They say something horrible happened that day. But Martha can't remember any of it-not the smallest detail. They say it will come back to her in time. But someone wants her to remember NOW. She draws his face over and over-the face of a dead boy. She can't control her hand. And she can't remember how he died. But she's going to find the answer. Even if it lies with the dead.
Martha is dreaming of drawing a silver line on a sketch pad. But the silver turns to blood and seeps over the page. She wakes screaming...
We begin this sordid tale with Martha making vague statements about the accident that caused her memory loss. Her doctor says her memory will return someday, but what if "someday" never comes?! Martha's friends aren't the same as they used to be. She hates the fact that they treat her so delicately. I guess she would prefer they be the insensitive a-holes they always were. Speaking of friends, this leads Martha to describe them and herself. Martha is "preppy looking. I'm more J. Crew than grunge. I have blond hair [OF COURSE you do] long and very straight. Olive eyes. Big and round. My best feature. And light freckles on my cheeks that make me look about twelve years old!" Typical. Stine's fetish for blonds never fails. The friends don't get as much of a description as Martha. They're not blond, after all. Justine has red hair, blue eyes, and pillow lips. Adriana is "beautiful and dark and exotic looking." Apparently neither of them have anything even remotely resembling a personality. Once again, typical.
Martha is hanging out with her boyfriend Aaron and they're making out like they haven't seen each other in years. He breaks away for nacho chips and Lethal Weapon (BTW: Martha thinks Aaron looks like Mel Gibson.) and Martha uses this opportunity to bring up the fact that she's worried about Adriana. Aaron shows his concern by stuffing his gaping maw with more chips, grunting like a hog, and making lame jokes. And then they kiss again. *sigh* This completely useless chapter ends with "And then, the next afternoon, Adriana's brother tried to kill me."
Adriana's brother, Ivan Petrakis, is a faux thug who thinks he's the shit because he's got sideburns and an earring. He's one of those douchers who act like they came from the streets when in reality they've lived in safety in the suburbs their entire life. I hate you, Ivan. I get a little giddy when I read that Ivan has been hanging with a bad crowd from Waynesbridge. Could they be the same HARD DUDES! in The Confession? HARD DUDES! That never fails to amuse me. Anyway, after school, Martha runs into Ivan at the Division Street Mall and he offers her a ride which she foolishly accepts. As he's driving, he jokingly says they should run away and Martha acts shocked so he gets all sullen and pouts like a baby. Martha changes the subject to Adriana and Ivan says she hypnotizes herself to help her sleep. Uh...ok? Then he completely freaks out. "It isn't easy to sleep at my house, Martha! Nothing is easy at my house these days. It's a war zone." He says this like he's a grizzled veteran who just finished a couple tours in Vietnam. His parents have been fighting a lot and General Thugstein can't handle it anymore! He starts swerving all over the place and screaming "It's too much, Martha! Too much!" Then they crash into a tree. Neither of them is hurt so they cry and hold each other and try to ignore the fact that they pissed themselves on impact. Apparently they're also ignoring the fact that they just slammed into a tree because Ivan simply puts the car in reverse and they drive away. I'm so sure.
It's now Saturday afternoon and Martha is telling Adriana "Your brother is really messed up." Understatement of the motherfu*!ing century. The kid will probably spend the rest of his days in therapy. Anyway, Adriana doesn't really give a damn about her loopy brother. She just wants to know which lip gloss looks best. *sigh* They talk about other things until meddling Martha (someone has a Liz Wakefield complex) brings up Ivan again. Adriana already knows the source of all his angst and suicidal tendencies: "Ivan's problem is Laura." I know you're absolutely DYING to know who this Laura character is. Better grab your barf bag. "Laura Winter is another friend of ours. With her sleek black hair and shimmery blue-gray eyes and perfect cheekbones, she is the most beautiful girl at Shadyside High. [I don't believe it. I've heard it too many times before.]" It goes on like that ad nauseum (and believe me, I'm definitely nauseous. If Laura were a blond, I'd kill myself.) Anyway, Laura dumped Ivan and that was a huge blow to his overinflated ego so he's going around making everyone even more miserable than himself. Once again, I hate Ivan. Martha says Adriana should talk to him, Adriana says hell no because he can take care of himself, and Adriana leaves while Martha sits in her (Martha's) room thinking about how drafty it is. What a glamorous life.
