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Chapter 1 Ugly. That’s the one word that came to mind as Ashlie Bennet looked in the mirror at herself. Correction: that’s the nicest word that came to mind as Ashlie Bennet looked in the mirror at herself. Along with ugly were hideous, disgusting, horrid, dreadful, unsightly, revolting, repulsive and many others. She rolled her eyes at herself and turned around to undress. She hated looking in the mirror at herself, especially while she was undressing. It only made her hate herself even more. She turned the water onto high heat and stepped into the shower. She always set the water as hot as it would go. She didn’t actually believe it, but sometimes when she was showering, she imagined that all of her ugliness would melt off and out would come a shiny, new, beautiful body. It hadn’t happened yet, and Ashlie didn’t think it was going to happen anytime soon. As she applied the shampoo to her black as night hair she imagined all the black color draining out of it, turning her into a beautifully blonde new Ashlie. When she smoothed the conditioner into her hair, she pictured her stick-straight hair drying into perfect waves. Washing her body, she pictured her tanned, scarred skin turning into flawless, perfect skin. She stepped out of the shower, looked into the mirror and silently thanked and cursed the steam for fogging the mirror so much that she could just see colors. But colors didn’t lie to Ashlie, and she could see her black hair was still there. She wrapped herself in a towel and ran across the hall into her room with tears streaking down her already wet face. As silent as the tears had come, they were gone, and in their place, anger. Anger at herself for setting herself up for disappointment. Anger at her parents for not having a plan in the first place. Anger at the world for not understanding. Anger at the men of the world for having such sick minds. More anger at her parents for leaving her alone in the first place. More anger at herself for not being able to stop it. The tears were back, and with them, a fire. She threw her belongings around her room, punched her pillows, ripped her blankets off her bed, all while feeling helpless. She looked around for an escape. Not finding one, she picked up a pillow stuffed it onto her face and held her breath as long as she could, which would have been forever if it was up to her. She woke up the next day to the buzzing of her alarm clock. She looked around, scared and confused. Why was she naked? How did he find her? Frightened, she looked around her room, and, seeing the towel underneath her slowly calmed down. She remembered losing control last night, but not falling asleep. Figuring falling asleep was probably the best thing that could have happened anyhow; she moped to her closet and, not really paying any attention, picked out an outfit. She pulled on her skinny jeans and slipped into the white cami and turquoise tunic that she had pulled off of a hanger. She attempted to scrunch her hair, but knew that it would fall out on her bus ride, leaving her hair looking greasy. She wondered why she even tried. She carefully applied her eyeliner and mascara. Taking one last lingering look in the mirror, she was reminded of why nobody talked to her at school. Why would anyone want to talk to such an ugly girl? But she knew that wasn’t the only reason, and she also knew she couldn’t do anything about it. She opened her door, switched off her light, and walked out, wishing she could leave the pain behind her, and inside knowing that she was never going to be able to let it go. It was the only thing she was sure of anymore, and no matter how painfully miserable it made her, she wasn’t ready to lose that. She snuck out of the back door to avoid being noticed as her parents argued over the bills, as usual. She walked around the house to the front yard and started her walk to school, alone. She didn’t know if she liked being alone all the time. Most of the time she wished she had friends, like other people her age. Then she could call them and talk and forget, even if it was just for a little bit, but that was impossible; and besides, if she had friends, she’d have a constant reminder of how much she was different. As if she needed that. She got to school just as the bell rang. She walked right up to the front doors of the school, and then decided against it. She’d go to the park down the street that no one ever went to anymore since the new one had gone up. The one that was scheduled for removal. The one that wasn’t wanted. The one that was different, and ugly. Like her. She couldn’t say she liked this park, but she related to it, and if there was one “comfort place” for Ashlie, this was it. She sat down on one of the only rusted swings that were still