“Beauty is the ultimate defence against complexity.” - John Carmack
| c l a r a |
The day passes in a blur and the only thing that stands out is when we play Truth Or Dare. We all sit in a circle and turn the light onto one of the lowest settings. We are spinning a water bottle instead of what is usually used.
“I’m going first,” Lucy announces, spinning the bottle. It lands on Nick. “Truth or dare?”
“Dare,” Nick chooses.
“I dare you to not eat for the rest of the night.”
“Fine,” Nick groans, spinning the bottle. “Layne, truth or dare?”
“Dare,” Layne decides.
“I dare you to make out with Zeke.”
Zeke grumbles and Layne’s eyes widen. He checks with Lucy and Harriet to see if it is alright and they tell him it is alright. Layne crawls over to Zeke and sits in front of him. Layne mumbles something to Zeke and Zeke nods in response.
“Get it over with!” Lucy groans, covering her face.
Zeke kisses Layne and the dare begins. Layne wraps his arms around Zeke’s neck and Zeke wraps his arms around Layne’s waist. It turns into full out snogging and I clear my throat when it starts to go further. They break apart and move away from each other.
“I’ll get you back, Hollbrooke,” Layne spins the bottle. “Clara, truth or dare?”
“Dare,” I answer.
“I dare you to put a dress on.”
Harriet and I freeze. I stare at Layne with horror and start to tremble. I am never going to do that, no one can see the scars that cover my legs. Harriet shakes me and I can see the fear in her eyes. If possible, tears would be running down my face. She sees my expression and pulls me into a hug.
“Don’t make me show them,” I whimper.
“Nobody’s going to,” Harriet assures me.
“Clara?” Nick asks cautiously.
He pulls me into a hug and I eventually stop trembling. He strokes my hair and I shiver. Everyone sits in silence while I calm down. I pull away from Nick and rub my eyes to make it look like I had been crying. I sniffle and let out a shaky breath.
“Sorry, Clara,” Layne apologises.
“It’s alright,” I reply.
“Actually, I’m going to go to bed now.”
“Okay. Night, Clara.”
“Night!” everyone yells.
I go through my room and into my bathroom. I close the door behind me and scan the room. I find the dull grey I am looking for and grab the razor. I take off my jeans and stare at the hundreds of scars on my legs. I press the razor to my leg and drag. I sigh at the sudden release. It feels good.
| n i c k |
“I have a bad feeling,” I say.
“Go check it out,” Harriet tells me.
I get up and walk to Clara’s room. I open the door and walk in, scanning the room. I hear a hiss of pain and I spin toward the bathroom. I open the door and gasp at the sight in front of me. Blood stains the mat on the floor and Clara is sitting in the middle of the blood.
“Bloody Hell, Clara!” I gasp.
Her head snaps up. “Get out.”
She let’s out a frustrated groan.
“Why are you doing this?”
“Do you really want to know?”
“My father came back a few years ago, wanting to get to know me. Mum, Robert and Harriet reluctantly agreed to let him take me out. He took me out to lunch and, surprisingly, he was nice. It was just an act.
“After lunch, we were walking down an alley and, out of nowhere, he punched me. He beat me until I could hardly move without pain and then he burnt me with a cigarette. I still have the scars.
“He left me there to die. I called Harriet and barely managed to tell her where I was before I passed out. After that I remember waking up in the hospital and telling Harriet what had happened.
“Harriet only told Mum and Robert that my father beat me, she didn’t tell them that my father burned me. Only my father, Harriet, you and I know what really happened that day. I was twelve, Nick.”
“Where is your father now?” I ask.
“Life sentence in prison.”
“Does Harriet know about this?"
“No. Let her find out on her own.”
“She won’t find out. Not on her own anyway.”
“She isn’t one to invade peoples privacy and, no offence, but she isn’t very bright.”
“It’s true. I’m not offended, but Harriet would be if she heard that.”