Our protagonist is a typical Irish teen, except for one thing which she hides from everyone.. Until one night out, when Katie finds out.
It’s a beautiful sunset.
I don’t want to die.
But I will. I don’t control it, in any way, at all. Well, I can choose when it happens, if I so desire... If I orchestrate it myself. But I can’t choose when it doesn’t. I know it will happen, but I can’t do anything with the knowledge of this fact.
Like I can’t do anything about the sunset. It makes me feel so powerless. All I can do is try and appreciate its brilliance, but what’s the point? When I’m dead, it won’t matter whether I appreciated it or not.
It’s a postcard sunset, a watercolour picture painted across the sky, in pinks and purples, scarlet and gold.
But no colour as deep as the red that will run from my wrists. That’s one thing I do have power over, one thing I do control.
I’m sitting on a seat, looking out of the one, big window in my room.
“Dinner in half an hour”, yells Mam, up the stairs.
“Okay! Be down soon” I shout in reply.
It’s going to have to be quick. I have a roll of gauze beside me, some toilet paper, and a clean, new razor, shiny and tantalizing in the fading light.
The first cut. A vicious, angry swipe, halfway between my elbow and hand. The pale skin opens up in a sudden, diagonal line of red.
The second cut. Slower, more deliberate. Drops of colour, welling up, getting bigger, joining together.
Then, a frenzy of feverish carving on my burning wrist.
My masterpiece is revealed.
“I’M FINE”, testify the letters on my arm.
And it’s true. There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m not like one of those weird “emo’s”, who cut for attention or whatever, no one knows about it. Just an average Irish girl, who thinks too much. People assume I have some sort of perfect life, and I can’t let them know any different.
It started off as a way to let my emotions out of myself, to make my feelings physical, and thus, far easier to deal with. But now, even if I’m not feeling too bad, I get a craving to feel the stinging burn of my wrist on fire. I feel all jumpy and my heart all fluttery, and it’s all I can think about.
I blot my wrist with tissue paper, because it’s not actually possible to read the words, as they are so obscured by the red tears spilling forth. But as soon as I blot them away, more appear. They won’t stop.
I stand up and walk to the bathroom, with the wad of tissues soaking up the flow of blood. I run water over my cuts and watch the liquid change colour.
Back in my room, I wind the bandage tightly around my arm. I pull an Abercrombie hoody on, on top of my yellow Pineapple t-shirt, and tuck the ends of my skinny-jeaned legs into fluffy tiger slippers. I walk downstairs.
After an awkward, stiff meal, Mam harassing me with looks and sighs, wanting me to stay in and babysit Jake and Patrick so that she could go out, I go back up to my room.
I start getting ready to go out, feeling vaguely guilty about it, but transforming that guilt to annoyance at her, for being so manipulative and making me feel the way I did. If she could keep a man, if she could grow up and act her age, then I wouldn’t need to help out so much…I’m 17, for Gods sake. I deserve a bit of free time, don’t I? Although in all honesty, I wouldn’t mind staying in, it all seems so pointless to me…
Going out with other shallow girls, all dressed up, and for what? There is no point. None of them understand me anyway; I feel so isolated, so alone.
My group of friends has been hassling me lately, about abandoning them, and not hanging out with them anymore, so I am making the effort. I just hope I don’t bring them down too much. I don’t think they really even want me there, I’m so boring.
They all call me pretty and fun, but I know I’m not, really. It's just because I'm blonde, have blue eyes and am skilled with my make-up. That's all they judge me on, the sole basis for their evaluation of me.
Foundation. Mascara. Lipgloss. My mask; the disguise I wear to hide right in front of their eyes.
A glittering dress, heels, straightened hair and fake-tan legs. My costume, as I dress up as some one sane, some one "normal", whatever that means. I practice my smile, get my tiny clutch bag and matching jacket. I feel a vibration in it; my phone has received a text telling me to go outside.
On the road in front of the picturesque house that I call home, is Claire in a shiny, red car.
I arrange my features into a suitably astonished, excited and covetous expression. I open the passenger door and see Claire's laughing face in the driver’s seat.
"Oh my God, Claire!" I shriek, "You have a new car! I can't believe you!"
She giggles, "I know, I like totally succeeded in making it a surprise. It's pure wicked." She smiles proudly.
Tara, Jade and Sinead are squished into the back, sharing a large bottle of coke.
"Heya", they chime. I reply in kind.
"Are you like, allowed to drive this now, on your own?" I ask Claire, gesturing at the dashboard of the car, which has a radio blasting the latest hits in the charts.
She gives me a wink and laughs "I've no idea like! We're not going far anyway, house party at Mc Donagh's."
Tara passes the bottle up to me, and as I lift it up to my mouth, the smell of spirits burns my nose. I take a big gulp, but keep the bottle for myself and keep drinking it, because they have produced another bottle of Vodka & Coke for themselves.
Being sick is excellent. It's so... Relieving.
It's late. I don't know how late, exactly, because I can't seem to find my mobile. But late. I'm sitting on a swing next to a girl I don't know to well, she hangs out with my group of friends, but I haven't spoken to her much before. Katie is her name, she's just helped me onto the swing after holding my hair back for me, while I puked, violently into a bush.
"What?" I ask, realizing she's been trying to get my attention.
"Lets go, I said... It's getting cold. You should get warm, you need to sober up." She says loudly.
"Cold. Sober up. Yes. Wait, no! Sober is bad." This is upsetting me, I enjoy feeling like I'm floating. "I don't want to go back to miserable." I say mournfully.
"Why, what do you mean, go back to miserable?" She asks me, "Getting this drunk is dangerous!"
"Nothing." I say, sulkily.
"You know you can trust me, right?"
"Well when I'm sober, I'm always miserable and depressed. I hate it but I feel so like, isolated", I tell her, without looking up.
"Well, you know that all of us, your friends, are always here for you, don't you?" She probed.
"That's not true!" I retort. "I just bring all of you down, I don't even know why I bother... Why all of you bother. None of you really care about me."
"But we do! We've all been worrying about you loads. I know we don't know each other that well, but Tara, Jade and them are really concerned about you, they just don't know what to do."
As I sit there, legs dangling, I find myself telling her about how ostracised I feel. I'm blurting out random facts about my life: my self-harming, my Dad leaving, my Mam pressuring me. About not having anyone to talk to, about feeling ugly and pointless, worthless and unattractive. I show her the cuts on my arm, but instead of being disgusted or horrified, she just looks sad, but understanding.
"I hate that you felt like you needed to do that." She says. "I'll always be on the other end of the phone if you need to talk. Please call me if you feel the urge to do anything like this again."
It's very interesting, the effect that knowing you are cared about has on you. I feel like Katie will be there for me, and I've stopped hurting myself. I'm working at improving relations with my Mam, and started accepting that it's not anyone's fault that Dad left. The fact of her support has made a huge difference to me.