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There wasn’t anything remarkably different about that morning. It was just like every other morning. It was filled with the musky lack of motivation, the chilly breeze that slipped through the circular tear of net covering the window, and a long, exhausted sigh of dread. Each day came this way. The wind would brush my pastel skin, as shivers fell down my spine like a line dominos. I awoke with fear. Palms sweating, heart racing, my whole body quivering. This became routine. Once the clock that was centered on my peach bed-side table turned 5:59, a burst of uninvited electricity shocked my nerves.
Nobody knew why I looked like i only got an hour of sleep every night. I never looked well rested – though I tried my best to. The dark, smoky circles of eyes, a tired smile that tried too hard to mean something, piles of foundation piled over the surface of my face to cover up an abundance of blackheads, and clogged pores. Still, everyone saw me like I let them see me as. An overachiever, always getting straight A’s in school, the cheerleader, the queen bee. Beneath the masks I wore, what was there? Fear, paranoia, disgust? All of the feelings that made my skin ache, making my bones seem stringed together by barbed wire. 6:30 a.m. My eyes are glazed over with a pain i cannot put into words. I started examining the old red lines that have healed now. I reached over to find the pink disposable razor hidden beneath my pillow. It was always there for me unlike anyone else in my life. I pressed the blade to the inside of my wrist, quickly dragging it across the surface of my skin. The sharp sting moved through me as my hand formed into a tight fist.
“Get your useless, lazy a** out of bed!” My dad’s alarming yell raced up the stairs.
I remember the way it would make me shiver. That noise would make me want to put the blankets over my head and try my best to not utter a sound;pretend to be invisible as if i was playing a game of hide and seek. The shadow of his physique looked more like a demon than a loving father. His stomping feet would run angrily up to my room. His breath smelled like a mix of whiskey and rage. I remember the steaming red outline of his hand branded on my thigh. The tears were screaming down my cheeks and then suddenly, he would take his thumb and wipe the stream of tears away. There was an evil twinkle in his eye that never really went away.
I cleared my throat. “Coming!,” I yelled back.
Getting used to the jabs of hurtful comments that always slide out of his artillery shell mouth. I quickly put my jacket on and slid my shoes on. Hurrying out the door, I hoped he wouldn’t see me leave.
As I got to school, I didn’t realize how late I actually was. Why everyone was looking at me. Was I having a bad hair day or something? Did I forget to brush my teeth? Did my breath smell like rotten eggs? I could have sworn that I rinsed my mouth out with that minty liquid that makes my tongue start to sting and my eyes start to water. Am I just being paranoid like usual? Did I cover my cuts good enough? Did the red of the blood show through my long sleeve shirt.
No one looked at me but everyone stared. I could feel the judgemental eyes, their eyes of titanium steel cut right through my flesh. My florid cheeks were screaming with fear and anxiety. I didn’t know what to do, so I walked as fast as my ebony heels would allow me to. By the time I made it to my third period class, there were no empty desks except for the very front row. Dead and centre. My friends were laughing their girlish laugh, loud and obnoxious in the deep end of the classroom. The class had already begun. I squirmed my way into the desk in front of the over achievers.
“Bea!, You’re almost never late for class! What’s the meaning of this?” Ms. Matti’s concern was hiding behind her loud frustration.
I sunk deeper into my uncomfortable, ductile orange seat, smiling off of the question. Behind my bubbly, extrovert exterior lived a shy girl, afraid to make noise. If i wasn’t in a big group of people hanging out with everyone, I was alone writing or reading one of Ellen Hopkins’ books. If anyone else found me reading or writing I’d lose my entire place in my social circle. No one would ever talk to me again. Though it seems like that is already starting to happen.
“Okay, everyone quiet down. We’re taking notes”, Ms. Matti shouted as loud as her vocal cords would let her. She wasn’t very keen on yelling. In fact, it was a very rare occasion when she did yell. In unison, the class let out one loud roaring sigh.
