Alone No More

June 15, 2011
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Ellen looked at the needle and cried. Her best friend had used this to hurt herself for three months and no one had noticed. No one could see he pain that she had gone through that was plainly illustrated on her thighs and ankles. She covered it up so nicely, so cleanly, and almost never cut deep enough to see blood. Almost.
“Such a small tool…” Ellen whispered to nobody but herself. Her best friend Beatrice had attempted to kill herself four nights before by overdosing.
She had been surrounded by grief counselors and friends and family since it happened and this was the first time she was allowed alone. Her mother had told her to “get some fresh air” and shooed her out to the back yard so the adults could talk. It was then that Ellen took out the needle that she had stolen from Beatrice’s room. She stared at it for a long time, wondering how anyone could get satisfaction from scratching themselves over and over.
Maybe that’s the attitude Beatrice was afraid of… she thought and felt completely at fault for the whole situation. She and Beatrice had fought the night before Beatrice… did it, and she couldn’t help the memory from crashing into her skull.
She had stayed the night at Beatrice’s and Beatrice was unusually happy.
“Y’know, Ellen?” she chirped, “You’re an awesome friend. Here, take my charm bracelet!” she took the gold piece of jewelry off of her wrist and handed it to Ellen. Ellen didn’t hold out her hand.
“Bea, this is your favorite bracelet; why are you giving it to me? Keep it,” she said and fastened the bracelet back on to Beatrice’s wrist. Beatrice shook her head.
“No, honey, take it. I’m not going to need it anymore,” Ellen was confused. Was Beatrice going somewhere? What was she talking about? She asked Beatrice and Beatrice just sighed.
“You don’t need to worry about it, babe,” But then she frowned. “I’ll miss you,” that was when Ellen started to get worried. She stared at her friend sitting on the flowery bedspread.
“Bea, you’re scaring me. What’s wrong?” Ellen said shakily and put her hand on Beatrice’s leg. Beatrice flinched. Ellen looked at her with total confusion. She lifted the skirt Beatrice was wearing up and saw all the scars. There were at least fifty swift, straight cuts and scratches from her knee up. Beatrice yanked the skirt back down and started telling some story about getting caught in a thorn bush.
“Bea, that’s not true. Tell me what’s going on,” Ellen said and stood up. She started looking around her friend’s room, trying to find what she could have used, but she had no idea what to look for. Did people use steak knives, razor blades? All she found was a sewing kit in Beatrice’s nightstand drawer with all the needles missing. That’s when it hit her.
“Oh no, Bea… Please tell me this isn’t you…” she started and then turned around. Beatrice had her hands on her thighs and she was clawing them. Her skin already looked raw. It was red and Ellen could see blood from old scars re-opening. She took a step toward her friend and tried to pull her hands away, but Beatrice looked up and grabbed Ellen’s wrist.
“You can’t tell anyone,” she said through clenched teeth. “They’ll call me a freak, they’ll lock me up with crazy people, they’ll never trust me again… they’ll… Ellen, you can’t tell. You won’t tell, right? You’re my best friend, right? Right?” Ellen had never seen her friend like this before. She was panicky and nervous and still hadn’t let go of Ellen’s wrist. She grasped it tighter and started to cry. Ellen was in complete shock. She had no idea what to do.
So she did what she thought a mother would do. She held Beatrice’s hand and promised she would never tell anyone until Beatrice fell asleep. Then she called her mom and said she was cramping so she could go home.
All the next day she didn’t call Beatrice or text her, or try to get in touch with her. She was still trying to sort things out in her mind. Nothing made sense. She ran everything over in her mind again and again until she fell asleep.
She was woken up by her older brother Zac shaking her arm. She looked at the clock and saw it was 2:47 a.m. Zac was saying something about Beatrice, and a hospital, and other muddled up things she only half understood. He pulled her out of bed and told her to get dressed and meet them in the car.
Zac was seventeen and two years older than Ellen and Beatrice. He and Beatrice had been dating for a year, and Ellen had finally gotten used to it, so when he was worried, so was she. She felt sick on the drive to the hospital and when she saw Zac start to cry, she broke down. She started to hyperventilate and could only get air through her sobs. She didn’t even know what was going on, but there were a million possibilities in her head, none of them good.
Ellen didn’t even remember the time between when she got out of the car and when she was in Beatrice’s hospital room. Her friend looked impossibly pale and weak. Beatrice’s mother was stroking her wavy, brown hair and her face was streaked with tears. Ellen couldn’t take it and ran out and into the waiting room and stayed there until her mother found her and drove them home.
Ellen chose to tear herself away from the memory at that point. She had to remind herself that sitting on her trampoline was the present and the hospital room was the past. She took a few breaths to calm herself and stared back at the needle. She turned it over in her hand a few times and wondered what would have happened if she had been a better friend, or if she would have told her mom, or talked to Beatrice instead of running away. She put the needle to her wrist, pressed, and dragged it across until she saw blood. It hurt. But it lifted the emotional pain. She wanted to do it again and again until she was covered in blood.
“Sis, you can’t change anything now,” a voice said from behind her. She jumped and turned around to see Zac, whose face looked as red as she knew hers must. Had she been talking out loud? She didn’t realize it.
“We all messed up in one way or another, you and me included, but thinking about what we could have done isn’t going to help Bea get any better. She needs you.” He said, the whole time prying Ellen’s fingers off of the needle.
She looked up at him. “Why would she need me? I ran away. Twice. Probably even more, I just didn’t realize it. I’m terrible… I… I don’t deserve her.” She choked out through tears. “She probably hates me,”
Zac took off his shirt and wrapped it around Ellen’s wrist. She cringed when the fabric hit the wound. “Elly,” he said, using her nickname from when she was a little kid, “you’re amazing. I can’t count the number of times Bea has talked about you and all the great things you do for her without even knowing it. And I know she needs you: she’s been asking about you at the hospital, nonstop,” he finished drying up the blood and put his shirt back on.
Ellen just stared at her brother. “Bea wants to see me?” she whispered. She didn’t understand. “How could she want—“ she started, but Zac cut her off.
“I’ll drive you to the hospital and you can ask her yourself.” He put the needle back in her hand and closed her fingers over it. She held onto it tight. They got off of the trampoline and slowly walked around to the front yard, Ellen trailing just behind Zac. When they were almost at the driveway, Ellen dropped to the ground and started digging a small hole near the side of the house. She dropped the needle into it and tore a piece of paper out of the pocket-sized notebook she sometimes carried around. On it, she wrote: Goodbye, old Bea. I’ll help the new you get better.
Then she folded up the paper and tossed it in she needles grave. When she put all the dirt back in, she covered it with some pebbles from their neighbor’s pond and got in the car with Zac. She looked over at him and gave a shaky smile.
“I’m ready,” she said.

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