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The Familiar Stranger. You reach your hand out to touch hers, fingers cold and hard, tracing the outline of her thin, pale cheeks.

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Introduction

The Familiar Stranger You reach your hand out to touch hers, fingers cold and hard, tracing the outline of her thin, pale cheeks. Her fingers move on to sketch the lines adorning her forehead, pausing only to scrape a chunk of dried mud from her barely recognisable face. They reach her grubby hair, fingers running through the knots and tangles, futilely attempting to keep it in order. But nothing about her life is ordered now, you think; rough fingers scratching the hard, twisted scar that disfigures the left cheek, as if a wicked knife had torn away all her beauty, destroying the sweet life she had enjoyed before. Now, she struggles to reach the end of each day, hiding her face, ashamed of her life, unable to meet your eyes. You remember how he had treated her, but wonder if it could have been any worse than she suffers now. Your gaze flickering back to the brand on her cheek, you think not; but her life is nothing now, worthless, the voice whispers, pointless. Pointless. The word seems to ring around your head, echoing. ...read more.

Middle

A startled Casey was thrown against the dirty wall, her nose pressed against the graffiti scrawled upon it. When she turned, a blurry face swam into focus as she picked herself up, her head spinning. Panic overwhelmed her as the fumes of alcohol reawakened the fear of her abusive father. Terror flooded her shaking body; adrenaline forced her petrified muscles to flee the danger. She ran, and ran, and ran, until exhaustion made her collapse by a park bench. Barely conscious, she wouldn't have noticed the poster at all if it hadn't fallen, drifting lazily downwards until it rested across her muddy face. Her eyes flickered. 'Support the homeless this winter,' she read. 'Help those in desperate need of your kindness by volunteering at the homeless shelter, Sunny Lane.' She never remembered how she gathered the strength to struggle the few miles to the shelter, but trembling with cold, fear, and exhaustion, she collapsed on our doorstep at 11 o'clock that evening, the only words on her parched lips 'help, help me. Please.' We took her in, late though the hour, and settled her down on one of the beds. ...read more.

Conclusion

It would've been nice to have a friend there, but Claire says she'll introduce me to some kids before I go. They'll probably be way cleverer than me but I'm looking forward to it, in a weird kind of way. Y'know, as much as you can look forward to school. I think it'll just be nice to have a more normal life, settle down a bit. My life's been pretty bad, but I'm ready to move on and start again. ***** You reach one hand out to touch the hard glass, the other reaching back to brush a stray piece of hair away from your face, fingers automatically arranging it into a pony tail. You bend forwards, until your breath fogs up the cold mirror, your eyes staring deep into hers. You see pain there, but joy also, and hope; hope that today, finally, you can be happy once more. Fingers trace the barely visible outline of an old scar, still there, but almost forgotten. Your hands automatically reach for the make-up on the side table, but now you need not be ashamed, or hide. Slowly, you pull your fingers away. A small smile escapes your beautiful mouth, breaking into a huge grin. "Come on!" you say, "School today!" ...read more.

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