there and twirled, wishing she could be a kid again and avoid the abuse. The abuse that scarred her for life, literally. She looked down as the memories came flooding back. Five-year-old Ashlie had been playing hopscotch in her driveway, alone. She had a huge smile plastered on her face that seemed to shout “Look at me!” at everyone she saw. Then, she saw a black pickup truck cruising toward her. The truck stopped in front of her house and the man inside looked straight at her. “Hey, pretty girl! You seem to be really good at hopscotch!” he exclaimed with a big smile on his face that made Ashlie happy. She finished her game and then walked halfway to his truck. “I could teach you if you’d like,” she said, helpfully. “Could you? I have a nice place at my house where you can draw it with chalk and teach me, how does that sound?” he asked. “Well, I’m not supposed to leave my yard…,” she said uneasily. “I’ll take you right back here, afterwards. Okay?” he asked, trying to convince her. “I can’t. You’re a stranger,” she said, trying to reason with him. “Well, we’ve been talking for a little bit now. My name is Fred. What’s yours?” he asked encouragingly. “Ashlie,” she said, confused. “Well, see there! We’re not strangers anymore, now are we?” he asked condescendingly. “I- I guess not,” she sputtered out. “So, what do you say? Will you teach me?” he asked all smiles again. “Okay, but only if you pinky promise to bring me back here,” she said seriously. She walked towards the driver side door and wrapped his pinky around hers. Ashlie could still remember how rough his big hands were on her baby soft, tiny hands. How rough they were on her body. She walked around to the other side and he leaned over and opened the door for her. “Where will I sit?” she asked, looking for a car seat. “Oh, you can sit right here,” he said, patting his lap. Ashlie sometimes sat on her daddy’s lap. This was like the same thing, right? Fred was her friend. He closed the door and wrapped his arm around her stomach and started driving. He drove for what seemed like forever to little Ashlie and finally pulled up to a house that Ashlie had never seen before. She couldn’t see any sidewalks or concrete driveways. All she saw was dirt and a few patches of dead grass and weeds. She looked at Fred questioningly. “Why don’t we go inside for a few minutes? You can see my room! It’s very cool!” he said excitedly. “Okay,” she said, feeling a little nervous. He stood her on the ground and then took her hand and led her to the house. Once they got inside she stood in the middle of a room with very little furniture as he locked the door. It was very dark in there. He took her hand again and walked into a room. “This is my room! Why don’t you go lie on the bed? It’s very soft! You can jump on it if you’d like,” he said, closing the door. “I can jump on the bed?!” she asked incredulously. “Yes,” he replied. She jumped for about fifteen seconds before he said, “Boy, you must be tired now! Why don’t you lie down?” Not very tired, but not wanting to be rude, she obliged. He walked over to the bed and sat down beside her. Then he lifted her shirt and started rubbing her stomach. She didn’t like it. She gently pushed his hand off. After several tries, he slapped her face. She shrieked in pain and started crying loudly. She tried to get up, but he wouldn’t let her. He took her pants off and her “big-girl” underwear that she had just started wearing. He touched her… everywhere. She screamed and screamed. Then he whispered angrily, “If you don’t stop I will make you stop.” She didn’t stop. He slapped her hard for every sound she made, which only made her scream even more. Then, not being able to stop it, he duct-taped her mouth closed. When he was finally finished, he threw her clothes in her face and told her to get dressed. “Now, you can’t tell anyone about this, okay?” he asked, pulling the duct tape off. She didn’t answer. Fred repeated the question, to no success. Finally, he said, “If you won’t answer me, then you won’t answer anyone.” He grabbed a sharp knife and asked, “What’s wrong? Smile for me. Smile!” Ashlie, with tears in her eyes, just stared. “Well, let me fix that then,” He cut lines on both sides of her face curving upwards in a permanent smile. He sliced her tongue, over and over again, never acknowledging the pain it caused her. When he was finally finished, her mouth was filled with blood, but it still felt strangely empty. She tried talking, but her words made no sense. She started choking on all the blood, before all she saw was black. She awoke to her parents standing over her. Her mother was crying, and her father couldn’t look at her. She tried to speak, but found that she couldn’t. She didn’t know why she couldn’t and it scared her, but she was too tired and fell back asleep.
