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


5. Chapter 5

    Holding hands, long, lingering stares, and good-natured kisses on the cheeks. They were young and clearly in love. I felt a pang of jealousy from this couple, my host parents. More like host-older-sister and older-brother. They were just barely in their thirties.

    "Si, si, Marie le gusta escribir y-" The lady mediating had just said something about me liking to write. Yes. Pride rose slightly in my throat. I understood.

    "Marie?" My head shot up.`

    "Yes? Uh, I mean, si?"

    "Introduce yourself," hissed the lady. "Like we practiced earlier." We had a bullshit introduction practice session before the host parents started arriving, and it really wasn't anything I hadn't learned before, but my tongue was slow like molasses with Spanish. Unlike Cat, who flowed from word to word like she had been born speaking Spanish. Because she had been. 

    "Uhhh…"  I froze for a second, flushing furiously trying to switch from English to Spanish under the glare of mediator lady. "Me llamo Marie. Tengo dieciocho años. Soy americana. Mucho gusto." I shook their hands, my own hand shaking with nerves. Quietly, I wiped a bead of sweat off of my forehead. Damn, I wasn't good at putting myself out there, like Cat. She and her host family had come and left already, and I'd watched them embrace like old-time friends, Spanish falling from her lips like fast rain. Again, envy boiled in my stomach. I was going to study really hard and get better at the Spanish thing. I was going to do well in the medium level class, and focus on pronunciation and-

    "Marie, grab your bags." The lady was now staring daggers at me. I flinched. Goddamn it, could I do nothing right today? I heaped another bag on my shoulder, and groaned under the weight.

    "Puedo ayudarte," said my host mother, grabbing my large suitcase, and my host father nodded, smiling, showing a charming gap between his front teeth. He grabbed my other bag.    

    "Uh, no, no," I mumbled, embarrassed. "Puedo..uh…do it myself," I finished in English, flushing. "No te preoccupes," I tried, in halting Spanish. My host mother's eyebrows furrowed.

    "Pero, necesitas ayuda, no?" 

    Fuck. I literally couldn't understand anything. She spoke too fast.

    "Uhhh…." I looked to the homestay lady for help, but she stared pointedly at me, expecting me to handle it myself. What a bitch. "Ok," I said weakly, giving up, accepting their help.

    They didn't have a car, which didn't surprise me as their apartment was in the heart of Mardrid. Secretly, I was relieved, seeing the cars zooming about the streets, running through red lights. One nearly ran me over in the crosswalk. I nearly peed my pants. Pedestrians definitely didn't have the right of way. We ended up wheeling those bags through the metro. I yawned. The jet lag was hitting me hard.

    My host parents chatted, loudly with each other. I just tuned them out. They were fast, so fast it sounded like a blur and I was just too tired to concentrate. My brain hurt. Already I was tired of hearing so much Spanish, and now I was headed to a place where I definitely wouldn't be hearing English for a long time. My host father broke off to explain to me in English, to my surprise and delight,    

    "We are going to the apartment. It is close to your classes, I think. We will have to practice tomorrow on  the metro, but I…" he struggled for a moment, visibly thinking, "I hope you will enjoy Spain," he finished, smiling, again showing the gap in his teeth. My host mom smiled, her brown eyes dancing.

    "Hablas íngles?" I asked her slowly. She shook her head. 

    "No, no no. Pues, puedo entender un poco, pero…" She looked at her husband to translate.

    "Ana studied it in school, but she is not very good at English," he said, laughing. "One time, we go to the states. Ana goes to Canada, across the border. But she does not speak English good, yes? So the guard asks her something, she freaks out, and I had to come and pick her up at the station." He laughed, and said a few words to my host mother, and she smacked him, smiling. I looked away, somewhat embarrassed as they kissed. Yeah, I was used to PDA in the states, but this was something else. They really loved each other, and they didn't mind showing their love. Part of me was impressed. Maybe if couples were more like this in America, more easy going and making up and teasing, there would be less divorce rates. A stupid thought. There were definitely couples like this in the USA. I just hadn't seen many.

     My parents were very quiet about their love. And when I went over my only friend's house, I got an earful of her divorced mother screaming on the phone about her ex-husband. I can remember her yelling about how he was a worthless scumbag into the receiver and tears silently streaming down my friend's face. And I swore then that I'd never love or marry anyone without being sure a million times over that I would never resort to treating them like that.

    "So, ehm..vamanos-" said my host father, motioning towards the subway car's doors as a prerecorded message played. I followed them to a very nice-looking apartment complex, and when they unlocked the door to the apartment, I gasped.

    Holy. Fucking. Shit. They were loaded with money from the looks of this apartment. It was definitely a luxury apartment. No doubt. Jesus, what did they do for a living? Were they celebrities or something? A glass window overlooked the city, twinkling lights already starting to brighten the darkening sky.

