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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3. Chapter 3

As I sat in the airport, my fingers shook and my knees trembled. I tried to soothe my nerves by listening to my iPod. It's just a flight, no big deal, Marie. Hands sweating, I clutched the armrest. Hell, I hadn't even boarded the plane, and I was already having second thoughts. I'd gotten through the identification check and stepped through the full body scanners, and then the alarms went off in security because I'd forgotten to take out my liquids. In my defense, it was my first time flying. Ever.

    Then, a TSA agent, clad in latex gloves, motioned for me to step aside.

    "Miss, I'm going to need to check your bag for explosives." My mouth went dry. Oh shit. He opened my carry-on and a bra and some lacy panties on the top winked seductively at him. I flushed red and turned away. "I'm just going to wipe the inside of your bag, and if there's any traces of explosives, I'll know. If there's none, you can get back on with your day." By then, I must have looked as red as a cherry tomato. "So, where are you headed?"

    "Madrid for six months, and then Venice for three. I'm on a gap year program before college."

    "Really? That's nice, do you know what school you'll be going to?"

    "Uh.. Drexel. In Philadelphia." He finished swiping neatly and examined the cloth.

    "Nice. Alright, all clear." 

    Still red in the face, I packed up my bag and tried to avoid tripping over my feet as I left.

    "Now boarding group four." The flight attendant's words interrupted my thoughts, and I checked my ticket. Damn. That was me. My feet felt like stone as I walked to the gate. The lady checked my passport.

    "What a lovely smile," she commented, showing a row of perfect white teeth. I gave her a weak smile in return. My stomach was flip-flopping as I walked through the aisle, rolling my carry-on behind me. The overhead compartment stared at me daringly. A string of curses let loose in my mind as I attempted to load on the baggage.

    "Um, excuse me, can I help you?" From behind the bag, someone helped me hoist up and into the compartment.

    "Shit," I gasped, then covered my mouth. A man in uniform stared back at me. Reddening once again, I muttered, "thank you for your service." He smiled back and saluted, and thoroughly embarrassed, I plopped down in my seat next to the window and fell asleep.

    What woke me up wasn't the liftoff or the dinner service. It was the plane dipping suddenly, causing my stomach to fall up into my throat as the ground beneath my feet rattled. I cried out as the plane dipped again, knuckles white from stress. I was going to die. The plane was going to crash. A million horrible thoughts ran through my head and I began praying. Please god, don't let this plane crash, please, just let me land safely and I'll do anything, I'll even go to church more.

    To my immense relief, the plane stopped shaking, and the fasten seatbelt light turned off shortly after.

    "This is your captain speaking, we're just going to be hitting a couple rough patches of air along our journey as there's some inclement weather at the moment. When you see the fasten seat belts light switch on in the cabin, please return to your seats as turbulence is expected." Inwardly, I groaned, but the message had relieved me slightly. Turbulence is normal. The plane isn't going to crash, I told myself, trying to self-soothe.  This was going to be a long flight. So I cranked up the volume on my iPod, leaned back slightly in the economy chair, and closed my eyes. I was going to survive.

    And survive I did. The plane landed, and I faced my next challenge. Passport Control and Customs. Again, I faced wobbling feet and sweating palms as I handed my new passport and kept my face neutral for the facial photo check. Inwardly, I gave a massive sigh of relief when my passport was returned with an entrance stamp. Customs was a different story. My bags were chosen for inspection and I winced as they were unpacked and searched. The panties were definitely making a comeback now. I regretted packing them so obviously on top of everything. Luckily, the contents of my bags were returned without confiscation. The chocolates and twizzlers that I had stressed about bringing in were't even confiscated and I stopped holding my breath after I had passed into the arrival section of the airport. I had done it! As I wheeled my bags behind me, I began looking for the sign with my name on it. According to the email from the program, I could expect someone here for me, someone who would guide me to the hotel.

    George Smith? No, not me. Celia Veermat? Nope, also not me. Marie Thompson? I looked up at the sign, and found a guide in yellow with the organization's names in big white across her chest.

