Everybody told me how lucky I was. Lucky to survive, lucky only one side of my face was cut, lucky most of the damage would be covered by clothes. Stabbed thirty two times, over two hundred stitches, and yet there was no organ damage. Oh yes, that was me, luckiest girl alive. If it happened today they would offer me cosmetic surgery, and my life might be dramatically different. As it was... it happened in 1987, when I was 16. At an age when most girls are going to discos and ensnaring pimply boys with their sticky lipgloss and overuse of cheap perfume, I was engaged in a never-ending round of doctor and hospital appointments, my face bandaged for weeks like some unfortunate monster in a Hammer Horror film.
When the bandages finally came off I somehow expected to be healed, to be miraculously taken back to the girl I had been. Instead the livid gash stretched from my right ear to the corner of my mouth, pulling the right side of my mouth up into a hideous parody of my previous carefree smile.
You might have read about me in the newspapers; the right wing press loved my case as it showed the flaws in the care in the community policies being adopted. A violent man with known mental issues being allowed to control his own medication? It was bound to happen eventually and it happened to me. Luck of the draw, and as I said, I'm the luckiest girl alive.
Overnight I became a ghost. Whenever anyone saw me I would watch them recoil in horror. The do-gooders would smile as though I'd lost my mind when I lost my face, patting themselves on the back at their tolerance of my deformity. Does that sound bitter? It's not meant to, it's just a statement of fact. It became easier to not be seen than to put up with the stares and the muttered comments, so I stopped going out in the daytime. I got my qualifications through the open university, and I did IT work from home. I could go weeks without seeing a soul, and that was how I liked it.
I did let my guard down at one point. When I was in my early 20s and the internet was in its infancy I used to post on a couple of techie bulletin boards. One of the men who posted there began an email correspondence with me. It seemed ideal; faceless interaction, a dream come true. Eventually he wanted to meet. I considered it for a long time then agreed, laying my rules down: just sex, fully clothed, in my car, then we would go our separate ways. As first times go it went pretty damn well until he brushed my hair back from my face and saw all the scarring. Nothing guaranteed to shrivel a hard cock more than realising your partner looks like the bride of Frankenstein, I guess. Still, I'd at least done it - at least I wouldn't die without knowing how it felt, just once, for someone to desire me, even if it was short-lived desire.
So there I was, hurtling towards forty years of age without a friend in the world, no ties to any living soul since my mother had died over a decade earlier. Don't misunderstand that statement, I don't want your pity; this is the life I chose and I was happy in my solitary way. Life isn't a goddamn Disney film you know, not everyone needs a Prince Charming to validate them.
Money was tight (not much money when you work from home), and I'd had to move to a cheaper flat. I didn't know the area, and as always, I chose to explore it by night, my hair carefully brushed over the right side of my face. As low-cost dumps go, the area wasn't a bad one. Plenty of green spaces, lots of walks. In the daytime I'd imagine it was almost pretty, but in the isolation of the dark it was simply nondescript.
I started walking home and was about to step into the road when a car came spinning round the corner, clearly out of control. I watched in horror as it hurtled towards a car driving in the opposite direction. The driver of the second car swerved to avoid a collision, and hit a parked car instead, as the original car drove away without stopping. I ran across the road just as the driver opened the car door and staggered into the road.
"Fucking maniac, did you see that? Didn't even fucking stop, motherfucker!"
I went over to check the man wasn't hurt. He didn't seem to be, but I asked if he wanted me to call an ambulance, more for something to say than because I thought he needed one. He was a big man, he towered over me and he looked as though he could take care of himself, but I found myself wanting to maintain the human contact. He brushed my offer aside with rude disdain, and grew increasingly impatient when I told him I wouldn't leave until I was sure he was unhurt. Eventually he just ignored me, and when he mentioned phoning his insurance company I realised there was nothing I could do to help. I gave him my name and phone number as a witness, and then slowly walked home.
That was the first time I've ever been reluctant to step indoors. What normally seems like a haven, a refuge, instead seemed like a prison to me. I lingered outside in the cool night air for as long as I could, before finally squaring my shoulders and walking through the front door.
I didn't sleep that night. I kept thinking of the man, of his solidity, of his size in the wool coat he was wearing, of the streetlight shining off his bald head and the rim of his glasses. I'd wanted to touch him, to place my hand on his arm, to feel the warmth of another person. Idiotic, isn't it? Mooning over a stranger. A rude stranger at that. Someone who dismissed a genuine offer of help in such a graceless, abrasive way.
By the following morning I'd managed to talk myself round a little. I knew I was being foolish, so it didn't take me long to dismiss the whole incident. I may have been unusually restless that day, with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction, but it probably wasn't related at all.