    "Marie, su cuarto-" interrupted my host mother. I nodded, and followed her to my room. What I saw floored me.

    It was minimalist, without a doubt. The furniture was sleek and modern, and the bed low and square. Definitely a contrast to my hot pink walls back home with posters of various bands peeling off the walls, and stuffed animals resting haphazardly in the corner. This was a grown up room, for an adult. Somehow, I felt as though it fitted me better than my old room, like a pair of new jeans I'd tried on in the dressing room that glided over my legs like a second skin. A new room for a new me. I resisted the urge to jump straight into the bed, and instead walked over to the curtains, pulling them apart. We were high up, without a doubt. I could see across the city without my view obstructed, and I stood there, for several minutes, drinking in the combination of pale moonlight and building lights. 

    "Que bonita," I said breathlessly. It was beauty, in a modern sense. I leaned my head against the glass, and at the bottom I could see people and cars scurrying about like ants. It made my head dizzy, so I stopped, and looked back at my new family.

    "Es perfecto," I said. Unable to help myself, I hugged them, tears streaming down my face. Later, I traced the scars on my wrist as I lay in bed. In the moonlight, they shone silver like the moonbeams themselves. And I let myself feel beautiful. My beautiful, scarred self.

    I had never had a boyfriend. Ever. Back home, I was so preoccupied with the bullies and school itself that I never even let myself have fanciful imaginings about other guys.

    But I wanted to have a relationship here, where no one would ever hear about it and judge me. Let my hair down, so to speak. Not like Alana, back in school who put her happiness in the hands of these men. And they just used and left her. She was so beautiful, thin with hipbones that jutted out from her small waist and long blonde hair and so popular, and one day in the bathroom, when I saw her crying, she told me how she vomited to lose weight because she never felt good enough. Not good enough for him, or him or him or him. After the suicide attempt, I was trusting no one but myself with my happiness. But I let imagination go wild.

    He would be gentle. Caring. And willing to please. I discarded my shy exterior, and for a moment, imagined what it would be like to let go of my inhibitions altogether and just love. Know love for a small moment.

    And then I laughed to myself and rolled over and took my medication. I was a basket case, getting over a suicide attempt and learning to like myself. Nowhere near being able to handle a fling. One thing at a time, Marie. 

    Staring at my reflection in the mirror, I began to notice some things, for the first time. My pink highlights were growing out of my hair and I looked at the black clothes I had brought. Somehow, this part of me also seemed like it didn't fit in the room. Or Madrid. Suddenly I was sick of the black and neons and pinks that had made me feel unique and happy in school. 

    My defiance now seemed unnecessary. I wanted a simple pair of jeans and a sweater, something comfortable that melded to the shape of my body. My black pants with their chains seemed heavy and stifling. I needed change now. I embraced it. I chose a simple t-shirt that fell almost to my knees on my short frame and some black legging. Part of me screamed traitor! The other part agreed that this was a good choice.

    I stepped into the dining room, right next to the kitchen. The smells of egg and potato and onion assaulted my senses and my mouth began to water out of reflex. Damn, that smelled good.

    "Mama?" I asked, hesitantly. I didn't know what to call her, but she responded, turning around with her apron on and a spatula in hand.

    "Si?" she called.

    "Uh..yo quiero cortar mi pelo," I said bluntly. I wanted to go for a haircut today, but I didn't know what my host family had planned to do. The next several days were to be spent bonding. "Y también, quiero corrir. Hay un parque?" She responded in a mixture of Sis and head nods, speaking so fast that again I didn't understand, and felt like an idiot.

    "She say there is a salon down the street. As for running, there is a park behind this apartment. We will show you after breakfast. And today, we will go see the Palacio Real, yes?" Again, my father translated. I was secretly relieved that he spoke English because while I could choke out meager Spanish phrases, I had trouble understanding what was thrown back at me. It was like catching a curve ball from a major league baseball player without even a mitt. I just didn't have the resources or ability yet to do it, and my head hurt.

    I nodded my approval and stared at my plate as Mama served us. There was what looked like a quiche of some sort.    

    "What is this?" I asked in Spanish.

    "Tortilla," said Mama simply. My jaw dropped. 

    "But tortillas are different," I insisted. "Tacos? Burritos?" My host parents laughed.

    "No no no, Spanish tortilla is different. It's eggs." I tried a bite and smiled.

    "It's really really good! Muy delicioso," I said enthusiastically. Giant chunks of potato embedded in the egg like jewels greeted me.

    "We will eat paella today. You know paella?" asked my host father.

    "Yeah!" All my Spanish teacher had talked about was paella. Arroz, azafran, guisantes, camarones…all the ingredients that went into the dish had to be memorized and presented like a false cooking demonstration. And now I was finally going to get to try it.

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