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I know why they stare. I know why they steal glances at me, hoping I don’t see the thoughts in their eyes. I know why every time I walk through the halls of the high school, they gaze at me with pity and morbid curiosity. I know it’s my face.
I also know why they only stare and never ask me their questions. They’re afraid. What frightens them so? The scars. I know they are staring at the scars on my face, but they are too scared to ask for the story behind them.
They look and see the old cuts on my face. Jagged lines on each cheek coming down from my eyes as if my tears had sliced my skin. Another line runs down the center of my face from the top of my forehead to the tip of my chin. So strangely symmetrical, these are the marks I see in the mirror.
Every face tells a story. My name is Myra and my face tells a tale that so few could imagine. My mind is seared with the memory of what happened. This is the story of my scarred face.
It was ninth grade, my freshman year in high school. As I walked through the halls on my first day, I could tell I was already attracting attention of the older guys. I knew I was pretty. I had been one of the lucky girls during junior high that seemed to never hit an awkward looking stage to the jealousy of many girls. Now as I entered high school, the guys seemed to confirm that I was something to look that. With my thick chestnut hair, sparkling dark green eyes, pink heart-shaped lips, pale blemish-free complexion, and slim hour-glass figure, I never doubted why the boys looked at me.
There was one guy in particular that I noticed casting his eyes in my direction. He was tall, I guessed at least six feet, and was obviously very strong from his large muscular build. His hair was the color of rich soil, his serious eyes were dark blue, and his face was a tan complexion. I figured he was probably a junior. At first glance I thought he was cute, but then when I looked a little more carefully, the strange stare and expression on his face gave me chills. But I quickly shrugged it off and forgot about it.
Soon I discovered I had two classes with him. He sat at the table next to mine in art class, and in gym, he stood in my roll call line. In each class I caught him staring at me with the same strange look. For the first couple weeks, I often could feel his eyes on my back. Every time I would turn around he’d be there gazing at me without trying to hide. I’ll admit I felt a little crept out, but at the same time, I don’t know why, I felt some form of apprehensive excitement.
Finally, one day in art class I asked Ashley, the junior girl sitting next to me, about him.
“Him?” she asked, taking her eyes away from her sketch and craning her neck to look where I was pointing. “Oh, that’s Chad. He’s a junior.”
“How well do you know him?”
“Not a whole lot. I sit next to him in another class and he can be a little quiet. You wouldn’t expect a big hot guy like him to be that quiet, but I just don’t hear him talk unless he has to. Most of what I know about him is by word of mouth.”
“That doesn’t tell me much.”
“Well, I know you can’t trust everything high school students say, but most of the stuff I’ve heard has quite a bit of fact to it. Last year, he dated this really gorgeous girl named Alana for a while. After a month of dating, she went missing. A few days later, she was found dead in the woods not too far from some hiking trails. Her face had strange cuts all over it.”
“Really? What happened?”
“Nobody really knows. Chad seemed absolutely crushed. With his girlfriend dead, and being a prime suspect in her murder, there were so many awful rumors that ran around the school that made it even worse.”
“Yeah. He was eventually cleared as a suspect by the police, but many people around the school still have their suspicions. Especially Alana’s friends.”
“They claim that Chad was controlling in the relationship, and would get jealous whenever Alana talked to other guys. They also said she had been planning on breaking up with him.”
“What do you think?”
Ashley paused and looked back over at Chad with thought in her expression. After a few seconds she turned back to me and said, “I have a hard time believing he would really murder Alana. I don’t know if he was as controlling as Alana’s friends say he was, but everyone knew he practically worshipped the ground she walked on and he seemed so devastated by her death. Yet at the same time, who else could’ve done it? The police still haven’t solved the murder and they’ve had no other suspects.”
I sat there thinking for a moment before Ashley asked, “Why the interest in Chad?”
“I keep catching him staring at me. It’s been going on since the first week of school.”
“Maybe he likes you. It’s no surprise that he keeps looking at you. You are really pretty for a freshman.”
“He is really cute…” I mused as I rested my chin in my hands and looked back over to Chad.
“Be careful, Myra. Don’t be jumping into a relationship with an older guy as soon as you enter high school.”
