Matrix

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A crisscross matrix of lines, some pale, shiny, white; some angry, red, stinging. That is what my left arm is. And no one can know. Ever.

At the park over the weekend, I foolishly wore short sleeves, thinking no one I knew would see me. Then I ran into James, and he immediately noticed them.

“What the hell…?” He asked me. I crossed my arms, embarrassed, and felt my cheeks flare bright red. “That is really creepy. Why would you even do that?” I looked away.

“You wouldn’t get it,” I said quietly.

“Uh, maybe you should talk to a psychologist or something. There’s got to be something seriously wrong with your head if you’re doing that,” James told me, in a nice supportive way. Like he thought he was being kind, or helping me.

“Wow, thanks. That is so kind of you,” I responded, my voice dripping sarcasm and venom. I turned and walked the other way, hiding my budding tears.

At church the next day, I saw Steven. I went over and said hi, like always. He and I stood there talking for a while, and I brushed my bangs out of my face, with my left hand. He saw my arm, and grabbed my wrist.

“What….?” He asked, and I yanked my wrist back. “You need to stop. Now.”

“Don’t tell me what to do,” I said angrily.

“I swear to God, in this church, if you don’t stop I will tell someone. Your parents. One of the counselors at school. Someone.” He said, moving to walk over to my parents. I grabbed his arm.

“Don’t. I’ll stop, okay?” I lied. But he couldn’t see through it. Thank God.

The next day at school I was standing beside Joey’s locker, joking around about potatoes, like usual. I stretched my arms out, and gasped as it pulled the skin. It hurt! A lot! Joey looked at me.

“What’s wrong?” He asked, looking concerned.

“Oh, um, nothing,” I lied, crossing my arms. He grabbed my wrist, and pushed up my sleeve. He inspected them, not touching them, just looking.

“How can I help?” Joey asked, releasing my wrist.

“What?” I asked incredulously. He wanted to help me cut myself?!

“How can I help you stop?” He asked, pulling books out of his locker, and taking stuff out of his backpack.

“Umm…. I don’t know….” I said, stammering.

“Well, it’s going to be okay. You can stop. I’ll help you. And don’t worry, I promise I won’t tell anyone,” He said, giving me a little half hug, and then walking off to his first class. I stared after him in surprise.

At lunch, I was talking to Allen, my adopted little brother. Well, I adopted him, because he’s awesome and I love him! He saw the cuts too, I don’t know how though. He pointed at my arm, and waited.

“Don’t look down on me for it,” I started, and Allen cut in.

“Of course not! I want to help you, Jess,” He said, and I threw my arms around him and gave him a huge hug. “We need to talk. I know how it feels, and hurting your self is not the answer,” He said.

“Thank you so much…. I’ll call you after school.” I said, and then ran off. I knew if I stood there, I would probably start crying.

After school, I was texting Chase. I told him about my cutting, to try and make him mad and to prove that he cared. He never texted me back. So I assumed that he didn’t care, naturally.

At school the next day, I was walking around with Erin, and I saw Chase, like every morning. When he saw me, he looked livid. I looked away as tears threatened. I couldn’t believe that he just ignored me last night. Then all of a sudden someone was grabbing my shoulders and pushing me against the lockers.

“What the f*** is your deal! Stop it! Damn it Jessica!” Chase yelled as he held me against the locker. Everyone was staring, and Erin tried to make him release me. I met his eyes and just gave him my signature death glare.

“Let go of me.” I said quietly, using my evil, angry, oh-s***-you-pissed-her-off-you-better-run voice. He unflinchingly made eye contact with me, refusing to be intimidated. He didn’t let go. “It is none of your business. I shouldn’t have even told you. When you chose what you chose,” I said, indicating his choice to start dating the other girl, which he understood. “You gave up your right to have any say in anything I do. Now let me go, stop pretending you care, and get your lying a** away from me.”

He released me, stepping back in surprise. “I never…” He started. He shook his head, as if to clear his thoughts, and looked around. Everyone was staring at us. “I never pretended anything. And the lying was for your own good.” He stood there, watching me, waiting to see what I would say.

I stepped close to him, got into his personal space, and looked up at him, because he was a good two or three inches taller than me. It was just like when we would meet to make out, except I definitely was not going to kiss him now. “Your lies, Chase, are the reason.” I told him, lifting up my arm. The cuts were hidden by my white sleeve, by he got my point. “Go to Hell,” I whispered to him, and punched him in the nose.

Everyone watching gasped, and a few of his girl friends yelled “B****!” He stared at me surprised as blood poured down his face. I think he was mainly surprised that I was strong enough to actually hurt him, because I could definitely tell it hurt.

Erin grabbed my right arm and pulled me away. She basically dragged me through the commons to the bathroom, and once there, I stood stock still as she checked to make sure it was empty. As soon as she determined it was, I broke down. I was crying and sobbing, partly out of anger, and partly out of depression. All of it was eating away at my brain, and I just couldn’t take it. I dug my fingernails into my left arm, and cried out as the pain registered.

