I was born and raised in the small town of Angels Creek where nothing ever happened. Rumors spread like wildfire and people never forgot any piece of juicy gossip. I went to the same school with the same people since kindergarten. When you spend that much time with someone, you really get to know what kind of person they are, at least, that’s what I always thought. My high school was like any normal school. Sure there were some strange characters, but I tried to befriend everyone. That was a mistake.
My whole life I was told, “You are such a sweet girl.” I was well liked in high school; never once did I make an enemy, but maybe that was the problem. If I had just told him “no,” if I told him to get out of my life, maybe I never would've been kidnapped. Just maybe, I would have had a normal life. My name is Hazel; Hazel Rose, and this is my story.
“Hazel, wait for me! I want to eat at the Burger Barn,” Macie shouted across the hall. Oh Macie, she was something else. Macie had been my best friend since we were in daycare together. She was the whole package. All of the guys were in love with her. Not only was she beautiful, but she was funny, kind, fit, and had the best personality. I swear that girl shined brighter than the sun. “Come on, I need food. You know I’m not myself when I’m hungry.”
“Well I do not want to deal with a hangry Macie… fine, let me go get Blaze and we can all ride together.” Blaze was my boyfriend and we had been dating since middle school. He was the captain of the football team and I was the captain of the cheer squad. I loved him more than anything. I loved his big blue eyes and his rich brown hair. Blaze and I were accepted to UCA and we planned on getting an apartment together as soon as the school year was over.
“Hey Baby, where are we goin’?” Blaze ran up to me, greeting me with his sweet smile.
“I was just about to get you; we are going to the Burger Barn. You and Macie go out to her car and I’ll meet you there. I have to get my purse out of my locker.” He pulled me in close and gave me a sweet kiss. Little did I know, it would be our last.
Macie and Blaze went out to the parking lot. It was just me left in the hallway, when I had the feeling I was being watched. I could feel the warmth of breath on the back of my neck. I didn’t want to turn around, something was telling me I shouldn’t. I just continued getting into my locker. The breathing got heavier. I turned slowly to see Layton towering over me. I didn’t think anything of it. Layton had a tiny crush on me. I’ve known him since the first grade. He was a little off, but we had always gotten along. I smiled at him, “God Layton, you scared me. How are you?” He was sweating more than I had ever seen anyone sweat. Maybe he was nervous about something, but what? “Layton, are you okay?” I asked.
“Hey, I have to show you something, it’s in my car.”
“I’m sorry Layton, I am going to Burger Barn with Blaze and Macie. Maybe you could show me some other time.”
“No, it has to be right now, just come with me. I promise it will only take a second.”
“Okay, no problem.” Why did I say yes? We walked out to his car. It was raining really hard. You could barely see where you were going and I couldn’t hear a thing. Layton smiled nervously. He opened the car door and shouted, “Look inside.” I looked but I couldn’t see anything. “You might have to lean in more, it’s way back there.”
“Layton, I don’t see…” Layton pushed me into the back of his car and slammed the door. I hit my head on his seat. Disoriented, I couldn't get up. I heard the front door slam, and I knew I had to get out. I got back to my feet and lurched for the door handle, but it was locked. “Layton, this isn’t funny. Let me out!” I didn’t know what was happening. I was holding back tears, scared of what was yet to come.
“Sorry Gorgeous, ain't gonna happen.”
“Why are you doing this? I have to go. Now.”
“I have been in love with you since the first grade, Hazel. I never had the courage to ask you out. I had to watch you be with another guy. I had to watch Blaze hold you, kiss you, and the whole time I just thought, that should be me. I should be the one making you smile. I should be the one kissing you, not that stupid jock that doesn’t deserve you. I need you in my life. Everyone I have ever loved has left me. My grandma was the only one that truly cared about me, and cancer took her away. My dad left me when I was seven, and my mom moved in with her boyfriend three years ago. You are the only one that hasn’t left me, and I’m not going to risk that. You’ll be happy with me, I’ll do everything I can to make sure of that.” Tears were running down my cheeks. Layton has obviously snapped; what is he going to do to me? I can’t make him angry. My life may be in danger.
