There’s a faraway tear in her eye. Reflected in it are the times she wishes she could lose. The times she doesn’t want but they stick around. Stuck in her head. They weep out of the cuts in her arms, they flood toward the floor, they pool with the tears, yet they still don’t go. They won’t drain away.
She’s been crying for an hour. It’s gone from full on racking sobs to slow silent streams, cascading down her pretty face. The face she hates to look at. The face that makes her jump back from her reflection.
Sometimes she looks into the mirror, really looks, she leans forward so her breath starts to steam up the mirror, her nose touches the coldness of the glass, making her gasp slightly.
She stares, deeper into the mirror – something in the back of her mind takes her back to her childhood story books – she reaches out to the glass but only hears and feels her fingernails tap against it. There is no looking glass, no face to tell her she looks great, nothing in the mirror, nothing on the other side but a wall.
She sighed, it echoed around the bathroom. It whispered back towards her, cold and breathy.
She shivered and looked about. No one was there. Nothing was around. Just herself, her shadow and her destructive thoughts.
She pulled the brush through her hair, roughly, hurting herself, she gritted her teeth to the pain – trying to let all her emotions fall into that pain, to find some form of release.
It didn’t work.
She pulled her hair up, twisting it into a top knot, securing it with some pins.
She took out her hair smoothing cream and warmed it in her hands, smoothing it over the little baby hairs on her head, keeping her hairstyle very neat and prim.
She put her hands on the basin, her arms were rigid, looking down the plughole staring at the water bubbling just out of reach. She sighed again.
‘Get a grip!’ she seethed to herself.
She looked up and beamed at her reflection. The perfect fake smile. She looked at each individual feature as she carefully applied her make up, making sure she never looked at her face as a hole. She focused on her lips as she drew in her lip line. She focused on each eye at a time as she carefully drew on her eyeliner and brushed on three coats of mascara.
She pulled on her perfectly pressed skirt. She looked up catching herself off guard.
She slumped back against the wall, sinking to the floor. The tears came again.
She let them flow. She looked around her helplessly. She caught the glint of metal glistening on top of the toilet basin, she stared at it, it appeared to glow. As though she had no control over her arm, she watched it reach out, stretching towards the metal. As her finger tips made contact she felt her adrenalin soar. She reached out delicately with her fingers, stretching to make contact. She felt her fingers wrap around the razor blade. She held it up in front of her face, she took a deep, excited breath and drew it across her arm.
At first she felt nothing, just a cold steel feel go through her. Then the wetness as the blood began to bubble and break through the surface of the skin. Her head went back against the wall and her eyes fluttered closed, just like a junkie getting their morning fix.
The pain helped her forget, helped her feel alive, dragged her out of her despair.
Minutes later she was plunged back deeper than ever. She looked at her arms with disgust. They were all scarred and marked, old scars, new scars, fresh wounds. They disgusted her. She didn’t want to be like this. She wanted to feel normal. To be happy. To be able to ride the ups and downs of life and learn from them. Not hide here on the bathroom floor.
She quickly got up and ran the cold water tap over her arm. She sat down letting the blood stop and the body start to take control in helping her heal. She patted down her hair and continued to get dressed.
Twenty minutes later she marched into her office. Once again the cool, calm business woman that looked so composed, that seemed to have everything under her control, who could handle anything, little miss unflappable.
If only they knew, if only her work colleagues knew the truth.
She wished they did. She wished she had someone close to her that she could talk to, who she could share her fears and weaknesses with. Someone that would hold her when she began to shake and cry. Someone that would kick her when she needed to buck up, but would hold her hand when she needed that extra bit of strength. She wanted to scream out the truth to them all but her voice always caught in her throat. She didn’t want to act anymore. She wanted to get better. She wanted to feel alive again, to feel all the ups and downs, to be human again.
She felt her legs start to quiver and quickly headed to her desk. She sat down heavily in her chair and turned on her computer, tapping out replies to emails on auto drive.
Then she stopped.
A piece of paper on her desk caught her eye. On it was written a phone number. A helpline. Underneath it was the name of her colleague and her phone number. Another helpline, but of a more human kind. ‘Don’t suffer alone. Dinner at mine tonight, we’ll talk.x’
So someone had noticed after all.
More than that, they had done something about it, they had reached out.
She felt the relief cruise through her veins, her adrenaline pumping in fear, in happiness, for she was no longer alone, someone had taken the time and that was all it took, just a little time, a little energy, the kindness of humans. The importance of reaching out. To see beyond one’s nose. To care. To just take a moment to look around.
She picked up the phone and dialled the number on the paper. Life was finally going to begin again.