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A single drop of bright, red, salty blood dropped to the floor, in what seemed like slow motion before hitting the cool tiles and rippling outwards into a tiny pool. It began to dry, staining the floor as more tiny droplets splattered around it, forming one growing pocket of thick liquid. A girl leant over the sink, staring in the mirror of the school bathroom as the tiny beads of blood rolled down her skin from the finely cut word on her back- UGLY. The scab had opened once again as if an invisible dagger and been swiftly ripped through her skin, making the word stand out again. The girl, dressed in a plain t-shirt and jeans had many of these scars all over her body. Words that had hurt her, that had cut into her, that had changed who she was were scattered across her once smooth, pure, innocent skin. The creamy whiteness was now turned a raw red and was blistered with the wounds that had yet to heal.
She waited for the bleeding to stop and she quickly took a paper towel from the dispenser and bent down to mop up the blood. This happened at least three times a day. No matter how hard she tried to be perfect and not to interfere with anyone or upset them she always seemed to find her way to the jagged end of the most dangerous weapon anyone could throw at her in particular. Every time she found herself on the bitter end of one of these attacks she would find an excuse to be excused from class and run to the washroom so that she could nurse her wounds and desperately try to get the bleeding to stop before anyone noticed. No one could ever know about this. It would only make things worse- give them more reason to ridicule her.
The girl had never quite figured out why the others were so against her. At first she had told herself that she wasn’t pretty enough. She had tried in vain to fix that. She went out to the mall and got some new clothes and make-up. She worked hard every morning to look good for school and for a few days this helped- until the others found something new to pick at. Next, they said she wasn’t smart enough. That weekend she went to the library and read books on all sorts of things. She did her homework with extra care and on Monday morning, proudly handed in the assignment that she had worked on all Saturday night. For a while the others seemed satisfied. The next week the others told her that she wasn’t athletic enough. She trained for weeks at the gym and the next month she made the school softball team. Still, it wasn’t enough. She began to realize that no matter what she did it would never be enough. She stopped wearing the fashionable clothes and went back to her jeans and t-shirts.
Every time the others had told her that she wasn’t good enough a new word or phrase had been cut by an invisible knife into her back, plunging each time closer and closer to her heart. She was losing more and more blood with every stabbing, heart-splintering word uttered against her. If this kept up for much longer she wasn’t sure how much more she could physically take. As she got up from the pool of blood around her on the bathroom floor she pulled a new shirt out of her backpack and pulled it over her head. She stashed the stained t-shirt behind the sink and tried to clean herself up. Walking out of the bathroom she started to sway back and forth unsteadily. The loss of blood was making her dizzy again. She slowly fell back against the wall, sliding down it until she could rest her head on her knees. Bitter tears rolled down her face as she passed out and blackness overwhelmed her.
Her vision was slowly restored and she saw that she was in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV pumping blood back into her frail body. The nurse checking her charts and monitoring her vitals patted her hand and gave her a sympathetic look. She was a cheerful looking woman, her cheeks flushed with roses and her smile enthusiastic. It was obvious she was trying to make the girl feel better. It looked like she didn’t quite know what to say to the girl lying in the bed. Should she tell her that everything would be okay? Should she tell her that people were cruel sometimes? What could she possibly say to make the girl feel better- nothing.
The nurse had seen this before and she knew that the girl in the bed might not be so lucky next time she bled out like that. In cases like this they couldn’t stop the scabs from re-opening and seeping with blood once again. This girl had a bad case of it. Her back was covered in the words etched into her by others. The slashes drawn by the invisible knife were deep and hard to heal. The nurse knew that she could not protect the girl forever. Soon she would be back at school amongst the people who were causing her so much harm. There was nothing she could really do- it was not as if the girl was purposely hurting herself. The wounds were not self-inflicted.
Within a few days the girl was gone from the hospital and the nurse was sad to see her leave. She was no longer safe within the hospital- where blood could be pumped back into her if need be. Who was to say that the next time those wounds re-opened anyone would find her and call 9-1-1 before it was too late? The nurse could not be sure and so she tried to push the girl from her mind and got back to work.
The girl went back to school the next day and tried to keep a low profile. She didn’t speak to anyone, she didn’t cause any waves and she was barely noticed. This was how she liked it. She didn’t bleed when everything was quiet. The silence did not last long though. Within a few days things were back to normal. The others made snide remarks behind her back even though they knew she could hear them. They laughed and pointed as she walked by and made life difficult for her.
She held her school books close to her chest and sped up as she passed them. She could feel the wounds on her back opening up again. Mentally, she cursed and ran to the bathroom. Turning around and lifting up the back of her shirt she looked into the mirror over her shoulder and gasped at what she saw. The skin was practically peeling off and blood drenched her skin and the thin t-shirt she was wearing. She dropped to her knees as it seeped out of her body. It swelled around her on the ground like a puddle on a rainy day. She felt herself getting lightheaded again and soon when the blood loss was too much for her she crumpled to the ground, the blood staining her skin and drying in her hair.
It was an hour before anyone found her lying there on the bathroom floor. By then it was too late. The girls eyelids had long fluttered shut and her last raspy breaths gone unheard. She had bled out from the wounds inflicted on her by her peers who really didn’t know her at all. The new girl who walked into the bathroom knelt down to see if the girl lying there was still alive. The lifeless body showed no signs of life and the girl shocked at what she saw, fled the room and brought back a teacher who called for an ambulance.
As the ambulance loaded her up the paramedic shook his head and sighed, “Such a shame, eh Mitch? This is the sixth time this month.”
The other paramedic, Mitch nodded, “Yea, such a shame.”
The two men loaded the stretcher in and shut the doors behind it. They drove to the local hospital where they were met by the nurse who had treated the girl earlier. She sighed and shook her head. The paramedics gave her a knowing look and brought the girl’s body inside. Later that day the girl’s family came to identify her and took her away to be buried. Meanwhile, the nurse had gone home to shed a tear for the girl that was lost. Making her way to the back of her cozy home she saw the garden she had made for the ‘lost’- the young ones who had suffered the same way as the girl from today. In the garden she placed another blank tombstone beside the others and said a silent prayer for her. Looking at the blank, grey face of the tombstone one more time she made her way to her house and went to sleep. The next day she went back to the hospital. Sooner or later she would meet the next victim and the cycle would begin again.