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?


13. Unwelcome

I hadn't been to school in what felt like forever. Probably a week straight of just skipping it altogether and remaining locked in my bedroom, not knowing what to do with myself in the slightest.


I was a complete mess. I felt unable to do anything. I didn't know what I might even want to do. Carmen had completely turned my life upside down, inside out, twisted it in every possible way and was more than able to just snap it in half if she so pleased. 


My arms were littered with so many cuts it seemed my skin might just fall off of them I added any more. So I moved the cutting to my thighs, and to my stomach. Some nights I lost so much blood, I genuinely thought I might die, but I would only pass out, waking up later on the next day with a small pool of blood around whatever area I had focused the blade on.


At some point I guess the teachers noticed my absence and were either getting concerned or confused, most likely the latter, because they somehow contacted my father about it. He was not happy. I guess he assumed I had been going. He was so uninvolved in my life and rarely ever saw me either way, so he must not have noticed me not attending. 


But one day, after what felt like years (to me) of being cooped up in my room, my train of thought was interrupted by a heavy pounding on my door. I was laying on my bed and really didn't feel like getting up. I knew it would either be my father, my sister, or Carmen, none of which I wanted to see in the slightest.


"Autumn?!" I recognized the deep, booming voice, knowing it belonged to my father, "Autumn Griswald, you come out of that room this instant!"


Ignoring him would just make him more angry, and he would probably end up breaking it down somehow. Sighing to myself I hauled my limp, fragile body upwards, making sure my sleeves were pulled down, and walked to the door, unlocking the deadbolt. I then took a few steps back, waiting until he turned the knob again.


He burst into the room, clearly seething with rage. I for some reason felt nothing but indifference as I watched him, steam practically coming from his ears, take a few menacing steps forward.


"Why on Earth do you think it's okay to skip school?!" He screamed at me, inches from my face. I didn't even flinch, which only made him angrier, "How much do I have to scream at you before learn how to behave?!"


I shrugged.


"I can't even think of a proper punishment for this, nothing would be severe enough!!"


I shrugged again.


"You're ridiculous!! I can't believe my own daughter would turn out to be such a disappointment! Is there anything else you want to tell me, anything else that would further lower my opinion on you?!"


His words caught my attention that time. Yes. I had a few things. The fact that I spent practically all of my time either crying, sleeping, or slicing my skin open with a razor was one of them. And another was the fact I might very well be a lesbian. I stared blankly into his eyes. What was the point of lying? I had nothing to gain. I didn't fear punishment. I didn't fear anything anymore, besides encountering Carmen.


"Yeah." I said, my voice listless and fragile, "I kissed a girl and I'm probably gay." Even I was surprised at how casually that came out.


I don't remember much of what happened after that, mainly because I've blocked it out over time. But I'm pretty sure that he hit me at least once. And I distinctly remember him hauling me out of my room by my arm, screaming things that started to become ambiance in the background, and then tossing me onto my front yard. And I also remember what he shouted at me before he slammed the door shut.


"You're not welcome here".


I wasn't sure what to do. So I just sat there on my front lawn, numb. It was drizzling out. The sky was a deep grey color. Nobody seemed to be around to see me, that was good, at least.


I had nowhere else to go. I had no other family. None of my "friends" even wanted me to come over to their house, let alone stay at it. Yes, despite how much I didn't want to believe it, Carmen's house really was my only option. I glanced at it from the corner of my eye. To absolutely anyone else, it would have seemed like a very welcoming environment, warm lights in every window, smells of delicious homemade food wafting out of them, the colors of the wallpapers bright and happy, the general atmosphere very calming. 


But to me, it seemed like hell.


Because I knew that going there would involve Carmen.


And I had no idea how I felt about her. 


I stood up after probably half an hour. By that point I had gotten fairly wet and I was starting to shiver involuntarily. Sighing to myself, I walked to Carmen's house and sat on her front steps, not at all having the courage to knock on the door and be greeted by her family that had never met me. I buried my face into my hands, which were clenched into tight fists - my sleeve wadded up within them so as to ensure nobody would see my arms.


I just waited. I waited, for hours on end, tense, barely breathing, for some reason not feeling tears coming to my eyes because frankly, I was so broken apart I was beginning to find crying pointless. It wouldn't change anything. I was still thoroughly convinced that death would be my only escape from this horrible, unbearable life.


But I didn't understand why I hadn't just killed myself already. It was strange.


"Autumn?" A timid voice spoke from in front of me.


I looked up, revealing my face, to see Carmen standing there. She held her books against her chest tightly, and the expression she wore was so full of emotion I wouldn't be surprised if she started crying. Mainly she did seem a bit surprised. Also nervous. Also sad. Also guilty.


"W-what are you doing here?" She asked me cautiously, taking another step forward in a very hesitant manner, as if she was afraid I was going to start screaming at her. Honestly, I felt like I didn't have enough energy to. Every motion I made caused me to exert much more energy than I normally would have.


I looked down, breaking our eye contact, staring at my feet.


"My dad kicked me out of the house because I told him that I kissed you." Again, I said this like it held so much less meaning than it truly did.


She gasped very slightly and very quietly. But I had heard it.


"Oh... um..." I heard her step forward some more, and she sat next to me on the step, gently setting her books down between us as if to show me she didn't plan on getting too close, "...I'm sorry..." Clearly she didn't know what to do. 


"I don't have anywhere to go."


There was a silence for a while. I could practically feel her thinking. I would glance at her out of my peripheral vision and see her hands clasped tightly, her knuckles white. I wondered how pitiful I looked. Shoulders sagging, face unnaturally void of emotion, hands desperately clenching my sleeves to cover my arms.


"You can stay with me, if you want." She sounded more confident than I would have anticipated.


I didn't want to, actually. But I had no choice.



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