This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Thin Red Lines"

Here's the story. If I don't get accepted into the Creative Writing Track, I'll probably find this story depressing in the future, but it's still a pretty good piece of work. Enjoy!
*NOTE: while some of the themes are partly based on true events, the majority of this short story is a work of fiction.*

"Thin Red Lines"
You sit at your opened laptop, randomly skimming over your newsfeed on Facebook. Couples breaking up that you barely knew, so-and-so is sad and just, "doesn't know why," followed by thirteen comments asking her if she's okay, and that guy you met at a party one night took a quiz to check the sexiness of his name. But that's not why you signed on today.

Slowly, you type, "Rebecca Huntington," and press enter. Stupid wireless at school takes forever; your dorm walls are paper thin, yet concrete-thick when it comes to wireless signals.

She's easy to find since you have a couple of mutual friends. Her profile picture is of some Pokemon character, so you know you'll have to click on it to see her face. Double click, it's that simple. Yet you know it isn't; it's taken years of therapy and cocktails of medications to get you to some definable stability. Your most recent therapist was surprised you weren't a blubbering pile of mush after what you went through.

Her privacy settings are minimal so all her photos are viewable. You have to be strong, whatever that cliche means. What are you expecting to get from this? Closure? Some new, enlightened sense of superiority? No, you know better than that; you're just curious is all. You haven't seen her for seven years.

Part of you wants her to be exactly the same, as though it would be some sort of proof that it really happened. You were so young, so very young, and no one believes kids at that age. They believe you now, or at least they say they do, because you're willing to show the scars and have memories to back up your word. You can verbalize what happened.

Part of you wants her to be completely different and failing at life. Be a college dropout. Do blow or meth. Or...or be, you know, what you used to be. Sad.
***
It wasn't the giggles from the other students at school or the faces the lunch lady would make when you went through the lunch line that hurt. Those were scratches, little kitten claw marks, nothing too damaging. It was her, Rebecca.

From preschool, you and Rebecca were inseparable so you saw no need to have other friends. After a few years, it was less of a choice and more of a fact of life: you couldn't have other friends. She wouldn't allow such disloyalty. How were you supposed to know any better? As far as you were concerned, this was what friendship was like and as long as you were with Rebecca, you were safe. Deep down though, you knew it was the opposite.

Your parents went out of town frequently for business and Rebecca's parents were more than happy to take you in and let you stay for the weekend. Sometimes you had fun at Rebecca's. Being an only child, Rebecca had more toys than you knew existed. Her dad was a toy designer who constantly bribed you with new dolls and play jewelry to come over to their house.

Cloaked in a veil of rainbows and sunshine, her house was a prison; you could never leave. One time, you left in the middle of the night because you were hungry and Rebecca wouldn't give you anymore food. That look she gave you, one that haunted your nightmares up until only a couple years ago, let you know that that would not be an option in the future.

"Best friends don't abandon each other because they don't want to hurt the other one's feelings. You don't want to hurt me, do you? Of course not, because you love me, and I love you."

From then on, you knew it wasn't safe to leave. You were safe with her and her only; it's all you'd ever known. It's the hunger that got to you, that pain deep in your stomach that ate away at your sanity. Rebecca started with snide comments about how your jeans were getting tighter and that you might want to exercise more, but you ignored it mostly. She was disgusted with you though, throwing your dinner away when her parent's weren't looking to inspire you to lose weight. You were seven years old, how were you supposed to go on a diet?

The hunger pains were incapacitating on the weekends and on the weekdays, you would eat whatever you could find. You could feel your stomach rejecting the food but you needed more, like a squirrel hoarding nuts and acorns for the winter. Unpleasantly full, you would survive weekends with Rebecca. By the time you were nine, even your parents were noticing the sudden weight gain. You used to think it was Rebecca being Rebecca, but could it be true? Were you fat?

On your tenth birthday, you had a sleepover at Rebecca's since it was Saturday night and your parents were in Vancouver. That night, she found your Snicker bar stash in your backpack under your clothes. The fury on her face, the way her limbs trembled uncontrollably, her nostrils that flared violently, all sent you shaking to the ground. You had upset your best friend; she had trusted you to work on your problem, and you betrayed her. That was the first night it happened and it continued from time to time. The cut.

It was never enough to bleed profusely, just enough to leave a scar right below your belly button on the fattiest part of your stomach. "The final step of motivation," she called it, but it only made you hate yourself more. Now, even if you did lose the weight, your stomach was scarred forever.

Soon you learned doing it to yourself kept Rebecca from cutting you, so you took that cuticle clipper and dug deep into your skin. As you did you would picture a better world, a world where you were free from her wrath and one where you were strong enough to stand up for yourself.

One night though, you dug too deep. Fainting in your room, you were lucky your mother found you minutes later and rushed you to the emergency room. You were only thirteen. Therapy began the next day and, after hours of interrogation/intervention, you told the doctors and your parents what Rebecca did to you. Unfortunately, you also admitted to cutting yourself, so there was no way to show which scars were at Rebecca's hand or your own. You also couldn't or wouldn't, upon further questioning, remember if Rebecca had ever even touched you.

You changed schools after you got out of treatment and started eating normal again, but it was hart to understand and believe that no one was going to take your food away. Even as the pounds melted away, the fat girl in the mirror lingered for many years. The doctors said that once you remembered, you might start seeing the real you.
***
You remember now. You remember so much it hurts all over again, Rebecca and blood haunting your dreams.

Her face. That face. She hadn't changed a bit. Rebecca's hair was longer and lighter and she had a nose ring, but beyond that, it was like looking through a time machine. Browsing through her pictures, you see she's happy, Rebecca; you'd know that look of contentment anywhere.

Turning toward your mirror, you asses your changes over the years. Briefly you see those chubby cheeks, your double chin, and your bloated stomach, but then you see the truth. The real you, the one that Rebecca worked so hard to suppress. You see your thin frame and the freckles sprinkled round your eyes. This is you.

You think for a moment, lifting up your t-shirt and running your forefinger over the thin, red lines. These are your lines; they tell your story better than you ever will. The doctors in the hospital seven years ago suggested plastic surgery to smooth them out, but you told your parents that you wouldn't do it. If the scars were gone, it would be like it never happened. Without a reminder that you were not insane, how could you ever heal? No, those scars were a part of you; they made you who you are today and remind you of how far you've come.

Happy...happiness, such an odd, ambiguous term to you. Pulling your shirt back down, you stare blankly at your reflection.

So, are you happy?

No comments:

Post a Comment