1. 40+

'I can't explain it!' I say for the umpteenth time in to the harsh face of the councilor. 'This is the exact reason you are here Isabelle; so you can explain your emotions and eventually learn to control them.' Ms. West returned to me in that calm yet borderline sarcastic tone adults use very often when talking to me about my "problems". 'Just let me look in your journal Issy' she cooed making a grab for the small black book that I am clutching. 'My name is ISSABELLE. This is a SKETCHPAD. You are the last person on this earth that I would allow to look in this and that includes my pig of a father.' I couldn't help but spit the words at her. I hate him. 'Now now Isabelle don't be so irrational, that book will harbor some deep emotions whether they are in word or picture form and if we explore them together we can-' I cut her off I can't listen to this psych-drivel any longer 'you're not looking in it, so you might as well give up'. I glare at her with the darkest eyes I could possibly manage and hope that this unnerves her a little. 'considering,' she replied calmly 'that you are in no mood to talk with me today I will allow you some positive thinking time for the remaining 5 minutes of the session.' Wow I hate her.

I close my eyes and use one of my suggested techniques for preventing panic attacks from the internet. Deep breath Belle I murmur.

 My name is Isabelle Rose Henshaw.

I am sixteen due to be seventeen in November.                                                                              

 I have a dad and two brothers.                                                                                                               

 Only a third of my family can tolerate me. That third is my brother Edward.                                        

 I ran through some less complicated things, eye colour, hair colour and all of that sort of crap for a while and then I glare around the room, at all of the patronising posters that label any kind of weakness as ‘attempting to capture the attentions of those who matter most’ or in English, attention seeking. If I wanted the attention of my family then all I would have to do is obey their rules. Go to school and get the A*s in pointless subjects, kiss my teachers arses and come home and do the same of my fathers. But is that all my life is for? Obeying others, respecting my elders. Even if it was I don’t think that I could achieve all of things that they ask of me. In simple terms, I aren’t good enough.

‘Can I go yet?’ I say loudly looking her directly in the face. ‘I know we still have five more minutes, but you will still get payed for the full hour and we both know that that is all that you want from our sessions’ I catch my breath. I don’t think I have ever spoken to anyone so insolently, I didn’t mean to it just kind of slipped out of my mouth before being processed by my brain, like some kind of word vomit. She doesn’t look up from her document but mumbles ‘yes’ so I quietly walk toward the door. ‘And Isabelle, I know you clearly don’t think so but all I am trying to do is help you, yes it is my job and yes I get payed to sit with you and put up with your digs at my salary but I chose this profession so that I could help people. And whether you like it or not I will help you. That is all,’ I stand for a moment processing what she has just said, she looks at me with pained eyes and this is the only time I have ever thought of tough old Westy as a real woman with feelings the same as mine, feelings that I just stamped all over. ‘I’m sorry, it is just so difficult to let anyone in’ I whisper and then I turn and walk away, I’ts all I can manage for today, but maybe next week I will talk to her. Maybe it will help.

I see my brother Ed as soon as I open the door, he is nothing like me- he draws the eye immediately. I look up in to his crystal blue eyes but they aren't looking in to my dull brown ones. Oh God. He is looking at my arms. 'Sis there is more?' The hurt in his voice pierces me like a knife, 'You promised you would stop, you promised it as getting better. You promised.' His eyes well up and a tear rolled down his face, I brush it away hastily. Pulling down my faded black hoodie sleeves I smile up at him, 'come on, let’s go and talk.' I lace my arm through his and urge him forward. As I lift and place my feet I start to sink in to myself again, I hated what I did to him and I hated feeling the pain that was ebbing from him. It was all my fault. We walk in silence and it’s the longest five minutes of my life, we normally have a good old laugh about Ms. West and the stupid babble she comes out with in my sessions but there’s no laughing today. Not even smiling for that matter.

We finally reach Alice's and sit in our usual booth in the left corner. We both order our usual toastie and a cup of milky tea two sugars affair. I study the waitress and look her up and down; she is wearing way too much makeup and I am sure she is about my age perhaps a year or two older. An abrupt thought runs through my head… Is that is what I am supposed to look like? I don't think I could match this girl’s physique even if I starved myself for months on end and bought the entire brand of MAC makeup. My brown eyes could never sparkle like hers do and I could never look THAT good in a bear of blue denim jeans; not to mention that I could never wear a short sleeve top. How come I supposedly have everything money could buy but I envy a Saturday girl wearing cheap makeup and Primark clothes? Before I can debate this anymore however she clacks away in unsuitably high shoes. Ed doesn’t look twice at the waitress, he has never shown the slightest interest in any girl. Instead I see him cast furtive glances at the table next to us, I look over and immediately understand why; there is a supermodel type boy sat at the table. My brother loves a pretty boy.

