“An essay is a short piece of prose in which the author reveals herself in relation to any subject under the sun.”
Just a few miles from my home, a boy my age was living a parallel life. A kid named Ted Bundy attended school in Tacoma, forty minutes down the Interstate. In those final years of the sixties, punctuated with public assassinations, this young future killer and I marched across the stage in our high school caps and gowns, ready to forge our ways in the world.
In the early seventies, Ted Bundy cast his victims along logging roads in the glorious Cascade Mountain Range that slices up Washington State, separating the lush green west from the dryer east. Sometimes Ted visited his discarded prey later on.
In my early twenties, every three or four weeks a peer in her late teens or early twenties disappeared. Brenda, a year behind me at Mt. Rainier High School, was number six. The women vanished from streets I’d walked that same day, from beaches where my friends and I sat to tan, from beds just blocks from my own, and from the campuses of the universities my sisters, friends, and I attended. The women were attractive. They were bright. Like many of us then, the vanished women were trusting and naïve, always ready to help a stranger.
As the number of victims increased, much was made of the fact that their hair was long and parted down the middle. The murderer must have a thing for girls like that, editorials claimed. In our huddled conversations about our vanished friends, my friends and I scoffed. Almost all of us wore our hair long and parted down the middle. Those faces looking out at us from the front pages of the Seattle Times or Post Intelligencer mirrored ours.