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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4. Chapter 4

"Hello?" I called out nervously. I could hear panting. Goosebumps prickled through my skin, and I swung my legs over the bedside and turned on the light.

    "Hey," called a voice out from behind the corner, slightly muffled. "Caroline brought me, she said we'd be sharing a room?"

    "Uh…" I replied, slightly disappointed. I'd assumed that I would be getting the room alone, and honestly, I wasn't looking forward to socializing too much. "Yeah, sure. Do you need help with your bags?" I added as an afterthought.

    "No," came the voice again. "I got it." Suddenly, she swung into view. A girl with frizzy, curly hair and smooth, dark skin. She was beautiful, even covered in sweat and clearly stressed. I stiffened. In my experience, girls like her were cruel and self-centered. Great.

    "Goddamn. I brought my laptop and iPad and everything in this fucking bag, and the hotel only has ethernet. For fucks sake. Should have just left everything behind," she gasped, swinging her bed onto the couch.

    "There's a really big bath," I mentioned, quietly, intimidated by her personality. "I took one, and I felt a lot better after."

    "Yeah, that's a great idea." She smiled sweetly, and stuck out her hand. I reluctantly accepted it. "I'm Catalina. You can call me Cat. But not Kitkat, that's my boyfriend's nickname for me." She rolled her eyes as if she could sense the corniness of the endearment. 

    "I'm Marie," I said even quieter. I was terrified that she would start teasing me with my water-soaked hair and fuzzy pajamas. I wasn't planning on putting on jeans until closer to eleven. And that was still two hours away.

    "Really pretty name! I love the name Marie actually, it's French isn't it?" 

    "I guess so," I replied, somewhat surprised by her enthusiasm. "I think my parents just named me for Mary. Or whatever. We're Catholic. Kind of, I mean, we don't go to church every Sunday, but they make an effort. And they don't hate gays or whatever. I don't think they don't speak French, unfortunately." 

    "Shame," she said, wriggling her nose. Suddenly, she focused her attention to my clothes. I winced. I wanted to sink down and die from embarrassment, my lack of a bra, my red-checkered pajamas-

    "Dude," she said focusing on my pants. "Where did you get those?"    

    "Uhh, Target," I muttered, staring at the bedsheets.

    "Really? Man, I get mine at Kohls, but I really like yours. They're like, party pants. They're really cool, seriously. I'm mad jealous."

    "Really?" I perked up. Maybe she wasn't so bad after all. 

    "Yep. Ok. I'm gonna go take that bath now. I smell like something that came out of a sewer drain." I wrinkled my nose at the thought, and she laughed good-naturedly. "Yep. That's right." I laughed with her, and smiled even after the door to the bathroom had closed.

    She hummed in the bathtub. It was actually rather amusing, hearing her off key tunes muffled by the water. Not at all distracting as I watched the Panther dance across the screen. I was actually starting to feel somewhat optimistic. So far, everyone had been really nice, definitely not what I was expecting when I had left Smallville, USA. 

    Cat and I went down and waited in the lobby together. Caroline came third, followed by another boy and one other girl.

    "Catalina, Marie, this is Thom and Eve." We stood around awkwardly in a circle. Cat was the one to break the ice. 

    "So guys, how was your flight? Where do you want to eat?" She was a chatterbox, but by unabashedly starting conversation, magically, we all began talking. For the first time in a very, very long time, I could speak, just letting the words seep out of my mouth. Where I had previously felt anxiety,  I now felt freedom.

    We stepped into the night, lights paving the way, angry cars and beautiful people rushing about. It was loud, honking, bits of muddled conversation and Spanish passing through my ears. A couple fought, fiercely.    

    "No me lo digas nada! Eres un-"

    I didn't need to know what it meant to tell that it wasn't good. Part of language was tone, I supposed. How we say things versus what we say can change the meanings behind the words. Words are just a facade after all. I knew this from experience. My cuts were a facade. Hurting myself had been a secret cry for help. I had just wanted anyone, anyone at all to reach out-

    "Marie?" Cat interrupted my thoughts.

    "Yes?" 

    "You ok? You've been staring at the ground for like, five minutes now. I'm scared you're gonna trip."

    "Yeah. I'm fine," I replied, still not making eye contact with her. I gave my head a little shake to recalibrate. "Sorry, what were we all talking about?"

    "Just that there's a tapas restaurant over there. And we can legally drink, yes?" Caroline nodded. 

    "The drinking age is eighteen here. The program doesn't limit you, since you can legally drink, but please keep in mind that you can be more vulnerable when you're drunk. We've had students in the past get robbed or get lost while intoxicated."

    "Got it," said Eve. "I'm kind of a thirsty girl," she joked. "Definitely ready to hit up the Sangria."

