A Short Story: By Paige Peterson (the one I promised to stick on previously)
There she was; lounging against a lamppost, her black hoodie, leggings, and net tutu blending in with the night sky. Only her red and white checked Hi-Tops were visible from where I sat, on a standard park bench. I think she had her headphones in; there was a blank look in her eyes. She looked so calm and relaxed. That couldn’t be possible could it?
‘Min, Mini,’ my voice echoed over the tranquil, clear water near me. ‘Help me, Daamini!’
There was no answer. I started to wonder if I had imagined it to be her, standing by the lamppost. I shivered; my arm ached from the many times I had cut it with the scissors. My eyes wandered to the water beside me, it lapped against the banks, softly teasing me to, encouraging me to get in and have a quick swim.
Just as I was about to slip in, my phone beeped. Damn! It was only a message from my Dad, checking I was going to be home soon and that I was okay but it ruined the moment. I got up and stumbled out of the park. The river would have to wait.
The next morning I got a message from Daamini asking me to meet her in town at half past ten. I glanced at the clock; I had an hour to get ready and leave to meet her. I quickly put on my jeans and a blue hoodie. I slipped my fingerless gloves on to cover the scars from Daamini. Then, I strolled into town.
‘Are you okay? I sent you a message on Facebook last night but you didn’t reply. I got really worried about you.’ Daamini hugged me, her voice edged with concern.
‘Ummmm, yeah. I’m fine. Can we go to our special place?’
‘Sure,’ Daamini rose and we wandered along to a little teashop on the outskirts of the town. We ordered our usual of two hot chocolates and two muffins before settling down.
‘So,’ Daamini began, her eyes fixed on me. ‘Tell me about it, what’s up?’
‘A lot! I thought I saw you last night, by the river. I called your name but you didn’t reply.’
‘That’s because it wasn’t me. Anyway, why were you at the river last night?’ Daamini questioned, her face stern.
‘I felt awful, really depressed and the river was calling to me. I could hear it; ‘Paige’ the river just echoed my name continuously. I was going to….to…to,’
My sentenced was finished for me. I could never finish them myself, especially that sort of sentence. Daamini always voiced my fears, tried to get me to overcome them. But I never could.
‘No, I felt that you, um, were watching me.’ I whispered, peering round at the other customers. ‘I was really paranoid. If I’d jumped…’
Daamini nudged me from under the table, her gaze telling me to say it or I never would.
‘…jumped in! You would have been there and I dreaded what you might do.’
Just at that moment our order arrived. I grasped my mug of hot chocolate, wondering why I was bothering with it; I was supposed to be on a diet. Honestly, I needed to watch myself with eagle eyes.
‘So….do you want to talk to a counsellor or do I have to force you to stop this issue all over again?’ Daamini pulled out her phone, obviously ready to make a reminder.
‘Counsellors don’t help, last time I saw one I just got a lot worse.’ I replied moodily, ‘If people just left me to myself it would be so much better!’
And with that I stormed out of the café, leaving Daamini alone and confused. As I turned towards the gym I thought of what I should have done but, I decided; now it was workout time. I ran quickly, quicker than normal, the treadmill falling away into the dark abyss of despair. As I ran, I thought of my hands, covered in old and new scars from the safety pin I had used to destroy my hatred of who I was. I was ugly and fat; the reason I came to the gym and dieted. My word, I needed to but Daamini didn’t seem to understand that. She thought I was skinny but then again, my anorexic brain hadn’t been completely diminished.
‘Paige, Paige!’ a voice broke through my torrential thoughts, ‘It’s me, Daamini. I’m sorry if I offended you. It’s just a touchy subject for you. Do you want to come round to mine later? For a chill time, like we used to, before you went away.’
‘Cool. Yeah, I’ll think about it.’
‘Sure, you’ll be fine. Don’t worry!’ Daamini gave my arm a squeeze, a pained expression crossing her face.
I left the gym soon after Daamini. I jogged home, praying that that my parents would be out. I needed to tidy myself up. I looked a wreck.
Later that evening I went round to Daamini’s. After saying ‘Hi’ to her Mum we went upstairs to chat and chill out. But when we had sat down, Daamini began,
‘You do know what you’re doing to yourself, don’t you? It’s physical abuse!’
‘Yeah, course I know, what I want to know is how to stop and why it’s happening to me?’ I wailed desperately, my eyes brimming with tears.
‘Pay, don’t cry. I’ll support you but I just can’t bear to see you get hurt.’ Daamini lifted my hands and stroked the scars softly, ‘If you get anorexia again someone will find out, it could kill you. And think of all the other consequences.’
I sniffed and wiped away the tears that had begun to leak from my eyes.
‘Depression ruins your life. You used to be so funny and friendly but this mental illness has changed you.’ Daamini looked out of the window, scanning the garden where her little sister was playing. ‘If you died or had to move away………. Paige, I don’t think I could survive. I experienced depression and self-harm a long time ago and I never want to go back there again. I want to help you escape this trap, like someone else helped me.’
‘Right,’ I glanced at Daamini, trying to catch her eye but she had her head buried. ‘I always felt as though I was alone, no one would understand what was wrong.’
My mind flickered back over the long and painful past two years and I hadn’t even known Daamini then. I was glad that I knew her though. If I hadn’t, would I still be here today? I can’t guarantee it.
Sometimes, I still walk past that river. Occasionally, I see a girl in black and red Hi-tops. I still get paranoid, hear the river calling me; ‘Paige, Paige please!’ but I won’t do it. Not anymore, however bad things get.