June 5, 2010
She’d kept it a secret for months, shutting out everyone close to her. But then she told the doctor, the stranger, the one who’s paid to listen. The one who kept her in the facility for over a month.

That facility, that terrible place where she couldn’t cut her own food because they feared she’d plunge the plastic knife into a vein. The place where she was escorted everywhere by a nurse, where she had to shave with supervision, where every sentence was scanned by a high-power electron microscope.

The place where people stopped noticing her, where she faded into the background. The place where she learned that if she stopped talking, people stopped listening.

The place where they taught her that what she did was wrong. They never put it into words, didn’t want to give her fault a name. They told her she was not hopeless, that she could be helped. But the whispered word of failure could be found floating around the hallways, infiltrating weak minds and heavy hearts.

Failure was the one word the doctors never truly said, but it was the one word that was drilled into her brain.

"The road to recovery," the doctors said, "is paved with good intentions and even some mistakes. But we know you’ll make it. You’re strong."

But that road, that fabled road to recovery was in her sights only briefly. The path became obscured from vision. Dark, menacing trees sprouted up and blocked the way. Cloud and smog smothered illuminating light, making an eternity of darkness and shadow. Moss and fungus seeped through the pores of her skin, poisoning her lungs. When she tried to maneuver blindly down the road, branches clawed at her face, vines throttled her, roots caught her ankle, brought her down.

She wanted to fail.

She was failing.

Failing at being a daughter, failing at being a friend, failing at feeling. Failing at keeping her skin-canvas in one piece, failing at keeping herself safe from the monsters and demons lurking under her bed, just out of sight. Failing at stitching herself back together with broken pieces of wire when she fell apart.

She was lost, so far gone that she could no longer find herself on the map. Her compass was broken, needle spinning in all directions, telling her right was left, north was south, east was west.

She was a shell, empty. Her insides had been poured into a cup, swallowed, and strained through gnashing, yellow teeth. Teeth from an angry mouth that was eager to tell her what she was doing wrong. It spewed filthy adjectives at her, ones that slapped her in the face before falling on the floor.

Failure. Empty. Broken. Lost.

She whispered them at the mirror every night.

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