Mid-afternoon I was cleaning my already spotless kitchen when the phone rang. I ran to it and answered a little breathlessly.
"Hi, is that Anna?" A deep male voice, immediately dismissed as a telesales call.
"Yes, this is she"
A slight silence, a small sigh, and then the voice resumed.
"Hello Anna, it's Connor here. You know, your man from last night. I mean, not like that, you know... ah shit, I'm fucking this up, aren't I?"
I couldn't help but laugh at his obvious confusion. "If I didn't already know who you were your language would have given it away. Who raised you, a couple of dockers?"
To my relief he laughed along with me. "I know, I'm such a charmer. Look, Anna, I felt guilty about how I treated you last night. You were so frigging kind and I just couldn't deal with it so I was really rude to you. I'm sorry. Will you let me take you out for a drink or a meal or something as an apology?"
Oh I can't begin to tell you how tempted I was. My silence must have told him that I wasn't going to accept, that I was trying to think of a polite way to say no, because after a short pause he carried on.
"I'm no prize bloody pig here, I know that, but I'm not that bad and I promise you I'll try to get through the evening without making your ears bleed with all the swearing. Just... just think about it OK, just consider it. Shit, I never thought, are you married or something?"
I laughed down the phone and even to my ears the laugh sounded bitter. "I'm not married, but I'm sorry, I can't meet you. I'm really sorry, I-I just can't do it".
As I hung the phone up I could hear him start to talk again, but I couldn't see any sense in continuing. He'd seen me in the dark, with my face covered. I couldn't bear to watch the disappointment and revulsion cross his face when he saw just what he was expected to spend an evening making polite conversation with. I liked the look of him too much for that. The phone rang twice more that afternoon, and both times I ignored it.
As night fell I got ready for my evening walk. As well as brushing my hair over my scar I put on a baseball cap to keep it there - I felt in need of extra security, discomposed by the unexpected contact. I went back to the park I'd visited the previous night, and as I sat on the same bench I had the eerie feeling that someone was watching. Despite only venturing outside at night I've never encountered any trouble - I've nothing for a mugger to steal and as for a rapist, well... one look at my face and I figured they would run off screaming. Nevertheless I put my hand in my pocket and gripped my can of pepper spray as I waited for whoever was out there to make themselves known.
As Connor sat on the left side of the bench he startled me so much I yelped. For such a big man, he certainly moved quietly, and it was on the tip of my tongue to tell him so before I realised he'd probably been waiting for me. As I made to get up he put his hand on my arm, and I relished the warmth of it, noticing how big and strong it was.
"Don't go Anna, please. I know this looks a bit stalkerish, but you just looked so desolate when you walked away last night, I couldn't leave it, so I came back tonight hoping this would prove a regular walk for you. I just want to check you're OK, I swear, that's all. Well, maybe a little conversation would be nice as well. And if you ever did want to come for that drink I wouldn't object to it."
"You're checking I'm OK? You have a crash and yet you're checking I'm OK. Do you know how weird that is?"
He chuckled softly and I noticed he hadn't moved his hand off my arm. Out of the corner of my eye I could see him looking at my face, and I was suddenly glad I'd sat on the right end of the bench so he couldn't see my scarred side. As soon as the thought crossed my mind I cursed my own stupidity. How long would I be able to hide it? Better to get the cards on the table and watch him walk away before I got to know him, because I had a feeling I would really like this man.
I sighed deeply as I tried to come up with a response. "Look, Connor, it's not that I don't appreciate your concern, I really do, it's just... it's complicated, OK? I'm not right for you, I'm not like other women. You need to find someone more... more suitable for you, because I'm really not. I'm sorry."
My voice cracked as I apologised, and next to me I felt Connor stiffen as he took his hand back. The cold air felt brutal after the warmth of his touch, and I shivered. When he next spoke his voice was hard and cold.
"I think I misjudged you, I'm sorry. But Anna, if you're telling me you won't even talk to me because I'm fat, then it's your fucking loss. I know you're pretty, but Christ, that's fucking judgemental and I pity you for it".
I leapt to my feet and turned to face him, pulling my hair back from my face. "Fat?" I shrieked, "I didn't notice you were. This is what I'm talking about Connor, here, take a good look and then walk away in relief that you dodged a bullet, OK?"
I put my face very close to him, making sure he could see how bad it was. As I looked I saw pity in his expression, but then he astonished me by reaching out to touch the scar. I jerked away as though he had made to burn me; nobody had ever touched my scar, and I told him so.
"Oh Annie, what the fuck happened to you?"