Erin desperately pulled my hand away, and pulled me to the sink. The cuts on my arm were bleeding again. My white shirt sleeve had thin blood lines crisscrossed on it, and a little bit of Chase’s blood from punching him. “I can’t believe you just did that!”

“He deserved it,” I said through my tears and pain.

“Uh, duh! But at school? Jeez, Jess, you’re just going to get in trouble for it!” Erin said. She threw her hands up in exasperation. “I can’t do anything with this; you’re going to have to go to the office. You’re probably not going to want to wear a blood splattered shirt for the rest of the day anyway.”

“Of course I want to wear this shirt! And I really do not want to go to the office. He’s probably going to be up there!” I protested.

“Yeah, but you can’t go around bleeding for the rest of the day!” Erin said. And with that, she dragged me out of the bathroom into the waiting crowd. A lot of Chase’s friends were standing there, and all of them gave me vicious glares at once, mixed in with a few muttered comments of “B****!”

Erin walked up to the office with me, and when we got there, Mr. Ochsner, the Dean of Students, looked like he was about to explode. “Miss Viglietta!”

“Excuse me, Mr. Ochsner, but she’s bleeding. And we have to talk to Mrs. Flowers,” Erin said, intervening for me. Mrs. Flowers, the counselor, knew about my cutting. Erin went to her when I started a week ago. Mrs. Flowers came out of her office just then, and saw me. She and Erin steered me into her office. I breathed a sigh of relief when I got free of Ochsner.

Then I saw who else was sitting in Mrs. Flowers’ office. Chase, whose nose was still bleeding; he was rather stunned-looking. Mrs. Flowers sat me in the opposite corner and pulled up my sleeve. The cuts were bleeding quite freely.

“Jessica, are you wearing an undershirt?” She asked me. I nodded. “Take off your button up then, please.” I flushed slightly, and started unbuttoning my shirt. Chase watched me, not my chest, but my bright red face. I resolutely stayed turned away from him.
When I slid my left arm out, I hissed slightly. The fabric caught on the cuts, and dang, did it hurt! Chase watched me more intently as Mrs. Flowers and Erin cleaned and bandaged my cuts from yesterday.
“What happened?” Mrs. Flowers asked.
“When I stretch my left arm, the skin pulls too much, and it starts bleeding again. I stretched yesterday, and my white long sleeve shirt was totally ruined, covered in bloodstains,” I said, keeping my arm relaxed through the pain.
“How did you stretch it today?” She asked, wrapping my arm in gauze.
“When I punched Chase. I always clench both of my fists when I punch someone. It stretched the skin,” I told her.
“And why did you punch Chase?” Mrs. Flowers continued.
“Because he deserved it.” I said stubbornly. Chase rolled his eyes.
“Why do you think he deserved it?”
“He threw me against a freaking locker!” I burst out.
“Only to get my point across! And are you hurt?! NO!” Chase responded, yelling at me across the room.
“What do you call this, then?!” I yelled back, holding up my arm. “Ketchup?! And yes, it does hurt! Like hell!”
“That was your own fault.”
“No it wasn’t! You admitted you’ve been lying to me! That’s one of the best reasons to punch someone I’ve ever had!”
“It was for your own good! Freaking C***** Jessica!” He said, and he and I stood up at the same time and crossed the room to each other.
“Lying is never the answer, you idiot! This is your fault!” I said, brandishing my arm again. His eyes flashed.
“How?” He said.
“Tylor couldn’t give me the power to do this. Seth couldn’t either, although everyone says he was cheating on me. James definitely couldn’t, no matter how frustrated and upset he made me. And Michael almost did. But he told me he loved me, and that saved me. But you. You, Chase, you managed it. You pushed me over the edge with your lies! ‘Because I love you’ ‘you’re smart. You have common sense’ ‘cause you’re sexy’ ‘I care about you. Do I want you to change? Hell no!!’ ‘I notice you all the time’ ‘we’ll figure it out’ and worst of all, ‘I’m here for you if you ever need anything’! Everything you said to me was a lie, except when you were telling me I’m stupid. Yes, I am stupid, especially because I’m just now realizing all your lies!” I yelled, my voice rising in crescendo until I was almost screaming.
“You’re so…….” He trailed off, unable to finish what he was going to say.
“Don’t even talk to me. You said to me before, when I told you all the terrible lies and fakeness I went through, to say ‘F*ck guys. They’re all ****s. I don’t need them screwing up my life and making it worse.’ I didn’t want to say it then, but I do now. If I’m not worth the truth, or a simple explanation, to you, then you shouldn’t be worth my tears, my heartbreak, and especially not my blood.” And with that, I turned away from him before he could see the tears in my eyes.
“Jessica, you should probably go talk to Mr. Ochsner now. You’ll probably be suspended a few days,” Mrs. Flowers told me.
“I know. And I accept the consequences of my actions,” I told her. She saw the tears in my eyes, and blocked Chase from seeing me. And with Erin, I walked out of there, in a boys white undershirt, carrying a bloody button up, with tears streaming down my face as I walked away from the boy who had my heart.





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