Alive? Or Just Breathing?

For a while, Scarlett has been depressed. It started in Year 7 when Claire, her ever-changing boyfriends and her followers started bullying her. Scarlett has know for a while it is bullying, but doesn't know what to do about it. Can Drama and the new teacher, Miss Talbott help?

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11. Chapter Eleven

4/1/2017 - I can't believe it. She's done it again. Beat me down to within an inch of wanting to kill myself. I'm still not sure if I am totally stable. I spent the holiday wrapped in my own despair, cutting, cutting, ribboning my arm with patterns of my own blood. I had thought it was going away. I hadn't been cutting as much, only every now and then to take the edge of my pain off, when Claire made some snide comment or laughed at me for my fumbling mistakes. Now I am back to having arms constantly covered in blood. Not for the first time, I am, and have been all holiday, infinitely grateful that the floor of the house I slept on (and that my brother had also slept on) has it's own bathroom. I don't have to go downstairs to wash the blood from my arms, where my parents might see me. Even they began to notice some difference this holiday. They asked me if I was alright more often, and, although I passed it off as tiredness and a cold, I still cried myself to sleep under the crushing shame I had from not telling them. If or when they finally found out - a prospect I am doing very well to ignore - they would look at me with such disappointment. They would be sad that I hadn't, couldn't, tell them. We have always been a close family, and I'd always told my parents everything. That is, until Jamie left, and the bullying got worse. I can't stand to think about the despair and grief that would be my fault if my parents find out about the bullying and my problems, and that I haven't told them about it for so long. There was an invisible line in this whole cutting problem, where, if I crossed it, I wouldn't be able to tell them without them getting worried or sad that I hadn't said anything before. A few weeks, maybe even the first couple of months, it would have been okay to say something. But the longer I left it, the more the guilt crushed me. I crossed that line a long time ago. If I'd had the courage to tell them my problems after that, they would have been disappointed and sad that I'd felt I couldn't say anything - and it would have been my fault.

I've rambled on for too long. Classes start in 20 minutes. I've already been here for over half an hour. Luckily, I don't have drama today, so I don't have to face Miss Talbot, but I do have classes with Claire. History first, without Claire, but then all my other classes are shared with her, up until last lesson, where I get a breather in science. Overall, an awful day.

 

I sat for a moment longer, swirling patterns in the blood that coated my arms, the blood that had been dripping onto my black school trousers whilst I wrote another entry in my pathetic, technological diary. I was going to write in my paper diary, to feel the pain of writing whilst bleeding, before I realised that someone might see the blood crusting the pages. I didn't care about covering the actual book in blood - it would be a memento of how I was feeling at the time of writing it - but, if anyone saw, I would have some worrying questions to answer. Instead, I opted for wiping my hands, then typing out what I wanted to say on my phone. I knew I'd have to leave this cold, rather smelly toilet at some point, but I didn't want to. As stupid as it sounded, I would have preferred to stay in the toilets that to have to face Claire for the first time since before the holidays. And, as if my thoughts had sent out a message to the person of my nightmares, she opened the door, clattering in with her posse of friends, a new boyfriend waiting outside the door, no doubt. Their cold laughter filled my ears, and I dried the tears I had only just realised were falling. They weren't going to the toilet, simply using the room as a place to lord over until classes started. I heard the flush of a toilet a couple of doors down, and a nervous sounding girl scooted out of the cubicle to be met with the taunts and shouts of bullying older teenagers. I didn't want to leave the cubicle. Suddenly, I heard them leave along with the scared girl, and I was alone. I wiped my eyes, and unlocked the door, planning to splash some water on my face to get rid of my red eyes before class started.

"You took your time." My head shot up, as Claire's voice penetrated into the darkest, most fearful parts of my brain. Her wicked, glinting eyes, stared into my own red-ringed ones, and I couldn't look away. She held my gaze for a few moments longer, before letting it slide to the ground. I said nothing. "Run along then. Don't want to be late to your first class after the holidays, do you, teacher's pet?" I shook my head quickly, and went to the sink to splash myself with water. I let a few tears drip into the sink along with the water. "We haven't got all day, cry-baby! Hurry up!" I dried my face with a cloth from my bag - an action which I heard a small scoff from Claire in response to - and rushed out of the room, head down. I hated it. I hated the control she had over me. But most of all, I hated myself for letting her have control.

 

History passed in a whirl of dates and names, with me blushing madly when the teacher asked me for an answer and I hadn't been listening - too busy listening to the harsh voices in my head and worrying about my next lesson. After history, I had geography, which contained Claire, and went awfully. Our teacher could not control the class, so Claire and her posse had free rein to shoot dirty looks in my direction. She appeared to have a different boyfriend, who also thought he was in her posse, and kept sending me dirty looks, before looking over to Claire to see if she saw him 'on her side'. It was almost funny. A sick feeling had taken residence in the pit of my stomach, and I had a feeling it would be fairly permanent.