Connor reached up and took my hand, pulling me back to sit next to him on the bench. He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and pulled me into his warmth. As I remained silent he kissed the top of my head, and then asked again, "what happened Annie? And do you mind being called Annie?"
I liked the name and I told him so, and as he held me sheltered in his warmth I told him my story. Not just the bare bones about the attack, but also the aftermath and how my life had been ever since. The whole time I was talking I was waiting for him to get up, to decide it was all too much drama and walk away. Eventually I ran out of words and we sat in a comfortable silence for a little while.
"So... Connor I don't mind if you want to walk away, really, it's fine, I understand, you don't know me, no reason for you to get caught up in all my shit..." My voice trailed away as he gently turned my face towards him.
"Your strength amazes me. You've been through so much and yet here you are living your life, carrying on, stopping to help when you think a stranger is in trouble. Annie, I'd like to kiss you if that's OK".
Even in the dark he must have been able to see my panicked blush because he took his hand from my face and looked away from me. I took his hand in mine, marvelling at how much larger it was, then held it back to my face. "I don't know how to say this... I'm just going to come straight out with it OK? Don't laugh, please God don't laugh, but Connor, I've never been kissed and I don't know what to do. There. Now you know. Shit, this really isn't going to work, is it?"
As he exhaled I heard him mutter "oh Annie" as he turned to face me again. He held my face so gently in both his hands as he lowered his lips to mine. Instead of kissing me straight on my mouth he kissed the left corner of my mouth, then kissed the right corner, softly touching the scar with his lips. I felt the tears spring to my eyes as I pulled away from him.
"I'm sorry, nobody has ever touched any of my scars, I just can't..." My voice faded as I dissolved into tears, and Connor cradled me against him as I wept. Eventually my tears faded and I stood up once more. "I'm sorry, I'm sure you never expected high drama when you came out tonight. Thankyou for kissing me, thankyou for listening, thankyou for caring. I can't possibly make more of a fool of myself, so I'm going home now, but I'll never forget tonight Connor".
I felt my shoulders slump as I turned to go and I trudged back to the flat dejectedly. I wasn't sure which was worse, to be alone and not know what I was missing or to have had a taste of human contact and then screw it up with my own inadequacies. The tears fell as I walked, and I berated myself over and over for telling him I'd never been kissed. 40 years old and never kissed; I had to tell him what a freak I was, couldn't have just gone along with it. And then crying all over him... dear God, was there any way I could possibly have humiliated myself more?
As I reached the flats I reached out to open the gate, then shrieked as a hand covered mine. I whirled around to see Connor standing behind me. "I didn't mean to scare you Annie, but you left before I could give you this"
Once again he took my face in his hands, tilting my face up as he lowered his mouth to mine. The kiss started soft and tender, his lips on mine, then became more demanding as his mouth moved over mine, his tongue touching my teeth and darting to touch my tongue. I was embarrassed when I heard myself moan, but felt reassured when Connor laughed softly into my open mouth. As he moved his face away I felt dizzy, and I wrapped my arms around him as he whispered in my ear "Couldn't let you go without kissing you for the first time. Annie, I'd like to do so much more, but there's no hurry, just give me a chance, please?"
I took his hand and led him into the flats, fumbling a little with the lock of my door. "Connor, I'd like to do more, but... I'm ugly. Really ugly. The scar on my face? Nothing compared to my body. I've got no experience, I'm not sure what to do, and I know this isn't going to come as news to you, but I've got no confidence either. I may not be the 40 year old virgin, but I may as well be, and I'm not interested in being with you while you take one for the team..."
He cut off my stream of self-criticism with another kiss, and as his tongue explored my mouth I felt a rush of liquid heat deep in the pit of my stomach. I led him to the bedroom, and as he sat on the bed suddenly he looked a little lost and my heart sank as I realised it was the first time he'd seen me in decent lighting.
"It's OK Connor, you've given me so much tonight, you don't need to do anything more, it's fine. I'll never forget tonight..."
"It's not that Annie, you foolish girl, I just don't want to get undressed. It's been a while for me and I... god damn it, I don't want to show you my fat".
In some strange way his insecurity gave me confidence, and I stood before him and waited for him to look at me. When he eventually looked up I pulled my sweatshirt over my head and unfastened my jeans, pulling them off me with trembling hands. I stood shaking before him in just my underwear, letting him see every scar, every hideous mark on my body. As he reached for me I stepped into his embrace and we held each other for a long moment, his head pressed against my abdomen as his arms wrapped around my waist.