‘Why don’t you go over and talk to him? Ask for his number?’ Ed has never expressively told me that he is gay but I know him inside out and I don’t think anyone could look at someone in the way he is looking at that man and not have feelings for them. ‘What? No, I can’t do that,’ he hisses back at me. ‘Why not?’ I challenge him, if he is going to grill me which I am sure as hell he will do then I can do the same back. ‘Because… just because, now we didn’t come here to talk about my taste in people’ he is very careful not to say men, ‘we came here to discuss you and your recovery’. HA.

Ed holds out his hand for my arm as he often had before. I obey. He eases up the left sleeve and stares silently. He stares at my arm and just stares and stares. His lips press in to a hard line as he glares at the newly made lines in my skin. He glares as if he hoped that this would cause them to disappear from my existence. He releases his grasp on my arm. 'B-Belle… why?' he stammers. 'Ed,' I took a deep breath, 'I don't belong here, I don't deserve to walk this planet. I- I feel so completely useless and empty and so so alone. And the only way for me to be able to deal with this is to take a razor and press it against my skin; I am weak because of it but feeling the blood run from my veins and the tears rush from my face… well it’s the only escape I have from my self-loathing. I know that it is ridiculous to you and that you don't understand it but it is how I feel. I am so fuckin sorry Ed but I don't want to breathe anymore.' I whispered it hastily, needing to finally tell someone how I really feel. 'You do belong here, you belong with your brother and you always will,' tears are spilling from Ed's eyes and guilt pangs in my gut. 'Look how miserable I am making you! You don't deserve this, you don't deserve to have to babysit you sibling to make sure she doesn't try to overd-' I choked. I decide to close my mouth after this because I knew my words were hurting my brother probably more than I could even imagine. He reaches out and squeezes my fingers reassuringly, 'just wait until tomorrow. I have a surprise for you,' he murmurs this so quietly that I could barely hear. I drain my tea and push away my cup and uneaten toastie, my stomach is already churning from the unspoken words inside my head so there was no way that I could force down food. I stand and walk towards the door as Ed paid the bill, I desperately hope Victor wouldn't be home. I can't deal with him right now.

I hate taxi journeys. I always have. I am always terrified to move, talk or even breathe. They're always stifling hot but opening the window would draw attention to me and who wants that? I stare at the back of Ed's head, noting where the pale skin of his neck meets with the trimmed black edge of his hair. It is taking all of my willpower to stop my trembling fingers from undoing the clasp of the satchel I am carrying and to pull out my sketchbook. I take a deep breath and push this thought from my mind however, surely it’s not normal to want to document snapshot of your life as you see them, but then, I suppose I am not "normal". To help resist the urge to push a pencil around a page I look out of the window. It really is a stunning day. The sun shines through the cloudless blue sky at an interesting angle. This type of weather is treasured in England, ask anyone. A sigh of relief escapes my chest as the car halts outside of my house, there’s no point in offering to pay… I am not allowed my own money. I nearly trip up the steep steps to the cream front door. I reached in to my bag and I pulled out a gleaming key and let myself in. I went straight upstairs and turned left to my room. I do what I always do when I am on the verge of a breakdown. I breathe and control myself. Calm.

It's barely a few minutes before I hear my brother softly padding up the stairs to me. I felt the bed sag as he lowered his weight on to it. I open my eyes and look in to Ed's crystal ones. That is when they come, the tears, one by one they create pathways down my cheeks, carving the way for more and more to fall to my chin. 'Come here you idiot,' I hear Ed breathe and he moves to sit beside me and wrap me up in his arms. I curl myself in to a sobbing mess at his side as he whispers soothing words into my ear. I'm unsure of how long we sit together before my breathing calms and the tears stop but I’m sure it is a while. 'Show me,' he asks soothingly, comforting, persuasive. I do as I am told like I always do. I stand up by the bed, remove the black jumper and toss it aside; underneath I am wearing an Arctic Monkeys concert top. My arms are exposed. I hold out both of my arms and he begins to count. We have always done this, keep track. He never tells me the exact amount but I count along with him and guess that it must be at least 40+ marks for both arms. 'Is there more?' he asks suddenly urgent, 'well? Is there?!'

'Why are you angry? I am sorry Ed, for everything…' I feel hollow inside as the words escape my lips. The door bangs and I whisper 'you better get out of my room, Victor is home.'

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