The Scars on My Wrists (Nanowrimo 2013)

After struggling with depression and a suicide attempt, Marie decides to take a Gap Year to Italy and Spain. She falls in love, and more importantly, changes her entire life.
Edited for movellas, in its poorly written state. R rated for lots of swearing, cutting, and sexual language. TW: (recollection of) sexual assault, cutting

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15. Chapter 15

I left Venice with that sort of mindset. I left with Lena's number and her dorm address, and her parent's home address, and the promise that we would write to each other and perhaps visit each other over the summer.

    The flight home, though long and at times bumpy, was the last thing on my mind. I watched movies to pass the time faster, but I was completely preoccupied with coming home. I was both nervous and excited. What would my parents think of my new attitude? They'd already told me how much they'd liked my new hair and style. But would they like, or even notice how I'd changed as a person?

    As I rolled past customs into America, into the arrivals and meet and greet airport room, I saw them, holding a large sign: Welcome home, Marie! 

    I ran straight into their arms, and hefted Petey up in my arms, much to his chagrin, as they smothered me in kisses. Never had I been so happy to see my parents. I talked the entire car ride home in English, glorious English. I could hear everyone around me and understand their conversations and my head felt so much lighter. Finally, I was in familiar territory. To celebrate, my parents took me to McDonalds and got me a Big Mac and a large fries, which I consumed altogether too fast and later regretted the stomach ache.

    I gave Petey his godfrog, which he nearly smashed out of excitement, before my mom scooped it up neatly and locked it in the china cabinet where it winked at him with its large eyes. And when I gave my mother the pen, made of glass with glittering gold suspended in-between the colors, she wiped away some tears and hugged me so hard I thought my ribs would crack. My father also appreciated the lace bookmark I handed him, with San Marco spun in white. It was masculine, yet beautiful, and I knew he'd enjoy it since he devoured books. In fact, it had been him who had inspired my love for reading and writing.

    Then both of my parents quizzed me endlessly about my trip, until I started to fall asleep from jet lag. As I walked up to my room, I heard my mother's voice floating up the stairs.

    "She's so much happier now, and talks so much more. I can't believe it, I just can't. I'm so glad, so relieved." She was crying. I could hear her muffling her sobs, probably into my dad's shoulder. I wiped away a tear or two of my own, took my medication and went to sleep.

    When I woke up, I suddenly felt like I was in another world. Like I was in some sort of time capsule. My bright purple and pink walls seemed too bright. My posters of grunge and emo bands seemed childish. And my stuff, overflowing, messy everywhere seemed so much. My parents had left it untouched. A little too untouched, I thought, noticing the large dust bunnies in the corners. Jesus, I wished I hadn't been such a dirty slob before leaving, just even taking the time to pick up stuff and put it in its place. I cursed as I stepped on a sharp piece of jewelry I'd left haphazardly on the floor, and cringed at the large pile of dirty clothes, probably filled with things I'd tried on and then tossed aside. After living on so little for nine months, I realized I didn't need all this stuff, all these things.

    So I talked to my parents about it. 

    "Um, I feel like I might have outgrown my room a bit," I said, shyly, over pancakes.

    "I'll say. Thank god that phase of your life is over," muttered my father, and my mother smacked him, playfully.

    "Honey, you can't say that. It was an important part of her identity," said my mother, seriously, as if scared as though I might throw one of the tantrums that I used to over my dad critiquing my style and music choice. To my surprise though, it didn't hurt. Rather, I shared the same sentiments.

    "I've been thinking. Can we donate all the stuff I don't want to charity? And then maybe repaint my room to something less bright? Get some plants in there perhaps?" I remembered my herbs on my balcony. Damn. I didn't have a balcony here, although I did have a window seat. Close enough.

    "That sounds like a lovely idea!" My mother clapped her hands together, looking extremely relieved, although I caught her shooting a glance to my father as if to say, "When did aliens come and body-snatch our goth daughter?" They hadn't known the difference between goth and emo and scene, to my amusement, no matter how many times I had explained it.

    But in all fairness, this was going to be the room I'd be coming home to for the next stage of my life. I'd be coming home from college to this room. I didn't want it to feel stifling, like a part of me suspended in the past. I wanted it to be an evolution.

    So we donated the clothes with holes and the fishnets and the bright ironic t-shirts. I threw out the razor that I had kept in my drawer beside my bed. I didn't need it anymore to remind myself that I was strong. I knew I was strong now. And I slept in the living room for a week while my parents helped me paint my room a pale sunshine yellow that soothed me. I got sky blue bedspreads, and painted my chipped, dirtied, nail-polish-stained ikea furniture white. 

    My room looked like the ocean now, I thought. Peaceful. Mature. Perfect for me to relax in. I had my new clothes organized, everything in its place, and my beloved bookshelf now featured some children's books in Italian and Spanish that I had read in an attempt to improve. Some orchids out of direct sunlight, and a small fish that I would take to college that I named Buffo, the Italian word for amusing. 

    I still had my weekly therapist meetings. But my therapist actually suggested we meet less, around once every three weeks, to my surprise. Since I had weekly therapist meetings since I was fifteen, this was new.