I strained to pull my coiled notebook out of my backpack which was crammed full of random junk. I tried to make out the letters on the smart board. Each sentence seemed to clump together. I couldn’t make sense of what I was staring at. At that moment, I realized that I hadn’t had anything to eat for the past two days. As I attempted to write, my eyes were clouded with slow moving images of my surroundings. Suddenly, Ms. Matti’s lips were moving but I couldn’t hear anything that she was saying. The room started to spin. My limbs felt detached from my body as my stomach was getting knotted with nausea. Everything went pitch black and I was out cold. I felt a gentle tap on my bony shoulder. It was Ms. Matti. She probably thought I just fell asleep through her lesson and note taking class. Before she could ask any personal questions about life at home, I grabbed my bag and my books and ran out, attempting to find my friends for lunch.
“Hey, wait up!” I called out. I caught up to Erin and Jess. There was a tension in the air. Some kind of barrier that couldn’t be broken down. It was obvious that we were all drifting in one way or another.
“Hey, what’s wrong with you?,” Erin asked.
“Nothing. Late night”, I replied.
“Oh, yeah right…,” Jess’ snide remarks cut right through me.
The way the lies came so effortlessly started to scare me. Like always, I pretended I was fine. Both Erin and Jess’ cell phones chirped, as if they were planning to get away from me. Not that it mattered, I was barely in the conversation about who’s on the “Hot or Not” list. I grabbed my cell phone out of my back pocket. Looking down to the screen for one minute, I noticed I was alone. They ditched me which wasn’t surprising. I left school, anger bursting inside of my lungs but I couldn’t allow myself to break, I couldn’t allow myself scream. I got to the front door of our house, and it was already open. I knew who was home. Right then, I knew i should have stayed at school. The cracked ashtray was tipped over on its side, the ashes lay spread all along the glass coffee table like confetti. Normally, its dad works late and mom is home cooking dinner but for me it’s the opposite. I hardly ever see mom anymore, its like she doesn’t even exist.
“Aren’t we looking pretty today?” Dad said. I rolled my eyes, annoyed. I started getting used to this these days.
His lifeless brown eyes were blackened, as he smirked in my direction gulping down another bottle of beer. I could’ve sworn something else took over him when he starting to drink. The whole house was trashed. And I knew I was the one who was cleaning up this mess. I tried not to make any noise walking into the kitchen because I knew anything could set him off.
“Hey! I was talking to you!!” His loud, footsteps stormed into the musky, discoloured kitchen. Stepping unbalanced, using the wall as a crutch. My toes started to curl up out of fear, my arms felt the frozen breeze of wind coming through the cracked window. His mouth of smoke let out a howl. I couldn’t escape, there was no where to go. He had me trapped, pinned against the wall.
I tried to weasel my way out of his harsh grip.
“I’m not finished with you just yet, little girl.” He made it seem like this was some kind of messed up, twisted game he loved to play. I could feel the bruise starting to form on the surface of my bicep. He lost his balance- struggling to stand. That was the only time. I knew it. Or else I’d end up with another black eye, and those are getting harder and harder to hide nowadays. I ran out the door. I looked back just to make sure he wasn’t behind me. But he was always behind me. I could always feel his intrusive presence behind my shoulder. My heart was thumping as I ran past every dressed in neon, jogging. When I got to the park, I sat down on the old green bench that has been loosing its colour for years. Trying to steady my breathing. I didn’t realize how badly my makeup was smudged. The wet, dark streams of mascara lay still on my flushed cheeks. I could not stop the endless teardrops. It was out of my control.
Looking up towards the sky, I noticed how the sun started to dull down beneath the thin layers of grey clouds. I figured that I better get home, maybe my mom would show up tonight. The walk back was long and cold. My fingers felt frostbitten but it was almost summer. The icy chill had crept its way back into my skin. The lingering despair was always there. In the back of my mind. My father always said he was a good man. He lied. I tried to quietly unlock the door but my fingers stumbled. Still, i managed to sneak in behind mom and dads alarming argument. They always knew how to keep a fight going on for hours and hours. I kept my shoes on, running up the stairs to my room.
It seems like I’ve been trapped here for so long. There is no where out. My friends, do they even care about me anyways? Would they even notice if I stopped showing up to class, or even stopped speaking to them altogether. I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this. Keep pretending that i am fine and that I’m happy. You’d think that someone would notice, but it seems like I’ve become a ghost of myself. A mere fragment of who i used to be, or who I portray myself as.
