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Before the Flight to Chicago

By , Brooklyn, NY

My aunt and I had just left the bathroom and we were now seated in front of gate, patiently waiting for the plane that would put me in a different time zone. I had been living with her since 2009. It’s the spring of 2012 and this is the first time I would be separated from her for more than a week. The first time I would be traveling this far by myself. A true coming of age moment I suppose.

We got to the airport way too early, better to be safe than sorry. We had two hours to spare and with so much time, you start to run out of things to talk about. You start getting tired of observing your surroundings. So, I did what I knew best- I pulled out my phone and started scrolling through my pictures and text messages. I stopped at a picture, I don’t remember what it was, but I remember it was funny enough to show my Aunt.

“Hey Aunty, look at this.” She looked at the phone for too long. She had no response. I had looked back down at phone just make sure the screen was on the right picture. It was. What the hell? I knew her well and I knew her sense of humor, so why wasn’t she laughing? Not even  a smile? I looked at her and she was starring me in the eyes. It was a cold stare. I returned her gaze, confused.  We looked at each other like this for a while before she asked me, “What was on your arm?”

I looked back down at my phone and realized that my sweater sleeve was pulled up to my elbows, revealing over a dozen tiny horizontal cuts across my forearm. S***. I must have pulled it up when I was washing my hands in the bathroom. I’m usually good with lying on the spot, but all I could muster up was, “I was playing around with Sam and Nancy and I cut-  well they cut me.”

She leaned away from me and looked at me with her lips half parted, debating on whether to call me out  on my bullshit or ignore my last remark completely and ask me the same question again. She did the latter, and I just repeated myself with tears in my eyes this time. I was struggling to explain to her that nothing was wrong with me. And that I was just kind of bored when I did this. And I wasn’t following any of my friends. And I was fascinated by how easily skin broke. And I wasn’t sad, but feeling a mix of invincibility and numbness and I found some alone time to inflict this strangely satisfying pain onto myself.

Instead, I just let tears roll down my face and answered “I don’t know” to every question she had.

Good Afternoon, we will now begin boarding flight number…

Before I got on the plane, she told me she loved me and that we would talk about it when I got back. When I got back, she never mentioned it.

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