Martha finally picks up her drawing pad and starts sketching that dude that's splashed all over the cover. "As if guided by a ghostly hand, I continued to draw. Staring down in amazement-in fear-I let my hand finish the drawing. I knew I couldn't stop it." THE HORROR! By the time she's finished, Martha is winded and sweaty which makes me wonder just what the hell she was REALLY drawing. She takes a look at her "masterpiece" and doesn't recognize the face. It's so detailed she realizes she must have known this person, but that pesky damaged brain of her's won't let her remember. After a few moments Martha gets an urge to draw Laura. She has drawn her before and it's never a pleasant experience: "Laura is so vain, I told myself. My drawings never satisfied her. She claimed I made her look like a brainless bimbo. [That's because she is one.]" Martha starts to draw again with Laura's big fat head in mind, but her hand isn't having that mess and draws the boy again instead. Martha freaks and rips the drawing to shreds while asking herself if she's cracking up. Like an egg, baby, like an egg.
That night, Martha (or should I start calling her The Artist?) has a date with Aaron. Ugh. She drives to the theater to meet him and finds her so-called friend Justine hanging all over him. Martha is pissed but does nothing about it because guys are just like that. GRRRR. Justine says that Aaron invited her along even though this is supposed to be a DATE. Inside, Aaron sits between the girls. "A couple of times I saw Justine's hand brush against Aaron's. I wondered if it was deliberate. Each time she touched him, I felt a cold chill." Dump them both! Seriously, you'd be better off hanging out with some angry badgers.
A little after midnight, Martha is woken by the sound of the phone ringing. It's Justine. Blah. They talk about the movie and Aaron. At his name, Justine blurts "I'm really so jealous of you. You heard me. I said I'm jealous. Aaron is such a great guy." Uh, no he isn't! He sucks! Justine changes the subject to the fact that she's poor and won't be able to go to college next fall (did financial aid not exist in 1996?) and goes on and on about how lucky Martha is. When Martha says "You're wrong. I know you think I have a perfect life, but-" Justine interrupts with "No, I don't, Martha. Your life isn't as perfect as you think." before hanging up. Ooooo.
It's now Sunday night and Martha is hanging out with her cat Rooney. She's home alone watching skiing on ESPN when she suddenly has "a flash of memory". Bits and pieces come back to her: two cabins, snow, Martha, Adriana, Justine, Laura, apple cider, a fireplace, someone knocking at the door... Martha can't remember anymore and looks down in horror at the face she drew AGAIN.
On Monday morning, Martha wakes and remembers that she has no school for no apparent reason. Martha does some errands and when she returns home, Laura is waiting in the kitchen for her. She's a little ticked because Martha promised to go with her to a photo shoot in the shitty part of town (a.k.a. Old Village) and I guess they're gonna be late or something. They get into Martha's old Volvo and Laura gabs on and on about insignificant bullshit until they arrive. The shoot goes well and on the way home, Laura blabs some more. She mentions a party at Gary Brandt's house. (I wish that skank had his own book. I get the sinking feeling, though, that it would be filled with nothing but his dirty sexcapades.) Laura says Ivan was there and he got totally wasted and passed out on the coffee table. The subject then changes to Justine and Laura has a word of advice about her: "Watch out for Justine." Will do.
The next day, Martha pays her weekly visit to Dr. Sayles, her psychiatrist. Dr. Sayles is an older fart who thinks he's hip and cool. Fortunately, he's kinda hot so he can get away with it. Also, Martha likes his Jimi Hendrix poster. Anyway, Martha tells him about her flashbacks and she's disappointed when he does nothing more than nod. What did she expect, a ravishing? Then she pulls out the drawings and the good doctor looks shocked!
Yeah, the chapter ended there. *sigh* It's now Saturday morning and Martha is sitting in her room with nothing to do but stare at her drawings of the mystery boy. Suddenly Laura and Adriana burst in and demand that she come with them because it's a gorgeous day outside and Martha shouldn't be cooped inside staring at creepy drawings and hitting the bottle. What is so important? "It's perfect sledding. The snow sort of froze. There's an icy crust on top. You've got to come to Miller Hill with us, Martha!" Martha isn't that enthused about the crusty crustiness on the hill and thinks the girls are acting like children, but she goes anyway. They actually have fun...until Martha loses her mind. She picks up a lot of speed going down the hill, starts screaming "in horror", and blacks out. Or something. She makes it home where her parents make her soup and call Dr. Sayles. While Martha is in bed, she has another flashback. This time she sees herself, Aaron, Justine, Laura, Adriana, and Ivan having a snowball fight. It's all kicks and giggles until Justine starts hurling snowballs as hard as she can at Martha, deliberately trying to hurt her. She also remembers being inside a cabin kissing a boy that isn't Aaron...it's the boy in the drawings.
