Kia returned to her room and shut the noise of the corridor out. She could hear the calls of her friends as she locked the door behind her. She knew they were only worried, but she knew that she couldn’t hold onto the flames within much longer. She knew that she had to shut them out of this. She propped a chair against the locked door, and surveyed the small, neat, yet cluttered room.
This was her home. Her only space, and would be for a good part of the next three years. She had her desk by the window, and shelves full of ornaments. Her pinboard was full to bursting with posters, photos and pictures. On her bed was a simple pink bedspread with silver swirls on it.
The room came with a wall of fitted cupboards. She kept her clothes and toiletries in there. It wasn’t all she stored there though.
The table beside her bed had several empty bottles of Archers Aqua littered across it. She could hear the noise from outside getting louder as they all geared up for a party. Her friends had stopped calling out to her from the corridor now.
She threw her bag on the bed and opened it. She pulled out her mobile and put it on the table beside her bed. She wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t disturb her.
Wouldn’t stop her from being able to finish what she wanted to do. She picked up her keys and fiddled with them until she found the smallest one. She went to her cupboard and pulled out a red cash box. She slid the key in the lock and turned it a quarter turn. It clicked, and she lifted the lid. Inside was a tobacco tin, a tea towel, a few bandages, some dressings and sterile swabs. She carried the open box to her bed, and sat down, depositing it beside her as she went.
She picked up the tobacco tin and ran her fingers along the edge of the lid. The metal felt cool. She looked at the picture on the lid; a multicoloured rainbow with two unicorns nuzzling at each other underneath it. She closed her fingers around it and slowly pulled it off. She could hear the metal scraping against metal. She laid the lid on the bed beside the cash box, and looked inside the tin. She was always wary that the contents of it would have been taken. It was a stupid thought, she knew, but it was always there: the paranoia that someone would find out her secret and take away the one thing that could help her and make her feel slightly human.
She picked the contents of the tin up. As she gazed through the clear packaging, a calm flooded through her. It had been a long time since she’d last used these. She opened the air tight bag and picked out the tiny piece of metal. She held it tentatively, as if one wrong move would lead to deadly consequences. She had to be in control.
Her breathing quickened as she held the shiny object in her hand. She fought to control it and get it to slow down. She laid the object on the plastic, which she’d put on her bed. Being careful not to dislodge her special tool, she pulled her left sleeve up to her elbow. She looked at her arm; at the bare skin that showed. She traced her fingers along it gently.
Looking at it, she could see the many thin, silvery lines. Scars: echoes of the past. She hesitated, listening to the music, which was blaring down the corridor.
She could hear the happy voices of thirty-odd students all laughing and singing. Part of her wanted to be out there partying with them, but she knew that couldn’t happen. She had to quell the flames.
She picked up her shiny implement and held it carefully, sharp side down. She brought it to her arm and slowly and purposefully pressed down. She gasped as the blade pierced the skin, and she saw a warm rush of crimson slowly fill the gap the tool had made.
As the blood flowed out of her; crying the tears that she couldn’t cry herself, her breathing slowed. She became calmer. She let the blade fall to her lap, and lay back, resting her arm on a navy blue towel. She felt the room swimming. It felt like she wasn’t really there. Like nothing mattered. She felt lighter somehow. She leant over and put on her CD player. The music started up. It was the song ‘High’ by ‘The Lighthouse Family’. She stared at the ceiling as she let the music flow over her.
The CD finished, and she was jolted out of her thoughts by the sudden close of the music. She sat up, suddenly coming back to reality. She heard the party outside the room, in full swing. She shivered, and looked down at her arm guiltily. She had always hated the comedown from it. She imagined the faces of her friends if they saw what she’d just done. She could see their shocked expressions in her mind’s eye. She pictured her mother’s face. The person she’d convinced that she’d stopped. She couldn’t help but feel the pangs of guilt pinging inside her as she thought about it.
She thought back to the first time. She remembered exactly what had happened. They’d come after her again. Called her all the names under the sun, and then tried to hurt her. She’d fought them off and ran home.
When she got home, she ran straight up to her room, not even stopping to check whether anyone was in the house. She closed the door of her bedroom and put a chair against it. Then she’d collapsed onto the floor in a river of sobs. Her eyes had flitted around the room, their voices echoing through her head.
Her eyes stopped as they rested on her dressing table. There, she saw the packet of disposable razors her mum had bought her. She got up and walked over to them and picked a new one out of the packet. She slipped the protective cover from the blade, and gazed at it as the silver glinted in the rays the sun was casting across her room.
She remembered her heartbeat slowing, and her breathing becoming less jagged as she gazed at the tiny piece of metal. She picked at the piece of plastic that was fixing the blade in place. She knew what she was doing now. Knew what she wanted.
Slowly, but surely, the plastic became looser, as it cracked away from the blade. Finally, it came away. She put it to one side and gazed at the blade, which she could now see all of. Slowly, she picked at the metal, listening to it grind its way loose from the plastic. Then, it flicked loose.
She held it gently on the palm of her hand. Almost scared to move. Then she picked it up and held it to her arm. With a slight wince, she had dragged it along, and felt it tear the threads of life. She felt it bite and sting as it slowly made cut after cut. She felt suddenly alive. Every fibre of her being reverberated with the knowledge that they couldn’t hurt her now. No one could hurt her any more than she could hurt herself.
It became a regular thing. Whenever they came after her, she would hurt. She hurt so badly inside that it became the only way to get the pain out of her.
Slash after slash she sliced away. Every nerve on edge, every muscle tensed. She pulled the blade over her thin arms again and again. And watched the blood fall, metallic raindrops came falling down her arm, splattering the towel it was rested on.
She felt the pain flood through her, relieving the tension. She laid on the bed and let the agony run free. She didn’t know what else to do. This was the only way. She watched the blood dripping down, and saw the stain on the towel get bigger.
As she stared at the pool, she could picture herself diving into it, drowning in this pool of blood. She didn’t want an end. Just a chance to get it out of herself. To escape.