Another car drove past. Even though I had made sure in the mirror countless times that no-one could make out my face, I still turned away from the road to face the trees. It’d been like this for almost a week now. I had been sure that I could handle it; the looks of suspicion as I walked around town. Of course none of them were actually looking at me in suspicion, how could they know? No-one knew. I had been too clever for them, I was sure of it. Why then was I so paranoid? It was staying in this town that was doing it. The town where she had lived and everyone had known her. I had to get out of here. And that was why I was stood here on the road to the highway which lead to big bustling cities where nobody had time to look at other people walking past them in the street. I could wander around anonymous, guilt free. Getting there would be simple enough.
I caught my reflection in a silver bauble left on one of the trees from the town’s Christmas Festival and had to laugh at my work. I could have fooled anyone. Ski mask and jacket with snow boots and a pink beanie hat. It was the hat that was genious. I looked like a harmless teenage girl. Like her. Stop thinking about her, I told myself firmly. I had to focus on what I was doing. I was going to flag down a lone driver and ask for New York. I would wait until they had driven away from the town before I removed the ski mask to reveal my true identity. They would probably react in shock, finding they were not giving a teenage girl a lift to find her dreams. That was when it was easiest to get them. Shock paralyses people making it difficult for them to fight for themselves. Then I would pull up, dispose of the driver somewhere in the woods before carrying on at the wheel until I reached New York. Until a single driver drove past, I would have to wait here in the snow between the road edge and the woods. The woods where I had last seen her and held her hand.
The whole town had gone into panic, one of the youngsters of the community missing with no lead as to where she had disappeared. Being the only one who knew where she was felt liberating, empowering. She would lie there forever, still and now perfect. She would not make any more mistakes or betrayals. Only two weeks I had known her and already I had caught her looking over her shoulder at other men walking past. She assured me they were just men she had known all her life in the town, nobody interesting, but how could I be sure? I didn’t live in the town, I only visited to see her in all her glory. But she had stopped being perfect. She spoke and laughed with other men and I had to stop it. So I took her into the woods and left her there, somebody else’s to find. I felt nothing for her now, only the fear that I would be caught before I managed to reach somewhere far away from the town and its neighbouring village where I had stayed in a run down hotel with a run down owner for three weeks.
I had visited the town three times since saying goodbye to her. First at the Christmas Festival where the mayor had made an emotional speech about the hard time the town was going through, urging anybody with information to step forward and help the police. This made me stronger knowing the police were at a loss. The next time I had visited, I walked around the town in a hooded jacket and that was when I felt the paranoia of people staring. Nobody in the community trusted each other anymore. I saw the way they looked at each other, trying to suss out whether or not the person they were talking to had taken one of the sweethearts of the town. Now, I was here again for what would be the final time. I was on the edge of town, more likely to hitch a lift here than in the village I’d stayed in, rarely visited or noticed.
A car reflected in the curved surface of the bauble and I turned to look for what I hoped would be a driver on their own. I was in luck. Sticking my left hand out, I wrapped my gloved right hand around the knife in my jacket pocket and waited for the young driver to pull up. I smiled under the ski mask. Finally, I was going to get away from this hole and away from her. My betrayer. The window wound down and a woman asked where she could take me. I looked my next victim in the eye and prepared to ask for New York in the voice of my last victim…