down, light as mist. The rafters bracing the ceilings are old and broken dust covers discarded mining equipment. There's even an old fashion elevator car down here laying on its side and a wrought iron balcony leaning against a brick wall.

Further in I pass a house, a Victorian looking place with stained glass windows, there's a mausoleum, a sarcophagus then a graveyard complete with creeping fog and blackened dead trees. I walk through canyons filled with ghosts and monsters and I recognize a pack of demons chained to rocks. I know them. Their faces are as familiar to me as my own.

One is the boy I had a crush on, the one who threw food at me, hes thin cadaverous...starved to death, the girl who hurt me is here to and her nails are as long as her fingers and her eyes have been torn out of her head, her face an open weeping wound, the boy who held me down is an armless, legless twisted mass of bruises and sores. He never stops begging to be freed of this place.

I have a horrible feeling I know who brought them here and did this to them.

Past all of this, sitting in front of the ruins of a building with wire mesh over the windows is werewolf and a creature I suppose is a witch is the girl with the ruined face.

The malice, the anger, the hatred is all there on her young face and it's focused on me. " I don't understand why you hate me so much " she's yelling to me as I walk up " I've spent all this time fighting for you and you went topside and hated me the whole time. Just like everyone else. "

I was stunned. " I don't hate you. "

" Ha! You do so. You wrecked all the pictures of me; you won't look into mirror because you're afraid you'll see MY face and not your old lady one. You spend all your time pretending I'm not real and I a thousand times more real then you."

A little girl I was thinking, Jesus, she was a little girl.

" Well, you're an old lady! " she yells " and I'm tired of you acting like I'm the big bad secret here. I wasn't ugly until YOU thought I was, I wasn't worthless and dumb until YOU decided I was and I'll tell you something else, be mean to me just one more time and me and my friends take a trip on the train and you'll be all alone for the rest of your stupid stale old life..."

" Hey, " the Witch says, " I don't think that's a very good idea."

" Don't be such a chicken, we'll be fine.

" Her confidence is striking, overwhelming because I have no doubt it's true. She'd probably hijack the thing and run it straight into a wall just to prove she could.

" Damn straight! " she says "and I want some credit FROM YOU! I survived that beating and I did it on my own because FYI nobody helped us...remember? Who walked home that day by herself? Me. Who didn't cry in front of anybody? ME. Who talked to the Police, the Doctors? Who explained what happened to the Counselors and Principals at the new school what happened? ME. Who actually started making us new real friends? Me. Who was smart enough to ask to be sent to a school with a writing program? ME. I saved us, what we had left and you never gave me credit. Not once. I didn't care that anyone else thought Old Woman, but I cared about what you thought. "

I'm proud of her, this Girl whose face looks ruined but has worn her scars not with the shame I have but she's treated each and everyone one like a hard earned medal. She's been down here, banished and forgotten and still she dreams and fights and she makes me feel very small.

" Okay, that's it. Let's go " she tells her monster friends and they come from the shadows and from behind trees, from passage ways and they start to walk to the main tunnel. "

Where are you going? "

" You can come with me. "

" Oh please, don't get all mushy. I'm always with you, just well, just don't hate me anymore okay? "

" I won't.

" The Girl smiles and tells a Headhunter, " told ya I could fix this...come on, we got a train to wreck then we're out of here."

" Hey, " I ask as she walks away into a cemetery " why wreck it? "

" Hello! Cause it's a monster...boy, she has no imagination. We have a lot of work to do when we get Topside..." all of her creatures are whispering to each other in agreement as they file past me and into the tunnels.

The Girl with The Ruined Face is right.

I can't wait to get to know her better.

by Anita Marie Moscosso - January 2005

Working the Claim

Death of Leaning Birches and Company
Abandon

The Alluvial Mine is the property of Heather Blakey and Miners who have generously shared their work. Please do not replicate any part of this mine without written permission.