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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7. Chapter 7

"So you want a fling?" asked Cat as we stirred our lattes in a small cafe. 

    "I've been thinking about it," I admitted. Out of habit, I tugged my sleeves down over my scars. "I've been thinking about it, but I probably won't do it," I said sheepishly. I couldn't even bear to be naked yet. Taking showers were hard enough. I had to remind myself to breath as I massaged soap into my skin, ghosts of pain flicking across my fingertips My scars wove around my body in patterns where I'd tugged the razor. The inside of my thighs, my wrists, even my belly when I was particularly desperate for release.

     No part of my body was truly unscathed. Like slivers of stars, they dotted my skin. Whoever I would be intimate would see them. And I hated them. I was ashamed and proud of them. Yes, they showed that I was a survivor. But more and more, I'd begun hating them as a cowardly sign of asking for help. The sessions with the therapist had taught me that it was ok to ask for help. I didn't need to bottle up my pain and release it through the knives and razors and things that . And it started by being honest with others. By baring myself and not being scared of the consequences. So I lowered my voice.

    "Cat, can I be honest with you?" She seemed like someone I could trust. A straight-shooter.

    "Yes, of course." She emphasized with her arms. "I don't judge. Dude, if you knew the shit I did last year, you'd know. I've done pretty much every unforgivable sin and lived through it all to tell the tales. Better than the history, you know. I'm sure you're the same, you know. Can't let your history define your life. Especially the bad parts."

    "Ok." I took a deep breath. "A couple of months ago, before coming here, I tried to commit suicide. And I used to cut. Like every day."

    "It's ok, I noticed," said Cat dismissively. "Your pajamas were low cut, and I couldn't help noticing on your wrists-"    

    "They're that visible, huh," I said gloomily.

    "Yeah. Well, don't let it get you down. Most guys don't give a shit if the boobs come to them wrapped in scars, still boobs. At least, any decent guy wouldn't give a crap. But if you don't mind me asking, why do you want to have an affair so badly? No offense, but I don't think you're exactly in the right mindset."

    I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.

    "It's just been something I've been thinking about. I've never had sex. I'm eighteen. And at the same time, you know, I want to be treasured, but I don't think I'm likely to find a guy that will stick around for the full crazy package, so I just want friends with benefits you know?" Cat shook her head at my words.

    "Honey, you're doing it for all the wrong reasons." 

    "There's a wrong reason to have an intercultural fling?" I couldn't help the sarcastic edge creeping into my voice.

    "Yeah. You want it because you have no confidence, and you think boning a dude is gonna bring you some self-peace. Let me tell you from a pro's perspective. That sort of thing makes you feel even more insecure. Casual hookups are the worst in that sense. You don't know what they think of you and yet you find yourself hoping that they're thinking about you. Suddenly your happiness is directly tied to their opinion of you. Dangerous, honey. Dangerous." Bitterness coated her words, and I stared openmouthed at her.

    "Woah. You sound like you know from experience," I said, awestruck, though somewhat miffed at her assumptions. I wasn't an idiot. I wasn't Alana. But at the same time, I knew how easy it would be to fall in the trap of letting others dictate my life, dictate my feelings, dictate my happiness. That had been my entire life. That had been all I'd known. And only now was I changing it.

    "Yeah. There was this thing with my guy in my school. Long story short, fell for him, ruined the whole thing by being a needy, greedy thing." She shook her head again. "My current boyfriend picked me back up and put me back together. God, I miss him. We were living together back since, oh I don't know, last January. My mom's a fuck-up, so I just was like, fuck it, I'm going to move in with the boyfriend. I don't really do marriage, but I think I could stay with him forever." Cat had a far off look in her eyes.

    "You really love him then." I stated it. It was a fact. I could see it in her goofy grin. She nodded, then her eyes clamped on mine. 

     "If you're going to do the no-strings thing, you gotta do the full no-strings thing. So if you're going to do this, you need to stop worrying about your scars. No offense man, I don't know if you're the type."

    "What do you mean?" I asked, somewhat deflated.

    "You're too emotional. Not a bad thing. But here's my two cents of advice. You're going to remember your first time forever. You don't want it to be an awkward, bumbling affair with someone you barely know. You want it with someone where even if worst case scenario happens-" 

    "What's worst case scenario?" I interrupted, but Cat continued,

    "He'll still give you the best night of your dreams. Hold out for a hottie who treats you right. You won't regret it."

    "Talking from experience again?" I teased.

    "Yes. My first time was with my long time boyfriend of two years." Cat had a far-off look in her eyes. "No regrets. That's the most important thing, honey, no offense you've been through a lot and you're a little fragile. I know you're reveling in your newfound freedom, but dude, what happens if you have a setback? You pick up that razor again?" She showed me her left wrist, and I gasped. Under her sweat band lay rows and rows of neat razor marks.

    "I know you better than you think," said Cat. "I've been there. Never again. Ok? We are both strong. I see myself in you honestly. Think of it as sisterly advice."

    I was completely dumbfounded. Cat had cut? But she exuded confidence. Hell, she was practically everything I wanted to be.

    "I cut, I purged, I binged, I survived," she said simply. "Got all the scars to prove my self hate. And you know what? After a while it gets so tiring. You look in the mirror and say, 'What am I going to look like today? Are my pants going to fall off my thighs because I've been starving myself non-stop? Or am I going to get up and make something of myself today?'" I nodded, as Cat continued. "I mean, Marie, not trying to downplay what you've been through because it is hell. I just want you to avoid making the same mistakes I did."

    She was like Holden Caulfield, trying to save me from the edge of the rye, trying to catch me. My eyes watered up with tears.

    "Aw, Cat, that's so sweet," I said, voice trembling. I used my napkin as a tissue. "I'm going to be ok. Do you have any advice? You know, since you've been through it all," I added on.

    "Look in the mirror when you get home. Then take off all your clothes, and stare at yourself, but look through a different lens. And say to yourself, 'I am beautiful'. Do that every day. When you believe your own words, then go ahead with your crazy affair plan thing."

    That night, when I got home, I took off all my clothes in the bathroom. And promptly had a panic attack, breathing in hard, exhaling and wheezing for more air as my chest constricted. The scars covered my entire body. That was all I could focus on. Fat, blobs of it on my legs, and scars. Sagging breasts. Freshly shorn hair, cut in a stylish bob. I missed the comfort of the pink stripes, even though they'd been fading and ratty at the ends. Oh god. How could I have even considered an affair when I looked like this? I needed to run again. I'd stopped in the past three days. What would happen to my thigh gap? Oh god. Oh god. Oh god. I felt light headed.

    Breath, Marie, you idiot. The voice came from inside my head, clear as day and terrified, I listened. I took a breath, exhaled slowly, and looked in the mirror. The scars were still there. The fat was still there. The sag, the ugly, it was all there.

    "I am beautiful," I whispered shakily, before bursting into tears and turning away. I stepped in the shower and tried to drown my misery with the steam. When I fell asleep that night, I fell asleep with tears in my eyes. Would I ever be normal? Love myself? I was in progress. Later, when I talked to my therapist, provided by the program, I would mention this, and she would praise me for taking such a small but important step. She encouraged me to keep trying. But I didn't mention the fling idea ever again. And I didn't let myself think of it again. Cat never mentioned it after-the-fact, luckily.

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