Chrysanthemum George (otherwise known as Chrys) is drowning in a world of self-harm, suicide and dark thoughts. Recovery has never been her plan but when a new face arrives on the scene will Chrys have any choice in the matter? A story about the darkness eating at a generation and the difficult route out of it.


9. Chapter 3, Part 1

I haven’t seen this box in a year or so. Not since the last time they thought I’d recovered. I know they’d thought I’d recovered and they were all so happy and my psychiatrist at the time was so chuffed with himself and my teachers at school had been pleased that I was paying attention again in lessons, as was I.

Of course, I knew it was only temporary. They didn’t. Adults always think it’s temporary. You quite quickly learn it’s not when you’re the one with the problems. You feel happy for a while, you tell someone and that’s it, isn’t it? Hallelujah, you’re cured! Finally, they can sign you off and stop needing to keep an eye on you. Bad move.

They'd stuck my first photo taken of me in the home on the box, taken after I'd been there for a month and had a while to settle down and cheer up again. They said that it should help me find that little girl again, and that I should remember how I used to be. When you're like this you find it difficult to remember that far back and the sad things are easier to remember. I'm never going to find her again and she's better off there, in the past where she isn't destroying herself or tainted herself with the pain she faces in the future. I don't want to find her. I want to leave her where she is, happy and oblivious in my past.

I trace the curve of her wide grin with my finger and a wistful smile reaches the corner of my lips. The lid of the box takes a while to ease off as the sparkling silver wrapping paper tears and creases after such a long time of not being opened. I don’t look inside the box until I’ve set the lid aside on the floor. Quite unexpectedly, my first reaction is to laugh. I press my finger into the sparkling mass of glitter stuck in the corners of the box and the stray flecks that have scattered themselves amongst the other items inside and pull it back, staring at my now silver finger. Glitter. What a cliché for an eleven year old girl.

I gently blow as much of the glitter as possible off the top item in the box. Silver glints at me from behind a grimy glass frame. I swallow past the lump in my throat and pull out a blade, framed in a gaudy pink frame, the glass separating the razor from my reach grimy and speckled with both dust and glitter. I’d been so chuffed of this when they’d done it. Just before my twelfth birthday, when I was signed off for the first time they framed my razor for me as a reminder to myself of what I’d overcome. I don’t know what part of their training had suggested to them that putting a very usable razor blade in plain sight of a ‘recovered’ self-harmer was a good idea, but in hindsight it was definitely a stupid move. It never got put up though.

Though Tomas and Eric hadn’t moved into the home yet, and they wouldn’t for a few years there were other young kids, as well as kids my age at the time in the home. Jen was worried that they’d ask questions or see my ‘problem’ as something to celebrated, perhaps they’d even think it was a good way to get attention, because unfortunately that’s just what some people do. So I kept it in my box and left it there to gather dust. Such is the existence of twelve year olds that haven’t reached the status of teenager or aren't young enough to be called children that my psychiatrist at the time had assumed that a gaudy, flower covered pink frame was a good idea. At the time it had hurt my eyes. It still does.

I push the razors in the frame behind me as I fish my hands into the box like a morbid lucky dip where the only good prize is the glitter that you can’t ever seem to get off your hands or face. So, even that has a negative to it really. Such is life. Everything has a sting in the tail nowadays.

As I grab the next item its texture is instantly recognisable. It’s a stress toy. Not the squidgy, useless foam ones that everyone seems to have in their pocket and tear after a few particularly stressful afternoons. Oh, no. The old flour ones with the rubber stretched tight over the flour that made you forget about the stress and focused your energy on stretched the black printed faces into deformed and hysterical shapes. Not to mention the strands of colourful wool that stick out the top like the leaves on a pineapple. I’d rolled it into a perfect ball when I’d put it in the box but faced with an overwhelming tidal wave of nostalgia and a desire to put off digging into the box for just a bit longer, I began to shape and pull at the stress toy with the intent of perhaps replicating the figure from ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch.

I’m just pulling the chin into the right position when the creaking of my door forces me to turn around, quickly obscuring the framed blades and box with the duvet that had fallen around my waist in a pile on the floor, the stress toy still in my hand. In the darkness I can just see a small figure stood in my doorway although guessing by the lumpy shroud surrounding their figure, it would appear they’re wearing a duvet too.

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