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This story was contributed by agatharoza

Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.

― Kahlil Gibran

The pain that once burned like a hot charcoal spreading all over her body had faded away to an icy numbness. Blackness filled her entire vision and made her unable to see; the only thing she could hear was her own heartbeat. Ragged and shallow. The clock was ticking, time passed as she lay there on the damp grass surrounded by Mother Nature.

As Samantha Alwyn pushed her eyelids open with all her might, she found herself on the edge of a mountain lake, laying down on a pile of rocks. Her curious eyes were wondering where she was.

The dark mud on the ground told her the rain had just passed by. The soil was so damp that the worms had surfaced to breathe and the crows fluttered over the grass with their inky wings, each of them eating at the sudden buffet. And for the first time, she was grateful she was still alive.

The pine needles above her moved with the breeze, reminding her of her long lost dream to be a ballerina. She tilted her head towards the sun, enjoying the warm rays gently touched her skin, noticing how the sky was darker blue the higher she let her eyes wander.

She slid her gaze into the water, seeing her own face. The edges of her reflection were a little ruffled where the wind blew on the water, but she could see clearly what was missing. She did not see what her mother sees. She did not see what her friends see. Instead of a slim figure, she saw a bloated one. Instead of beauty, she saw ugly. Her eyes roamed critically from one feature to another.

Samantha shook her head firmly, refusing to believe what was in front of her. Everyone she met always said that she was the prettiest girl they had ever seen, yet why did the reflection show otherwise?

After a few calming breaths, she braced herself to look at her reflection once more. It was still the same fat girl with an ugly face full of scars. Frustration engulfed her like a massive wave, washed over her repeatedly until reality settled in.

It was how she really looked. She had spent years trying to make herself look better than anyone else just to bring other people down. She mocked, bullied, and harassed everyone else who looked like nothing compared to her. If her inner self was one to define her appearance, this was exactly how she looked.

Samantha glanced at the water one last time. Oddly, her reflection didn't move when she moved. She blinked a few times and then the horror crept in as she saw her reflection smile mischievously. Two hands broke the surface of the water, grabbed her, and pulled her in. Her consciousness was floating through a void space filled with nothing. As her heartbeat pounded loudly, sending echoes through the darkness, she could hear her own fading pleas for forgiveness and for help.

She could feel herself sinking, being pulled deeper and deeper into the lake. The darkness threatened to swallow her whole but she refused to give up. She still had a lot to live for, she still had to make up for all that she had done in the past. She had to make things right.

With all her might, she kicked and pushed, trying to break free of the stronghold. She was running out of air and she knew if she didn't get to the surface fast enough, she wouldn't make it. Gathering all her energy, she fought against oxygen deprivation and gave her attacker one last kick. Perhaps it was her willpower or maybe her attacker had become weary. Whatever it was she was finally free.

Samantha forced her tired legs to swim and struggled to bring her back toward the sun-speckled surface. She swam to the shore, cold sweat dripping off her forehead and her heart pounding loudly against her ribcage. Her attacker could be after her and if she wasn't fast enough, it would be the end of her for she had no strength left to fight back. After two minutes filled with struggle and powered with willingness to live, she finally reached the shore. Placing both her hands, she pushed herself up and without wasting time, she ran into the forest.

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