Cool. Calm. Collected.
She thought to herself these words again and again, trying to remain her own level of relaxation. In her hand was a cold piece of metal with a razor edge, lightly kissing her skin just enough to make it bleed as she dragged it across. Her delicate lips let out a quiet gasp, clearly not from surprise but instead relief, a few drops of blood caressing the razor. In a seemingly far off land, the school bell rang signaling tardies would be addressed but she didn't mind. Classes would start with or without her; she wouldn't feel any better harming herself in class rather than the small bathroom stall. For a moment images of her family flashed through her head but quickly disappeared as she made a new cut, specifically in their honor. Another gasp had escaped her lips as she drew the razor over her wrist again and again, counting the cuts she had made; one, two, three, four, five. She set the blade on her pant leg, satisfied with her fresh scars. Without a sound she cleaned up her wounds and left the stall, pulling down her sweater sleeve on the way out. No one else occupied the washroom but her, so she took her sweet time adjusting her ruined makeup and ratted hair. A small voice in her head whispered to her, "Jeez, those girls were right. You are a fat whore." This time she chose to ignore the voice and continued cleaning up, thinking it would leave her alone after a little while. Unfortunately she thought wrong, and the voice picked at her every little flaw from her wide hips to her auburn hair she had tied back. Silently she burst into tears and crippled in front of the mirror, begging it to just be quiet. The abuse continued on for a few minutes until another student entered the abandoned bathroom, silencing all noise. "Oh my god," the younger classroom remarked at the girl who was uncontrollably sobbing. "Are you okay?"
To her, being 'okay' was such a difficult statement. At this point and time she wasn't, she was everything but okay, but she couldn't possibly tell the girl that. When people asked if someone was okay, they wanted to hear a lie, they wanted to know that they were okay even if they weren't; because if you told someone you weren't okay you would be a self-pitying attention whore, and that is the last thing the depressed teenage girl needed to be known as. "I'm fine," she said, giving a nervous laugh, wiping her cheeks with a wet washrag in the dirty mirror. "Just stressed is all." Many kids believed this excuse because that's exactly what it was- believable. Crying over stress was definitely not uncommon in the life of a high schooler, and it seemed to be an easy excuse for a quick sob or two. "Are you sure?" the girl asked persistently, stepping closer to her. A bit frightened, the tear-stained girl took a step back from the student, clutching her washrag. "I swear," she practically hissed, biting the inside of her cheek. This kept her from crying even more or saying something she didn't need to, like the truth about why she was crying or how she was really feeling. "You can tell me-" she began to say, before the girl ducked out of the bathroom, hurrying to find a more peaceful crying spot. Class had already begun and she would be scolded for skipping, but a detention was not as bad as how she was feeling. She wandered aimlessly down the echoing halls, not stopping until she came to the student courtyard. Though it was the middle of April, the courtyard was abandoned, only one or two papers fluttering in the wind here or there. Taking a breath of the moist air, she slumped down against the hard brick wall, clutching her wrist and letting out a loud sob. Here she would not be bothered and could not be bothered; here she could cry and scream and no one would notice. But the bell sounded once more and her time of silence was over as adolescents flooded the once serene scene, rushing to make it to their next class in a matter of minutes. No one noticed her crying against the wall, and she didn't mind it either. It was better that they didn't notice her because when people didn't notice her they didn't ask questions, and though lying was a daily task it didn't make her feel any better of herself.
The courtyard was empty once again after yet another tardy bell, and she slowly rose from her hiding spot in the cool grass. Her tears had dried but had left black streak marks on her cheeks, and her light blue jeans now had spots of green and brown on them. She sniffled gently and wiped her eyes yet again with her sweater sleeve and took a deep breath. The same small voice from earlier returned, this time saying, "You can't hide forever." Her own voice responded softly, "Yes, I know, but let me be myself just this once. Let me hide." Worry filled her when the voice did not respond, but instead another male voice, out loud as if someone occupied the courtyard with her. "Are you okay?" the voice asked. The girl turned towards the direction of the noise and saw a boy from her science class sitting at one of the tables, papers spread out in front of him and his own cheeks tear stained. She wanted to say yes, she wanted to complain in her mind about the same question the girl in the washroom had asked earlier but she couldn't. Her body seemed to be paralyzed by the sight of the boy, her mind had finally gone silent. He was handsome, but he seemed sad. Guilt filled her as she wondered if the boy was in the courtyard for the same reason she was, if he too had told someone he was crying because of stress, if the tears gathered in his bright green eyes were tears of pain and not anxiety. "Are you okay?" the boy asked again, but this time he was standing and walking over to her calmly. No! her mind shouted, responding to his question. I'm not okay, I've never been okay, and I don't think I ever will be okay!
Yet no words came out of her mouth and she stood there as he stepped closer, terror filling her body. "I'm fine," she finally managed to choke out, her shoulders relaxing a bit from the tight position they were in. "Are you sure?" he asked, outstretching an arm to grab hers. She pulled away quickly and suddenly she no longer felt guilt, but anger and annoyance. Must everyone ask the same questions? "Yes I'm sure," she told him, her voice growing stronger by the word. However, the boy didn't believe her and she could tell; his body stiffened and he stepped closer to her despite her own actions. "I know you're not," he whispered sadly. "I heard you crying when you thought you were alone, I stayed behind the crowd to talk to you." She was mesmerized by his words, the way his voice had softened and how easily he could make it seem like he cared. What if he actually does care? "Nonsense," the voice in her head said menacingly. "No one could care about you." This brought tears to her eyes but she quickly turned her back so the green-eyed boy couldn't see. "Well?" he said, a bit angrier. "Why won't you say something?"
"I have nothing to say," she whispered hoarsely, her voice becoming nasally and tears poured out of her eyes. "I'm sorry," he said, his voice returning to its soft demeanor. "I really didn't mean-" The girl could no longer take the kindness he was treating her with, and she fled from the courtyard to wherever she could go and lock herself in a room alone, hoping he wouldn't chase after her.
"After all," the voice yelled. "It's not like anyone actually cares."