Updated: May 13
Mike parked his car and sat for more than two hours outside the grocery store. He gripped one hand on the wheel, the other on a stolen handgun. Inside, Farrah James worked her after-school shift.
Mike, a standout pitcher on the baseball team, first met Farrah when the Valley West High School Baseball and Softball Teams teamed up for a charity event to raise funds for a beloved teacher stricken with cancer.
The baseball team proved no match for Farrah, a record-setting pitcher entering her sophomore season. One by one they fell victim to her riseball, changeup combination.
When Mike stepped into the box, he pointed his bat at Farrah and surrendered a pleading smile. She laughed and thought the senior pitcher was too cute to strike out, so she hurled a fastball over the center of the plate. Mike, not known for his hitting, stroked the offering to centerfield for the first and only hit of the day.
Afterwards, Mike sauntered over to where Farrah stood with a group of her teammates and introduced himself, “Hey, thanks for taking it easy on me.”
Farrah shot back, “Oh, you’re the jerk that got lucky and broke up my no-hitter.”
“Guilty,” Mike said sheepishly, and his cheeks flushed red. “I’m Mike.”
“Mike the dreamcrusher,” Farrah said with a grin. “I’m Farrah.”
Over the next two weeks, Farrah and Mike began to exchange flirty text messages. Who could blame Mike for the pursuit, Farrah wasn’t just cute, she was spunky, full of laughter and fun. While the boys on the baseball team teased Mike about the budding romance with a younger girl, each would have eagerly traded places with him.
Within a month, Mike and Farrah were a couple. Farrah’s parents initially liked Mike, and all of her friends approved – despite her spending less and less time with them. On the surface, they appeared like typical high school sweethearts.
One day, Farrah told her friend and teammate Amy, “Mike is great, but lately he’s been getting mad about me spending so much time at practice.”
“That’s weird,” Amy replied.
“Yeah, it’s like he’s jealous of Coach Brady. i don't get it.”
“Seriously? Like he actually said that?”
“He hasn’t come right out and said it but he makes comments like, ‘I bet all the girls think Coach Brady is hot’, and then he asks me if I think Brady’s hot.”
“Well, he is,” Amy joked.
“But it goes farther than that. Mike gets angry when I say I’m hitting with Coach Brady, or if I even mention his name, Mike starts saying crazy stuff like I hate him and I’m going to leave him and run away with coach.”
“Girl, that’s a major red flag.”
“I know, but I love him.”
Over the next three months, Mike’s behaviors became increasingly possessive. Farrah’s parents took notice and brought it to her attention.
“Sweetheart, lately, you spend all your time at home locked in your room,” her dad pleaded. “We barely see you anymore. Your whole persona has changed. I can’t remember the last time I saw my little girl smile. Your mother and I are worried about you.”
Farrah crossed her arms and stared blankly beyond her parents.
Her mom attempted to slide her arm around her daughter, but Farrah slipped away.
“Baby, you father is right. We miss you. What can we do to help?”
But Farrah continued to ignore them both.
The father said, “I want you to take a break from Mike. You’ve been spending too much time together.”
“You can’t do that,” Farrah spouted.
“We’re still your parents,” he said. “And as long as you live under this roof, you’ll do as we say.”
Farrah shook her head, with her face turning red, and she shouted, “I’ll just move out. Mike said you’d try to tear us apart. He’s a good guy – I don’t know why you can’t see that. He’s good for me. He makes me happy and that’s more than you and mom have ever done for me!"
The mother tried to once again put her arms around her child, but Farrah stomped away and slammed her door behind.
Graduation came and went, and with that, Mike left for college three hours away.
As school started for Farrah in the Fall (her junior year), she abruptly quit the softball team.
Amy found Farrah in the hallway after school and asked, “What the hell, Farrah? We need you on the team. You can’t just quit. What are you doing?”
Farrah shot back, “Softball takes up every weekend and that’s the only time I have to go see Mike.”
“I thought you broke up?”
“I love him. We’ve made plans to make the long-distance thing work. I’m getting a job to help pay for gas and I’ll drive up on the weekends to stay with him in his dorm.”
Amy showed her disagreement and asked, “And your parents are okay with this?”
“Not their choice.”
For the next six weeks, Farrah spent every weekend staying in Mike’s dorm. On that sixth weekend, while lying in his bunk, she whispered, “Next week is Homecoming.”
“So?” Mike responded with a dismissive tone.
“So, I thought it would be nice to go to the dance.”