“Layton, I’m sorry, but I don’t love you. You have to let me go.”
“You might not love me now, but you will have plenty of time to change your mind.”
“What are you…” He put a cloth over my mouth and nose, and then there was darkness.
I woke up with a blanket over me. I was still in the back seat of Layton’s car. I sat up slowly and looked at him with hatred in my eyes. I couldn’t think straight. I looked out the window and could barely see anything through the rain. I had no idea where I was; I didn’t recognize anything.
“Hello there Beautiful. Are you comfortable? Do I need to turn the heat down?” Layton was looking at me through the mirror. I needed to find help. I couldn’t call the police, he would hear that. Maybe I could secretly send my parents a text. I don’t know where I am, but I could describe the vehicle and send them a picture of his plates. I searched for my phone frantically. I couldn’t find it anywhere.
“Layton, where is my phone?”
“Oh, I took it while you were sleeping. There’s no need for phones. The only thing that you need now is me.”
“Layton, where the h**l are you taking me!”
“You’re so cute when you are mad.” Layton winked at me. I hated him so much. “I have a guest house that belonged to my parents, but they are clearly not using it now. It will be a great home for you, for us.” My face was getting hot, my eyes were swollen from crying. I couldn’t breathe. My throat burned and my chest ached. I needed to say something, I couldn’t make him mad. I needed to play it safe.
“Layton, I know you so well, you are a smart guy. Think about it, my parents are going to worry. They are going to call the police. Eventually they will find me, and you will be taken away, where you will forever be alone. I don’t want that for you. If you take me home now, we can forget that this ever happened. ”
“Thanks for watching out for me sweetheart, but no one is going to find you. I have thought this through over and over again. I have a backup vehicle at the house. I plan on destroying my car and just use the backup from now on. You only need me. I will provide everything you need. You will not be leaving the house. EVER.”
I couldn’t think of an escape plan. I sat there in shock. I’m going to die here. I am going to spend the rest of my days with Layton. I could feel my lip start to quiver. My eyes filled with tears, I cried. There were so many emotions that went along with those tears. I was scared that I would never escape, sad to think I would never see my family again, and I was furious that I let this happen to me.
Layton went down this narrow dirt road. It felt like this road would never end, but I didn’t want it to. Once we reach the end of this road, there would be a house waiting for me. A house where I would be spending the rest of my days with a crazy man. I had no idea what was going to happen to me, but I knew that Layton wasn’t in the right state of mind. Something in his brain had snapped. Most likely he couldn’t handle all of the abandonment in his life. In some way, I pity him. Maybe I am just too nice.
Layton pulled into this huge driveway. The house was made out of stone. It had a massive deck with a view of a pond. If circumstances were different, I would think that this is the most beautiful house I have ever seen, but right now, it looked like a prison and I’m the prisoner. We went inside of the house. There was a giant television in the living room. All of my favorite snacks were laid out on the coffee table, just waiting there for me. Layton had the house stocked with all of my favorite things. He turned to me and gave me that nervous smile again. “Do you like it? I worked really hard on it for you.”
“Layton, it’s a sweet gesture, but it doesn’t matter what you put in this house. I will never love it here; I will never like it here. I will never be happy here. I can promise you that I will never love you. I won’t even be able to tolerate you. Every time I look at you, I will just be thinking about everything that I am missing at home. I will be thinking about how much I miss Macie. I am going to be crying every night over how much I miss my parents. I am never going to stop thinking about Blaze, you need to realize…”
“NO! You do not mention his name in our home.” Layton grabbed onto my hair and pulled me very close to him. I started whimpering. “You listen to me! You do not get to be ungrateful. I took the time to make sure you will be happy here. I did everything I could to make sure you will enjoy being here with me. Here is what is going to happen. You are going to shut up about your old life. That is over. When you talk to me, you will only say things that are loving and respectful. I am going to take care of you. There is no reason for you to be unhappy. If I ever once hear you crying over Blaze, or even once mention his name, I will kill you. Do you understand me? I rather you be dead then hear you talk about him and hear you say how unhappy you are here with me.”
