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Blood Red River
I sat in the bathroom stall, my back and head pressed against the door. Tears ran down my flushed cheeks and my hands were shaking. Why? Why were people so mean to everyone else? Eyeliner and mascara was dripping onto the floor around me, but I didn't care. I just needed an escape of some kind.
I looked down at my shaking hands that were clasped around my knees. A deep blue vein seemed to be calling out to me. "Maggie, Maggie!" I wiped the tears away and looked towards the wall. No, I thought, you shouldn't do this. You know it's wrong. But as the bell for kids to leave their last class finally rang, I found myself standing up and pulling out my cell phone.
"Hey, Maggie. What is it, honey?" I could hear her curse as something on the stove simmered over in the background.
"I just wanted to tell you that I'm going to be a little late coming home. I want to stop and get a Coke."
"Okay, honey. Just be home by dinner." I heard something fall and she cursed again before the dial tone picked up again. I put my phone in my pocket and grabbed my backpack to leave.
It was not a long walk from my school to the nearest gas station, but I found myself looking at my watch every few steps and another few minutes would have gone by. When I finally reached the gas station at the corner of Holbrook and Simms, I felt tired and lost. Once inside, I made a point to get in, keep my head down, not attract attention, and get out. But that didn't prove to be easy.
Hello! My name is Janet! That's what the little pin on the lady's vest read. I wanted to smirk at the simplicity of it all, the pin hooked to her red vest, the small bag of pretzels in my left hand and the Coke doing the same, and the razor with spare razor blades in my right hand. Janet took the items and looked at each one before scanning it. When she got to the razors, she stopped.
"These for your boyfriend?" I looked at her.
"No, I don't have one. They're for my dad." She rose one eyebrow at me before scanning it.
"Good. Because I would hate to see a pretty little thing like you start cuttin'. That'd be a shame."
She typed in the total and I handed her five bucks. "I was a cutter when I was your age. Stress got to me and I started cutting, drinking, and eventually, there were a couple of drugs involved. I hated it, but it was addicting. And I hate to see young things like you doing it. It just ain't right." She handed me a bunch of change and a receipt, then put my bag on the counter. "Have a good day!" I nodded, then booked my butt out of there. Her story didn't touch me until a couple of months after I started cutting, and looking back, I probably should have listened to Janet. But I didn't.
"Hey, baby girl!" my mom said as I came into the kitchen. "You're just in time to see what I'm makin' for dinner!" She took my hand and dragged me over to the oven. On the stove top was a pot full of red glop that was simmering wildly. Another pot held noodles that looked like they were falling apart and in the oven was a loaf of Italian bread with herbs, which was burnt. My mom was not a great cook, but Mica and I were grateful for what we got.
"Looks good, Mom." I kissed her cheek and hoisted my backpack onto my shoulder. "I've got some homework to do, but I'll be done in time to eat." I took to the stairs and went into the bedroom that Mica and I shared.
"Maggie!" Mica came up to me and gave me a hug. Mica was five and had the biggest heart of any girl in America. I was the luckiest older sister ever. Why was I doing this to myself? I gave her a hug and went over to the desk to do homework.
After completing Algebra, Science, and AP English, I took the gas station bag into the bathroom and sat in the bathtub with with my clothes on and no water running. I ripped the razor's package with my teeth and held the smooth handle in my hand. I pulled my left sleeve up to my elbow and sighed. With on swipe of my hand I'd made a light gash in my wrist. It wasn't deep, just enough to bleed, and I could feel myself bite my lip to keep from crying out in pain.
I sat there for a minute, watching the blood drip steadily from my veins. One, two, three drops of red have fallen from my hand now, and I can feel myself being drawn into it. It was a curse, addictive and beautiful, so I pulled up my right sleeve. Another slash, this one more menacing than the first, and it cut a little deeper. A smile slunk across my face as the blood stained my arm and dripped into the tub.
I can't remember if it was Mica knocking on the bathroom door or Mom yelling at me to come out and eat that brought me out of my trance, but I remember that I was suddenly grabbing the rim of the tub and hoisting myself up. I grabbed two band aids from the cabinet. "Coming!" I yelled.
It would be several more times of cutting at home before I finally got the nerve to do it at school. I would ask to use the bathroom during class, razor in my backpack, and I'd just sit there and let the blood run like a river. My friends started thinking that I looked pale and thin, which I was. I would skip meals to cut myself and would do anything for a razor. Eventually, I started going to parties with people that were also cutting themselves, drinking on occasion. My mom and sister were getting worried, and mom scheduled a doctor's appointment for me to see what was going on with me.
The day I went to Dr. Edwards office was one I remember very clearly. I was skinny and very pale, and I had slice marks up and down both my arms. I was very tired and almost fell asleep in the car until my mom stopped and got me a Coke and a sub to eat. The food felt good as it slid down my throat into my empty stomach. We pulled into the parking lot and waited until it was about ten minutes before the appointment. When we went in, I sat down in a comfy chair and waited with my mom for the doctor.
"Margaret?" I rolled my eyes. Why did my name have to be Margaret? Why couldn't I be Maggie all the time? I let that question weigh on my mind as I waited for the nurse to ask me questions.
"So, what seems to be the problem here?" The nurse, Becky Lotts, asked my mother as she took my vitals.
"Well, she seems to be losing a lot of weight and she's cold, tired, and pale all the time. I don't exactly know why, I mean she eats enough and sleeps eight to ten hours a night." Her voice was shaky.
"Well, let me take your blood pressure. Could you pull up your sleeve, please?" She went to the counter to wash her hands and get the blood pressure cuff and I shrugged my hands into my long sleeves. She came back and looked at me. "Margaret, I can't take your blood pressure until you pull your sleeve up." I looked at my sleeve.
"I can't." I sighed and felt the two women look at me. "I can't," I repeated
"Why not?" my mother asked as she came to my side.
"Because," I said, feeling a tear fall from my cheek. "I've been cutting myself." I yanked up my sleeves to reveal over fifty scars on my arms, some covered in band aids. My mom gasped.
"Maggie, how could you!" She shook her head and let the tears run down her face. "How could you do this to yourself!" The nurse tried to comfort Mom as she phoned the doctor. He came instantaneously.
"Margaret, I hear you have been cutting yourself," he said once we'd all calmed down again. "How long has this been going on?"
"About five months."
"Does it hurt?"
"It did the first time. It didn't hurt after the first few times."
"Do they bleed a lot?"
"No. Just enough."
"Do you clean your razor after cutting?"
"Okay. Look, Margaret, no matter what the reason, cutting is wrong. Not only for your health but it can't feel good knowing that you are slowly killing yourself." I'd never thought of it that way. I'd always just thought about it as me letting everything go, all the bullying and teasing. Never as slowly killing myself.
The doctor put me on some anti-depressants to help ease the negativity and bad feelings in my head. He also put my mom and sister on watch duty, making sure that there was nothing in the bathroom that I could use to cut myself and that I never went anywhere without someone who would make sure I didn't cut. I could no longer cut at school because teachers would search my backpack. In the end, I was caught. But there are millions of kids and teens that cut themselves everyday. That's the sad thing.