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Safe for Now
I walked to the counter on a mission. This was not going to be easy, I knew. I had to be crazy to think that in one an eating disorder treatment center I could cut. I doubted I could do this. In fact, this was stupid to even try. But I had to. I would go crazy if I had to go another night without cutting. Slowly I walked to the counter. Broke looked up.
“Can I help you Courtney?”
“Yeah, can I use the scissors?”
“Sure, just sign them out on the sheet.”I scribbled my name on the sheet. Broke smiled and handed me the scissors.
“Just give them back in 15 minutes.”
“Okay.” I walked into the movie room and threw a blanket over my body. I tried to make it look like I was getting comfortable. But, if you looked at me very closely on that sad night, into my eyes, you could see them focusing. But they weren’t focusing on the slicing I was doing, slicing the imprinted scars I would carry for years to come. They were focusing on not crying. For she was just falling back down the same old pattern.
“Snack time girls!”
I quickly threw on her sweatshirt over myself before the lights came on. I could not let anyone see my arms. I’m not an idiot; I knew how much trouble I would get in if I was caught. But my plan was full proof. I would just wear sweatshirts until the scars looked old and no one would ask about them. And if I acted happy, then no one would think to look at my arms. So I put a big, phony smile on my face, and walked out.
“Okay, uh, if she were a toy, what kind of toy would she be?” Taylor asked. They were playing the “if-they-were-a” game. That’s when you try to guess who someone on the unit is by asking if they were something, what kind would they be. Such as: If so-and-so was a movie, what kind would they be?
Lizzy considered this. “Uh, oh definitely a jack-in-the-box.”
“Nurse Patty!” Christy yelled.
“Yep!” Lizzy shouted. Everyone cracked up laughing, except for me. Paige glanced over at me.
“Are you okay?” Paige mouthed to me. I looked at Paige, and saw the concern in her eyes. In an instant, all the pain in me melted. All I felt was guilt, guilt for keeping this from Paige. I looked up to Paige as a role model. I needed to tell her. Before I could stop myself, I mouthed back, “Can I talk to you after snack?”
Paige frowned but nodded and mouthed “Sure baby, I love you.” I sighed, Paige didn’t deserve what she was about to hear and I knew it.
“Come here baby girl; let’s go in the noisy lounge.” It was 9:00; everyone was getting ready for bed. No one bothered to look in the dark room, everyone assumed they were just talking, no one would have seen their faces in the darkness. But I was close enough to see the concern in Paige’s eyes, a look I would remember for years to come. And Paige was close enough to see shiny tears pour down my face, and the look in my eyes that spoke to her, that said “Help me”.
“So, sweetie, what’s wrong?” I turned around, away from Paige and looked down on the stained, dark carpet. I spoke softly.
“Paige, if I told you something, would you promise not to tell anyone?” Paige knew what better.
“Only if it’s not hurting you or anyone else.” I shrugged.
“Okay, guess I can’t tell you.” I started to walk out. Paige grabbed my arm.
“No, wait. You can tell me.” Paige gestured with her hand to sit down.
I fought back tears and walked slowly to the chair and sat down, avoiding Paige’s eye contact. I tried to choke out words but couldn’t. I was trying too hard to hold back tears. Quietly I rolled up her arms and looked away. She heard a little squeak, like someone trying to hold back a gasp. I looked at my arms and was shocked a little myself. Paige tried to hide it, but I could see in her eyes that she was horrified. That was it. I couldn’t stop the tears. I sobbed and Paige held me while I cried. After a few minutes Paige sat me up and wiped her tears out of my eyes. After several minutes of silence, Paige spoke up.
“Baby girl, what happened?” I looked up and barely whispered.
“I did it.” I held out the scissors and the plastic knife I swiped from the kitchen. Paige shut her eyes than grabbed the knife.
“No, no, no. Baby, this is not right, no, sweetie. When did you do this? During the movie?”
“Yeah, I, uh-“I started then was cut off. I glanced on the doorway, and yanked my sleeves down before the nurse looked.
“Paige? I can unlock your room now, if you want.”
“Um, no, I’m sorta-“Paige started and I cut in.
“Yeah, we’re just finishing up. I’ll see you later, Paige?”
Paige nodded and walked out just as Taylor ran in. Taylor smiled brightly at me, than saw her puffy eyes and sat down.
“What’s wrong?” The girl wastes no time. I considered hiding it, but figured that if I had already spilled the beans, I should spill them some more. I rolled up my sleeves for Taylor. Taylor sighed and sat down next to me.
“Did you do this?” I looked at my shoes and nodded. Taylor winced like something had hurt her, and it probably did hurt, inside. Taylor grabbed my hands and spoke.
“Listen, Sweetie, you gotta stop this. This isn’t right! Do you hear me? You need to stop doing this to yourself. You need to stop doing this to yourself!” And I looked up at Taylor’s concerned face, looked in her beautiful brown eyes, and felt safe. I felt the love I’d wanted. Protection love, sister love. Then I leaned in and Taylor hugged me, and I knew I would be fine, for the night. After that, I didn’t know.