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Tammy Vasquez was three years old. It was August 2nd, her birthday. She had a bright future ahead of her. She had loving parents who weren’t well off, but were comfortable. On her 3rd birthday, she had a wonderful party for her mother, Maria. In attendance were every one of Maria’s friends, with the one stipulation, they had to have a toddler.
Maria was very vain. She loved the fact that she was very beautiful. She was secretly scared to death, during her pregnancy with Tammy, that her child would not be as beautiful as she believed her and her husband, Raul, to be. Tammy’s mother and father were both of Spanish decent. They were fair skinned but had dark hair and eyes. They were both 24 years old and in very good physical condition. Raul was a public accountant for many famous athletes. Maria was a socialite and was always looking to stay ahead of her so-called friends.
On the day of Tammy’s 3rd birthday, the party was going off without a hitch. Maria had hired a special tutor two weeks earlier, and Tammy had learned to write her name. Though it was merely chicken scratch, it was definitely legible as her name. Maria could not wait to show off this talent to all her friends, and passively rub their noses in it.
What Maria didn’t know, was that one of her friend’s children had a bad cold. The child wasn’t showing any symptoms, other than the sniffles, so the mother didn’t feel the need to miss the party. Tammy caught a couple of these sneezes right in the mouth.
By that evening, after all the guests had left, Tammy was starting to hack a little, sneeze a little, sweat a little, and cry a lot. Maria saw the onset of a cold and thought, “How could this happen?! I can’t take a sick kid out with me anywhere!” So, Maria and Raul loaded up Tammy’s sippy cup, her stuffed pink panther, and dressed her like she was going to a marathon in a baby jumpsuit. When they arrived at the hospital they sat in the emergency waiting room, along with all kinds of people. One was a gang member who had been shot. One was a homeless woman who had fallen into a dumpster, trying to reach a half-eaten can of Spam, and cut her face. Maria felt like she needed a shower. She felt like she was better than these people and was almost shocked that no one was making special arrangements for her beautiful family.
The family finally got in to see a doctor, and he examined the baby. Tammy indeed had a cold. He prescribed some antibiotics, some Tylenol to bring down her fever, and some over the counter medicines to fight the other symptoms. Tammy’s parents stopped at a 24 hour pharmacy on the way home. When they reached the house, Maria gave Tammy doses of everything they were told to get.
The next morning, Maria received a call. It was one of her friends from down the street. They were having a swimming party this Saturday and it was for all the neighbors, and their children. Maria had just gotten a brand new bikini and couldn’t miss this chance to show it off. But the party was only three days away and Tammy had no chance of being well enough for a pool party by that time. So Maria took it upon herself to up Tammy’s antibiotics dose from half a pill, twice a day, to one pill twice a day.
The first day the medication change didn’t seem to bother Tammy. The next day, Tammy woke up vomiting. Maria freaked out and gave Tammy another dose of the antibiotics, to make up for what she threw up. Since she was throwing up quite often now, Maria would only give her water and the antibiotics. She needed her to be well of the cold by the party.
The day of the party, Tammy had no sniffles, no redness of the eyes, but she did seem somewhat pale. Maria dressed Tammy in a little bikini that matched her own. They went to the party and every man there drooled over Maria and every other mother commented on how pale Tammy looked. So Maria left Tammy on a blanket in the sun with no sunscreen most of the day. At about 2:30, Tammy began to scream as if she was being attacked by something invisible. Maria ran to her to try to quiet her down and see what was hurting her. She could see nothing except some red blotches on her skin. So Maria told the party host that she would have to leave, because, “Tammy was forming a rash for some strange reason.”
After Maria got Tammy home, she took her and laid her in a warm bath. She figured the antibiotics had made the child sensitive to the sun and that she just needed her pores opened. She didn’t know the half of it. As Tammy’s body hit the water, she screamed even louder. So Maria jerked her up out of it, and went and sat her in front of a small fan. She continually screamed for about the next hour. Maria kept hugging and holding her. When the child finally came out of the screaming fit, she opened her eyes. Her eyes had been burned by the sun. The antibiotics had made her eyes very sensitive. Tammy’s eyes looked like two purple wads of veins. Maria screamed, and yelled for Raul.
Again the family took Tammy to the emergency room. This time, upon seeing the child, the nurses in the front took the baby directly to the back. They put her in a room. When the doctor came in to see Tammy, he told the parents that it looked like their child had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics she was on, which was surprising due to the low dosage. The doctor had a few tests run and, after an hour, he came back into the room with a prognosis. Tammy would live, but her skin had developed photophobia and she would never be able to go out into the sun for more than a few minutes without being in pain, she would be permanently blind, her eyes were going to have this appearance permanently, and her lips were blistered and would never look normal again.
Maria began to scream out as if she was in pain. Her heart was broken. What had she done to her beautiful child? The family returned home. The doctor had given Tammy some pain killers so that she would be able to sleep. Maria and Raul sat up crying. Raul was unaware that Maria had upped the dosage, and that this was all her fault, that her vanity had destroyed their child’s life.
That night, after Raul fell asleep; Maria got up and snuck out of the bedroom. When Raul awoke the next morning, Maria was in the bed next to him. He got up to go check on the baby. She was not in her crib. He panicked and ran to wake up Maria. When he got to her, she was laying there with tears rolling down her face and softly singing to herself, “You must have been a beautiful baby...”
Raul threw back the covers, Maria had mud on her bare feet and her hands, and her pajamas were covered in blood. Tammy was never seen again, but there was a small scribbling of her name on the wall by her crib.