A Stranger to Myself

"I feel like I don't even know myself. And if I don't know myself, how can anyone else ever know me?" Autumn has always felt alone, like an outcast. But when a girl comes into her life and reveals things about Autumn she never would have known otherwise, can Autumn learn to accept her differences she's so used to hating?


9. Things About You

Carmen lied. She broke her promise. I wasn't fine. I felt as if I would never be "fine" again. I didn't want to do anything anymore. Especially go to school. 


After that day, when I left early, when I went home and brought a blade to my wrist, the girls at school got worse. They knew how much they got to me when they mentioned Carmen possibly being my girlfriend and they continued to make jokes regarding the topic. I wasn't sure why it bothered me so much, but every single time they said something to me like that I could literally feel myself falling apart. 


Carmen tried to help. She really did. It was sweet, I guess, though I didn't understand it. And if anything the most it did was make me feel even more conflicted. 


I didn't know how I felt about her. She was nice. She seemed genuinely concerned about me. But maybe she was just a considerate person in general. Maybe she was doing these things - comforting, defending, consoling - to other people too. Maybe I wasn't as special as I originally thought. Maybe I was worthless and awful. No. I knew I was worthless and awful. It wasn't a question anymore. 


In classes now, I didn't even bring my books. I didn't look at the board or the teacher once. I barely spoke a single word throughout the day, hoping to just turn invisible and disappear, maybe melt into the walls. But no matter how silent I was or how inconspicuous I behaved, Aubrey, Jessica and Gretchen would find me. And their insults would be burned into my mind and wouldn't leave. 


After school I got on the bus and sat silently. Carmen always joined me. If she tried to start conversation I wouldn't address it and stared out the window. And when I got home, my sister and my father were never there. At least not for a good few hours. During this time was when I was the most unstable and weak. I would stare into the mirror in my bathroom for long intervals. I would take out the razor there and hurt myself, simply because I felt I deserved it. Carmen would sometimes show up, but before she could see, I would put the razor away and hide any signs of what I had been doing. 


It was a few weeks after the first time I cut. In total I had probably spoken fifteen words, most of them consisting of one or two syllables, and were only said to my family so as to dissuade them from thinking anything was wrong. They didn't care anyway. My forearm was a complete mess of wounds and scars. And I felt so empty inside. I felt nothing. Nothing except pain. And confusion. Confusion regarding Carmen. 


I didn't know what to feel about her. Did I like her? Was that why the girls at school got to me so much? Because what they said was true but I was just reluctant to believe it? Did Carmen feel the same way? Was I gay? I had never once thought of myself as being a lesbian. It just never came to mind. My father wouldn't tolerate that. He had never exactly openly hated homosexuality, but he was intolerant of practically anything he didn't understand or relate to. 


I sat in my room, on my bed. I was alone in my house. My sleeve was pulled down, and I just stared at the fabric, having already memorized the patterns of markings on the marred skin underneath it. Still I felt no regret. I often found myself not even feeling like I was human. 


I vaguely heard the sound of my front door being closed and I knew that it was Carmen. She usually just showed up. When she was with me we didn't do anything. I didn't talk to her, most of the time I didn't even look at her. The confusion regarding my feelings towards her was making me start to resent her. I hated feeling so uncertain. I hated that the insults of the girls at school were getting so painful and agonizing to hear. I felt like it was her fault, to an extent. And it made me start to steadily hate her. 


She walked slowly into my room. I could feel her eyes on me but I didn't look at her. She sat cross-legged on my bed across from me. My chest was tight and my entire body was tense as if I was frozen. Whenever she was around I was so uneasy.


I wondered what she thought of me. Was it just pity that she felt? That was the only thing that made slight sense, it was the only reason that might explain why she was supervising me so vigilantly. 


"Hi..." She muttered. I could tell from her tone that she wasn't expecting a response. I didn't plan on giving one. But I didn't want her there.


"Can you please go?" I asked her, my voice listless and incredibly void of emotion. I could tell she was startled by the fact I had talked to her at all. I just wanted her to leave. I didn't want to be near her. Not until I was sure of how I felt. I wasn't sure how long that was going to take. Maybe forever.




"Just go." I suddenly spoke with such determination. It even surprised me. 


"No." It took her a few seconds to say anything. She was probably considering what should be said.




"So you can hurt yourself again?" I looked at her. It almost seemed like she was about to cry. But I doubted that, "I don't think so." She didn't know that I had been adding more and more cuts by the day. She was so oblivious. Most likely because she didn't want to believe it. 


"Why do you care?" 


"Why wouldn't I?"


"Because we. Don't. Know. Each. Other." I spoke these words through clenched teeth. I was so distraught. I had never felt so terrible in my entire life. I didn't know what to do, I didn't know why I was alive, I didn't know if I should even be alive. I wasn't sure about anything.


"Well then let me get to know you." Carmen insisted. I was surprised she was remaining so patient and adamant. 


"Why the hell do you think I'm even worth knowing?" 


"Are you?" 


I paused for a long time, finally looking away from her. Though I felt many things my expression remained so utterly blank. This wasn't normal behavior. I wasn't normal. Was I ever?


"I don't know."


"Yes or no?"


"I don't know."


"How can you 'not know'?" 


"I don't know anything about myself, Carmen." I buried my face into my hands at the fact I had just revealed to her, out of all people, that I had no idea who I was. I felt so fragile. Like if another insult was spoken to be I would shatter into a million, irreparable pieces. 


"I know things about you." She said after a good few minutes of quiet. 


I looked at her with a raised eyebrow. She scooted closer to me on the bed and gently took my hands in hers. I still found myself amazed at how soft her skin was. And I still thought it made absolutely no sense why she, someone so perfect and flawless, would have anything at all to do with me. 


"Your name is Autumn Griswald. You have a dad, and a sister named Hazel, and you had a dog once but it died. You're focused in school and you have a B+ average, and you value it a lot even if it might not seem like it. You love to read, you love the rain, and apparently you like the wind. You get mistreated by horrible people, and their words get to you more than they should. And you're extremely insecure, but you shouldn't be because you're beautiful." 


I was speechless but I eventually managed to force out a single question burning in my mind, "Why are you doing this?"


She leaned slightly forward, her forehead resting against mine as she smiled sweetly, "Because you need someone."

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