Cleansing

Submitted into Contest #64 in response to: Set your story in a Gothic manor house.... view prompt

165 comments

Drama High School

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.

October 21, 2020 16:16

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165 comments

Lina Oz
16:26 Oct 21, 2020

You handle this delicate topic beautifully and thoughtfully. Not only is your description of the manor exquisite, but your detail in the speaker's actions is vivid––you really "show" instead of tell, and it pays off immensely. The ending is wonderful. While many do not receive help they need, I appreciate the "light" at the end of the tunnel for the character here. The value of therapy (and of supportive parents) can never be stated enough. One note: I would consider an added warning to the opening; just a thought, for any potential ...

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Lina Oz
16:30 Oct 21, 2020

Oh, one other thought. I was thinking of some other titles, maybe even more mysterious and pun-like, such as: "Cleansing" This title relates to: 1) the bath, 2) cleansing the "memories" with cutting and self-harm, and 3) receiving the help the character needs as a way to "cleanse" their mental state and find greater mental health.

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Dalyane Deblois
16:36 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much! I was really going for this reaction and I wanted to point out that there is help out there for people who need it. It is a topic that I care so much about and your comment is really appreciated. I added the content warning as you suggested. I also took the title "Cleansing" since it pretty much says what I wanted. And it's shorter. Thank you so much again!

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Lina Oz
17:53 Oct 21, 2020

Awesome––glad I could help! Looking forward to reading more of your work! :)

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☆ Ariadne ☆
18:16 Oct 21, 2020

This is just what Lina said - beautiful and thoughtful! Having gone through something similar myself, I appreciate the hopeful ending. Out of curiosity, what was the original title? I do love this new one. Loved it, Dalyane!

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Dalyane Deblois
18:44 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much Adrienne! I really appreciate your comment and I'm glad you liked it. The original title was "Words cut Deeper than any Blade". I liked it but I thought it felt a bit long for a title.

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☆ Ariadne ☆
18:53 Oct 21, 2020

Yea, that does seem a bit long. I like the new one! :)

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Kristin Neubauer
13:17 Oct 23, 2020

Such a powerful story, Dalyane. The idea that someone who seems to have it all can still experience such pain. You certainly accomplished your goal in reminding us that there is hope and love amid such darkness. Well done - an important story.

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Dalyane Deblois
22:27 Oct 23, 2020

Thank you so much Kristin, I really appreciate your kind words!

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Amel Parvez
15:48 Feb 06, 2021

It was so sad plus beautiful! Really lovely:)

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Dalyane Deblois
23:02 Feb 11, 2021

This is so sweet of you, thank you!:)

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Amel Parvez
15:17 Feb 12, 2021

na! anytime:)

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Daniel R. Hayes
21:21 Feb 04, 2021

I thought you did a great job writing this. I know this topic is a real one in today's world. Great job.

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Dalyane Deblois
23:12 Feb 11, 2021

Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment, it is very nice to hear!

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Evan Dowty
12:28 Mar 31, 2021

You are hot

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B. W.
04:17 Jan 22, 2021

How are ya?

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Dalyane Deblois
19:48 Jan 22, 2021

I'm fine, you?

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B. W.
21:55 Jan 22, 2021

I guess im alright, though im really bored and tired :/

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Dalyane Deblois
02:02 Jan 27, 2021

Oh I get that, mostly for the tired part anyway:/ I just really hope this semester's gonna be easier and I'm gonna have more time to breathe and write!

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B. W.
02:47 Jan 27, 2021

Do you maybe wanna hear some jokes or something?

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Dalyane Deblois
16:29 Jan 27, 2021

Why not, of course go ahead!:)

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Aww... Will the therapist be able to help her? I really hope so!

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Dalyane Deblois
21:04 Jan 11, 2021

Thank you! Yes the ending indicates a hopeful future for her and, although it is not clearly stated, she will get the help she needs!

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Yay! I love happy endings, although I also love characters with troubles, so I guess those go hand in hand?

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Dalyane Deblois
22:03 Jan 11, 2021

I guess they do:)

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B. W.
05:30 Dec 01, 2020

I got a new story out ^^

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Dalyane Deblois
02:26 Dec 02, 2020

I’ll check it out when I can!:)

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B. W.
02:58 Dec 02, 2020

I'm a bit excited to see what ya think ^^

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B. W.
21:37 Nov 29, 2020

Heyyyy

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Dalyane Deblois
22:01 Nov 29, 2020

Heyy, how are you?

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B. W.
22:34 Nov 29, 2020

well, im fine and i guess some good news for me is that Im almost done with all of my school stuff for the semester and all that ^^ all i have is basically algebra, though i hate it :/

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Dalyane Deblois
02:25 Dec 02, 2020

Well that’s still great! I have about three weeks left and the worst is to come!!

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B. W.
02:58 Dec 02, 2020

ya do?

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Kate M
20:15 Nov 29, 2020

Thank you for writing this. This is a very meaningful and powerful piece. ❤️

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Dalyane Deblois
02:15 Dec 02, 2020

Thank you so much for commenting❤️ It is a subject that matters a lot to me! I’ll make sure to read one of your stories soon!

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11:19 Nov 10, 2020

Great story

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Dalyane Deblois
03:05 Nov 12, 2020

Thank you!!

