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I stare at the knife.
I can’t really wrap my head around it. Do people seriously do this to themselves? Sink the blade into their flesh and watch the blood drip to the floor? Is this what so many have succumbed to?
I don’t understand. Not really. How does one pain substitute itself for another? Are there different types of pain?
No, that doesn’t make sense. Pain is all the same. Stubbing my toe is no less painful than being called a slut, or something like that. It seems to hurt the same, anyways. One doesn’t hurt more than the other. In fact, though my eyes water and I hop around on one foot in the one scenario, in the other, I just block it out and walk away. It’s like both pains are the same, but we are forced to feel one, and can choose to feel the other.
I shake my head. Cowardice, they call it. Called me, even - a coward. Well, not anymore. I’ll prove them wrong.
But would that make me a greater coward? To not at least cut myself, to not kill myself like they ordered me to do, sneered at me and taunted me? If I do it, I show them that I am not afraid. But then that means I’m listening to them, doing exactly as I say. If I don’t, then I didn’t have the guts to follow through.
There is no winning. Not for me.
“Just take the knife. Take it.”
Though my words penetrate the silence, they do nothing to control my limbs. My hands stay limp at my sides, just inches away from the blade. It could be so simple. I could just reach out, grasp the cold handle, and drag the silver across my wrist...
Girls cut themselves. I know a few at my school. It’s just for attention, just for someone to look at them and say, “You’re beautiful. Don’t do this.” It’s for those insecure girls who would rather deform themselves than have the courage to look at themselves in the mirror and say, “I’m worth it.”
But being here... being in this situation...
It changes everything.
They aren’t insecure. They’re the smart ones. Because if I slice myself, I don’t have a choice but to feel the pain. But with words, there’s always a choice.
And don’t we do better when the choices are made for us?
It’s so clear now; how did I not see before? It’s like the blade is practically tugging me closer, closer, until my hand wraps around the handle-
Do I cut downward? Upward? Where the vein is? My veins aren’t that prominent; barely blue against the skin. I should have done more research, should have asked others.
Just focusing on what I need to do is taking the other pain away, the pain I choose to feel.
I press the blade into my skin. It’s cold, but I can barely feel the tip, not with the way my heart’s pounding. Fast and uneven. Stuttering with my breaths.
“Quick. Do it quick.”
But how? How deep should I go, before it’s too late?
That’s the morbid fear that fills me; not the pain that surely awaits. Not the blood that will follow. But the chance that it will be a mistake, that I will go too far, that there will be no possibility of turning back.
My hand is rooted in its place. The blade hasn’t broken the skin, not yet, and why is that? Why can’t I just push it forward, past the surface of the flesh?
My teeth are gritted as I spit the word, and my eyes blur with tears as I hear the truth in it. I can’t even make a slit. Not even a small little poke.
Or is it the other way?’
Am I coward for doing it or am I a coward for wanting to do it?
They never say how hard this is, how confused I will become. I don’t know which way is which; does cutting or does placing the knife back where it belonged make me braver? What does my heart say?
That’s the problem: I can’t distinguish what my heart says from my head.
I should just set the blade down. The fact that it’s taken this long to get the knife pressed against my skin should be an obvious enough answer that I lack the courage.
But then - no, no, I can’t set it down. Because then I’ll never have the strength to pick it back up again. Once it rests upon the cool countertop, it will stay there, until Mom uses it to slice through the bread that’s rising.
Is this what it’s come down to? Cutting open myself with something that supposed to be used for... for freaking BREAD?
This is so messed up. I am so messed up.
My heart thuds against my chest as I think about the moment after setting the weapon down. Geez - a bread slicer is now titled as a weapon. Something to use against myself that will physically and mentally alter who I am.
I’ll set it down and walk away. The relief that will flood through my veins will be enough to chase away any vicious thoughts about myself, any cowardice left. It will be so easy.
But it’s not.
My hands are shaking and suddenly I’m panicking. Not the faint twist of the stomach panic, either; the full out, sobbing-without-tears, nausea-slamming-against-me-in-wave-after-wave, the trembling-rocking-through-my-body-like-there’s-a-sudden-earthquake-ready-to-end-the-world and I’m still just standing here, in the middle of the kitchen, staring at the tip of a blade seconds or years away from entering my body.
It’s just a choice.
Do it or don’t do it.
Feel the pain or don’t feel the pain.
Their words will hurt or they won’t.
I set the knife down.