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“Worthless,” the voice says. Cut. “Pathetic.” Another cut. “A mistake." A deep gash.
The tears run down my face --lingering at my jawline-- before finally falling into the sink.
"You are a mistake,” it repeats. “A MISTAKE!"
I let myself succumb to the voice's allurement. It takes hold of my right hand and firmly grips the blade, carving the very letters of the word into my arm. M-I-S-T-A-K-
Knock. Knock. "Clarissa!" my mom yells.
I halt. My trembling hand releases the razor blade from its grasp as it drops down into the sink.
I suddenly become aware of everything around me. My breathing, ragged. The sink, splattered with wet crystals. And my wrist, now engulfed in an ocean of red.
She can’t see. I panic. She can’t see.
“G-give me a moment.” I slip on a thick sweatshirt, careful to cover up my wrists. I open the door just enough so only my face is seen but so everything else –the razor blade, the blood— is hidden.
“Yes?” I ask.
“Remember to sleep early. Tomorrow’s the first day of school. You wouldn’t want to be late, would you?”
“Yes mom, I know.”
“And before I leave, I just want to say how proud I am of you for deciding to come back to school. I know the bullies were very cruel which is why I understand your need for homeschooling, but I’m glad you picked public school over home-school. Oh, and congrats; today’s the 100th day!”
“Since you stopped cutting.”
I become hesitant.
“Clarissa, you are beautiful. You are strong. Don't you ever forget that,” she continues. “Goodnight.” She smiles and leaves.
The voice returns. “How can she be so proud of you when you continue to betray her behind her back?” I recall my mom’s words. You are strong. At my attempt to fulfill my mom’s praises, the voice laughs. “You are not beautiful. You are not strong.” Its volume escalates, overpowering all other thoughts. “You are weak. Ugly. Hopeless.” I let out a whimper, and the voice knows that I have once again surrendered myself to its overbearing presence. “You try, and you fail. You try again –and you fail again. Don’t you notice a pattern?” It cackles.
I return my attention to the sink which holds my brush: the razor. Carefully, I paint the remaining E across my arm, perfecting my artwork.
Mistake, it reads.
My eyes drift upward to the mirror.
Staring back at me is a hideous creature, its eyes bloodshot, its lips quivering. I imagine a noose tied around its neck and feel myself smile for the first time in years.
"Goodbye,” I repeat.
And no one ever thought twice about it.