I can remember the cause of every single one of the scars on my body. The one on my knuckle, from when I put my hand through a glass window, on my brow from a radiator when I was three, and on my leg from a thorn tree in the forest by my house. They are my memories, a map of experiences exposed for the world to see. When I was small, I would bare them proudly as though the made up the flag of who I am, never afraid to tell the story to those who would ask.
These are different. I am not proud of these markings.
I come to in near darkness, the early morning sun bleeds its way into the room just enough for me to realize where I am. Even amongst the torn bedsheets, ripped papers, and turned over desk, I know that I’m in my room or what’s left of it. In the pile of wreckage, I can see the candle that I bought last month and close by, my lighter. I prepare myself for the onslaught of pain with a few haggard breaths, then push myself up from my spot on the ground and reach for the candle and lighter, careful not to let out too much of a scream.
The candle rolls from my grasp further across my room and stops with a clunk against my wall. I pull myself over to it, my fingers brushing against little trenches in the wood. My hand instantly jerks away from them and I’m frozen there, staring at the marks - thick etchings like a trail leading from my door to my bedroom window. The more I stare at them, the more I feel my world tilt over on its sides.
Grabbing the candle, I push away from the marks back to my spot against the bed. Something feels like its crawling beneath my skin but I push the feeling away quickly, not wanting to dwell on what it is. My face has gone hot and a pounding takes over the sound in the room as though someone has pressed their palms against my ears and all I can hear is the blood within their veins.
I flick the switch on my lighter, the sound barely audible, and hold it to the wick on my candle. It rises up in great form, popping as it engulfs any piece of dust that had settled on the wax over the many weeks of not burning. After a minute or so, the flame settles, bathing the room in a small warmth.
I know that they’re there, the marks, but I can’t bring myself to look at them. Instead I let my eyes glaze over them, the black a mere shadow in the corner of my eye. The pounding settles and the room regains its silence. I close my eyes.
I awake with a start and tip the candle over just enough to drip hot wax on my leg. Clenching my bottom jaw in that way where you’re trying not to give into the pain, I quickly push myself up from the ground onto my bed. The sun has risen just enough to paint my room an awful orange and within the light, I realize that I’m staring at the spot on my leg where the wax had dripped but not at the spot and the markings that run alongside it.
I have to get out of this room.
Blowing out the candle, I finally push myself up into a standing position and walk to the toppled over desk, wincing as my muscles seem to tear with each step. Pushing the desk to reveal my door, I let out the most pathetic of groans - the sound is an abuse to the silence. There are divots within the panels of the door as well. I open it.
There’s a certain sort of vice that takes hold of the body when you are looking at something you know you shouldn’t be and it seems to drain all of the blood from your body. There’s just enough light coming through the curtain in my living room to highlight the motionless shape on my carpet. I can’t take my eyes away from it but every part of my body is telling me to look away. The crawling sensation returns and soon the only sound I can hear is that pounding, pulsating sound within the drums of my ears. I feel a familiar dripping at the back of my throat as the living room starts to waiver and soon I’m running down the hall, pushing open a door, and vomiting in the sink of my bathroom.
Heart lurching, muscles twitching, and veins pulsating, I heave what remains within my stomach into the porcelain basin and turn on the tap to wash it all down. The water streams consistently at first then sputters and coughs out a brown mess before running dry. Shit. I turn on the other tap but it gives the same performance before reaching its end. I don’t know why its the thought of no water that finally brings me to a panic, but it is. The pounding in my ears deadens the world around and soon the crawling makes its way to my neck.
I look up at the mirror above and stagger back from what I see. I knew that they were there, I just didn’t want to believe it. Taking a step towards the mirror, my eyes are locked with the eyes in its reflection, my reflection. I tip over to vomit again but nothing comes out. I don’t remember the last time I ate something. It feels like the reflection in the mirror is still looking at me and I can’t help but look up to return the stare. What looks back at me is a girl that looks like me but isn’t me. Her hair is disheveled, her eyes are sunken, but beneath her skin, like oil slicked estuaries, her veins are black and pulsating.
I bring my finger to one of the markings and trace it to the base of my jaw, it seems to move with my touch, like something alive beneath the surface. At first I feel fear of the movement, but its quickly replaced with anger, sheer, hot, anger. The pounding takes over and suddenly there’s this inexplicable need for the reflection to go away. I need to make it go away.
The glass webs away from my fist as it meets the surface, my reflection falling to pieces on the floor. When I pull away my hand, I carry a few pieces of glass with it. A few droplets of blood fall to the white porcelain of the sink and for a moment, I think how beautiful before I realized that there’s a significant gash running the length of my hand below my pinky. Shakingly, I open the medicine cabinet behind what’s left of the mirror and cringe at the sound of more shards dropping to the ground in a shatter.
Behind the mirror there is nothing. This seems to strange to me to have nothing in our medicine cabinet. I close it, even though I know it won’t make a difference, and catch my reflection in the remaining shards of glass. My face also looks like its in shards, broken into little pieces by the black lines of my veins. I touch my face again and as I reach for it, I feel a river of warmth run down my arm. In the glass, I can see a line of red mixing in with the black and I start to feel dizzy. I’m bleeding.
The room seems to come back into focus and I realize I’m standing amongst a pile of broken glass, with a pretty terrible wound, the smell of vomit wafting up to my nostrils. I back out of the bathroom and make my way into the kitchen where the sun is blaring in at full force through the surrounding trees of our yard. In the light I can see that the cupboards are all empty as though ransacked by thieves, hanging loose on their hinges. My mother’s tea towel still lies folded beside the oven, fresh from the laundry days ago.
“Sorry mum.” I whisper to myself and pick it up only to tear it into shreds. I’ve only ever seen this in the movies but the shreds seem to work as a makeshift bandage tied around my hand. After a short while, the amount of red soaking into the threads seems to decrease and I feel a little more solid on the ground.
I pick up a chair from its side on the ground and set it at the kitchen table but for some reason, I can’t stop what I’ve started, so I continue on closing all of the cupboards and straightening the canisters lined up against the backsplash of the wall. Then I move on to the spill of liquid on the floor and push in all of the drawers cleaned out of all their tools. When I’m finished, the kitchen looks more clean than it has ever been. My hand cries out in pain, the first of which I’ve felt in the last short while. I sit down on the kitchen chair and cradle it in my lap its not until a breeze hits my cheek from the hole in the kitchen window that I realize I am crying.
I sit there and let the tears spill out as I grieve for the home that is no longer a home. Then, when there’s nothing left to spill, I know its time to leave.
I leave my bedroom for the second time today though this time, I’m carrying the only pieces left of my old life - my sketchbook and pens in a rucksack brought back from Mexico during my mother’s travels. I stop to stare at the shape on my floor, this time on purpose. I know that its not her anymore, any semblance of what it was that made her a person left the moment she hit that floor, but it still feels like I’m leaving someone important behind.