Scars Do Fade

Julie lay there with her eyes squeezed shut, but that wasn’t enough to shut out the light. The intense light was burning not just her eyes, but her entire body. She tried ducking her head under her arm to shield her eyes from the intensity of that searing sun. She lay there, spread eagle on the ground, not far from the upper rim of the canyon.

The day had started without Julie having any inkling of what was to come. She’d gone out for a walk in the early morning when the sun hadn’t yet come up over the ridge. It had been deliciously cool, filled with the promise of sunshine and warmth and she’d let her mind wander as she hiked along the path.

Now she was here, flat on the ground, with no refuge in sight. The light had come up so fast. Too fast. She should have known, she should have felt it coming. It was as if a thousand suns were bearing down on her like a voracious beast trying to bake the essence out of her. It was happening again, whenever Julie got into trouble, there would be the light and the heat that cured all maladies.

She’d left Tony back at the campsite, bent over his beloved camp stove. “He’s spent more time fiddling with that camp stove than he’s ever spent fiddling with me.” thought Julie with that familiar nasty bile taste rising in her throat. That taste that came whenever she thought of Tony and what he’d done to her. That taste that reminded her she was still with him.

Julie couldn’t understand why she simply didn’t combust in this unbearable heat even though she had been through it before. And just like a cooling cloud passing overhead, the heat and the light moved on, down the mountain.

Julie’s back registered the cooling air and warily she opened one hot, dry eye, then cautiously sat up and looked around.

Every leaf and needle had been blasted away, leaving the trees like stern naked sentinels. There was a blackened strip of trees stretching from the summit of the canyon, leading down to Julie and then down beyond their campsite.

Julie looked down at her hands, those hands that Tony had scarred with his cigarette butt whenever he was bored. Those hands that wore all those tiny cuts she had made herself, checking to see if she could still feel anything at all. Any emotion. Any pain.

Instinctively she put her hands on her stomach, still trying to protect what was no longer there. The baby, the promise of a baby that Tony had kicked right out of her. The bastard had said it was all her fault as he rammed his boot into her midsection.

Tony! What had happened to Tony, back at the campsite? Julie stumbled to her feet, still dizzy from the blast, and stumbled back down to their campsite.

Tony’s body, or what was left of it, was a charred stump of what used to be a man. The tent and all its belongings were burnt to ashes. There was nothing left to carry out of this campsite.

She looked at her hands once again, and of course, the transformation had begun again. The scars had faded and her hands looked young and unmarked again. She ran her hand through her hair and it wasn’t straight and tied back in a ponytail, it was full and curly…and red! How she had always wanted to be a redhead! “Thanks, Dad!”, she whispered in the direction of the sun. He may live on top of Mount Olympus, all by himself, and maybe she was overdue for a visit, but he always knew just when to get her out of a jam. “Maybe he does spoil me”, she thought, “I do seem to have rotten luck with men, time after time.”

Well, she thought with resignation…Tony was toast…there would be no little goddess to raise. I guess it’s time to get started making a whole new me. Again.

What shall I call myself this time? Penny Lane was such a dumb choice. Julie Greene had seemed so safe.

Why not just go by my real name and be done with it? As she walked out of the canyon, she practiced saying, “Hello, my name is Eos, but you can call me Rusty.” She liked the sound of Rusty and she hadn’t been hitchhiking in eons. She’d always met great guys hitchhiking.

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