Another portion — maybe the final portion? — of the story from here. Trigger warnings for abuse and self-harm.
The reflection in my bedroom mirror. Summer blond hair along my temple. Under it, a purple bruise blossoming.
Serious and not serious. If it had been anyplace other than my head, no one would have thought twice about it. For my life-is-a-contact-sport self, accidental and incidental body bruises were a frequent occurrence. But heads? Noteworthy. I would at least be expected to remember how I’d gotten it.
I did, of course, remember. That was just the problem.
My hand trembled, holding my knife, opened. I held the blade to the opposite temple. What drove me to cut at all drove me to cut my face now. It required that cut to offset the other mark.
I didn’t know why. Equity, maybe, or balance. Justice.
Vanity. Not wanting another colorful wound on my face.
Anxiety. Worrying my hand would slip, or I would cut too deep. Head wounds can bleed a lot.
Terror. The answers I didn’t have. The questions people would ask.
I couldn’t do it.
I tried the inside of my thigh, flesh that was soft and safe and yielding. I tried the point of my hip, skin that was thin and stretched over bone. I tried the side of my shoulder, muscle that was strong but exposed. Nothing satisfied that need; it had to be the face.
I still couldn’t do it.
The tears came then, flooding, hot, sniveling, desperate. For the first time, I didn’t even try to hold them back. I closed the knife and set it on my dresser, then curled into a ball and sobbed onto my knees.
“This isn’t me,” I repeated, whispering to myself. “This isn’t me.”
I cried myself to sleep on my bedroom floor.
I trembled as I walked up to him, shook. Couldn’t feel my arms at my sides or my legs under me.
I had arrived late to the final exam, so I could be sure he’d already be testing — and couldn’t talk to me — by the time I walked into class. He waited for me after.
“I can’t see you anymore,” I told him straight out, my quaking voice barely above a whisper.
He turned away.
“What?” His voice was quiet too, but dangerous. I tried hard to read his body because he still didn’t face me.
“I can’t see you anymore,” I repeated, louder, with a confidence I didn’t feel.
He turned back to me, his face arranged to be contrite. “Look, I’m sorry. If it’s because of–”
“It’s not because of anything,” I lied. And interrupted, watching how his jaw tensed when I did. “It’s just something that’s going to happen.”
He swallowed. Working, I thought, to keep his composure. Palms up, he held out his hands. “I don’t understand.”
“Neither do I.” This time, I turned away from him.