The car ride from the hospital was dreadful, a feeling of pain and awkwardness hanging over as the injured girl's father tried to start a conversation, though she was determined to stay quiet and just stare at the woods they drove past. She swore she saw the same tall man multiple times on the drive home.
When they finally reached home, driving through the gates to the giant mansion like house, she quickly got out. She had missed home so terribly the past year, and it was such a better change from the cold, white hospital and the now burnt beer drenched cabin she has been in. A better look of the girl was now permitted and it was clear she looked nothing like her father, whose messy golden hair and aquamarine eyes with pride always prominent in them contrasted with her dark brown hair and black-green hazel eyes. She didn't even look like her mother either, who was standing in the doorway to inside the house, curly brown hair falling in waves down her shoulders and green eyes brightly shining with pity and love at finally seeing her daughter after so long, her daughter whose eyes were cold, slightly deranged, whose hair was burnt off to barely reach her shoulders, who was scarred for life along her whole body and even part of her face.
The girl had slammed her door shut as she got out and walked to the brunette in the door, hugging her with feigned emotion while she was really numb, unable to care too much about this reunion that she prayed and begged for a year. The fire had taken a lot out of her. She didn't even notice or care for the tears falling down her mother's face, or the mournful look her father gave behind her back, as if he could tell he truly lost his little girl.
She barely thought or spoke during their meal, not eating either, just moving her rice back and forth with her spoon. "Honey, why aren't you eating?" her mother asked, worried for her sake. She just looked up at her, glanced at her father, then back at her food she played with. Her parents both shared pitiful glances that angered her. She didn't want pity, for them to worry. The girl slammed her hands on the table as she got up from her seat, chair scraping the tiled floor.
"Fuck you," she mumbled in a hushed tone before walking off, heading towards her room, leaving her parents shocked and confused.
She tried to sleep, looking out the large window, shuddering when she remembered what the man had said:
"I watched you grow through that window, everything you've done, and God you can't believe how I loved seeing you, and now..." he told her, tears coming to her eyes in terror. He held a whip in his hand, she knew what was coming. "Turn around, it's time for your punishment, sweetheart." He laughed darkly as she obeyed. All for dropping a glass.
She was disgusted to her core every time she thought of him, but she had kept on and on about thinking of him recently, feeling sick and horrible all the time as a result. She hated this and wished a bit that she had died too in that fire. But that smell, the smell of him burning alive, that smell of victory, she had an infatuation with finally having him pay for what he had done to her. That smell was intoxicating to her. She needed that smell again.
Looking around her room, she found it, a lighter – grabbing it and lit it all at once. She held her already burn scarred hand over the flame, it slowly burning her and giving her that smell. The pain didn't even register against that euphoria.
When she looked out the window, seeing the woods by moonlight, she saw a man: faceless, tall, in a suit. Staring right at her. She screamed, startled and no longer enjoying the smell of her own flesh burning, the pain now there. She screeched in pain, regretting her decision as she put the fire out, tears brimming her eyes.
She was curled on the floor, cradling herself as she sobbed from the pain and fear, going back to when she saw him watching her with a wide grin. Her parents burst in, worried and asking what was wrong. She couldn't talk and just shook her head.
The girl sat in the modern, mostly white waiting room. Her burnt hand was bandaged with white cloth and medical tape, hidden by the long sleeves of her hoodie. She looked dead, staring blankly at nothing, absorbed in no thought.
"Hailey?" a lady's voice called and Hailey's father led her inside the therapist's office. "So, I already know what happened, but why did you choose to send her here?" she asked, looking at the father.
"She... she started seeing things, and her hand–" The man made her hold up her hand, the sleeve falling down and the makeshift bandage that hurt her to show. "She burnt it purposefully," he finished, letting her hand fall back down to her side. The lady nodded in response.
"May I talk with Hailey alone?" she asked and he walked out.
Hailey sat down at her orders and stared deadly at her. "I am not crazy," she said right off the bat. The lady smiled painfully.
"No one said you are, sweetheart." The name echoed in her, reminding her of the man.
"Don't fucking call me that." Her vulgarity and hostility threw the therapist off guard for a moment.
"Alright, I'm sorry," she mumbled nervously. "So, why burn yourself?"
"What is it about the smell?"
"It reminds me of when I killed him. The smell of burning flesh is my drug. It's my victory."
The therapist was unnerved at that, unsure how to go about this. Hailey stood from her chair, excusing herself. "We are done here now," she said before going out the door and grabbing her father's hand, dragging him out of the building and to their car.
The next few days passed normally, Hailey in a haze but slowly acting like normal again. Her mood improved and her weekly therapist appointments were canceled. It got better. Except she was still seeing that man, every single night.
It scared her, she would have to admit. Though she voiced no concerns to her parents, not wanting to be more of a bother. And her pyromaniac tendency returned. Just a day ago she nearly burned down her neighbor's house with the family inside. Luckily her father caught her. She was a danger to them, a burden.
Hailey sat at the wooden table, eating cereal for breakfast. It was six in the morning, and she was about to leave. Leave forever. She had clothes packed, as well as her gun, knife, and lighters. She was ready.
She finished, cleaning her bowl before running up the stairs and into her room. She slid on her jacket and scarf, as well as her bag then quickly went out of the room but not before looking out the window. The faceless man was there still.
The security alarm went off as she exited the front door, so she ran off as fast as she could, not caring she was running towards the woods. She suddenly stopped, hearing her parents shout out about something she couldn't understand.
He was right in front of her, making her head pound in a horrible migraine and a coughing fit started, the girl falling to the ground. She swore she saw blood. Then everything went black.