2012 Totem Head Story Contest Winner:"Missing Identity" By Kristen Ailsworth, 15 years old, Bloomfield Hills, MI.
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2012 Contest Winner

Missing Identity
Written By:   Kristen Ailsworth, 15 years old, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

So there I was on the trail in Denali National Park, when I came across a peculiar object. Always the avid anthropologist I began to sketch the totem pole that was in front of me. One side was beautiful and appeared to be very traditional; there was an eagle head and wings and the paint was deep and in shades of red, blue, and black. The other side was more puzzling. It was grotesque and difficult to look at, knots and bumps were in the wood and the paint was chipping. The appearance was unlike any totem pole I had ever seen. It had a primitive humanoid appearance but with no trace of a face on it at all. The only color that was used on that side was black. Chills ran up my spine at the sight of the totem. I felt as though I were being watched and promptly left without finishing the sketch. Fear constricted my throat as I drew short, ragged breaths. This feeling left me faint and anxious. Only one thought remained in my head: run.

For almost twenty minutes I sprinted away from that spot. What had come over me? As soon as this thought entered my mind, it left and I began to cackle. That totem pole was unremarkable in every way. Why I had taken an interest in it was beyond me. Close to tears from the ridiculousness of the fact that I had even been hiking just caused me to laugh more. Such a trivial activity in which to partake! My time would be better spent tormenting my family, by quitting school, and acting otherwise apathetic. No torture was better than to dash hopes or cause pain to family. This was my life purpose, to build up a tower of hopes and to tear it down with an audience. The thought made my lip curl into a mad grin, teeth bared. I keeled over from the laughter that escaped my mouth. Suddenly the laughter ceased when I realized I had to walk another five miles to escape this wooden prison. The mad grin was replaced by a grimace.

Once both of my feet stepped off the trail a wave of intense fear washed over me. What was that totem pole? Why did I need to run? Why had I thought such malicious thoughts? The ones about tormenting my parents were only a small portion of the ones that had come to me while hiking five miles. The most nerve-wracking part, however, was the presence that still lingered. My mind no longer felt safe either. I sat near the ranger’s post and shivered. Eyes glazed over, I stared off into space as I rocked back and forth. Suddenly someone came bursting frantically off the trail, breathing rapidly. "Where… were…. you…?" My head snapped up. My friend was sweaty and covered in filth. My eyes narrowed.

"Since when were you here?"

"Since when did you begin to run like some crazy so—" they cut off and stared at me. "Why did you run? You were muttering to yourself and then well… you ran away…" They trailed off. "Anyway let’s go. It was a little creepy, as if someone were watching us."

"STOP!" I shrieked, "NO, NO, NO, don’t, not this way!" as soon as my friend voiced her previous remark, a tall, dark, slender figure emerged from the bushes. It was like a shadow, smoky in appearance; the only other color besides black was the white of the figure’s teeth. Slowly, as though it were strolling, the figure moved towards me. My eyes nearly popped out of my head, when the thing just glided through my friend. I stumbled backwards and crumpled to the ground. My friend stared at me, and my friend’s mouth began to move but no sound reached my ears. The only sound was that of my rapidly beating heart. When I looked back at my friend, I couldn’t see a face, as though it had been erased. Suddenly blackness was all I could see and I was unaware of what was happening around me.

Groggily, my eyes opened. The lighting was dim and the walls were close. A layer of grime covered the floor. Slowly I propped myself up on my elbows. Despite being at the end of a corridor, there were no doors or windows. Leaning against the filthy wall, I began to stumble in a drunken fashion towards the opposite end of the corridor. The path divided. A maze. Where was I? What was happening?? Who had brought me here?! Rage welled up inside my throat. I attempted to scream but my mouth refused to open. Hands trembling, I touched my face. There was no mouth, just like the totem pole there was no trace of a mouth. I ran my hands over the rest of my face, the only thing that remained were my eyes. Even they were smoothing over though. I dropped to my knees. Was this the end? Questions kept racing through my mind, and it was as though I had changed locations.

My limp body lay on a bed or cart and faceless nurses rolled me into a stark, white room. Laughing filled my ears and I heard murmurs. This one has really lost it! Things may be more interesting from now on. All the words, the cadence of speech only sounded like buzzing to me. I lay completely still, not wanting to waste the little energy I had left.

I sat blinking at a man in a white lab coat. "Hello," he said distractedly as he shuffled some papers around. "Now, tell me about yourself. Have you been seeing anything out of the ordinary?"

"Umm..." For some reason only grunts came out of my throat "Uhhhh… I…"

"Yes, what is it?"

"May I… um… speak to a different shrink?"

"Why? I am perfectly capable." He clasped his hands together.

"I don’t know you."

He leaned forward as I turned away. I could only imagine the quizzical look that must be on his face. "You won’t know any of the other doctors."

I nodded. He wasn’t lying. But that wasn’t the real problem I had. "You don’t have a face. I can’t trust people with no faces."

He shouted, "NURSE!" I felt hands grabbing my arms. My eyes widened as I screamed. It had come for me too. I was done. I fell limp as the hands pulled me onto a gurney. Above me I could see the totem. If it had a face, I’m sure it would have been smirking.

Link to Free Writing Contest for Kids

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