He lay back onto the bed and pulled me down next to him, then he softly brushed his hands over my skin. He traced every scar, first with his fingers, then with his mouth, before he unfastened my bra and softly stroked my naked breasts. As my nipples grew hard under his fingers he moved his mouth down and took first one, then the other into his mouth. As his tongue stroked across the tender buds I felt the liquid heat return, and I arched my back as my breath caught.
His large hands moved over my skin until they were spanning my waist, then he moved further down and gently stroked one finger along the edge of my panties. The sensation made me gasp, and I found myself opening my legs, moving my hips to try and get the finger to stroke over my most sensitive spots.
He turned me onto my side so I had my back to him, then moved in tightly, one hand under my arm to stroke my nipples while the other arm rested on my hip, his hand exploring between my legs. He leaned his head down to me and softly began nipping at my shoulders, kissing the back of my neck, laughing as I moaned under his attentions.
The hand between my legs began to make more definate movements, one finger rubbing at my entrance through my panties. I arched my back and began to pump my hips at his finger, before reaching down, taking hold of his hand and pressing it more firmly against me. "Not yet my lovely", he breathed into my ear, before taking his hands away and moving me onto my back again, smiling at me as he bent down to taste my mouth once more.
As he bent down and removed my panties I reached up to his face, stroking it gently before whispering "please Connor, you've seen me, won't you let me see you?". He drew a deep breath and exhaled slowly, before pulling his fleece off and unfastening his jeans, kicking them onto the floor. As I ran my hands over the softness of his stomach, up to his chest and then down his arms I marvelled at the softness of his warm skin, tangling my fingers in his chest hair and softly scratching his nipples.
I loved the rolling curve of his belly. He felt solid to me, all welcoming warmth. I rested my chin on his stomach as I let my hands wander up again, listening to his breath catch as I lightly scratched him with my nails, enjoying the look on his face as I gently tugged at his chest hair.
Occasionally I would let my hands drift lower, stroking his cock through his knitted shorts. I was fascinated by the way it seemed to twitch as I touched it, at the wet patch that had appeared on the shorts, at the way they were distended as his cock grew under them.
We lay stroking each other until my breath was coming in short gasps. I'd never felt a sensation like it; I felt as though my body was on fire, and if I didn't get Connor's cock in me then I would surely die from the heat building up. Eventually Connor reached the same point, and drew his shorts down, his cock bouncing free. I couldn't help touching it, feeling the way the skin moved over the heavy hard shaft. As I watched, a bead of precum appeared at the tip of the shaft. Without thinking I rubbed my finger in it, then brought it up to my mouth to taste. As I licked my finger Connor groaned, shifting us on the bed so that he was lying between my legs, his weight resting on his elbows either side of me.
"That has to be the hottest thing I have ever seen. You're so beautiful to me my Annie, I can't hold back any more..."
As he finished speaking he reached down and moved the blunt head of his cock between my lips. He teased me, moving it up and down, rubbing it against my clit until I was whimpering, desperate to feel him push into me. With a moan, he finally did, moving slowly and gently until his entire length was buried in me. Then he lowered his head to kiss me as his hips started to move against me, dragging his shaft back and forth, making me delirious with the friction and the blissfull sensation of fullness.
I didn't know what was happening as my orgasm started. I'd never had an orgasm before and the build-up of pressure before the explosion, while exciting, was almost frightening in its intensity. As my body went into spasm I moaned in pleasure, gripping Connor's arms tight as he moved and wave after wave of sensation flooded my body. As I calmed down Connor slowed down to let me catch my breath, then asked whether he should continue. In response I moved my hands down to his bottom and pulled him into me. With a roar he started plunging into me again, his hips slapping against mine with each thrust.
"Annie I'm sorry, I can't slow it... oh god... you feel so good under me"
As he moved his hands back to my breasts I ground my pelvis to ensure his length dragged across my clit every time he moved. His movements became more jerky and more violent as I felt the tension build in me again, and I came around him trembling and gasping at the sensation. He grabbed my hips and buried himself deep within me as he came, and I could feel the jets of his warm seed spurting into me.
As he collapsed he was careful not to let his full weight fall onto me, but lay to the side of me. Our legs still entwined I curled into his chest, running my fingers over his beautiful body, enjoying the sheen of sweat on his soft skin as he held me in his arms and rubbed his cheek across the top of my head, softly murmuring endearments while we drifted to sleep.
That was a few weeks ago now, and since then we've been all but inseperable. You might look at us and see two damaged people who found each other, but I see a beautiful, wonderful man who brought me back to life with my first kiss. As to what Connor sees... well, you'd have to ask him about that. One thing's for sure though, he sees someone who, for the first time in twenty-four years, smiles from both sides of her mouth.