“Don’t worry. I will,” I said carelessly.
Unconvinced, Ashley sighed and muttered, “Well, it’s not my job to keep you out of trouble.”
I paid her no attention and zoned out for the rest of class as I sat deep in thought.
The next day, in my gym class, I found myself thinking about the conversation with Ashley. Could it be true? Could Alana’s murderer have been her own boyfriend? Or was it just the hyped up version of casual comments made by her friends? I was so distracted that I kept missing passes and messing up to the disappointment of my basketball team.
“Myra, what’s the matter with you?” asked my teammate, Sarah, after chasing the ball after another failed pass. “You seem so out of it today.”
“Sorry. I have a lot of stuff on my mind,” I gasped, trying to catch my breath.
“Then just get into the game and play. It will help get your mind off things.”
So I did. After a few minutes, I completely forgot about Chad. I just kept making play after play. Then as I knelt down to tie my shoe a shadow passed over me. I looked up and there he was, towering over me.
“Hi. I’m Chad. What’s your name?”
Slowly, I stood up with my eyes fixed on him. Gone was the strange look and in its place was a warm smile that could’ve turned any freshman girl to putty. If it wasn’t for the fact that he had been staring at me the past few weeks, I would’ve melted right then and there.
“I’m Myra,” I said hesitantly.
“I’ve been meaning to introduce myself for some time now, but I’ve not had the chance.”
Not had the chance? I thought. You’re in two of my classes and you’ve been staring at me since the first time you saw me. How could you have not had the chance?
“Oh, that’s alright.”
“Myra! Look out!”
I looked in the direction of Sarah’s voice just in time to see Chad catch a basketball one-handed inches from my face. Without skipping a beat he tossed it back and turned to me as if nothing had happened.
“I would like to get to know you better. Would you care to go on a date with me this Friday?”
I just stared at him. He just single-handedly saved my head from getting smacked with a basketball and he was acting like it was nothing. Instead he asks me on a date! I was taken aback. The guy didn’t really know me and he was already asking me out. But how could I say no?
“Sure,” I answered trying to hide my discomfort.
“Great!” he said flashing a big smile. “I’ll pick you up at 6:30. May I get your cell phone number?”
After we exchanged numbers he said, “Thanks! I’m really excited! I’ll see you in Art!”
As I watched him walk away I couldn’t help but feel a pit in my stomach. Yes, he was good-looking, there was no doubt about that, and he seemed nice, but there was something about him that didn’t feel quite right.
“So how was it?” Ashley asked. It was Monday in Art and I knew after Ashley’s reaction when I told her Chad had asked me out that she was going to ask me about it the first chance she got. I looked up from my sketch pad and smiled.
“So how was it?”she repeated.
“Well, obviously I’m alive.”
“That’s good, but how did it go?”
“Oh, it was great.”
Of course, it went better than great. It was awesome! He took me out to dinner and we really hit it off. Our conversation ran so long that we missed the movie he had planned to take me to. So instead of a movie we went for a walk in the park and talked for hours.
Seeing my smile Ashley exclaimed, “He asked you out again, didn’t he?!”
“Yes!” I squealed.
The teacher turned and gave me a death glare for the outburst. I quickly quieted down.
“Be careful, Myra. I’ve seen a lot of freshman girls get hurt when they get into relationships with older guys.”
“I’ll try to be careful, Ashley. I promise.”
So I went on another date with him. And another. And another. By the end of the fourth date I had completely forgotten about the chills he had given me a month before.
We were sitting on my porch after he had taken me out for the fourth time.
“May I ask you something?”
“Myra, I know you’ve heard the stories about me and Alana, so I understand if you say no, but would you be my girlfriend?”
I turned to him and smiled.
“I was wondering when you would ask.”
He smiled his warm melting smile, and squeezed my hand. That was the night of my first kiss.
“Please, don’t judge me, Ashley.”
I tried to ignore her as she looked at me with one eyebrow raised and a you-told-me-you-would-be-careful-look written all over her face.
“I’m really worried for you.”
“I know. The whole freshman girls getting hurt by older guys thing. You told me that already.”
I turned back to my art project and heard her heave a sigh.
