Hello my friends! So I said I would do this two weeks ago, and I don’t think I did it last week. I wrote this my freshmen year in college… almost 8 years ago. It won first place in the short story writing contest at my college. So, here is an excerpt from an award winning short story of mine…
Lives are spent learning who we are inside: what makes us tick, what triggers our anger and our tears. As children we play, never worrying about reality until an event happens that brings that elusive thing crashing down upon our heads. In that one moment we are forced to grow up, to change, and to truly learn who we are.
For most, we learn something new all the time. It is impossible to know yourself completely, our environment changes too often for us to stay the same. The search is never-ending, it will continue until the day we die. Inside we struggle with ourselves, asking questions like “Why do I feel this way”, “Why can’t I do what I want”, and “Why can’t I change myself?”
Life is hard, a proven fact everyone knows. From the single parent with three children working two jobs, from a homeless man on the street begging for your change, to the CEO of a company worrying he might cost someone a million dollars. No matter what position you hold in society it never changes. Masks are worn every day, a smile when you want to cry, an “okay” when you want to scream.
My story is like everyone else’s. Except for one thing. I have decided to tell mine. As people say, bravery isn’t the absence of fear; it is taking control of the fear itself. I can’t run any longer. There is no escaping the truth I see inside myself, no absolution in lying. Nothing can change my past and my choices, and until the day I admit them, there is no finding out who I am.
Rain fell in a heavy mist, coating the ground, the very air around me. I twirled in that mist, feeling it on my face, my skin, the gentle caresses of nature. My mind was on all the things that had happened. From waking up that morning to seeing my boyfriend at school, everything was running through my head. The day had been lovely, and I was returning home. Walking up to the door, I heard screaming; furious shouting that seemed to make the world cave in, my happy day fading away till I was once again a hollow shell. Sitting down on the step, the rain continued to fall, but now I no longer delighted in its caresses. I simply wanted it to wash me away.
A few hours later, my mother noticed I was out there. She said not a word, just opened the door as I walked in. Neither one spoke to me, I simply walked to my room, and shut the door. I did not know if the fighting would start again. Usually it did. So my defenses went up, the music blared, and my mind absorbed itself into another reality, a fantasy someone wrote for me to get lost in.
Sure enough, the fighting began again. Something as simple as the remote being lost started it this time. I wondered if the neighbors could hear it. If the careful pretense my parents tried to keep up in town really fooled everyone. In this day and age when people avoided the truth like poison I was almost sure no one saw the glances, heard the screams.
My fantasy world collapsed, that night, and as I had on so many others I cried myself to sleep; knowing I would wake up in the morning pretending nothing was wrong at home. Tears stained my pillow, and the blankets wrapped around me, a false security.
The next day in psychology we learned about certain mental disorders, and things people do to themselves to stop pain. I had heard about cutting but never really absorbed the true meaning of it. That night as I walked through the back door to avoid my parents yelling in the living room, I realized how much I truly wondered if it worked.
A bathroom holds so many dangerous items; it wasn’t hard finding a sharp blade. The razor slid across my wrist, a horizontal streak of red that slowly dripped down my arm. The mirror stared back at me, and I could see the lies of my face. The blonde hair that hung almost to my waist, the brown eyes that spoke of sorrows no one ever looked close enough to see, and the smile on my face. The smile I showed everyone who looked at me, saying, “I’m fine. Just fine.”
Even as the thoughts that I was crazy drifted through my brain, I could imagine the hurt in my heart, the scars it held, bled through that cut. Soon I moved to the left arm, cutting it the same way. I sat there watching the little amount of blood drain from the cuts. Eventually I heard the yelling quiet, I drifted back into the world, and wiping up the blood, erased all evidence from that place.
My mother was asleep in her room, avoiding matters that pressed all around her. The bills lay on the table unopened and unpaid till the last minute, and my father slept on the recliner. A wall was built around each one of us, separating our feelings and hiding our pain. I didn’t try to wake one of them up, I didn’t try to tell them how I felt. I simply dealt, and so I entered my room, to cry myself into another oblivion.
