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It’s my only solace. Here the white walls close in on you, suffocating you and forcing your imagination to dissolve. I memorize. Day after day, memorize. Countries. Capitol. Done. Now it’s pi.
I don’t want to be here. Stuck in this place so far removed from society. I know I shouldn’t have, it was stupid, but I did anyway. I tentatively peel away the bandage on my arm and recoil at the butterfly shaped cut, so red against the pale skin. A tear falls from my eye and it sinks into the cut. I brush it away, stick the plaster back down, and begin to chant furiously. “3.1415926535 8979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651328230664709384460955058223172535940812848111745,”
I stop. In a week that’s all I’ve memorized. I say it over and over again, a mantra to ward off the falsely cheery nurses in their bright clothes.
I remember that day so clearly. My alarm clock blared at seven in the morning. Groggily, I reached out a hand to turn it off. I swung my feet out of bed and then managed to get up, my eyes barely able to open I had stood in front of my closet door. Black jeans, a black t-shirt over a black-and-white sriped shirt, and a leather jacket. I had stood in front of the mirror, layering black eyeliner on and then smudging it the perfect amount. Painting my nails the color of coal and then blowing on them to dry. I didn’t bother to say goodbye to anyone as I ran out the door.
School was a nightmare, like always. I sat at the back of the class, trying my best to look bored and uninterested, applying mascara. The teacher looked at me for a moment and I could read pity in his expression, but he soon turned away and I sighed. He didn’t notice me just like everyone else.
Back at home I saw them in the bathroom. They were shining in the horrible lighting, their sharp tips inviting. What the heck. I picked them up, trying to stop my fingers from shaking. I sunk them into my arm, leaving a deep cut. It didn’t hurt. I opened them again and this time went for my cheek. This time it hurt, and I let a whimper of pain escape my lips. “Ow…”
I didn’t care. I deserved the pain. How could I have been so stupid as to think they were my friends? I shook my head, splattering blood into the sink. I repeated the process. Then I heard the door slam.
“Natalya? I’m home!”
“F***,” I muttered, trying to stifle the blood with a tissue, but it didn’t work. The door opened, and my mother stood there.
“3.1415926535 89793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102!” I yell, my voice muffled by my pillow.
I stand up and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Quickly, I pull off my black shirt and hunt in the drawer for a different one. The only one I can find is a green and blue one with a print of the earth on it, but I slip it on anyway.
There. I week of showering has washed the black dye from my blonde hair. I haven’t cared about makeup since I’ve been here, so my green eyes are unhindered by the dark circled I usually put around them.
I have been transformed.
I use the phone the next morning.
“Mom?” I ask, as she picks up on the third ring.
“Natalya? What is it?”
“I want to move.” It comes out fast.
“I want to move.”
“Move? Why? And why are you calling me now? Wecan’t talk about this now.”
I’m sure she’s about to hang up the phone.
“Because I hate it here! Because the people at school are mean and hate me! Because people think of me as a freaking Goth here! Okay, maybe I have gotten that reputation, but I’m not anymore! I don’t want to be known as Natalya-the-girl-who-cuts! I want to be Natalya-the-girl-who’s-smart!”
She’s quiet. “Is that why you cut? Because you hate it here?”
I choke back a sob. “Yes.”
I can tell she’s crying, too. “I’m sorry. I’ve been a horrible mother.”
“No! I… I love you.”
I haven’t said that in years. I thought I was above that, I guess.
I hear he blow her nose. “Yes. Yes we’ll move. I love you, too, Natty.”
I haven’t heard that nickname for a long time. A lump form in my throat. “I’m sorry.”
Then I break down into tears. I cry like I haven’t cried in a long time. I can imagine mom stroking my hair, the sweet scent of her shampoo mingled with mine.
When I get out three days later she’s there, waiting. I hug here, unabashedly. As we walk down the street, people stare at the scars on my face. I don’t care. I’m starting over.