Kendra, fifteen, hasn't felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially because she still can't remember the most important detail-- her abuser's id
"Someone is following me." I gulp air, trying to breathe.
Carolyn leans forward, her face worried. "What makes you say that?" There's a hesitation in her voice that stings me.
"You don't believe me!" I spit the words out at her, then look away, twisting my hands together to keep them from trembling.
"I didn't say that. I don't know enough about this yet to know what to believe. Why don't you tell me about it?" So you can go tell my parents?
But she won't; I know she won't. Client-therapist confidentiality and all that. And I trust Carolyn; I really do. But does she trust me?
I run my tongue over my dry lips. It almost doesn't seem real, now that I'm sitting here in her air-conditioned office. But I didn't imagine it. I couldn't have.
"I hear footsteps behind me when I'm out walking alone. Heavy footsteps that stop when I stop and start when I start." Carolyn nods, her gaze never leaving mine, and I know she's taking me seriously.
My breath is so shallow I'm almost dizzy. "I keep looking back, but I never see anyone watching me. But as soon as I start walking again, the footsteps are there."
I know how that sounds. Like I'm paranoid. Crazy. I'm so afraid I'm imagining all of this, that it's just an echo from the past. But that doesn't make the watched feeling go away. It's only gotten stronger.
I look out the window, away from Carolyn's worried eyes, and stare at the buildings across from us, at the dirty red bricks, the storefront windows, the parking signs shaking in the wind. My arm throbs with pain beneath my long sleeve.
I usually feel so safe in Carolyn's office, but nothing is working today-not the soft green ferns on her bookshelves, not the smell of peppermint tea and honey, not even the soothing sound of her voice. If I could draw her office right now, I'd use the dark, heavy lines of charcoal and the foggy greyness of an ink wash, not the bright, happy colors of gouache that I usually see here.
I shiver. "I heard the footsteps again this morning-but I was too scared to turn around."
"That sounds terrifying." Carolyn crosses her legs. "But have you thought of the possibility that someone was just going the same way as you?"
"It didn't feel like that. . . . " I'm shaking now, trembles coming from deep inside me, spreading outward. "Do you believe me?" I feel like a little kid looking for reassurance, not a fifteen-year-old who's in the top ten of her class. Carolyn looks at me with so much compassion that I want to bolt from the room. I want to accept her caring, to just gather it in, but I'm afraid to. I'm afraid of how much I need it-and how much it'll hurt if she stops.
Carolyn touches my hand, her wedding ring as warm as her skin. "I believe you, Kendra."
"You do?" My shaking stops.
"I do. You've never given me any reason to doubt you."
But having no reason to doubt me is not the same as believing me. The shaking starts up again.
"Do you have any idea of who it might be?" Carolyn's voice is soft, like she knows I want to run.
A door snapping shut. His hand on my wrist.
"It's . . . him."
"The man who molested you?"
"Yes." I wince and clench my trembling hands in my lap, dig
Please ask everyone to buy your books on Red Room. However, if we don't have your book right now, where should readers buy it?:
I put a lot of my self and my trauma experiences into SCARS. It's actually my own arm on the cover. Like my main character, Kendra, I am a sexual abuse survivor, I used self-harm to cope, and I am queer. And also, like Kendra, I used art (and writing) to cope and to heal. I hope SCARS moves you.
Joel Patterson should be happier than ever. He's back from a two-week vacation in London, where he met Philip, who might be the man of his dreams.
Personal Note From You to Your Readers:
The original idea for this book was a farcical tale concocted with my other half and our friends Jim and Laura on a walk at the botanical garden in 2003. The final product, eight years later, bears almost no resemblance to that original idea. Thank heavens!