Her fingers were moving, again. She smiled as she watched them play. She enjoyed it now – the way they moved, back and forth without breaking pace. She closed her eyes. She was getting there. It'd only be a few seconds now. She had learned to cherish this moment. It was the only time she escaped, the only time she worried about nothing at all. She bit her lip as it hit her. The euphoria had become so familiar. It bothered her sometimes that she still couldn't enjoy it freely, yet she took as much as she could, whenever the mood struck.
She controlled the quaking of her knees as she pulled her legs up. She loved the feeling of contentment. She lay still a moment longer, basking in it. She smiled and touched her lower lip. It was wet. Blood. She was becoming savage. A movement at her far right caught her attention. The dim candle flickered once more. She loved the intimacy the darkness brought. It helped her sleep. Further away still, lay a body, breathing evenly. She looked away and forced the tears back.
She watched the woman look from the plate to the spoon before opening her mouth. She released the breath she didn't realise she held. There were no objections this time. Usually, the woman would refuse to eat and on good days, wouldn't go beyond six to eight spoons. Today, however, was different. She had lost count.
The last spoon disappeared. She smiled and touched the woman's face. It had become so lean. She traced the birthmark on her right jaw. There was so much love in her eyes. She wiped food crumbs from the woman's mouth quietly. The tears were gathering again. She was becoming a cry baby. She sighed. She kept her eyes down and kept her hands busy, gathering the plates. Underneath that love and worry was so much pain. She hid it well. Why wouldn't she when something bigger faced her everyday. She had had years to learn. Sometimes it slipped. Sometimes she let the woman see.
She had just turned nineteen when it first happened. She didn't recognise what it was. Being a quiet child, no eyebrows were raised. She wanted to have the conversation many times, and each time, she talked herself out of it. She had no idea how to explain. Growing up in a religious home made it more difficult. Everything was spiritual. Why talk about it when you could pray? And pray, she did. She loved God. She still did. But now, she knew how things worked.
She never taught about it much, those earlier days. It would come and go for weeks, even months. She loved quietude, so isolating herself was next to normal. The constant stomach upsets rang no bells. Crying for no reason raised no questions in her mind. Later, when it all began to make sense, she still couldn't connect the event that led to it, if there was any at all.
There were days she woke so exhausted she couldn't hold on to a single thought. Not that she liked living in the moment, but it was difficult to not wonder. She had always been a thorough person. There were also days she woke so hyper she couldn't control the energy. Those were the days she dreaded the most. It struck harder than ever when the episode passed. The woman would stay up all night looking after her, saving her from herself.
“What are you doing?”
The woman paused her lips for a long time and without another word, walked back inside the house. She sat on the floor by the pool and stared unseeing at the water. Until that moment, she hadn't realised what she was doing. Over the years, she had thought about ropes and needles, and tying stones to her feet. One time, she flushed her shaving blade down the toilet because she couldn't stop imagining how it would feel like to cut herself, little by little.
She patted the stones in the pocket of her shorts and closed her eyes. She still didn't understand why the woman asked no questions, after all these years. There were days she would wake and see traces of blood on her sheets. The woman would tend to her wounds silently. Sometimes, she would hold her hands. She had no memory of them, nor could she remember how she got half the scars on her body. She only knew she put them there.
The body was moving now. She stood and with unsteady legs, walked towards the woman. Eight years ago, she had learned to detached her brain from her emotions. She didn't allow herself to feel so much anymore. It became easier. Now that she had a name for it. She recognised the triggers. She liked to believe she was in control.
Everything threatened to fall apart when the woman got ill. The long awaited conversation happened then. For a brief moment, she feared that something bad might happen. There was never many words between them, though they shared a bond. She didn't enjoy talking about it. She was so used to being alone with her thoughts. But she felt lighter.
Indulging in ecstacy was her way of escaping it. She had fought it in the beginning. Now, she just let herself feel. The support group wasn't bad either. She had decided to give time, time.
“C'mon, mother. It's time for your medicine.”
This is my entry for this week's The Ink Well Fiction challenge.
I loved the prompt for this week immediately I saw it. What I didn't realise was how difficult it would be to write. Observing people and writing about them is one thing, exploring feelings that are familiar to you is another. I'm not sure I've been so emotionally invested in a story before. Somehow, I feel it's incomplete.
Tell me your thoughts.