Chapter 2 Ashlie looked down at her watch and wiped away the tears that had come, silently of course. She then started back to her school, in order to make it in time for second period. She slipped in without being noticed, as always. That’s how her life went; she was either unnoticed or unwanted. Either people ignored her because they figured she wasn’t worth their time or they brought attention to her scars. Sometimes they would just stare at her and then burst into laughter. She was always made fun of. Don’t these people have anything better to do, she would wonder and then look down at her feet and keep walking. She went to her locker, swerving to avoid the people who walked right towards her as if she were invisible. Then she walked into her class and sat down in the darkest corner of the room. Once the bell rang and everyone was in the room Mrs. Nelson began teaching. Ashlie personally loved being in Mrs. Nelson’s class. She kept things interesting, and could always make Ashlie smile, even if it was just for a second. Ashlie would never admit that Mrs. Nelson was her favorite, let alone that she liked her, even if she could. The kids would make fun of her even more than they already did, and Ashlie didn’t like change. Even if the change looked good, she never knew what the outcome would be, and good things didn’t come to Ashlie anymore. The doctors said she was lucky she was alive. He could’ve killed her instead of just taking her tongue. As if that was all he had taken. He took her tongue, her future, her happiness, her virginity. Ashlie didn’t agree. Sometimes, and that sometimes was a lot of times, she wished he had killed her instead. She had nothing in this life anymore. Nothing worth living for. Her parents were constantly fighting, her older sister, who used to be her best friend, could barely look at her, let alone talk to her. She was ugly, through and through, and nothing could stop it. Plastic surgery maybe, but Ashlie shuddered at the thought of a knife coming anywhere near her face. If anything even remotely good came out of not having a tongue, it was that she didn’t get called on in class. Sure, she wished she could yell out an answer sometimes when the person a teacher had called on was taking forever, but most of the time, it was an amazing excuse. Actually it wasn’t an excuse. Any teacher could call on her, but who would draw attention to a girl whose tongue had gotten cut out? Occasionally, a substitute teacher would call on her and she’d have to get out her dry-erase board and markers and hold it up so the teacher could see. She hated doing that. Thankfully, some of her teachers had started to leave notes for the substitutes that simply stated, “DO NOT CALL ON ASHLIE BENNET”. She survived the rest of the periods and then waited in her last period classroom until most of the other kids had cleared out so she wouldn’t get made fun of. She walked home alone, as usual. Stepping into her yard wasn’t easy because the memories would flood back and make it almost impossible for her. She usually ran across it into her house and then into her room. I can’t keep doing this, she thought to herself, not anymore. She opened her window and climbed out, knowing her parents wouldn’t notice a thing. On her way out she grabbed her iPod and, once outside, she started listening to When She Cries by Brit Nicole. Story of my life, she thought sarcastically. She walked along the sidewalk until she felt like stopping, watching her feet the whole time. When she looked up, she was at the old playground that nobody ever went to, except this time, somebody came. There was a girl sitting on the swing beside the one that Ashlie always sat on. She was pretty, with blue eyes, brunette hair streaked with blonde, freckles dotted across her face, and her hair pulled behind one ear looking down at her feet. Ashlie turned to go before the girl saw her, hoping to avoid being made fun of, when she heard, “Oh, hi. Uh, you don’t have to leave,” the girl said quietly, standing up and walking towards Ashlie. Something told Ashlie that this girl got made fun of, too. But that still didn’t make her any less hesitant. Ashlie looked at the ground, uncomfortable. “I mean, you don’t have to leave if you don’t want to,” she added hastily. Ashlie looked at her with sad eyes, desperately wanting to say something. She wanted to let this girl know that she shouldn’t be afraid of Ashlie. That Ashlie wasn’t the kind of person to hurt others in the way that she was hurt every day. Taking a leap of faith, she motioned to the girl towards the sand box. Once they walked over there, she picked up a stick and began to write. The girl looked confused, but didn’t say anything. I can’t talk, Ashlie wrote. The girl’s eyes opened wide before she said, “Why not?” For some reason this infuriated Ashlie. No tongue, she wrote and then looked up at the girl with angry eyes. The girl’s jaw dropped before she quickly closed her mouth and knelt down beside Ashlie. She picked up another stick and started to write before Ashlie had a burst of confidence. She grabbed the girl’s hand and looked up at her. She shook her head and then opened her mouth and pulled her hand away from her mouth hoping that the girl understood. The girl nodded and looked down. “My name is Hope,” she said quietly. This time, Ashlie’s jaw dropped.
