Content warning: self-harm
Author’s note: I hesitated before posting this story, but here it is. This is fiction, but the issues treated in the story are very relatable for many people. I hope the ending will bring the realization that there can always be light even when everything seems hopeless. The goal is to encourage people who need help to seek it and to discourage bullying, for “words cut deeper than any blade”.
The Gothic Manor seems to have stepped right out of a fairytale. It towers above the trees to reach out to the Heavens. The late afternoon sunlight lingers on the walls, brightening its brown and golden shades. The splendor of the manor reflects the wealth of its inhabitants.
No cars in front; no one’s home. I take out my keys and step inside the foyer. The interior is as beautiful and rich as the outside. I reach the stairs and climb them, my hand following the golden railing as I do so. The crystalline chandelier hanging from the high ceiling reflects the light coming through the window as a diamond would. The exquisite wooden pillars illuminated by the sunlight gives a golden glow to the space and recalls an angel’s blessing or a halo.
I continue my way up the stairs to reach my personal bathroom, my footsteps echoing. The bathroom’s light brown floor is so clean that I can almost see my reflection. I take out a razor blade and put it on the edge of the bathtub fit for a queen. The ebony walls contrast with the pure white of the bath.
I turn the golden faucet on and listen to the clear water filling the bath. I test the water, making sure it is as hot as a thermal source. My clothes tumble to the floor. I shudder as I step into the burning bath. I immerse myself up to the back of my head so that only my face stays above the surface. My eyes closed, I concentrate on the still rippling water. I wait, but it doesn’t take long. The tears start straining down my cheeks, one after the other. My façade crumbles and I let go of the pretend. It goes on for what seems like an eternity.
When my eyes are as dry as a desert, I recall my day at school.
I stepped out of the bus, my body completely covered by leggings and a sweater. I had been careful not to put on any revealing piece of clothing. An expensive watch clasped around my wrist, a gift from my parents. My long golden hair is tied at the base of the back of my neck. I walked to the school’s door and took a breath before crossing the threshold of Hell. I reached my locker and I was, unfortunately, not alone. The guy next to me detailed my outfit with his predatory eyes. His imposing posture and square shoulders tower me, casting shadows over my small body. I knew his father struggled to raise him and his brothers with a poor salary, but if he were kind, I would have been glad to help.
“Tight leggings, ‘re you looking to get raped?” he scoffed with the devil’s smirk. “Rich girl,” he added, as an insult. His sharp words burned me like poison.
So much sadness and hurt, and yet I don’t have any tears left. I can’t breathe, I need to let it out. I take the razor, which has been waiting at the edge of the bath, begging me to let it help. I lean its sharp side to my upper forearm and slide it across my skin. I feel an agreeable tingling sensation as a red tear streaks down and falls into the crystalline water, tainting it with my sorrows. Breathing gets a little easier.
I joined my friends at the table for lunch. They were laughing before I arrived. I greeted them, smiling and pretending I hadn’t notice their change in behavior when I sat with them.
When I was done eating, I left the table after bidding them goodbye. I was still close enough to hear them a second later, when one said, “Poor thing, she thinks she’s good enough to be our friend!” Their laughter followed and haunted me for the rest of the day. I knew I was not one of them, but with who else could I eat at lunch?
I slide the blade down my skin a second time, right next to the first cut. I look at the blood sliding down my forearm and into the bath. It hurts a little, but my breathing still gets a little steadier.
I was sitting in the classroom, desperately trying to keep my eyes from getting watery. The teacher was speaking but I couldn’t get the words, and my eyes stayed fixed on my desk.
“Miss Eve, what’s the answer?” I lifted my eyes to stare at the teacher. I tried my best to keep a neutral expression.
I heard one of the guys in the back saying, “She’s so vain!” A dagger through my heart. The room felt as hot as the underworld. I swallowed, a knot forming in my throat.
“You weren’t listening! Stay focused.” I wondered if he really couldn’t see the pain in my eyes as I apologized or if he didn’t care at all. I thought it was the latter, he had as much empathy as a demon.
I slash a third cut across my forearm, forgetting the precision I usually am careful about. A flash of hurt, and light shade of pink colors the water. I focus on the pain and my breathing becomes as steady as my fast heartbeat.
I hear the gigantic doors of the manor closing downstairs; my parents and sister are home. My body relaxes as I calm the tempest within my mind and soul.
I look at my scarred forearm and a feeling of guilt overwhelms me. I know how wrong I am. My parents and my little sister would be devastated if only they knew. They would experience my pain as if it were theirs. I don’t want to hurt them, and I should stop this for the few people who love me.
However, I’m aware I’ll start again. I exit the bathtub and I carefully tend to my wounds. I apply a bandage that covers every cut and put my clothes back on. I glance at myself in the mirror over the sink and erase any traces of my crying. I wash the bath until it is as white as before and I head out to find my family in the kitchen.
The archway leading to the kitchen is flanked by dark brown pillars. The sun still shines through the windows above the ivory counters and another chandelier made of crystal hangs from the ceiling.
I come in after putting up my mask. My parents face me with a stranger, and my little sister is also present but my mother softly asks her to go upstairs. She turns her attention to me.
“Darling, this is therapist Linda Gleeson. Your father and I brought her to meet you,” she says, her voice as gentle as a summer breeze.
“Enchanted to meet you,” I answer, my heart beating faster. “May I ask why?” I turn to my parents, questioningly.
“We are your parents, dear.” My mother reaches me and cups my face in her hands. “We stand with you, through day and night, through lightness and darkness. You can put up a fortress around you, and I would still know. I’m your mother, darling, I could be blind but still see your pain.” She kisses my forehead lightly and my father approaches behind her.
“In this family, we carry the burdens of one another. We love you, honey.” He joins us into a hug.
I feel part of the world lifting from my shoulders and, suddenly, my eyes aren’t dried anymore. An ocean flows out of my eyes but I don’t feel sad. Hope seeps in through every hole of my soul.
Past my blurry vision, I see the therapist, using her handkerchief to dry her cheeks, and I smile. Not a fake smile, a real one as sparkling as the brightest star.