Deranged: A Short Story Essay

Deranged was originally written by Zach Stearns for his school newspaper. However, it got turned down for being “too creepy”. It draws heavy inspiration from the novel YOU by Caroline Kepnes.


I was walking through the mall when I first saw you. I knew it was you from the moment I saw the back of your head. I knew that hairstyle, you’d had it back in high school, Liz. I knew it was you, my high school crush, finally walking back into my life.

I started walking towards you, hiding behind the women’s clothing. I wanted to see your face, to see that perfect smile I’d seen you with ever since grade school.

I stopped behind the women’s overcoat rack, finally able to see your face. You were talking into a smartphone, looking as perfect as ever. I stood there, staring, until you pulled the phone away from your ear. I ran out from the women’s clothing, purposefully crashing into you.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry, Liz!” I apologized, noticing that you didn’t remember me, “It’s me, Phil. We went to high school together. Reporter Club?”

“Oh my God, Phil?” you said hesitantly, face still showing that you didn’t remember me.

We talked for several more minutes, updating each other on our lives, before we departed. You were perfect. Flawless. Your enthusiasm for the news station you worked out filled me with joy. The way you spoke, it made me understand just how much I had missed you. Your smile, the way your hair fell upon your shoulders, the way your eyes glistened under the lights, it was all perfect. You were flawless, Liz.

As we departed, I followed you out the door and watched you get in your car. A red Toyota Camry, a 2014 model if my memory served me correctly. You weren’t rich, but that didn’t matter. That only proved that you were naturally the most beautiful person in existence.

I got in my car, slipped a hat on, and drove up behind your car. I saw you through the mirror, your lip-gloss glistening in the sun. I followed you to your home, parking a few blocks away before I walked to your home. I walked across the street, using a tree to hide myself from your point of view.

I watched you through your window, admiring the view. You had your legs up, reading the book YOU by Caroline Kepnes. So, you’re into that, aren’t you? Being loved by someone so much that they’d do anything for you? Someone who would kill for you; someone who would imprison you to better your life? I will love you unconditionally, I will make sure you retain your perfection.

I stood there for hours watching you relax and be your true self before I finally decided I was going to sit down next to the tree. I rested my back against the tree, providing the perfect view of your couch. You stood up, walking away from the couch, probably to the kitchen. I continued to sit there, waiting for you to return to your couch.

After several minutes, I realized you would not be returning to the couch. I circled your house, noticing a light on the second floor. I climbed up to the roof outside your window, looking inside. You were on your bed, crying. I started to relax, letting my body lean up against your window. I took my eyes off the window for a few seconds, looking down at my hands.

I began to cry. I wanted to comfort you, wanted to be there for you, but I couldn’t. You couldn’t know that I had been watching you. Sure, I was making sure you were doing alright, but you couldn’t know that. You wouldn’t understand, not yet at least. I closed my eyes, feeling the window disappear behind me.

Feeling hands on my back, touching me in a loving way. I turned around, catching a glimpse of your face as your hands pushed me. I watched you as I fell to the ground. The world slowed as I saw the tears in your eyes. Everything went dark as I hit the ground. You were fantastic; you didn’t let anyone push you around. That’s why we belong together, my love.

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