Passive

I wanted to call it a thriller/horror but also with some romance. Couldn't find that category so other will have to do. I have high hopes for this story but please read and include as much critism as your heart desires. I promise not to be upset by it as long as you promise to be fair. I do not want any homophobic comments, if you don't like the subjects mentioned here, then don't read.

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10. Truth

I awoke to the strong smell of disinfectant and sick. I wriggled my nose at the horrible smell and tried to go back to sleep. My eyes opened suddenly as I remembered what had happened. A bright light from above burned my eyes and I had to blink sharply. The light shaped itself before my eyes into a single light bulb hung from the ceiling. I watched it for a second before letting my eyes travel around the school’s medical room. I was alone except for a small child who sat quietly staring into the bottom of a bucket, her face the colour of green. I guessed that that was where the sick smell was coming from. I shut my eyes a moment trying to remember everything. I remembered Mother this morning, the girl’s fingernails digging into me, Rebecca helping me up and then … Wednesday with her hand pressed onto my back to steady me, her wetting my face. Her legs just inches from my face, the flawless pale white skin, I could almost feel the warmth radiating from them as I remembered back. I imagined touching them, stroking them, kissing the perfect skin. I imagined the taste of it, her clean smell. I imagined so many different things, in my half-awake state but it didn’t matter; nothing mattered in that moment but her.

 

“Oh good! You’re awake!” A large smiling woman seemed to have appeared in front of me, her red face and uniform telling me she was the school nurse.

 

She gave me an easy smile before taking a seat next to the bed where I lay. The chair creaked uneasily as she sat down and I imagined Mother’s lips squeezing together tightly at the noise. The woman smiled again, her face actually showing concern. I remembered the cuts on my face and could only imagine what I must have looked like to her, a poor innocent child, bullied for the clothes she wore, for being different. If only she knew … I looked down at myself, remembering the night before and the iron burning my skin. I hoped that the blood wasn’t visible through my blouse.

 

My sleeves had been pulled up to my shoulders, revealing the peeling and red raw bloody skin. My eyes widened and my hands moved quickly to hide them. But the nurse was faster, catching my hands before I could touch them. As she caught my hand, she accidently touched one of my arms and I hissed in pain. She looked concerned but placed my hands firmly down by my sides. I watched her, unsure about what she intended to do. Mother’s eyes burned into my mind and I saw the cold flecks of them dance as she thought of all the most horrible punishments she could for me. This woman knew. She knew now what Mother did to me. She knew, Bobby knew, maybe even Wednesday knew … The thought made me sick. Of Wednesday pitying me. Just like everyone else would if they knew, when they knew.

 

“Oh, sweetheart!” It wasn’t until the woman spoke that I realised I was crying, childish tears running down my face and sobs escaping my throat.

 

She looked like she wanted to hug me but even I knew teachers and school workers were supposed to keep their distance. She patted my shoulder while I tried hard not to wince again. The woman moved to her desk, her large figure blocking me from seeing what she was doing. I took the opportunity to wipe my tears from my face, ignoring the sting from my arms. My tears burned my face as I carelessly tried to wipe them away, only aggravating the cuts from the girl’s fingernails. But still I attempted to gain a little dignity, wiping my nose and clearing my throat. I noticed the small girl’s eyes watching me from over the top of the bucket, her hair hanging limply alongside her greening complexion. I gave her a small smile to show her that I wasn’t really as scary as her wide eyed look made me out to be. She looked confused but a hint of a smile touched her lips before she threw up nosily into the bucket.

 

“Now keep still, pet,” the nurse gestured to my arms as she removed the lid from a small tube of cooling gel.

 

She wiped the gel along my arms, skirting around the worst marks and watching my face carefully for discomfort. But the gel felt nice, soothing on the hot burns. I gave a small sigh of relief and she took that as a sign to carry on. My mind slowly seemed to clear and it felt like, in that moment, that I was able to think clearly for the first time in ages. I was disappointed when she screwed the cap back on and began to wrap my arms in bandage. That’s when I remembered Rebecca. Where was she? And more importantly why had she taken me to the nurse? We looked after each other. That was the unspoken rule. Rebecca’s locker held a small but much needed medical kit. When Mother or Rebecca’s Mother were particularly vicious with their methods the night before, we would use the kit to help sort ourselves out. It was necessary if we were to survive the day at school. To take me to the nurse was like betraying me as a friend. The cuts on my face didn’t even seem to faze the nurse and I could simply have spoken any excuse to my teachers that day, it’s not like any of them really cared. But the nurse on the other hand, she had seen my burns and there would surely be consequences to that.

