“You don’t need to cut my food for me like I’m a damn baby!” I yelled, flinging his hand away from me. In the process, the knife nicked the back of my hand. There was a brief moment of nothing, but when a ribbon of blood appeared, something I never expected happened. For the first time in five days, the constricting force around me lessened a bit. I took a deep breath. It wasn’t as bad as usual. It was like the awful pain inside of me was seeping out through that tiny cut.
“Oh, shit. I’m sorry, Kelsie. Come with me so we can wash that out,” my dad said. I followed him, completely mesmerized by the cut. How could a little nick control something I had no control over? It wasn’t until he wiped it clean and applied a Band-Aid that the physical pain of the cut took hold, but I didn’t even care. That was a minimal price to pay in order to lessen the internal pain.
By the time we got home, the relentless vise had returned with a vengeance. As soon as we walked through the door, I raced to the kitchen, grabbed a little paring knife, and rushed to my bathroom. I sat on the edge of the tub with the knife poised above my arm that was still in a sling. My hand shook, but I was able to rest the blade against my skin. I didn’t think twice before leaning on the blade and slicing the smooth surface of my inner arm, much deeper than my dad had done earlier.
The result was unreal. The most incredible feeling came over me. Weightlessness.Like the vise that engulfed me had evaporated. There was no more tightness. I could breathe freely. My head didn’t hurt. My stomach didn’t hurt. After a few moments, the only thing that hurt was the cut on my arm. I sat there and closed my eyes, reveling in the physical pain that was a hundred times easier to handle than what I had been dealing with.
“Kelsie, you in there?” Sheila asked, knocking on the door.
I bolted up. “Yes. What do you want?”
“Give me your dress. I’ll take it to the dry cleaner tomorrow morning.”
“Okay, just give me a few minutes. I’m going to take a shower.”
“I need it now. I’ve got things to do.”
“Okay …” I scrambled around the bathroom, opening and closing drawers, looking for Band-Aids, but they were nowhere to be found.
“What’s going on?”
“Nothing.Just a sec.” I rinsed the blood off my arm, wrapped a hand towel around it, and then struggled to get out of the dress with the sling and towel on my arm. I stood behind the door and opened it only far enough to pass the dress out.
“What took so long?”
“The sling got in the way.”
“Is that blood on the floor?”
“What?” I asked, looking behind me. There was a long red smear between the tub and sink. “Oh, yeah. I started my period.”
“Kelsie Renee Sullivan, what is going on?” Sheila pushed against the door with all her weight, slamming me into the wall. When she saw the white towel, now soaked through with blood, she gasped.
“You’re hurt. What happened?” She grabbed my arm and unwrapped the towel, revealing a perfectly straight cut. Her eyes traveled from my wrist to the floor to the discarded knife lying in the tub.
“You did this to yourself?”
I shook my head.
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