“It’s not just that, Myra. You’re going to become the topic of a lot of gossip. I wouldn’t be as worried if you were with anyone other than Chad.”
“Let people think what they want. It’s none of their business.”
“You’re going to have to put up with a lot of crap.”
“I thought about that already and I don’t care. I’m really happy with this. I love the boy and he loves me.”
“I know you’re probably getting tired of me saying this, but please be really careful. I don’t want you getting hurt in any way.”
Of course I just shrugged it off, thinking she was overreacting. If only I had listened…
For the first few weeks, everything was wonderful. But then things slowly changed. I discovered Chad had been going through my phone when I wasn’t looking and he confronted me about some of the people I was texting.
“Who is Jason?” he demanded while we were taking a walk one evening.
“He’s one of my friends from middle school who goes to another high school,” I said, slightly taken aback by his tone.
“Why do you text him so much?”
“How do you know who and how much I text?”
“It’s in your phone.”
“You’ve been looking at my texts?!” I was offended and quickly yanked my hand from his.
“I was just looking at your phone out of curiosity and saw how much you were texting Jason. Why?”
The look on his face bothered me.
“He was one of my best friends in middle school. What’s wrong with talking a lot with one of my best friends?”
“I think it’s better if you kept it to small occasional friendly talk. No more long conversations every day.”
His expression was nothing like anything I had seen before. For once, I didn’t want to know what he was thinking even though I already did. His face was one of possession. I couldn’t say no.
“Okay,” I sighed.
“Good. I’m glad you understand,” he said flashing a smile.
But the truth was I didn’t understand.
After that I kept my phone on me at all times, always making sure there was no way Chad could find it and invade my privacy. Then things began to get worse. He was always calling me, getting jealous when I talked to other guys, and getting annoyed when I hung out with friends instead of him. It wasn’t until he threatened me one night that I decided that I needed to get out of the relationship.
“Myra, you better listen to me. We don’t want you getting hurt now, do we? It would be such a shame if something happened to that pretty face of yours,” he had said.
I was frightened and stressed. The only person I found myself running to with everything was Ashley.
“I know, Ashley. You told me to be careful, but now I need help,” I whispered.
We were in Art class trying to keep our voices as low as possible so Chad wouldn’t hear. If he heard what we were saying things would’ve not gone well for me.
“You need to tell your parents. If things are really as bad as you’re telling me, then he’ll scare you into not breaking up with him. I’ll try to help, but I think you need to tell an adult. Otherwise you’ll stay trapped in this relationship.”
“I don’t want to do that yet. I’m going to try to break up with him on my own first. If that doesn’t work out then I’ll tell someone.”
“You better do it soon.”
“I’m going to. He plans to do something with me this Friday.”
“Myra, I know I’ve said this a million times, but please be really careful.”
“What else can I be?”
“Mom, I’m going with Chad somewhere! I’ll be back later!” I yelled as I walked down the stairs and opened the front door.
Chad was there standing on the porch with his usual smile on his face. Except it wasn’t his usual smile. It somehow seemed pasted on.
Closing the door behind me and putting on my jacket I asked, “So where are we going?”
We walked down the steps and towards his car. I sensed something wrong from the way he was acting. He seemed to be hiding something and putting on an act. I didn’t dare ask, though.
Unlocking the car door he said, “I thought I’d make it a surprise.”
We got in the car and drove off. The conversation seemed dry and too formal. I could definitely tell something was up. We kept driving until we reached the head of the wood trails near town.
“The trails?” I asked as we got out of the car. “We’re taking a hike?”
“Only a short one. I want to show you something.”
It was not a short one. We hiked for a long time and I was surprised when Chad led us off the trail and into the trees.
“Chad, where are we going? Isn’t it smarter for us to stay on the trail?”
“Just wait and see. Don’t worry. I know where we’re going.”
We hiked for probably a mile and I noticed the light was getting dim. Then I saw something in the distance. As we got closer I saw that it was a large wooden shack.
“What is this place?” I asked turning to Chad.
“This is my old fort. I built it when I was little. I still come here when I need to get away from the world. Let me show you what’s inside.”