 

Once my arms were bandaged, she carefully rolled my sleeves back down, covering up the offending sight. She raised my head for a moment to study the scratches on my face but simply sighed before smoothing a piece of my hair and giving me another caring smile. She turned away from me to sort out the small girl who had now stopped being sick and was watching us, her eyes still big in her small face. There was nothing I could really do so I glanced around the room, taking in the healthy eating signs and contraception posters; my eyes skipping over these as I felt my cheeks flush a little. It was then that I saw a mirror on the opposite wall, it was angled slightly away from me but if I shuffled sideways a little then, I could almost-

 

My bloody face stared back at me. No wonder the ill girl had looked afraid of me. There seemed to be more blood red on my face than my pale skin colour. Scratches lined my forehead, cheeks and even the bridge of my nose and a deep cut ran from my jaw to my collarbone. I wondered what the girl’s fingers had looked like afterwards, surely her fake nails could not still be perfectly intact. I cautiously raised a shaking hand to touch the deep cut and moaned as my finger made contact with it.

 

“Yes, they really are something, aren’t they?” The nurse’s bitter voice startled me and I flinched away from the sound of her voice, causing my arms to give a silent scream of pain.

 

The small girl was now gone, leaving us both alone in the room. She moved to sit next to me but this time sat on the bed. She was close, perhaps intending the gesture to be mothering and kindly, as she watched my mixed expression of confusion and discomfort, but it only made me want to move away from her.

 

“They’re nothing compared to your arms though!” Her voice was no longer bitter but kind, her eyes soft on my face and for a second I wished for a mother, a parent, a best friend that could look at me like that. That could love me unconditionally. Rebecca, it seemed had abandoned me. Now I had no one. I wondered if Wednesday could ever look at me like that but dismissed the thought immediately. I would always be a freak and a loser in her eyes, how could I matter to someone as beautiful as her? I was so wrapped up in my mind that I barely realised what she had said to me. Something about … My arms. My cheeks flushed dark as I realised what she knew. She knew about how pathetic I was. How Mother hurt me. How horrible I was of a person to deserve this. I studied the bed covers deeply, looking at the folds in the sheets that I had caused from lying on it. The nurse’s hand surprised me by moving my head to face hers, her face straight and serious, so different to her previous kind one.

 

“Please don’t tell anyone,” my voice came out in a whisper, the words croaky and small, after all the tears I had cried so far that morning.

 

I could feel my face start to crumple and suddenly I was grasped into a hug, her body coating me like a large blanket, warming me instantly. It was over too soon, the nurse remembering her role in the school but all I wanted was someone to hold me while I cried. I cried harder as I was left alone on the bed, the woman now moving to the chair but her hand remaining on my knee, awkwardly patting me.

 

“It’s okay, sweetheart. It will all be okay now!” Her voice made me want to believe her but I couldn’t.

 

While Mother was still waiting for me at home, I was never going to be okay. I don’t know how I still had tears to cry after the night and day I had had but still water flowed freely from my eyes. I should be used to it all now, used to the girls at school, used to Mother and my life at home. So why now was I in tears? Why now had I somehow been careless enough to let this woman see my burns? Wednesday. But it wasn’t her fault. How could it be? But I remembered seeing her before I had fainted the second time, she had been there so … So she had taken me to the nurse. I imagined her frightened and scared as she watched me faint on to the floor and with no other option, having to get help so that I could be taken to the medical room. I tried to think of Wednesday being scared … And failed. Didn’t it seem more likely that she had been a little worried, but not wanting to deal with me herself, and had gotten a teacher? I didn’t know. She was pretty, more than that, beautiful, like some of the other girls yet she was so different, she glowed and had something special that no one else had, like she held a secret that only she knew. And she seemed to want to share that secret with me.

 

“You know, self-harming is a very serious thing," her voice was soft and I barely heard it.

I wished I had been listening to what she was saying but the single thought of Wednesday caring about me, even a little, was enough to make fireworks almost explode in my chest. The idea of anyone caring, actually caring, was enough to still my breath. But the nurse was looking at me, worriedly, her eyes watching my expression which was presumably showing confusion at her words. I really wasn’t following her. Self-harming. It sounded like a dirty word in my mind, it was a word that I recalled once from a school assembly long ago but the idea of hurting myself in such a way as had been described, seemed stupid in my mind. After Mother had spent so long taunting me with the threat of one of her punishments, could I imagine wanting to cause myself that pain? No, it seemed stupid, an unspeakable thing to do. The word had been mentioned once in church, or so I remembered. It was sinful, I knew that. To hurt oneself and destroy the body that God had created for you. I realised the nurse was still watching me worriedly.

“Your arms…” Her eyes followed mine as we both glanced down at my now covered arms, which had before shown the iron burns and flaking skin but now only showed the white blouse sleeves, slightly puffy with the bandages underneath. It took me a second to realise what the nurse was implying. That I had done this to myself. Her eyes were back on me and I realised that no matter how I tried I wouldn’t be able to defend myself, I couldn’t protect myself against the speech on self-harming that was sure to follow. All I knew was that she would never believe me. She would never know of the agony I endured. And I could never tell her. I deserved all that I got, so why should I fight it. My sick thoughts of Wednesday that I couldn’t get out of my head, the horrible ideas of telling someone about life at home that would sometimes creep into my mind. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, I could tell someone, anyone and they could make the pain go away. But the pain never would, no one would ever understand.

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