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Bette and Kay have been friends since 2010, but their friendship is tested when Bette's self-harm lands her in a rehab center. In this short story fiction inspired by true events, discover just how far one is willing to go to heal the hurt caused by abuse and death.

Drama / Mystery
B. L. Crane
Age Rating:

Kay- June 30, 2020

How much blood has been spilt this time?

How many cuts?

Do any of them need stitches?

Did you call 911?

You really need to call 911.

No, you can’t just sleep it off. You’re bleeding.

I have these conversations weekly, now. She hasn’t worked since March, so she spends most of her time home alone with no human interaction other than me. I give her as much time as I can, but a girl can only give so much. It’s always me picking up the pieces, cleaning up the wounds, putting her to bed, etc. I’m the one talking her through another round of binge eating or drinking. We have talked, and cried, and talked, and cried, and she won’t take an ounce of my advice to seek help. Sadly, I’m waiting for the day when I walk in and she’s dead. It’s harsh, I know. But it’s my unfortunate reality.

Bette is sitting in the middle of her bedroom floor with a metal cuticle scraper in her right hand, head hung low, wearing only her bra and underwear. I see the pink tinge of the scrapes and burns on her pasty skin and thank the Lord above that the wounds are minimal this time. She won’t look me in the eye. She doesn’t want to face the hurt in my face. I reach forward and gently lift her chin, forcing her eyes to meet mine.

“Bette, look at me. You need to get help. You cannot keep doing this.”

She groans and pulls her chin free from my fingers. I sigh and sit Indian style in front of her. She has open sores on her left thigh and all across her stomach. The bleeding is minimal; the scratching barely broke the surface, but it’s enough to leave a scar. I look above the fresh wounds to the scars created from the last time this happened. Her abdomen is covered in purplish marks zigzagging across the skin. We are silent with our own thoughts before she finally looks up at me.

“I’m sorry Kay.”

“You don’t need to apologize to me. I’m just worried about you. Are you still taking your medication?” She glances over to her dresser where her pill bottle normally rests, and grimaces.

“I ran out last week.” I press my fingers to my temples in frustration.

“Why didn’t you call the pharmacy to get this taken care of?”

She just shrugs and looks away. Her eyes are glazed over. Like there’s really nothing inside of her but emptiness. I go to the medicine cabinet and return with cotton swabs and peroxide to start cleaning the scrapes. She lets me without flinching. I don’t even know if she feels pain anymore.

Breaking the silence, I ask, “Do you wanna talk about it?” She takes a moment to mull over her answer before she speaks.

“They told me today that I could no longer see the kids. Said that I’m too unstable and they can’t trust me to be around them. Like I’m some kind of freak.”

I can’t say that I blame them, I think, but I wouldn’t dare say it out loud.

Bette has had a shaky relationship with her sister for as long as I could remember. I contribute so much of her mental instability on the countless years of verbal and mental abuse caused by it. Now that her sister has kids, though, Bette’s world has been fully reliant on their presence in her life. She cannot function without them, which is both a blessing and a curse. I have seen her at her absolute best in their presence, but her absolute worst comes after she leaves. Now that her visitation privileges have been revoked, I fear the outcome.

“Now is your chance. You can get help, Bette. Take care of yourself so you don’t have to go through losing them in your life. I promise, you will be so much better for it.” I search her face for some kind of resolution. I hope, and pray, that this time she will listen to me and get the help that she needs. She remains silent. Thinking.

Sighing softly, she looks up and says, “You are right, Kay.”

I’m a little taken aback at first. I have been pushing for this for years and she has only taken the bait once. Three years ago, she finally mentioned feeling depressed to her primary Doctor, who then prescribed her with Zoloft. That was it, though. She never went in for counseling and she was terrible at maintaining her prescription.

“Really? That’s great to hear! I can make some calls and see if someone is available for an assessment.” I eagerly reach for a phone and look up contacts for our local mental health institutions. However, I called several different places but was never able to get through.

“Hmmm…my phone calls don’t seem to be going through. Maybe you should try.”

Bette picked up her phone and was able to get through on the first try.

Odd. I thought.

“Um, hello? Hi. I think I need to be admitted for therapy or something.” She was so disoriented that she struggled to form sentences. She put the call on speaker so I could help her set up appointments. The woman on the other end of the conversation told her to report to St. John’s Mental Health Services as soon as possible. I help Bette clean up her area and pack clothes to take with her and we head out the door. She drives, much to my dismay. I’m not going to fight it. At this point, I’m just happy she’s actually going.

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