A Stranger to Myself

"I feel like I don't even know myself. And if I don't know myself, how can anyone else ever know me?" Autumn has always felt alone, like an outcast. But when a girl comes into her life and reveals things about Autumn she never would have known otherwise, can Autumn learn to accept her differences she's so used to hating?

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14. Only Option


----POTENTIALLY TRIGGERING----POTENTIALLY TRIGGERING----

 

"Here..." Carmen spoke cautiously, offering me a pair of clothes to wear. Her arms were fully extended and she stood as far from me as she could get. I wasn't sure if she was doing it on her own accord or if she just didn't want to make me uncomfortable.

 

I took the clothes without a word to her. I felt so odd in this house, it wasn't mine. I didn't know the people that lived here. I only knew Carmen. And the last thing in the world I wanted to do was interact with her.

 

She had briefly introduced me to her parents who greeted me warmly, then she led me to her bedroom, closed the door, and went downstairs again, most likely to properly explain my presence. I assumed my staying there was alright because Carmen had yet to tell me otherwise. I just wasn't sure how long I would be allowed.

 

"Um... you can change in here, I'll just wait outside." She said after a few lingering seconds, before exiting her bedroom and leaving me alone.

 

After she left, I let out a breath that I felt I had been holding in since I first saw her. I clenched my eyes tightly shut, abruptly acquiring a mild headache. My chest was tight and my shoulders were permanently tense.

 

I quickly changed into what Carmen had given me. They fit, we were about the same size.

 

It was slightly sobering to think that the only thing I would miss or regret forgetting at my house was my razor. I felt as if I needed that. I was probably going to go insane without one.

 

I sat on Carmen's couch, fists automatically grasping the ends of my sleeves. I hugged my knees against myself, hiding my face as I contorted into a sort of ball. I didn't want to be seen by anyone. I just wanted to be gone. So badly.

 

Carmen's door opened and shut again a few seconds later. She had come back in, obviously. I didn't hear any footsteps for a while, until finally she moved, thankfully not towards me but instead towards her bed. She sat down on it. Occasionally I could feel her eyes on me.

 

"...What do you plan on doing...?" She asked me, her voice quiet and slightly shaky.

 

I didn't plan on staying at Carmen's house forever. But I had nowhere else to go. And I could tell that there was no convincing my father to allow me back. I was unwelcome there, and I just had to accept that.

 

What I truly planned on doing was killing myself. But I obviously wasn't going to tell Carmen that.

 

"I don't know."

 

I heard her shift slightly where she sat, clearly uncomfortable, probably more so than I seemed. I just felt unable to clearly show any emotions. I felt so empty, but so pained at the same time. It was agonizing and confusing. I had literally no hope left, not even a slight spark. There was nothing that could keep me holding onto this life. Absolutely nothing.

 

"Well you can stay here until you figure it out..."

 

"...Thanks."

 

There was another pause. But this one lasted for hours. Neither of us said anything. Neither of us knew what to say. So we just sat there, silently, the air so heavy it might cause us to sink into the floor.

 

My mind kept repeating the words that Carmen had said to me that night, what felt like years before: "Because I love you".

 

Was that still true?

 

***

 

I was sleeping on the couch. Carmen offered me her bed but I refused. I wasn't going to take advantage of her hospitality to such an extent. She provided me with a pillow and a small blanket. And then she went to sleep.

 

I laid there, wide awake, however. For some reason I found myself unable to even close my eyes for a prolonged amount of time when she was in the room. She made my entire demeanor change. She made me feel so many things, none of which I necessarily wanted to feel.

 

When I was convinced she was no longer conscious, I stood from the couch, being careful not to make a sound. Carmen was laying on her side, facing the wall, away from me. From what I could hear, her family was also asleep. I would be able to tell if they were awake. They definitely made their presence known.