Chapter 3 Ashlie and Hope sat there in the sandbox, talking until it was dark. They had traded phone numbers, and so far, Ashlie knew that Hope was like her. She went to school, always wishing for a way out but too scared to take the final plunge called suicide. Then she went home, wanting what Ashlie had, to be ignored. Ashlie couldn’t wrap her head around it. Hope hadn’t given her many details and Ashlie still hadn’t told her what happened when she was a kid. She had to admit it; Ashlie was intrigued, hopeful, and scared. She could have a friend, but if she opened up, would Hope turn out to be like the others at school? Would she use everything, her feelings, her tears, her fears, and her anger, against her? She didn’t want to take that chance, at least not yet. Her phone buzzed with another text from Hope. Hey, can I trust you? Yes…, Ashlie replied. Don’t say that unless you mean it. I’ve been hurt too many times. I mean it. Honestly. You can’t tell ANYONE. I mean ANYONE! Especially not an adult. Okay, I promise. Well, remember how I told you I wish I could be ignored at home? Yeah. Why is that? My dad… he’s not a good guy. What do you mean...? …Nothing. Never mind. Just forget it. Hope… you can tell me… I said forget it. Are you sure? She waited for Hope to text back, but after half an hour she plugged her phone in to charge and went to bed.
Chapter 4 Ashlie woke up believing yesterday had been a dream. She reached for her phone for proof that it wasn’t, and there they were. The texts between her and Hope. Although Hope never did text back last night. However, if she was honest, she was just glad she actually had someone other than herself to text. When she got really bored or lonely, she would text herself, even if it did make her feel even worse about herself. But that was beside the point. She summoned the strength to sit up and then threw her legs over the side of her bed. She leaned forward until her feet touched the floor and then pulled herself into an upright position. She dreaded this part of the day. The part where she had to look at herself in the mirror so many times. She hated the way she looked. She had lost the joy in her life because of it. Because of the fact that she had no tongue and scars curling up from her mouth, she would never be able to go to prom, or any dance, and be happy. Or get a date. Or a friend. Her life was ruined all because of a sick man who was still out there somewhere causing her to constantly look over her shoulder for a black pickup truck. Most peoples’ worst fears were of spiders, or the dark, or death, but not Ashlie’s. She would prefer to be shut in a dark room with millions of poisonous spiders crawling all over her before killing her than ever seeing that man again.
That's all I've got so far.
its good i like it!
Thank you! Thanks so much!!
np get it published this is hwo i felt when i was a teen! alot of teens would loe this book!
Thanks! I have to finish it first and... it makes me so sad to write it because of something that happened to someone I love. But still I kinda feel like I'm going too fast into the story?
No. It's a mix between being about me and someone very close to me.
well.. i woundt say too fast just be careful and make suire you can get to as many chapers as you want and mae sure at teh end you have covered everyting! thats all
I'm done with you cyclevleoce12345. Comment whatever you want to, it doesn't matter.
wow.l. why oesnt a mod do somehting.. ! omg
It doesn't matter. If that's the way someone wants to represent themselves, go ahead. They aren't hurting me.
I blocked cyclevleoce12345
You got it girl.!
its good but you tend to repeat yourself. Ugly. That’s the one word that came to mind as Ashlie Bennet looked in the mirror at herself. Correction: that’s the nicest word that came to mind as Ashlie Bennet looked in the mirror at herself. I think you need to correct that because I thought I wad reading the same sentence again. Otherwise its okay
How can they be talking until after dark if she said she had no tongue?
bronzegoddess: You were supposed to be reading the same sentence again. Also, they were writing in the sandbox and texting.
so that's not talking...
Hmm.... :| My mind is so numb right now with a tornado of thoughts, anger, and so many other... emotions..