We walked up to the door. It had an old chain and padlock on the door. Chad pulled out a key, unlocked it, opened the door, and motioned for me to go inside. The lighting was even dimmer inside.
I looked around in the dim light, taking in my surroundings. It was all one room filled with stuff I guess I would’ve expected. There was a wooden chair and a short stool in the center of the room, a cooler in one corner probably filled with snacks, and a crate in another corner filled with rope and various tools.
But what really caught my eye was something I didn’t expect. On the far wall there hung dozens upon dozens of pictures. I walked over to take a closer look and to my horror saw they were all photos of me. I shivered as I looked at each one that had been taken without my knowledge. Slowly, I turned around and saw Chad standing in front of the door and staring at me. He wasn’t smiling.
“Um, Chad, I-I-I don’t know what to say,” I said, smiling nervously. “Where did you get all these pictures?”
“I took them with my camera,” he said, walking towards me. He stood in front of me and pointed to a few pictures on the wall. “I took these ones before I met you. Honestly, when I first saw you I thought you were one of the most beautiful girls I’d ever seen. I had to have a picture of that pretty face of yours.”
“Um, well, that’s really nice, but…”
I laughed nervously and started to move past him. Suddenly, he grabbed me by the shoulder and pressed my back up against the wall. His face was a breath away from mine and as his eyes stared intensely into me I got the image in my head of some sort of predator. That made me the prey.
“Now Myra,” Chad spoke softly, “I heard a bit of a rumor that you were thinking about breaking up with me. Now we both know that isn’t true, don’t we? If you left me, who would protect your pretty face? A face like yours could get you in a lot of trouble. But of course, you’re not going to leave me because you would never dream of it. And I would do anything for you to stay with me and no one else.”
“Chad, please, let go of me! Your hands are hurting my shoulders!”
“What’s wrong, Myra? I thought you liked it when I get this close. I always can feel your excitement when I lean in, waiting for the kiss. Why should I let you go when I know you’re dying to kiss me?”
He closed in on his prey and roughly kissed me, breathing heavy with passion. Frightened, I kneed him in the gut, making him grunt in pain, and pushed him off me. I dashed for the door, but he grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me into a struggle.
“Chad, let me go! You’re hurting me!”
“No, Myra,” he grunted through gritted teeth, “I can’t let you go. You’re just like Alana. I can’t let you be with anyone else.”
He threw me to the ground, my head slamming against the crate. Everything went black.
It’s interesting the first things you notice when you wake up. For some it may be a sound, a thought, a smell, or a bit of color. Well, for me, it was the pain in my wrists.
The shack was dimly lit by late afternoon, early evening, sunlight. I was tied to the wooden chair, my wrists screaming in pain from the rope cutting into their skin. I groaned as the headache hit me and I remembered what had happened. Starting, I raised my head and looked frantically around for Chad. I didn’t have to search far. He stood brooding in the corner, staring eerily at me with his arms folded across his chest.
“It’s nice to see you awake,” he spoke softly, a hint of tension in his voice. “It’s too bad you’re going to wish you weren’t.”
Slowly, he stalked toward me, once again looking like a predator closing in on his prey. Frightened, I struggled weakly in vain to break free. As he got closer, he slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out a knife.
“Chad, please,” I whimpered, feeling tears begin to roll down my cheeks. “What are you doing with that knife? Please, just let me go. It doesn’t have to happen like this.”
He grabbed me by my hair and put his mouth close to my ear, whispering, “But it does, Myra, it does. You were leaving me, just like Alana was.”
I felt a chill frost my heart. I gasped in pain as he pulled me even closer.
“I’ll tell you a little secret, Myra. I killed her. That’s right. I killed Alana. She was beautiful and I loved her. But she was going to leave me just like you were. I couldn’t stand the idea of anyone else looking at her lovely face and calling her theirs. I came to the decision that if I couldn’t have her then no one could.”
“So I brought her up here. She saw her own wall I created in homage to her and she tried to run away, too. I tied her up in this exact same chair, with this exact same rope. Then I used the same knife I’m holding right now to carve up that pretty face that I couldn’t let anyone else have, even in death. Finally, I slit her throat. I dumped her body near the trails and I covered up any evidence leading to this shack.”