“You’re going to skip seeing me for a stupid dance?”
“Well, I thought maybe you could go with me.”
“I’m over the high school thing.”
Farrah sat still, weighing a response.
Mike slung the covers off the bed and sprang to his feet and began throwing Farrah’s belongings at her. He shouted, “I can’t believe you’d choose your friends over me. That you would go to some dumb dance. I bet Coach Brady’s going to be there, huh? Or, maybe you’ve got your eye on someone else already.”
Farrah began to cry and as her lip quivered, she protested, “No, Mike. That’s not it. You’re wrong.”
“Oh, I’m wrong?” he scoffed. “I’m the one that’s always wrong – not you. I bet your parents told you that, or maybe that bitch friend of yours.”
Mike kicked a soccer ball from the floor, and it smashed against the wall behind Farrah’s head, pivoted, and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind.
Farrah gathered her things and drove home in the middle of the night.
When she arrived home, she woke her parents and cried in their arms. They cradled their baby girl and wept together as she expressed her fear and regret through a stream of tears.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I don’t want to see Mike, anymore. He scares me.”
The next morning, Farrah joined her parents for breakfast – it had been more than a year since she had done so.
As she smiled and enjoyed her pancakes she said, “Daddy, I’m going to put my two weeks in at the supermarket and ask Coach Brady if I can rejoin the team.”
Her father’s heart filled with joy. Tears welled in his eyes, he reached across the table for his daughter’s hand and said, “I’m so happy to have you back.”
Monday, Farrah explained to her boss her decision to quit work to rejoin the softball team. He gave her the green light to stop right away – but she insisted on working at least through the end of the week until someone could be hired. Reluctantly, he agreed and began searching for someone to cover her future hours.
Since Farrah had not heard from Mike since the blowup, she decided to block his number and move on with her life.
Tuesday, Farrah spoke with Coach Brady who outlined a few conditions for her return. He was thrilled to have her back and knew her teammates would welcome her with open arms.
During homeroom, she helped friends with Homecoming decorations and made plans to attend the dance with them on Friday night.
Wednesday, after school, she had the day off from the supermarket and met her mom at the dress shop where they had the time of their lives trying on and eventually picking out the perfect dress.
“Oh, Farrah,” her mother gushed with adoring eyes as she marveled at how beautiful her sixteen-year-old daughter looked in the blue dress. “The baby blue matches your eyes perfectly, and the way it fits makes it look like it was made for you.”
Thursday, was Farrah’s last day working at the supermarket. One five-hour shift. After work, she planned to meet a group of friends at Amy’s house to practice different hairstyles for Friday night’s dance.
Farrah’s boss said, “We’re going to miss you, kid. I’m not sure I’ve had a better high school employee.”
Farrah grinned and said, “You haven’t.”
“How about I walk you out,” he said.
“Nah, I’m a big girl.” Farrah flexed a bicep and growled, “Grrrr.”
As Farrah neared her car, a set of high-beam lights flashed in her eyes. She heard his voice before she ever saw him.
“You plan on ignoring me the rest of your life?” he asked with an edge to his voice.
“Mike, we’re done,” she said. “I can’t.”
“Don’t you think you at least owe me an apology – maybe explain why you just up and left?”
Farrah fumbled for her keys in her purse and pivoted back to her car. As she reached for the car door, Mike’s hand gripped the back of her neck and he pushed the gun against her cheek.
“All I wanted was for you to treat me with respect,” he said. “We had a good thing. I made you my whole life and you couldn’t do the same for me.”
Farrah started trembling and couldn’t voice the scream for help that seemed to be stuck in her throat.
“You never loved me. It was all a lie. I wanted to marry you, build you a house someday, have children with you. But you just couldn’t get past your selfishness to let it happen.”
A man with a burly voice from across the parking lot yelled, “Hey, let her go!” It was Farrah’s boss, and he was racing toward them.
Mike’s eyes grew wide, he tightened the grip around Farrah's neck and squeezed the trigger.
The sound of gunfire stopped Farrah’s boss. He stood frozen and watched as Mike swiveled the gun under his chin and pulled the trigger for a second time. Mike’s lifeless body fell next to Farrah’s on the cold asphaplt.
Farrah died there that night. However, Mike did not.
Instead, he’ll spend the rest of his life incarcerated, unable to speak or move without the assistance of others.
Farrah’s story serves as a cautionary tale of how a seemingly normal high school relationship went from possessive to tragic.
Sadly, Farrah ignored the signs, until it was too late.