“Bea!!, get down here! Now!,” my mom yelled. She almost never yelled at me which made me shiver with dread.
Slowly my feet gave out. I tried walking down the steps without completely falling over. I got to my mom. She was sitting on the leather couch. Knees elegantly crossed, her hands folded in her lap. Nervously, I sat beside her, scratching the nail polish off of my fingernails.
“I found these blades.” she said.
“Oh… I can explain..uhh -“
My heartbeat was racing, it felt as if it would jump from my chest. She cut me off before I could even come up with an excuse. She struggled to roll up my long sleeve shirt. The fresh wounds had now been exposed to the air. I blinked really hard and clenched my teeth, trying not to show how painful the stinging sensation was. I did not realize how much shock overtook her at first. My inflicted pain took her by surprise. I glanced up towards her face, catching a glimpse of her drooping eyes, petrified.
“Oh my goodness!” I saw mom’s jaw drop to the floor.
“I didn’t want to believe it… How could you do this to yourself??” It was an obvious rhetoric question. I had never heard the house that quiet before. The discomfort made my skin start to itch. There was something in her eyes. A plaster that replaced the understanding that I thought she owned.
“What is wrong with you?, mom said with a disheartened tone.
“Nothing!,” I shot back. I was just waiting for my dad to say something. He always had to throw in the last word. I could feel my face turn into a shade of boiling red. They are going to wish they never said a thing.
“Do you know where you are, miss?” The nurse asked me. All I could see was her motherly concern that I had never experienced or saw in my own mom, her beaming blue eyes that tried to get words out of my mouth. I could not speak. There was a weird feeling in being rolled down the never-ending narrow hallways. My arms felt like rubber on my sides, my fingers tingling. “Where am I?” i asked myself. In reality I didn’t want to know the answer. I raised my hand to my face, brushing my bangs away from my eyes noticing the hospital wristband and the stitches. What did I do? Everything went black. When i woke up, there was an IV in my right arm. I watched the blood fill into the plastic tube. The nurse took my vitals and smiled politely. I don’t know how I got into this robe. The thought of someone seeing my bare body made me quiver with disgust. Back and forth, my stomach turned. I started to gag. Feeling to vomit hit the roof of my mouth. It all came out, staining the bed sheets.
“You chased a bottle of tylenol with whiskey,”she said. This nurse has been trying to get me to talk for days, or at least that is what it seems like. There aren’t really any windows around here so I cant tell if it is morning or night.
“What is the date?,” No one liked to answer my questions. Nothing came out. I wanted the words to fall out of me but there was nothing but a detachment lingering. Soon, the tears began to fall without permission. The built up emotion had to come out. She handed me the box of tissues. My excuses were starting to run dry.
“I wasn’t trying to die,” I promised. But was I? Did I really want to wake up again? I looked at my arms, wishing for my skin back. Wishing for my life back. Maybe all I wanted was a place to go, where they knew my name but not my story. Could I tell them about the way my fathers hands made me feel less of a person, how my mother’s presence was barely there most days and nights. I thought about my friends from time to time, wondering if the word had gotten out. The rumours spread like wildfire in the school. I didn’t care anymore. She tried to kill herself, those words aren’t comfortable coming out of anyone’s mouth.
“We are moving you into the ward” Ruth said.
“A-alright,” I stuttered. The fear rolled off of my tongue.
I opened my eyes and there was my mother and father together. Their eyes stained with sadness and helplessness. I could tell they hadn’t got much sleep either. I noticed their hands were entwined. It had been years since I saw something like that, it didn’t seem real at all. At least not to me. I pinched myself to make sure that this wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t. They both knew that they needed to be there for each other, and for me. Desperately, for me.
“W–we love you,” mom said with tears rolling down her cheeks. She spoke for my father too. I got out of the hospital bed, unhooked myself from the machine that was pumping medicine into my bloodstream. I wrapped my arms around them both. It was forced and uncomfortable. I had to do it. It was the only way.
“Are you ready?,” asked Ruth.
“Yes,” I replied with no tremble in my voice.