I must have dozed off before dinner. I was in the wrong bed. My sister was next to me, asleep. The lights were off and the sky was dark. It was 2 am. I was wide awake. This was my chance.
Here I am, sitting in my car. I’m trying to balance alcohol wipes and tissues on the dashboard. I’d rather do this in the dorm, but my roommate is home. Tough luck, I guess.
There wasn’t much left to gather. I had hidden the rubbing alcohol under my bed a few weeks ago. My pocket knife was ready, but I decided to sneak into the kitchen and steal the sharpener anyway. I couldn’t be too careful. This had to work. I only had one shot. For once in my life, I was going to take action. No more innocence. No more perfection. I was going to prove to myself I wasn’t a fake. Wait. That wasn’t the plan. I needed to prove I was a fake. I couldn’t do something like this. It wasn’t me. I wouldn’t be able to go through with this, right?
I could call a friend. I’m supposed to call a friend. But why bother her with my bullshit, right? I never need so much as a steri-strip. God, I’m a fake.
Soap. I needed soap. Water, too, and tissues. I had everything I could think of. Where to do it? In my room? I imagined someone waking up, walking in on me.
The closet—the bottom drawer of my dresser was empty.
Perfect. Ready. Okay, ready.
I’m using an exacto blade. They scare me less than razors. I keep trailing the point up and down my arm. Am I really hesitating? After all that fuss, after finally caving in, now I’m not going to do it? Fuck, this back-n-forth shit is worse than relapsing.
I thought I was going to use my feet. I changed my mind after realizing how sensitive they were, how many nerves were wrapped around those delicate tendons and bones. I felt sick. Good. That’s how I was supposed to feel. But where else could I do it? I couldn’t let anyone see. They would think it was a joke. They would laugh at my “edginess” like they had laughed at my music. And why shouldn’t they? It was hilarious. An adorable, Christian girl, listening to trashy sex-filled songs. A big joke.
Do I want to do this? No. I move the blade away—shit!
I have to, I have to. It pricks my skin—no!
I don’t. I don’t.
Thighs. What about my thighs? I pulled myself out of place for a moment. I found my shortest pair of shorts and held them to my waist. I had started wearing them that summer. I used to think they were too revealing. Of course, no one cared I was showing more skin. I was still too childish for them. Too boring. Too prudish. I never did anything interesting, not to them. I didn’t put out. I didn’t even swear. Wasn’t that cute? A high school senior with the vocabulary of saint! At least I made them smile when their real friends weren’t around. I slid my pants down. My legs were shaved smooth. I sat, shivering, on the floor. I wasn’t cold— just terrified. My skin lay out in front of me. Another blank sheet. I grasped the sharpener in my left hand. My dad taught me how to sharpen this pocket knife the day he gave it to me.
What’s wrong with me, why can’t I do it? Why can’t I go back inside and forget it? I’m pressing my palms on the steering wheel, grinding my teeth, chewing my lip. How could not hurting hurt so much?
Enough. I had to do it now. It was 6:40 am on a Sunday. My family would be awake soon. The blade hovered over my leg. All knowledge of how to use knives vanished from my mind. Was I supposed to just…press down? Was that it? The metal was ice cold. My skin depressed, then sprang back. Nothing.
Maybe I wouldn’t want to do it if I could cry. That’s all I want, really. I need this writhing, clawing thing in my chest to tear itself out. It never does, though. It just screams and scratches my insides, begging, demanding release. It wants this. I don’t.
Something was tugging at my body. I was falling back, back into the dark corners of my mind. My flesh seemed to evaporate, floating away and leaving me naked and alone. I was going to faint. No, I couldn’t. Not now. Breathe. Breathe.
Maybe I needed to get used to it first. I brushed the knife against my leg, using no pressure. I scraped my skin. Dead cells clung to the blade. I was made of snow.
My phone is in the other seat. One text, that’s all I need. Why does it hurt to pick it up, to put the blade down? I don’t think I can do this.
I pressed down. Harder, harder. Nothing. What was I missing? What was the last step? I thought about slicing apples. Take the knife, press down, and—
A dot. Two dots. Three.
The sun was rising.
Oh, God. The sun was rising.