The next afternoon, Martha shoves the drawings into her backpack and sneaks out to meet Aaron. She runs to his house, but when he answers the door, he acts pretty damn shifty and hesitates to let Martha in. When he finally does, Martha realizes that Justine is also here. Busted! Aaron makes some lame excuse about Justine stopping by to borrow his graphing calculator. They claim Justine was hiding in the kitchen because they didn't wanna upset Martha. WTF? Of course Martha accepts this without question and Justine leaves a moment later. Aaron and Martha sit down to talk and he mentions that when Martha gets her memory back, it'll be difficult for her because something horrible happened. She takes the opportunity to pull out the drawings and Aaron has the same reaction that Dr. Sayles has, looking like he just swallowed a giant junebug. Martha demands to know who it is, but Aaron refuses to tell. He does, however, mention that this gentleman is as dead as a doornail. Well, that's just dandy.
On Tuesday night, Martha finishes her homework and brings out her drawing pad. She stares at the dead boy she can't seem to get enough of and decides he might be controlling her hand from beyond the grave so she'd better draw a cat instead. No comment. A moment later, her mom yells that Adriana is here. Adriana enters the room a moment later and she's all upset and such because her dad moved out. Adriana says she's worried about Ivan because she found a new tape player and Discman in his room (I miss the 90s) and she wonders where he got the money. She thinks he's been stealing and those HARD DUDES! from Waynesbridge probably put him up to it! Bastards! Suddenly Adriana stops talking and gets an angry expression on her face. Martha looks down and realizes that she drew the dead kid instead of a cuddly kitty. Adriana finally gets hold of herself and asks Martha if she wants to go to a basketball game on Friday...
Laura goes with them to the game and they all have tons of fun. Yee haw! Go Tigers! About halfway through the game, the girls start to go to the food counter which is outside the gym. But they don't even make it down the bleachers because Martha thinks all of the players look like the dead guy and she freaks out and falls down in the aisle. Laura and Adriana drag her outside and Adriana sits with her while Laura runs back inside to get her a drink. Adriana decides to calm her lunatic friend by hypnotizing her with a coin. But Laura returns and Martha brushes Adriana away. Martha once again loses it a moment later when neither of the girls will tell her who the dead boy is. Will you assholes just tell her?! She'll find out sooner or later so why torture her? Instead of going home, they all go back inside where Martha spots Aaron and Justine making out in a shadowy corner. As if we didn't see that one coming. If you show even the slightest SHRED of shock, Martha, I will slap the taste out of your mouth. Martha is speechless so Adriana tells them to take a hike. A few moments later, Martha runs home in the dark and once there, she has more flashbacks.
The flashbacks include Martha kissing some guy who tastes like chocolate in the cabin that repeatedly shows up in these visions and when she starts to break away, she says "No. Sean-please." They fight, she slaps him, and her memory grows fuzzy again. Martha notices the light blinking on her answering machine and she plays the following message: "You keep drawing him because you killed him." How helpful, anonymous caller. Martha thinks it sounds a little like Laura and is horrified at the message.
The next day (I assume?) Martha visits Dr. Corben who is going to hypnotize her in an attempt to pull all her sordid forgotten memories to the surface. I'm sure this won't end badly. Dr. Corben is a short, older lady who likes Garfield and asking lots and lots of questions. Martha mentions Adriana (Dr. Corben is also her doctor) and the doctor freaks out when she learns that Adriana attempted to hypnotize Martha. When Martha asks if Dr. Corben can hypnotize her, the doctor says she'll have to talk to her parents. I assumed you already did that which was stupid of me because you're as useless as every other psychiatrist in this hellhole. Martha flees the office and outside it's dark and rainy (what day is this? Where am I? Where are my freaking meds?!?!) and she finds Aaron waiting in the parking lot to explain about him and Justine. Is a dark, soggy parking lot really the place for this? Oh well. He says he and Justine have been sneaking around for several months, but Martha really doesn't seem to give a shit. She just wants to know who Sean is and how he died, but Aaron refuses to tell her even though he owes her BIG time.