 

By the time I got to lunch, my back had started aching from being bent over all day, as I sat with my shoulders hunched forwards, as if they could protect me. I didn't want to eat, since I was feeling too sick, but I also didn't want to go into the toilets, not after the episode from this morning. Suddenly, I thought of the place I hadn't been in months. The old side room in drama, where the actors used to get changed. I hadn't been back there since Miss Talbot started teaching. Did I dare go back? What if she saw me? She seemed trustworthy and nice, but there was no way I could talk to her or explain, especially not now when I was once again, dangerously close to tears. Pathetic! I thought angrily, digging my nails into my arm in an attempt to knock some sense into myself. Why was I always crying? No wonder Claire found it so easy to bully me - I deserved it, and I lived up to every horrible label she branded me with. Ugly. Check. Pathetic. Check. Dumb. Check. Irrelevant. Check. I can't do anything. I'm pointless. With my head down, I began to move towards the corridor leading to the drama block outside, hoping that no one would see me. No such luck. I felt something hit the back of my head, hard. The tears that had been welling in my tear ducts sprung to the front of my eyes, and I blinked harshly to hold them back. I carried on walking, trying to ignore the pain as more food was thrown at me. I knew who it was. Claire's gang of course. Who else? But I just kept on walking. After a couple of seconds, it stopped, and I hoped they'd lost interest. I rounded the corner, so I could see the stairs leading down the door. Within seconds, I knew I'd been stupid to attempt this. They hadn't lost interest. They'd guessed where I was going and run round the other way to wait for me in the deserted corridor. I felt a knock to the back of my head, and lurched forward, tripping over someone's foot and smashing into the floor. There was nothing I could do to hold my tears back now. I felt more food pelting me, as I tried to get up, wanting just to get away. As I dragged myself up, I felt someone grab my hair, and heard the sound of someone walking up behind me. Claire's boyfriend turned me round, laughing as a cry of pain escaped my mouth in response to the sharp pull on my hair. Claire stalked up slowly, having followed her minions at a much more leisurely pace - why should she run through the school when she had others to do it for her? - and stared into my red-raw eyes with a heinous expression.

"Why, pray tell, didn't you turn around when we threw food at you?" She started walking back and forth in front of me. "Because, as I'm sure we have told you before, when I want your attention, you give it to me, right? And so, rather than drawing unnecessary consideration to a normal conversation between us, I thought we could throw something you're quite familiar with - rubbish. I mean, I just thought, since you are such a perfect example of debris that nobody wants, why don't we throw a less perfect example - since the food could actually be eaten by someone - to make you look at us? We were then very confused when you didn't look! So, apparently you thought you were better than the rubbish, and chose to ignore us. This had to be put right; we can't have people going around this place thinking they are better than they are!

"So here we are. All I wanted to do was to ask you if you were okay - you seem a little down. A little more down that usual that is!" She giggled behind her hand to the girls stood around. "But now that seems a little pointless, doesn't it!" She stepped up to my face, and I tried to cringe away, only to find my head couldn't move due to my hair being held by her boyfriend. She continued in a low voice, so I could barely hear her. "Don't forget, you are useless and pathetic. Don't ever ignore me like that again." I closed my eyes as the tears fell, trying to hide my humility. I felt myself being thrown to my knees, and heard the echoes of laughter filling the hallway as I gathered my books and ran, not looking back, through the doors.

 

I didn't stop running until I reached the drama block, where I simply walked as fast as possible, only meeting one person, a student, on the way, who just saw my blotchy face and went into a classroom. There was no one in the drama room. It was dark. I thanked the world for this one tiny piece of luck as I sunk down in the cupboard, hiding my head in my knees as I cried, silently screaming at myself for being so pathetic, for proving her words to be true, and for the fact I was so alone. There was no one else around me. There was only one person I wanted to tell about this. My brother. But Jamie was gone. And the loss still hit me like a boulder to my heart.

 

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When I got home, and after I had eaten later that evening, I meticulously cleaned my arms. Gently scrubbing and cleaning each cut with a soft muslin cloth in the bathroom, first under the water to remove any dried blood, and then with a saline solution to get rid of any bugs or germs. I tried to do it as gently as possible - something I would never usually do. But I wasn't doing this for me. Finally, I used another gentle cloth to wipe antiseptic oil over all of the cuts, which would not only protect them from getting infected, but also would reduce the scarring. I didn't want to reduce the scars. I deserved every one of them, and more. But I wasn't doing this for me. I also knew I would end up cutting again in the very near future, but I was ignoring that. I was focusing on the present, when I was trying to clean and care for my cuts, because my brother would have wanted me to. I pushed all of the voices out of my head. Claire telling me I was useless. A voice telling me I deserved it all. Another asking if my brother really cared. I tried, tried so hard to get rid of them, to focus on my last good memory of my brother, the brother who said he loved me and would love me forever. I was doing this for him. Then I got changed, into a pretty skirt I hadn't worn since he left. I also wore a t-shirt, breathing deeply as I looked at myself in the mirror, arms out to show for the first time in years. This was the girl I used to be. Strong and confident. It wasn't the girl I ultimately wanted to be - I wanted to be better, more confident and stronger - but it was a step in the right direction. Even if it was only to go into my brother's room, by myself. Even if it was just for one night.

 

I stepped into the darkened room, not turning the light on. Walking around the outside, next to the walls, I slowly touched each dusty possession, silently remembering him, letting the loss wash over me in crushing waves. I wasn't thinking about myself tonight. That didn't matter. My arms didn't matter. Claire didn't matter. All that mattered was Jamie. At the end of my exploration around his room, I ended up at his wardrobe. He took all his clothes with him when he left. It was to be expected. Still, I slowly reached for the handle and twisted it, letting the door slowly swing open. The rail was empty. The drawers were empty. The shelves were empty except from a few boxes at the bottom. I don't know what I had been hoping for. I knelt down and pulled the first box out. Light. Empty. The second one was the same. The third one was slightly heavier. My heart beat faster as I opened it, sinking as I realised it was just some clothes hangers inside. I pushed the boxes back in, wanting them to be exactly as I found them. I don't know what I had expected. I moved slowly across to his bed, laying down, and letting the waves of hurt continue to roll over me. It was not physical pain for once. I let the tears slide down into the cool pillow, letting myself really cry, out of sadness, not self-abhorrence or burning pain.

 

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So much for a good first day back.

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