Once Lyn was alone, the depression returned with vigor.
One thing was for sure: the indecision made it worse. She wanted to run to him, to help him escape. And she wanted to turn him in, so he couldn’t make things worse. In doing neither, no part of her was satisfied, and that left a path for the black smoke of depression to take over.
She pretended not to understand how he could just take five pills, and just take five more, and do that again and again. Each pill was a tiny cut, a punishment, escape and deadening all rolled into one. She understood all too well the need to push everything away for just a little longer.
Sometimes the pain was too much, like a bubble in her blood. She could feel it quaking through her body and when it hit her heart she wanted to explode. Her insides pressed at her for escape. She wanted to tear herself up. She hated herself but no more than the world, which was ugly and cruel. She felt the pain pressing on her and the world entirely indifferent.
Alex was a fugitive on the streets of Oakland, wearing pants so tight one could guess he was a gentile. So what? She tried to pull out of it, but some physical switch had been kicked, and her body was no longer within her control.
It was times like this that she went to her art kit and instead of taking out her paints she got her X-acto knife set. When she was younger, she would try it with kitchen knives or safety pins but it wasn't until she discovered the X-acto that she was truly satisfied. The cutter needed to be really sharp or it would be too difficult to break the skin.
No, no she wouldn’t do it. What if the doctor needed her? It would only take a few minutes. And what could she possibly tell them she hadn’t already? She told herself it was wrong, an abomination, a shame. But these were not real arguments. They were further reminders of what a shameful, dirty girl she was. Her mind was made up. If Alex could have his big, dramatic death scene, why couldn’t she have this small, private moment?
Lyn found her way to the public restrooms. Everything within was bright white, as if the toilet were the basis for the decorating scheme. The bright and perfect fluorescent lights weighed upon her like pointing, laughing, angels. She hated everything about hospitals and their glaring walls and lights.
The cutter was silver but scratched and smudged with paint from various art projects. She tightened the top so the blade didn't come out.
Over the loudspeakers, a calm voice announced “CODE GRAY. CODE GRAY.” Security personnel were directed to her floor.
Lyn pressed the blade to her forearm just enough to make a tiny prick. Then she slid the blade down slowly, until it made a small line. She took her time. It was not deep; it barely hurt. The blood didn't spring up right away. She held her breath. It was disappointing when the cut wasn't deep enough. But then there it was: a red line, shiny and beady as spilled paint.
She made another next to the first.
She thought about her body and felt connected to it. Her heart was beating and pushing her blood and she had let some of it out. But then she thought of the shit-world and knew she was not done. She made another mark next to it. It took so much focus to cut just deep enough to draw the blood. Such precision. She was a surgeon, excising the poison. After she had made five lines in her flesh she went back and drew fresh lines between the first ones. She didn't want to use more space than she could cover with a band-aid. But it also gave her something else to focus on, cutting new lines without hitting the ones she already made. It pleased her. She smeared some of the blood away and left some to dry. It turned from the bright color of her insides to the dull color of the ugly world. Here was something she had control over. Here was something that was only hers. Here was what she truly deserved. Lyn felt accomplished.
After she put away her kit she tidied the jagged pieces of hair that fell into her face and smeared on lip balm. She did not smile, but thought her eyes looked sincere. “I’m fine. Everything’s fine,” she said.