After school on Wednesday, Martha is at her locker when she hears the sound of some fool getting his ass kicked. Yes, it's Ivan. The principal intervenes all too soon and leads Ivan away to bleed in the office. When Martha gets home, Laura calls her to gab about Ivan which leads Martha to suddenly remember something: "Laura- You broke up with Ivan to go out with Sean!" Interesting. Kinda. Martha begs Laura to tell her about that week at the cabin Laura predictably refuses and hangs up the phone, and a moment later, memories come flooding back to Martha. "I was going to remember it all. All the fun. All the trouble. All the horror." Don't be so dramatic--we all know it's not going to be that fun, troublesome, or horrible.
Prepare for the flashback. Snow, sledding, everybody is having fun, blah blah. We learn a few tidbits about Sean: he's good looking and is from Old Village which means he's poor white trash and a friend of Ivan's. After sledding a while, they all decide to ski next and Sean wants to go first down the hill. Instead of reaching the bottom, he meets his death somewhere in the middle thanks to a wire that someone has stretched across the path. "The wire caught him at the throat. Cut through his neck. A straight line. A silver line. It cut through his neck. [Yeah, we get it.] Bright red splashed on both sides of the silver line. I still didn't move. I didn't believe it. No-one moved. We all stood at the edge, staring down in silence. The silver wire sliced off Sean's head. I watched his body continue to ski. The skis carried it for several yards before it collapsed. And Sean's head bounced onto the snow. And emptied out. Emptied out. Emptied out. Staring up at us. Puddling the snow dark red." Nuh-uh.
Martha snaps back to reality and finds herself staring at a drawing of Sean. She's incredibly disturbed by the memory of Sean's gruesome death and by the fact that the night before his death, she and he had a big fight. A moment later, Adriana calls and Martha says she remembers almost everything. Adriana fills in the few its that Martha can't recall, saying the police came to investigate who had strung the wire and why (could a wire actually slice off someone's head? Someone call the Myth Busters!) but they never figured it out. Adriana says she's coming over and after they hang up, Martha sits and wonders why she was the only one out of everyone who was there when Sean died to lose her memory and also, who could have killed Sean? Martha digs in her closet to find something to change into before Adriana arrives and conveniently comes across the bag she brought to the cabin which she never unpacked. She finds things stuffed at the bottom. It's a ROLL OF WIRE! And WIRE CUTTERS to cut the ROLL OF WIRE! NOOOOO! IT'S SOOOOOO DRAMATIC!
Adriana shows up and Martha tells her that she must have killed Sean and shows her the ROLL OF WIRE! and the WIRE CUTTERS! Then Ivan shows up for absolutely no reason and informs Martha that HE killed Sean. YOU killed Sean. I killed Sean. We ALL fucking killed Sean! Seriously, make up your minds. Ivan's excuse for killing Sean is as stupid and lame as you thought it would be: "[Sean] found out that I stole a car. I stole a car [You people really enjoy repeating yourself repeating yourself.] and I wrecked it. I ran away. I wasn't caught." And? "I made a mistake. I told Sean about it. I thought he was my friend. I had to tell someone. I-I was kind of scared. I couldn't keep it to myself. But I never should have told him. Sean started asking me for money. He said he'd turn me in to the police if I didn't give it to him." And you wouldn't pony up the dough so you just HAD to lop off his head with a wire instead of owning up to what you did, right? Jerk. Ivan says he never actually intended to kill Sean, he only wanted to hurt him so he put the wire low to the ground to trip him up. "I don't know what happened. I guess the snow shifted. The wind blew the snow away during the night. So the wire was much higher." Dude, just shut up. Ivan wants to call the police and confess, but Adriana flips out: "Martha killed him! You KNOW Martha killed him! She did it! She did!" *sigh* Adriana demands to know why her brother is screwing everything up and blah blah blah. Eventually she says that Martha was supposed to die, not Sean.
As much as it literally PAINS me to say it, Adriana wanted Martha dead because Sean liked Martha and Adriana liked Sean and if she couldn't have him, no-one could. Or something. I don't know. I'm over it. Adriana says she hypnotized Martha to make her lose her memory. I'm so sure a 17 year old girl would be so skilled at hypnosis. Then Adriana, who has completely lost her damn mind, grabs the wire and starts choking Martha, but she stops when she spots a drawing of Sean. "She stared unblinking, hypnotized by the face. The face that had puzzled me, upset me-horrified me for so long. The face that had saved my life." And now we're in a Hallmark movie.
Conclusion? 150 pages of bullshit.
Next time: "Seniors #6 - The Gift" A necklace that forces the wearer to commit acts of atrocity? Yes, please.