 

Somehow managing to remain silent, I made my way out of Carmen's room, down the stairs, and into her kitchen. All of the lights were off. Nobody was down there. I felt entirely alone. Everything was completely quiet. It was relieving. Also a bit unnerving.

 

I remembered what I had come there for and I started to open all of the drawers and cabinets I could find, knowing that I was lucky when opening them made no noise.

 

Finally, I found what I had been searching for. A knife. Any blade would have worked, but this was the one I picked up first. It was small. Sharp. I just needed to give myself a few cuts. For a reason I truly wasn't sure of, it made me feel a bit better. Not better enough to want to remain alive, but better enough to survive at least another few hours. 

 

Rolling up my sleeve for the first time in a few days, even I was slightly taken aback at just how marred the skin there was. Cuts practically covered the entire surface, in all sorts of criss-cross patterns, in every direction you could think of, all of them varying in length and depth. One more couldn't hurt, right?

 

Before I could over-think it I brought the knife to the already scarred flesh and pressed down ever so slightly, watching the blood emerge, trail down my forearm into my palm, and drip off my index finger. The drops of crimson hit the linoleum floor and splattered, making small little designs that almost looked like flowers.

 

I moved the knife slightly upwards to create another wound, but right as the metal pressed even slightly against my skin, a voice snapped me out of my thoughts and caught my utmost attention.

 

"Stop it."

 

I jumped slightly where I stood, surprise being the only clear emotion I had expressed since I entered that house. When I looked up I saw Carmen standing there, just staring at my arm, her frown bitter. It was too dark to tell for sure if her eyes were glossy, but I had a growing suspicion that they were.

 

She didn't say anything else and instead just walked towards me in a fairly calm manner. This was the closest she had willingly gotten to me since I had arrived. She reached forward and slowly pried the knife from my fingers, me not making any motions to stop her or to resist for some reason. 

 

I watched as she placed the knife in the sink nearby, briefly running it under the water so as to get all of my blood off of it. She then looked back towards me, more specifically, at my arm. She had never seen it that bad before. I could tell that she was deeply concerned, worried, and guilt-ridden.

 

She approached me again. I tensed up, becoming stiff as a board when her soft fingers gently grasped the forearm I had cut, not at all tight enough to cause any pain. The recent ones I had made were not as deep as I planned on making them. She had stopped me before I had gotten the chance. I could tell that they would stop bleeding in a matter of hours. But Carmen was not so reassured.

 

"Why do you keep doing this to yourself?" She asked me in a light, saddened whisper, now staring intently into my eyes.

 

"I deserve it." I responded after a few seconds, unable to break our eye contact that was very meaningful and was conveying a lot of emotions, none of which I was able to put a name to.

 

I could tell just how much that brief explanation had hurt her. It hit her hard. She inhaled sharply, blinking rapidly a few times before releasing her next word in her exhale, "No." She shook her head back and forth, "No you don't." She was starting to cry. I could tell. I didn't want her to cry.

 

Just because she had greatly confused me didn't mean I resented her in any way. I still cared about her. I was just unable to further define those feelings. That wasn't her fault.

 

Her lip started to quiver and it looked like she planned on backing away, or leaving altogether. I didn't want her to go and hide and cry alone somewhere else in the house. I didn't even want to imagine that. Finally allowing some emotions seep into my expression, I let it show pity and guilt and sadness.

 

I reached forward and hugged her tightly, successfully holding her to the spot. I felt her stiffen, clearly surprised, and it was silent for a few moments though I didn't loosen my grip in the slightest.

 

Finally, she returned the embrace and wrapped her arms around me with equal if not greater force, right as she started sobbing hysterically into my shoulder so as to muffle the sounds. She was shaking. I felt her hands desperately clutch the fabric of the back of my shirt.

 

"You don't need to hurt yourself..." She mumbled out, the already quiet words muffled. I heard them nonetheless. I sighed slightly to myself.

 

"There's nothing else I can do."

 

Carmen held onto me tighter.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if she never let me go.

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