    "You don't need me as much," she said simply. "You seem as though you've come to terms with a lot of your doubts and insecurities that were fueling a lot of your problems. However, of course, as soon as you feel as though you need more support, I will gladly schedule in more regular appointments." She was referring to the fact that my depression and anxiety was a cycle. I tended to have very long difficult periods and then some nice periods where I felt almost free, and just when I thought I was completely normal, I fell flat on my face and had to start all over again.

    But I had grown used to it, in a way. This was just my sort of normal. I took my medicine. I got up in the morning. When I had bad days, I let them happen instead of panicking more. And the good days came quicker. I was coping. I was surviving.

    I saw Bella at the Starbucks downtown. She was really fat, a lot of it had gone straight to her thighs. A lot of the kids who had bullied me seemed different too. Not more mature, by any means, but perhaps college wasn't the easy ride that high school had been for them. Suddenly they weren't automatically popular. Some gained weight. Others lost drastic amounts. And some remained constant.

    To my surprise, I didn't care about them. They didn't seem important anymore, and they didn't even recognize me. Not even when I bumped into Bella accidentally on the way out. She just muttered a hurried,

    "Sorry," and I nodded an apology before we headed our separate ways.

    In the middle of August, Lena and slept over my house before Freshman Orientation. I was proud to show her my new room and my orchids which were thriving beautifully, and I even showed her a picture of what it had looked like before.

    "Jesus," she said, crinkling her nose. "Nice change, seriously. Your room was like a fourth grader's playing dress up, and now…well, now it's you."

    It's you. Two simple words that made me very pleased. It was me. It was me showing where I was now, after all that had happened to me. I had changed. 

    "Why thank you," I said, with a shit-eating grin on my face.

    "Really, nice job." We then proceeded to talk about college and our expectations, and fears.

    "I'm kind of worried that I won't make any friends," I said, honestly. "To be perfectly forthcoming," I said, in a mock British accent like the one she occasionally utilized, "you were my second true friend. The first was that guy who dumped me when I came to Venice." I still couldn't say Jandro's name. Hell, talking about him still hurt.

    "I'm honored," she said with an awful rendition of a Cockney accent. "But really? Seriously? I can't believe that. You are like, the nicest person I have ever met. Not a mean bone in your body. So loyal, so sweet. I don't understand why people can't see that in you. I can see it. It's really not that hard. Just makes me conclude that the kids in your town are assholes." 

    I laughed at that with her, but I was seriously touched. I had considered myself the problem all along, but maybe I had been wrong. Maybe some of the fault had laid with them as well, for not trying to get to know me before judging me. Before making my life living hell.

    And when Freshman Orientation at Drexel came, to my surprise I found myself making lots of friends easily. People just opened up to me. My cellphone was suddenly full of contacts and my roommate at Towers happened to be an extremely nice girl from China. An international student majoring in Engineering. Jesus, I could barely comprehend Jandro majoring in something like medicine but it seemed that international students majored in difficult things all the time. No matter the language barrier. And I couldn't possibly consider being a literature major in Spanish. 

    "Hi," I said, giving her a handshake.

    "Um..h-hello," she said nervously, offering up a timid smile. "I am Fang Hua. But you can call me Charlene." 

    Woah, her English was amazing. My Spanish couldn't even compare to that. And I told her that.

    "R-really?" she asked, still trembling. "I am so nervous. I think that sometimes I will make mistakes, and Americans won't like me-"

    "Trust me, even Americans who speak English fluently have the same worries," I told her firmly.  "But people will like you. See? I'm American and I like you just fine."

    She smiled at that, even with my awkward phrasing, and we even ended up watching a movie together. It was Chinese with English subtitles. Shaolin Soccer. It was exaggerated, but funny, and I found myself amazed at this new turn of events. People were being nice to me. People were being kind to me, and I wasn't even faking or putting on a facade. I was just being myself, like I had always been. Although now I just had a different way of showing, perhaps. Less piercings, short chic hair, and simpler clothes, though I definitely gravitated towards the trends I had seen in Italy and Spain. Maybe it made me more approachable. Or maybe it was just my attitude. I liked to think it was the latter.

    Freshman orientation was filled with fun events. I avoided the frat parties, somewhat rife with alcohol, and instead went to the Philadelphia Zoo with Charlene, which was a ton of fun. Although we did manage to catch a pair of galapagos turtles in the act, and I overheard a child no older than five ask what they were doing. His father responded, 

    "Uh, they're just hugging. Yeah. Ok. Next exhibit. Let's go see the monkeys, yeah? You like the monkeys."     I snickered into my arm, and Charlene burst out laughing as we walked away.

    We even got to see a free movie screening of our choice, which was particularly fun. A lot of the students ended up throwing popcorn at the screen, and going crazy, much to the chagrin of the theater cleanup crew.

    Freshman Orientation was such a fun blur that when actual school happened, it hit me like a mudslide and slammed me flat on my face. I hadn't written a research paper in a full year and suddenly I found myself with two books to read and connect to each other in a ten page paper with well researched sources.

    So I found my sources in the library, and began compiling notes in the Starbucks, with a cup of espresso. It wasn't as good as the coffee in Italy, but I wasn't a chooser. And then I heard it.

    "Hi, can I get a venti coffee, black please?" A familiar voice, tinged with just a taste of Spanish. 

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