“Now I’m going to do the same to you, Myra. You’re mine and no one else’s. If I can’t look at your pretty face and call you mine then no one can.”
He roughly let go of my hair and put the blade of the knife against my cheek just under my eye.
“Chad, please, don’t,” I pleaded, feeling the coldness of the blade against my skin mix with the warmth of my tears.
“Myra, you look so tragically beautiful when you cry. I think we should start with imprinting the memory of it. Yes, I like that idea. We’ll start with that.”
With one hand keeping my head still, he pressed the blade into my cheek. I gasped in pain as the blade sliced through my skin following the trail of my tears. By the time he finished doing the same to my other cheek, I was sobbing, feeling blood, sweat, and tears drip down my face.
“Stop it! Stop it! Let me go! Help!” I screamed in terror.
“That’s it, Myra. Keep screaming. No one will hear your cries, but I do relish in them. My pain has been screaming inside me for years. I like to hear someone else take a turn.”
He smiled a sick sadistic smile that sent goose bumps up my arms like tiptoeing spiders and fear crawling up my spine one vertebrae at a time. He took the tip of his now bloody knife and set it at the top center of my forehead. Slowly and steadily, he slit my skin down the center of my forehead, over the ridge and tip of my nose, across my lips, and finally the tip of my chin, with me whimpering like a wounded animal the whole time. Crimson red began to trickle into my vision and mix with my tears. Through my blurry eyes I could see Chad flashing a wide brilliantly chill smile at his grisly art.
“Now I’m going to kill you. It will soon be over, Myra. Maybe in heaven you’ll bless me for setting you free from this mundane existence. Or maybe you’ll be cursing me in Hell for sending you down there to burn for your sins. It doesn’t matter either way to me. I’ve never been much of one for religion.”
He leaned his face towards mine smiling as if he had some juicy little secret.
“Any last words, Myra?”
“Yeah, I’ve got something to say to you,” I spat out venomously. I spat blood in his eye, blinding him. “Go to Hell, Chad.”
Quickly, I thrashed in my seat, tripping him over, landing him face down on the floor and knocking my chair on its side at the same time. Slowly, he stood up shakily, his face waxed pale. The knife handle stuck out of his chest.
“I feel cold,” he sputtered, a dazed look on his face and blood trickling out of his mouth. He took a step towards me and fell to his knees. Rich dark blood seeped from his chest as he pulled the knife out and let it clatter to the floor near me.
Staring at me, he gave a warm human smile and said, “I love you, Myra.”
He collapsed to the floor and never moved again.
That was two months ago. After I managed to free my wrists with his knife, I used my phone to call police. I don’t remember much after that. I passed out from the combination of blood loss and my earlier concussion before they arrived.
From my eyewitness testimony and evidence from the shack they concluded that Chad had indeed murdered Alana which gave her family the closure they needed. I became good friends with them and they practically accepted me a member of their family.
They now have a fence to keep hikers from wandering in the areas off the trails and there’s rumor they’re going to tear down Chad’s shack. I’ve visited there once since the incident after police finished investigating it and before they put the fence up. I was surprisingly undisturbed by the stains in the wood from my own blood. It was Chad’s bloodstains that got to me.
And of course, there are the scars. I’m not just talking about the ones on my face. I’m also talking about the ones on my mind that intertwine with the ones I see in the mirror. I’ve been in counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder and I’m learning to cope with people’s reactions at school. Ashley seems to be the only person who isn’t unsettled by my face. She is saddened by it, true, but she’s been kind enough to never say I told you so.
My family hopes one day to get me plastic surgery, but right now we can’t afford it. It’s a goal we’ll work towards and in the meantime I use make-up to cover the scars as best I can. People still notice, of course. They stare, they gossip, they steal glances and wear guilty faces when I catch them. It upsets me how they assume without asking, but I deal with it. They’ll soon know my story, though.
Tonight, they’re holding a vigil at the school in memory of Alana. It’s the anniversary of her murder and her parents have asked me to speak. I’ve been told so much about her and I feel somewhat close to her. I hope to give justice to both our stories tonight.
Tonight, scars will heal.