One day, a girl read a book about the life of a man who was jailed for life. She had picked the yellowed, dog-eared book up off the dusty shelf at the old bookstore on the corner because she felt like a prisoner, too. Her school was a jail, with peers laced in barbed wire. Her parents were her wardens. Every aspect of her life was planned out and under surveillance. There was no hope. There was no escape.
One of the most interesting parts to her was how the main character kept a tally mark of the days on his cell wall. The girl became utterly obsessed with the idea of marking off the days, but had nowhere to mark the tallies. Her stepdad would scream at her to no end if she were to put another toe out of line.
After a day of sitting with the Hopeless Cases at lunch (she lacked the luxury/burden of friendships), she encountered a stroke of genius, and threw up in the bathroom as quickly as she could after lunch so she could get started on her plan.
While her mom paraded through the mall, waiting like a spider to catch a weak-minded man, the girl bought a handheld mirror, a little wooden box, and long pants. She had stolen the money from her mom while she was too busy rehearsing for the play she was never cast in.
When she got home, she stole her stepdad's hammer from his workbench downstairs, and blasted her music so no one could hear her quickly smash the mirror and put the shiny shards in the little wooden box. She went into the bathroom and locked the door. (Her stepdad had taken the doorknob off of her door ages ago.) She slid the waistband of her jeans halfway down her thigh and bit her lip. Then she cut.
A little vertical line, about an inch long, right where the pocket of her jeans would be, oozed blood. She smeared it around with her finger, and waited for the blood to clot before pulling her pants back up. The rest of the girl's day felt a little better, as she sat through dinner tracing the little crimson secret through the denim.
School the next day seemed to take forever, but she suffered through it, because she knew she'd be able to make another little tally when the day was done. And she did.
And the girl did this for the rest of the school year. By the time next September rolled round, she had to start on her left leg. Her right one was covered in dashes and slashes. She had had to replace her shards of glass thrice during summer vacation, which was spent mostly inside, so she could hide her crimson secrets.
On Christmas, the girl got angry. She noticed that her crimson secrets weren't crimson anymore. Now they were pale and puffy and putrid. She just had to fix them. So she brought her shards into the bathroom and pulled up the hem of her holiday skirt, which reached the floor. She sawed away, determined to bring back the tallies.
Her cousin found her. The cousin screamed. Stupid cousin. Now she was really in prison.
Last night, a girl was found dead in a mental hospital. On the walls were tallies, written in blood.