She picked up the knife, studying it. Slid it across the light skin on her arm, and although she was not quite satisfied, watched as tiny beads of blood appeared in a perfectly straight line. The girl smiled. Finally, a feeling she could diagnose, a feeling she could assign a name and a reason. She lifted the knife again and pulled it across her skin, this time deeper. The blood came faster and she savoured the sting. She did it over and over, flinching from the pain, but craving more. Two more times, even harder and deeper. More blood. And tears. Ah, the tears! Tears set free by physical pain, but always lurking under the surface because of other pain, an unnamable inner pain. Hidden pain.
The girl dropped the knife, sobbing. Trying to release her pain, the pain no one else knew about, or could understand. The pain she bottled up inside. Salty wetness slid down her cheeks, making her hair stick to her flushed face. Slowly curling over, arms folded over her middle, she lay on the cold, scratchy, carpeted floor. She made no sound, but silently, until there was nothing left to cry. There she lay, curled up in a ball.
For an hour she stayed there. One long hour in the middle of the night, a Thursday night. She didn’t sleep. After 10 minutes she began to tremble, her thoughts brutal and unforgiving. She worried about tomorrow, going to school. She worried about what her family would say when they started to notice how she only wore sweaters or sleeves, even though it was June. She told herself she was messed up. Hopeless. A drama-queen. Selfish. Ugly, inside and out. Unlikeable. She convinced herself that all those things that people say without thinking were true.
The woman rolled over in her sleep, stirring, and blinked.
“...time is it..” she grunted.
She squinted at her phone, too bright for her eyes, accustomed to the darkness of sleep. 3:42 AM.
Flipping her pillow, she settled back into bed and slept.
Finally, the girl slowly sat up. She stood, wiping her eyes, washing the mascara smeared all over her face. Even though she knew that sleep wasn’t going to come to her tonight, she slipped into a pair of leggings and a black shirt. Instead of going to her bed, she went to the mirror. She stared at the reflection. She wondered about the girl she saw, if she was ever going to be normal. If she was ever going to be how she was before. But thinking this, the girl began to wonder instead, when was before? Was she screwed up as an effect of the mistakes she made long ago? The ones she still made… Or were those mistakes caused by her abnormality? How was life before? She no longer remembered what it was like to be innocent of the evils of the world and the pain they caused.
She thought about her pain. What was it- what was the root? Was it sadness, anger, disappointment? Self-loathing, confusion, or just stress? She decided that the most accurate way to put it was confusion. It really didn’t sum it up, but it was an alright try. There really was no way to express her feelings.
The girl looked up at the mirror again, and this time really studied her reflection. Her eyes went first to her hair. Then to her face; her eyes, nose, mouth, cheekbones, jaw. Her shoulders, arms. She looked down at her arm, bloody and marred, and smiled. The smile was dark, her eyes seemed to be a deep midnight blue, black even. Her smile was beautiful in a twisted way. She was proud of her marks. The marks that helped her to feel. But, at the same time, underneath her prideful smile, she hated herself. Her gaze moved up, once more to the mirror. She continued to study herself, every part of her body. The self-hatred grew, more than anyone who has not felt such hatred toward themselves can comprehend, and so the girl decided she didn’t deserve to live. With this new conviction in mind, she lay down. Sleep evaded her, so she spent her night planning how she would come to her everlasting slumber.
When morning came, she stood. Washed her face, expertly applied makeup to cover up the telltale signs of a sleepless night, dressed, put on a sweater and went out to face her last hours alive.
Questions passed through her mind like bullets- Should she write a note? Would they think that’s dumb? Why is she even waiting? She could do it now… right now. No one’s stopping her; Nothing’s stopping her. Why is she here? There has to be a reason… unless she’s here as an example. An example of who not to be. Yeah, that must be it. Who not to be. But who shouldn’t she be? If she’s the example of who not to be, who’s her example? Who should she be?
The girl’s reverie was interrupted when her mother called her to come and eat. She listened, even while seeing no reason to eat. Why eat when it will all be over anyways? It would simply be a waste of food. But, despite her skepticism, she ate. Because why give her mother a hint? She wouldn’t want to make it seem like something’s wrong.
Her daughter came right away when she was called for breakfast. The positive change from the norm. Maybe she was finally coming around. Breakfast is healthy, not an option.
She set the oatmeal down and turned around to grab a mug of coffee and finish her daughter’s lunch.
The girl hesitated before eating… Did she want to be stopped? Maybe, just maybe, someone would care. Maybe things would change. But not likely. They would think she was simply looking for attention. So no, nobody can know. Life isn’t a novel. How often do you actually get happy endings? Never.
And so, she ate her breakfast and resumed her day as usual. Grabbed her lunch, teased her little brother, hugged her mother goodbye. Walked out the door.
Her daughter was acting funny. She’s never in this agreeable mood in the mornings. It's good though, nothing to worry about- it was a nice change. Hopefully she'll be the same tomorrow morning too. Those hugs could be gotten used to.
Once she was out the door, the girl stopped. Should she go to school, or just do it? It would be easier and faster to do it now… but no. No, because when they noticed she wasn’t at school they would call her parents. And then they would look for her. She might not have enough time.
All too quickly, she arrived at school. Walked in like usual. Went to morning classes like usual. Laughed with her friends at lunch, like usual. But she didn’t forget. Her head seemed to be pulsing with the extremity of the thought- it’s going to be over. Forever. No more living, no more pretending.
When she thought of all of it ending, it made her almost happy. She would no longer have to make sure she looked like she was really smiling. She wouldn’t have to bite back negative comments, and, most importantly, she would no longer feel like a failure. In fact, she wouldn’t feel at all. Or fail. At anything. One failure to end all others.
But then, there was the question of after death. What happens then? Is there even anything? Please let it be that you just ‘blink out.’ No existence whatsoever. Just…. nothing. At all. Ever. All life, memories of life- gone.
After school, as she walked home, she made her decision. Coming to the bridge, she wiped away her tears... and she jumped.
The cold of the water overcame her, that was the first thing she felt. Then a sudden movement- the current. Seconds ticked by as she felt herself thrusted by the current- deeper, deeper, rapidly up, and rapidly down. She saw a dark shape for a moment, then a searing pain as her head was struck by something hard- she sucked in sharply, inhaling nothing but water. The pain in her head was quickly overcome by the burning, ice-cold sensation in her chest. The finality of her decision hit her as the pain engulfed her from within..
The phone rang. Glancing at the time, she briefly wondered where her daughter was. Perhaps she ran into a friend on the way home.
No, she was coming straight home I thought…-
Her stuff? Why on earth would she leave her stuff somewhere? -
No, she’s not here for goodness’ sake! Where was the stuff? How do you know it’s even hers? -
The sound of the phone clattering to the floor went unnoticed as all the pieces began to come together.