S'mores and Psychopaths

by Justin Mulwee

Wendy was one of those girls that was always laughing. She was an average-looking brunette with a contagious smile and attentive brown eyes that hid behind a pair of glasses. Awkward and hyperactive, her presence was synonymous with obnoxious teenage joy.

One day everything changed. I spotted her alone on a park bench, which was a deviation in itself for a tireless extravert. I sat beside her. As she turned to acknowledge my presence, I was taken aback by the look on her face. I had seen this look many times: bloodshot eyes ripe with emotion, glistening with fresh tears, ready to release. But never from her. I asked her what was wrong.

"My psychologist made me tell him today..." she started. Since when did Wendy need a shrink? "Tell him about what?" I inquired. "About the rape."

I was struck dumb. She had just released to me her heaviest burden, her darkest secret. As a writer, I craft words, but I had none for her. I could have lied and said that I understood, pretended that as a male with a perfect life I knew what it was like to be ravaged and discarded like yesterday’s trash. I could have offered any number of trite encouragements laced with blind claims that everything would be alright, not because I believed it but because that’s what people say. But any words I could have said would have been a band-aid on a severed limb: too trivial, too feeble to exorcise the demons that haunted her. An insult to the injury itself.

I didn't want to ask too many details, but I had to know the answer to one question. "Who?" I asked, "Who did this to you?" I clenched my fist so hard that it hurt.

"Gabriel." she said weakly. Her eyes conveyed a buried but potent disgust, as if speaking his name left a foul taste in her mouth. Unable to do much else, I simply gave her a long, silent hug. A cool tear penetrated my t-shirt. An old memory came back to me.

Gabriel and I sat side by side at a campfire, roasting marshmallows. There were good friends all around, including Wendy. Gabriel and Wendy were dating at the time, and though Wendy had spoken of him often, this was my first time meeting him. My impression of Gabriel was not unusual. He seemed a little quiet at first, having just met all of us, but after a few minutes he seemed to fit right in. He laughed at our jokes, he told stories, he loved s'mores.

Psychopaths don't like s'mores, do they? No, they sit in dark corners and write in notebooks. They torture cats in their basements. Their eyes radiate hatred and insanity. Surely they had an aura of evil that I could detect instantaneously, perceptive person that I am. They were not dropped off by their mothers to sit at campfires and eat junk food. That was for the rest of us. That was for normal kids.

It was in that moment that I wanted to kill him. But Gabriel was old news; this had happened a long time ago. I told myself that if I ever saw him again, I would literally murder him, however belated the justice. I would break his bones, I would crush his face beneath my boots. Gabriel, the funny marshmallow-eating kid, was now the sole object of my hatred. And Wendy, a perfectly happy young woman, was now the battered little girl before me. It was from that moment on that I always thought of her as a child. But I guess we were both kids back then, no matter how adult I thought I was. Back when I thought I had seldom seen a happier soul, she had written this, an angry poem addressed to the world—no, addressed to those who should have known. To me.

It breaks my heart That you don't see it, How bruised and broken I really am. I'm trapped in this life That's weak and tired. The signs are all there, Why can't you comprehend? Those tears that I've cried, Are my only comfort, The key to my mind, Thoughts you'll never know. Too many emotions And sleepless nights, Too many hopeless times, That you were never there. The anger is my veins is shredding me apart, Sorrow fills my head, Pain numbs my heart, But you're blind to it, You'll Never see Who I really am.

Everyone knows people hide things. What I didn’t know was that some people are extremely good at it.