The next day I woke up hoping to start fresh, a new day, a new life. Dressing I noticed the angry red welts on my wrists, and with a change of plan I grabbed a long sleeved shirt. The hiding began that day, and slowly I sank even further.
On my way to school, I thought about what was happening. I swore to never cut my wrist again. I pulled into the school parking lot, and there was Derek. He was leaning against his car, waiting for me. I smiled, even though I was overwhelmed with fear.
What if he noticed the cut on my wrist? I hoped he wouldn’t. I didn’t know how to explain it otherwise. As the car came to a stop, I fiddled with getting my backpack. Finally, I gave up stalling, and got out.
“Hey.” He said in a slow drawl.
I smiled, while pulling down the sleeves of my shirt. Thankfully it was a little big on me and the sleeves could cover my hands. “Hi”
Derek wrapped his arm around me. As we walked into school I noticed people staring. We were more of the popular crowd. Neither of us was the best looking at the school, but both of us were noticed. Derek was one of the few happy things in my life lately.
I shook my head, trying to erase the thoughts from my mind. We headed to our first class, English. I talked to all my friends like nothing had changed last night. So as the day went on, even though I kept the sleeves pulled down, I didn’t think about it.
My last class of the day was psychology. We were still covering depression. I kept my hands under the desk, and fidgeted the entire time.
Finally the bell rang and I was able to escape. I met Derek by the car.
“Hey, Sarah, do you want to go to the park?”
I thought about it. I really didn’t want to go home. So, I agreed.
The park was a known place for making-out. All the couples went there, even during the day. The cops turned a blind eye till about midnight.
A few hours later, after we had gone to the pizza place for food, he took me back to the high school, so I could get my car and drive home.
We kissed goodbye, and as I drove off, tears began sliding down my face. I didn’t understand what I was feeling. Even though I had been sure to hide the cut all day, I wished someone had noticed. That someone had seen what I had done to myself, and explained my own emotions to me.
Arriving home, I still knew nothing. Confused, and hurt, I walked through my back door into the middle of a fight. I managed to hold myself together, till I entered the bathroom. Once I shut the door, I stated bawling.
I could talk about that day, about all the other days that followed. How I pretended to care that the most popular girl in school was sleeping around with a bunch of guys, or that perhaps another had breast implants. About how all the days at school were filled with meaningless rumors and endless battles to be the most popular. Nothing changed there, and nothing changed at home. I came back to that… place every night. My heart wasn’t there. My home wasn’t in that house. Every night I cut my wrists, and my thighs, every night I watched the blood that kept me alive in that miserable place pour from those self inflicted cuts.
My boyfriend, he never noticed. That I wore long sleeves, that there was liquid foundation and powder on my wrists to help cover the scars. Months after I made that first cut, and still no one noticed. No one knew, and I played the game. A game I hated. Eventually he noticed I didn’t talk anymore about school, I didn’t attend all the sporting events.
When he did start to question what was wrong with me, when he finally noticed what was wrong with me, I ran. I told him he didn’t know me, and never had. That was it, my one chance perhaps of resurfacing and I severed it.
The hot water fell on my skin, turning once pale flesh, angry and red. Tears poured from my eyes like rain during a thunderstorm. I simply stood there, wishing the world would go away; wishing that I just could wake up tomorrow and everything be different.
Slowly sinking to the floor, my hair hanging wet in front my eyes, the pain rattling my heart and seeping though my bones. Fake was something no one should be. Yet here I was, no one knew the real me… I didn’t even know who I was anymore.
The tears slowed, as a razor drew down my arm, vertically… the way to kill. Pain I controlled, pain I could endure. And as my heart poured onto the shower floor, I simply lived in that moment, the moment of my death.
(Promise the full story ends on a happy note)