    I had never had a drink in my life. My parents never let me touch the alcohol, and I definitely wasn't hitting up any parties in school, especially not since I left halfway through senior year. So when we ordered Sangria, I wasn't prepared for the taste. Expecting sweetness from the rich, zesty smell of the pitcher, I took a large gulp. The bitterness coated my tongue, and I swallowed hard.

    The second gulp was easier. I swirled around the orange slices in the pitcher.

    "Sangria comes from Sangre. Blood," mentioned Cat suddenly. She took a bite of tapas, some shrimp on a toasted bread.

    It did look like blood. Pretty, deep, ruby red, in a jar like the time I donated for school. Or the first time I cut and let it pool on my wrist, squeezing my hand in a fist so that more pooled out. I took another sip, and could feel it go straight to my head. Caroline confiscated my glass.

    "That's enough for you, dear. Drinking on an empty stomach is a surefire way to get drunk way too quick." I rolled my eyes, but let her take it.    

    Eve was downing glass after glass of Sangria. Thom had barely touched his, choosing instead to focus on chowing down more and more tapas. I eyed his stomach,  distending from his shirt.

    "So why are the portions so small here?" I asked, pointed to the tiny finger sandwich on my plate.

    "It's tapas," said Caroline simply, confiscating Eve's glass as well. "They're like appetizers. Typically you hit up a row of tapas places one after the other, sampling a bit from each. And that's your dinner. You'll see, the lunch here is huge, so breakfast and dinner tend to be on the lighter side."    

    Eve began to laugh.

    "Pollo frito," she cackled. "That's the Spanish word for fried chicken." Caroline rolled her eyes.

    "This one's had too much to drink," she muttered. "Time to go back to the hotel for you," she said, authoritatively. 

    "As for the rest of you, try not to get lost, or stay out all night. We have a tour of the language facilities at the school tomorrow, so I need you up to all be up and ready in the lobby by nine tomorrow."

    With that, Caroline left, towing a giggling Eve behind her. We sat awkwardly, the trio of us with Thom still eating like a pig.

    Cat as usual broke the silence.

    "Yo, it's kind of unprofessional of them to let us drink. I mean, for all Caroline knows, we could just go and hit up more Sangria and get bitch-ass drunk, face in the pavement."

    "Yeah, it was a little weird how she just sat here and drank with us, and then took my Sangria away from me. I didn't even finish my glass," I complained.

    "That was really weird. And did you hear her Spanish accent?"

    "Uh…not really. Why?"

    "Dude, she has the heaviest, weirdest accent I've ever heard. Is she British or Australian? I can never tell-"

    "British," I said, firmly. "Definitely a Londoner's accent if I ever heard one."

    "I'm surprised the waiter understood her, hahaha. I couldn't."

    "So, are you like, good at Spanish?" I asked.

    "Yeah, I guess. I mean, I lived abroad in Mexico for a bit when I was younger because I have some family down there. I just can't read or write, which is really frustrating. So I decided, you know, why not come to Spain for a gap year and get a sexy Castilian lisp? Mexican Spanish is really boring, you know. I've only been here once, like, when I was five."

    I decided not to say that I liked Mexican Spanish more because I could understand it easier. I felt a little lost, and perhaps Cat could tell, because she changed the subject.

    "So, do you guys wanna hit up another bar or something? I could go for some different tapas," she said, motioning to her olives.

    "Yeah," said Thom, mouth full. I quickly turned my head, trying to avoid the image of chewed up bits of shrimp in his mouth. 

    "What is up with Eve getting drunk so fast?" I thought out loud as we entered .

    "Dude, we were on the same flight so I talked to her. She comes from this, like, real super religious family. And she was telling me that she used to party like crazy. I'm talking about jumping out of the window Pollyanna-style crazy. I don't know how she managed to convince them to let her go here, I mean Jesus. No pun intended," she added as an afterthought. "She probably told them she'd be going on a cathedral tour or something"

    I laughed.

    "Well there are a lot of beautiful Cathedrals here," I said thoughtfully. "I wonder if we'll get to see the Alhambra though, that's what I really want to see."

    "Yeah, we're taking a week down to Granada with the program. It's our trip for the autumn program. Totally psyched."

    "Yes!" 

    "Ah, queremos la sangria-" interrupted Cat as the waiter approached us. I let her order for me. Her Spanish was way better than mine. Frankly, I was impressed. Would I get to be as good as her? Suddenly, I had a goal. I wanted to be able to order like Cat. To be understood in a different language.

    I took another sip of sangria and felt the heat rise to my head. My mind felt deliciously blank and fuzzy. I laughed at something Cat said.

    "Dude, your tolerance sucks," she said, amused. "Let's get you back to the hotel."  I didn't remember walking back or hitting the sheets. But when I woke up the next morning, the sour taste of red wine lingered in my mouth.

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