    "Marie?" she asked, noticing my hesitation.

    "Yes!" I answered, so happy I could kiss her. I hadn't gotten lost and I hadn't been detained. It was definitely going good so far.

    "I'm with the program. I'll be escorting you to the bus for the hotel where we'll be staying for the next couple of days." She gave me a warm smile that lit up her tanned face."Bienvenidos a España!" 

    "Gracias," I replied, eager to put to use some of my meager Spanish. As if on cue, my legs wobbled and I nearly fell over my bags.

    "Here, let me help you with those," insisted the lady. "I'm Caroline, by the way." She looked young, only around twenty-three with a thick British accent.

    "Marie," I replied automatically. "But you already knew that," I joked awkwardly, trying to save myself from sounding like an idiot.

    "Yes," laughed Caroline. "Well, here's your ticket."

    She spoke with the bus driver rapidly in Spanish, tongue clicking and a familiar lisp. Castilian Spanish, I recognized. My blood pulsed with the words and my scars began to itch. And it hit me. I was in Spain. Not America. Not my small town. I was in a completely different country and about to get on this bus completely alone where no one probably spoke a lick of English. 

    "Marie, are you alright?"

    "Uhhh…." I replied. Smart, Marie. Smart. "It's just, I'm not very confident in my Spanish ability," I muttered awkwardly, staring at the ground. 

    "That's why I'm here," said Caroline, somewhat amused. "I'm escorting you to the hotel of course, and getting you checked in and everything. Oh, I forgot. Have you eaten yet?"

    "Well, I slept on the plane ride so I missed the meal they served."

    "Well, there are a lot of restaurants in the hotel area. The organization is paying for your meals for the next several days, so maybe once all the students are assembled, we can all go out for a nice welcome meal together. The last student is scheduled to arrive in about four hours. So, shall we say, meet downstairs in the lobby at twelve?"

    "Twelve?" I gaped. "Isn't that a bit late for dinner?"

    Caroline laughed.

    "I know, it's a bit odd at first, isn't it. Well, here in Madrid, nothing really opens until twelve anyway. You'll get used to it. There's a break in the middle of the day, called a Siesta. Really, it's a big nap. And then everyone goes out at night and drinks sangria and eats tapas. Quite lovely, really."

    "That's right," I remembered hazily through the jet lag. "Doesn't Mexico have siestas too?"

    "Yes, indeed. It was abolished though. Spain is considering abolishing theirs as well, sadly. There's a lot of benefits to be had from napping."

    "Nothing like a power nap," I agreed. "I had a good five hour long one on the plane. The turbulence kept waking me up though."

    "Well, you can take another one at the hotel and have a nice, hot shower. I'm sure you'd appreciate one. I personally hate how the recycled air makes me feel all nasty and gross."

    "Yes!" I laughed.

    We boarded the bus, and our conversation slowed. The next thing I knew, Caroline was shaking me awake.

    "We're here."

    I took a bath, a long and luxurious one, soaking away the sour airplane smell, and scrubbing away. My scars tingled in the water. I traced them, silvery medals, running up my arms. Only a few months earlier, I had hated my life. I'd felt no hope, like the walls embedded with knives were slowly crushing me to death, impaling me.

    Now, I felt like I had something to look forward to. I had not only survived an airplane ride by myself, not to mention my first airplane ride, but I had traveled to another country. One where I barely spoke the language. True, I wasn't confident in my Spanish, but I knew that I would improve. And already, outside my windows, the lights of the city beckoned.

    Madrid. I had arrived.

    I switched on the TV. A channel called Jetix was showing some familiar cartoons, and  I didn't need language to understand the Pink Panther. My skin felt wrinkly and soft after my bath and I was relieved by the scent of shampoo in my hair instead of airplane food. Settling into the bed, I gave a small sigh of pleasure. So soft, like clouds. I'd never stayed in a hotel this nice before. Damn, the program was turning out to be worth the money I'd shelled out for it.

    Suddenly, the door clicked. I stiffened. Someone was coming into my room.

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