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” All I could do was apologize. I was bawling my eyes out at this point, scared for my life. Layton let go of my hair. My legs were trembling from fear, and I dropped to my knees. I cried and cried. I couldn’t look up. I didn’t want to see Layton. I wanted to go home. Layton held me while I cried.
“Shhhhhhh. Everything is okay. You are safe with me. Nothing bad will ever happen to you. You will always be happy here.” That’s what I have to do to survive. I have to always be happy while Layton’s around. He could never see me cry again. In order to save my life, I need to be happy, or at least fake it. I need Layton to trust me; stay on his good side for the rest of my days.
Five years have passed now. I’ve convinced Layton that I am in love with him. I knew my life would be secure if he thought the girl of his dreams would never leave him. I sat in the living room flipping through the channels on the television. I could hear his footsteps coming down the hallway. “Honey, I’m going to go grocery shopping. Do you need anything?” I heard him shout. He walked over to me and kissed me.
“I could go to the store Baby, you’ve had a very long day. When I come home, I’ll make dinner.”
“I love you and I trust that you won’t leave me, but something could still happen to you. I will go out and pick up some steak. While I’m gone, you chop some vegetables to go along with it. I won’t take very long.” Layton kissed me again and left for the store. I was furious. I have spent all of this time trying to gain his trust so I could make a run for it, but he ruined everything.
“I love you Layton.” Of course I didn’t love him. I never will, but I needed to continue to keep his trust.
“I’ll be right back.” He went out the door and to his car. I watched out the window to make sure he was gone. Now it’s time for my plan.
I couldn’t run away. I’m not fast, and he would find me eventually. I paced back and forth, thinking and thinking. I walked to the kitchen and started chopping some onions, celery, and carrots, and that’s when it happened. The perfect plan came into my mind. For once I couldn’t wait until Layton came home.
I heard the door open and close shut. “See honey, I told you it wouldn’t take that long.” He put the steaks on the island and came over to while I was chopping. “God, you look so beautiful.” Layton wrapped his arms around my waist and held me close. He started kissing me. While he was distracted, I knew it was time. Without hesitation, I grabbed the sharp knife on the island and stabbed Layton between his shoulder and neck. He let go of me, screaming in agony. As soon as he let go, I ran for the door. I wasn’t about to just run out there and get caught like an idiot in a movie. I made sure to grab his keys before I went out the door. I ran to the car. Frantically, I started the vehicle. Layton swung the door open. He ran towards the car with a gun in his hand. I am not going to die. I am not letting this maniac win. I put the car into drive and stomped on the accelerator. Before he had the chance to do anything, I hit him with his own car. Layton was dead.
I couldn’t think of any of the things that just happened. The only thing I could think of was how badly I wanted to go home. It took hours to find it, but I did it. I made it to Angels Creek.
The thought that everyone has probably moved on did come into my mind. It had been five years after all, but I still needed to find out. Of course the first place I went to was my parents house. I slowly knocked on the door. “I’ll get it!” I heard my mom shout. The door slowly opened. My mom’s smile turned into a look of shock. “Hazel?” She whispered.
My mom grabbed onto me and started crying into my shoulder. “We thought you were dead! We thought you were dead!” She turned towards the open door. “Danny, come quick!” My mom was shouting for my dad.
“What is it…” Dad looked at me. Tears started to fill his eyes. He rushed to my mom and I and joined in our warm embrace. We stood there on the porch, holding each other while crying for an hour. “Honey, let’s go inside, tell us everything.” We sat on the couch while I told them every little detail of what had happened to me. We all started to cry again. My parents held me as I wept.
“Guys, I need you to tell me something. What happened to Blaze? Has he moved on?”
“Honey, I’m so sorry,” Mom could barely look me in the eye. “Blaze is married. He… he… he married Macie Brown.” Hearing these words felt like a hundred daggers stabbing me at once.
No one ever forgot any juicy piece of gossip in this town. You could do something embarrassing and four years later, people would still be talking about it. I guess I was the only exception. I had been forgotten.
November 2, 2017