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Elizabeth Inkim
04:47 Oct 31, 2020

Dalyane, I have finally made it to your story, and I am glad I did. Although this isn't my usual type of story I think that your choice in subject matter was interesting. Suicide and self-harm are always topics that should be handled carefully and I think you managed it well. The beginning was a little confusing to me, because at some point it said, "No cars in front; no one’s home," and it might have been just a phrasing thing, but for some reason, I interpreted "no one's home" as an abandoned house; just something that I saw, but I...

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Dalyane Deblois
18:22 Nov 01, 2020

Hi Elizabeth! Thank you so much for the comment and for taking the time. I'm glad you read it, and I'm heading to your newest story right now to read it!:)

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Andrew Krey
00:14 Oct 31, 2020

I liked your story, really pulls at your empathy as you read about her suffering. I really like the 'genuine' smile at the end, letting the reader infer how much of a rarity this is, to drive home the hope of your ending. Well done.

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Dalyane Deblois
01:52 Oct 31, 2020

Thank you so much! I really appreciate the comment, and the end was my favorite part to write. Will look at your latest story soon!

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Andrew Krey
02:21 Oct 31, 2020

You’re welcome Dalyane, and thanks

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R H
15:48 Oct 29, 2020

A very well written story dealing with feelings we all go through at one time or another, and at some level. Very uplifting.

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Dalyane Deblois
01:57 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you so much, glad you liked it! Will check out one of your stories soon!

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Daniel Deschenes
21:02 Oct 27, 2020

The title is perfect. So many different implications. I loved it. Keep up the good work!.

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Dalyane Deblois
01:33 Oct 28, 2020

Thank you so much! Lina helped me with the title! Will look at one of your stories soon!

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Kylie Rudolf
20:44 Oct 26, 2020

This story is deep and very inspiring! Great job raising awareness!

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Dalyane Deblois
01:29 Oct 28, 2020

Thank you very much Kylie! I will look at one of your story soon!

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Daniel K
04:03 Oct 24, 2020

This is different from your other works, and it's interesting to see another side of your writing. I really liked the description in the beginning. The atmosphere was so solid, too, all throughout it. It had a consistent tone that carried the story. I liked the "Enchanted to meet you" line. Cool word choice that fits the character and the context. Keep it up!

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Dalyane Deblois
22:00 Oct 24, 2020

It was the first time I tried this style of story. Thank you so much for the feedback, I'm glad you liked it! I will check your latest story out soon!

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Roger Meachem
13:05 Oct 23, 2020

This is well written; there're no unnecessary jumps or missed information and although I've read it a couple more times, it was simply to check bits and pieces - it made complete sense on the first read-through. I know so little about self-harming that seeing it through the youngster's eyes was an education. I wondered about the Gothic setting you've created. Here it's used to convey wealth, but had you considered also using it to convey heaviness/oppression? This is a short piece and you've kept things simple; in fact, it's almost a fa...

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Dalyane Deblois
00:51 Oct 24, 2020

Thank you so much for the constructive feedback, it is very helpful and I really appreciate it. I already changed a couple of things in the flashbacks. As for her "friends", she knows they don't accept her, but she can't see any other option. I cleared that up in the story. I'll check out the descriptions again tomorrow. I tried to demonstrate how she links school to her "Hell" whereas the manor is her "Heaven", which is why I used a halo and golden light to describe some of its aspects. For her, the manor is both her home and a refuge. Agai...

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Yolanda Wu
04:50 Oct 23, 2020

This was such a realistic handling of self-harm and depression. At a technical standpoint, your descriptions are beautiful and realistic and heartbreaking, I could picture all those scenes as though I was there. I love that there is hope at the end, because especially for someone who is struggling, it can be hard to seek help, or admit that they do need help, so I thought the end was perfect. I think there needs to be stories like this for people to understand what it is like, so thank you for writing such a thoughtful story handling the d...

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Dalyane Deblois
22:32 Oct 23, 2020

Thank you so much Yolanda for your kind words! I really appreciate it and it warms my heart! I really wanted it to be realistic but hopeful, glad it worked.

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Yolanda Wu
22:33 Oct 23, 2020

You're welcome! It definitely worked. :)

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K. Antonio
21:33 Oct 22, 2020

I think you have good control over details. The fine details when describing action and subtle movements are really good. The use of flashbacks mixing with the present is nice as well. The character is moody, complex, cold but also real. I thought the story was nice. A solid piece. Feel free to check out any of my stories too, would love some opinions!

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Dalyane Deblois
23:22 Oct 22, 2020

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave feedback! I really appreciate it. I will definitely check one of your stories out!

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Ray Dyer
18:46 Oct 22, 2020

This is a rough one, for sure. Your use of description really brings the setting, and the actions being taken there, to life. I experienced a genuine sense of dread, and I was trying not to think back on a friend I once had who did this same thing. I'm grateful that the story ended on a more positive note, when she cut more erratically, I had a moment of fear that this was going in a different direction. This story exposes a pain that a lot of people, especially but not limited to young people, experience always. The worst part is that kn...

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Dalyane Deblois
19:29 Oct 22, 2020

Thank you so much for this great feedback! This is such a sensible subject that I care a lot about, and I wanted to keep it realistic and still hopeful. I really appreciate your comment and it truly warms my heart. Thank you for reading!

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