chapter one

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dan

Dan walks slowly along the path, his already scuffed shoes kicking lose stones along the concrete.

He's on his way to school, only, he doesn't want to go. He never wants to go actually, but today in particular as he is starting at yet another new school. He's had friends at his past schools, but there's always those few people who won't leave Dan alone, so he ends up moving away.

After the 'accidental' push down the stairs which grazed Dan's face and the 'accidental' lunch tray of hot soup spilling onto Dan's face, his parents decided it was time for school number twelve, which involved moving yet again.

Dan hates knowing he uproots his family, but at least it's only him and his parents - and his parents found jobs here easily too. His father is an architect, and is currently working with this big company, designing something he can't tell Dan about. As for Dan's mother - she's a doctor. Dan's parents both work horrendously long hours, leaving Dan home by himself a lot.

Dan knows his parents love and care for him, but he knows it must be a bit deflating knowing their own son can't see their faces.

See, Dan has this condition where he can see everything perfectly fine except for faces. All faces are blurred and distorted. Dan can see pictures of individual facial features, he knows what an eye, nose and mouth look like, but in paintings, drawings, photos and real life, every face is unrecognizable and blurred to Dan. No doctor knows why, and there's nothing they could do - they've been trying to fix it (and still are) for around twelve years.

Dan just has to live with his condition for now. The doctors have nicknamed it 'blurry face', and Dan still to this day, has not seen a complete human face - not even his own. Everything else is crystal clear - even animal faces - but Dan's brain just won't let him see human faces. Basically, to Dan, every face looks like it's been blurred on photoshop.

Dan slows as he catches sight of the school. He had to walk because his parents are both busy working this morning - which isn't unusual for Dan. Dan's condition does make him a target for teasing, and also labels him as a weirdo, misfit and/or outsider. Dan tries to keep his condition a secret, but it always gets out, and Dan always ends up leaving.

Maybe this will be different. Yeah, and maybe pigs will fly.

Dan steps through the gates, instantly gaining at least a couple of stares. Although he cannot see the stares exactly, he sees heads turn his way, you'd think that it'd be sort of creepy - all the faceless people - but it's all Dan knows anyway.

"Hey, are you new?" someone asks - a guy, Dan assumes, judging from their voice, build and clothing style, "you look new, and kinda lost. Do you need help?"

"I uh-" Dan stammers, struggling to find the right words to say, "yeah I um, yeah."

"Okay, well, I'll take you to the school office, so you can get your timetable, and then we'll go from there. Are you in my year? You look like it," the guy says, "my name's Pj by the way, I'm in grade eleven."

"Um, I'm Dan, I just moved here," Dan says nervously, his eyes drifting around the schoolyard, "I'm in grade eleven too."

"Awesome!" Pj says, "follow me."

Dan walks behind Pj, struggling to keep up. This guy was energetic and enthusiastic, two things Dan definitely isn't, especially at school. Dan almost has to jog to keep up, and eventually they arrive at a building with 'office' marked on a sign out the front. Dan walks in while Pj waits out the front.

"You must be Dan Howell," the lady at the desk says, her voice gentle yet firm, "am I correct?"

"Um y-yes," Dan says, stuttering slightly.

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