December 19, 2007
By Barbara Radford, Tucson, AZ

When she walked into her homeroom, she could feel every gaze fall onto her. They were all judging her. The color of her dyed hair, the clothing she was wearing, the bag she was holding, but probably most of all, the scar that meandered its way across her face.

It was jagged, unsymmetrical, and unflattering. The bridge of her nose was covered in smooth, pink scar tissue. The gash continued up to the outside corner of her left eye, where there was a circular end to it like the turn around at the dead end of a cul-de-sac. Instead of following a linear pattern on the other side of her face, the horrid scar drifted upward again towards her right eye. But it never quite winded all the way up. It ended directly in the middle of her cheekbone.

The scar literally cut her face in half. The doctors had taken hours to surgically repair all the broken bones, cartilage, and damaged tissue in her face. She was thankful for that. She knew she was lucky to get away with just a scar. However, it still was a giant pink riven across her face that reminded her of those horrible days in the hospital, and she couldn’t help but resent it.

She continued to slowly walk across the room. She had gotten used to the stares. She had gotten enough during the last couple of weeks of summer after her surgery to not let them get to her. Or at least pretend they didn’t get to her. She handed the teacher a note excusing her tardiness and sat down at the nearest unoccupied desk, just in time for the bell to chime three times. Ding ding ding.

She carefully pretended to search within her bag, so that all of these new classmates could file slowly out of the room before she had to show her face again. The books in her new black Jansport were heavier than she was used to, and because of this, she stumbled back a little when she finally stood up and swung her backpack over her shoulder.

“Whoa, you okay there?” said a voice coming from behind her. She felt the pressure of someone gently guiding her back to balance. She turned around. The person she was looking at glanced at her scar for no more than a second, but that was enough for her to know he wanted to let his eyes linger on the pink flesh a little while longer. He was just another person who would see her for her past.

“ Yeah, thanks, I’m fine,” she mumbled as she pivoted towards the door.

“Are you new here? I’ve never seen you around before.” He stated a little louder as to keep her attention and make sure she didn’t just walk away.
Correction, you’ve never seen a girl with a 7-inch scar across her face running around your perfect little school before. She turned back around to face him. Regardless of what she thought, his interest had still caught her attention.

“Yeah I just moved here. Today is my first day.”

“Do you want me to show you around? It’s pretty easy to get lost if you don’t know where you are going.” He was still looking at her, but he wasn’t looking at her the same way everyone else did. It was still a stare, but a good stare. Then, she realized it; he was staring into her eyes, not at what’s around them. She looked back at him. She liked to look at him. Study his features: his tousled brown hair and organic green eyes, his pointed chin and hemp necklace, his crooked smile and perfect teeth, and finally the freckles sporadically dotting his nose.

“Well, I don’t want to trouble you at all.”

“Don’t worry about it, I know this place like the back of my hand. Where’s your first class?”

“Well, this says I have art in Building one.” She offered, supplying the freshly printed schedule she had just received from the old, gray secretary at the front office.

“We are in Building three right now, and the art teacher, Mrs. Rogers, is a stickler for tardiness, so we better get moving.” She looked up again at this mystery guy. The one who looked her in the eyes, not the scar, and wondered where he came from. And just as the question came to her, he said,

“By the way, I’m Peter, what’s your name?”

“Oh, I’m Shea.”

“Wow, that’s a really unique name.” She had heard comments like that before about her name, and they usually made her angry, but somehow, he made it seem like a good thing. Like she was original. Not just weird.

He started walking away and was almost out the door by the time she came back to reality and rushed to catch up with him. He twisted to the left out the doorway and headed down a busy corridor, occasionally glancing down at her to make sure she was keeping up and offering a small grin.

They kept walking down the crowded hallways, and she could see people staring, but, for some reason, she liked to know that they were staring. She felt like they were staring at him, not at her. And that made all the difference.

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