Original | Chapter One
“Bailey, here’s your mail,” Hannah, a regular volunteer here at the orphanage, says when I open my room door.
“Thanks,” I mumble, taking the white envelope from her grasp.
With a quick flash of her dazzling, straight smile, She turns to leave me like she does every week, her blonde ponytail swishing as she walks. I shut the door behind her and, with a sigh, take a seat on the edge of my hideous, unmade bed. My comforter is light pink and ruffled. The only reason it’s in my room is because I needed a comforter and this was the last one available. The orphanage hates spending money and only receives “unnecessary” supplies such as comforters from people willing to donate items. Personally, I’d much rather prefer something black, but I’m thankful for whatever I am able to receive.
Eyeing the envelope in my hands, I think about every week that I’ve done this. Every week I go through the same process. Every week a little part of me gets my hopes up by thinking that she could’ve sent something different, something more meaningful, something actually from her, but all I receive is the less than heartfelt items from her management that claims to be her. I tear open the letter to reveal the same stuff as any other week, no surprise there. I dump the crisp, paper bill onto my ugly comforter. On the bill, Benjamin Franklin’s face stares at me, his lips looking pursed together. Also from the envelope is a glossy stamp type thing of her signature, the kind that she gives out to people who attend her book signings but aren’t actually able to have their book signed. The tiny heart over the “i” seems to mock me.
With a sigh that mixes my disgust with my anger, I rip the signature in half, separating her first name from her last. I stack the two names together and rip them in half again. I keep ripping until each letter is all by its lonesome. I rise from my bed and enter my bathroom. Standing over my toilet, I watch as each letter flutters into the bowl. The clear water soaks the papers, drowning them. I can practically hear the helpless screams of each letter as the water engulfs them. I am those letters and the water is my demons, my loneliness, and my self-hatred. The ink has started to bleed, dying the water black. I imagine the ink as my blood when I cut, how my blood is all of my self-hatred pouring from my body, only to build back up as the cut heals and scars. The sight is slightly triggering.
I flush the toilet, watching the ink and letters vanish. I wish my demons, my loneliness, and my self-hatred would do the same. I exit my bathroom and return to my bed, trying to push away the thoughts of self-harm. I shove the one hundred dollars, the same amount she mails me every week, into the small, black Sharpie tinted, glass Mason jar that I hide in the back corner of my closet, obscured by an empty Dr. Marten shoe box and piles of clothes that I have no desire in hanging up. I rummage deeper into the jar, my fingertips brushing against the sharp edge of my blade. I clench it in my palm, the sharp edge biting into my flesh. I lock my bedroom door, grab a red towel from my bathroom, and sit on my bed. I raise up the hem of my shirt to reveal my fat abdomen. Red and white lines litter my skin. Some appear to be on the verge of bleeding while others appear to be years old. Both assumptions are accurate.
I press the edge of my blade onto a clear patch of my skin. The familiar, cold shiver of thrill shoots up my spine. I smile as I drag my blade across my abdomen, enjoying the sight of the crimson drops puckering up to escape the wound that I have created. I always smile when I cut because I enjoy the pain. I enjoy the feeling of being alive after a depression induced a coma. I enjoy feeling.
I make a few more smaller incisions before stopping. I press a wad of tissues against the cuts as I wash my blade off, dry it, and return it to the jar, making sure to bury it underneath the money and making sure to bury the jar underneath the clothes. I flush the blood soiled tissues and swap them out for the red towel. It only takes a minute or two longer for the cuts to stop bleeding. I enter my bathroom and turn the hot water on in the sink. I run hot water over the towel wincing as the steaming liquid sears my hands. I then place the hot towel against my cuts, hissing but enjoying the pain at the same time. I wring the water out of the towel, watching as the water mingles with my blood.
I keep repeating the process until no more blood comes from the towel. Steam has fogged up the mirror over the sink. I shut off the water and set the dripping wet towel in the tub so the floor does not become wet. I wipe the mirror with the palm of my hand, clearing it of some of the steam. I flash one of my famous, fake smiles that convinces many people everyday that I’m alright. Besides the pain that haunts my brown eyes, the expression, especially the smile that I’ve spent years perfecting, is practically believable.
Look for the girl with the broken smile, ask her if she wants to stay awhile, and she will be loved, and she will be loved.
I snort at the choice of song lyrics that decide to push past the mental mush that is my mind. Although my smile is broken, nobody ever asks me anything unless it’s something along the lines of ’Can you just do the whole world a favor and kill yourself already?’. Also, I will never be loved. Nobody loves me, and I don’t blame them. Why would anybody love a fat emo? Why would anybody love a girl who does nothing but eats food only to purge it back up? Hell, even my own mother didn’t want me. I don’t know about my father. I should be thankful, right? Most girls here don’t know either of their parents let alone one. I should be thankful and lucky.
But I’m not. Me knowing who my mother is only reminds me of how much of a bitch she is. I mean, she saves lives everyday, yet she can’t even save her own daughter? But, if she’s such a bitch, why do I yearn to meet her? Why do I torture myself everyday with her meaningful words and melodic voice? Why do I have a Twitter account devoted solely to anything and everything she does? Is it because I secretly wish to know her? Am I trying to make up for lost time?
With a heavy sigh, I exit my bathroom and sprawl out across my bed. I grab my phone from my rickety bedside table drawer along with my black, marshmallow ear-buds. I only stuff the right ear-bud into my ear, for the left ear-bud is nothing but a black speaker stub because I lost the marshmallow part months ago. I go through my play lists until I land on ‘For The Love Of A Daughter’ by Demi Lovato.
“Four years old with my back to the door. All I could hear was the family war. Your selfish hands always expecting more. Am I your child or just a charity ward?” I quietly sing the intro to the song.
My eyes involuntarily drift to my closet. I think about the one hundred dollars that she sends me every week. I’m perfectly capable of spending it all, yet I don’t choose to. I honestly don’t know why. I mean, I could definitely use some new furniture here. I guess I’m saving it up for something that I need. Maybe I’m holding onto it because it’s all that I have of her. I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. However, I can say that I’ve purchased all of my technology and accessories with the money, but even then I didn’t spend much. I switch songs, wanting a dose of her voice in a more upbeat, energetic tone. I stand up on my bed as the music begins. With nobody around to hear, I scream the lyrics.
“If the weapon is your love, I got my hands up. If the weapon is your love, I got my hands up.”
I bounce around on my bed, performing various kicks and playing the air guitar, that I have successfully mastered, while singing breathlessly. When the song is over, I jump up and land on my back, my bed cushioning the blow. I glance at the clock on my phone and internally groan. It’s time for dinner. It’s not that I fear eating or despise eating; I actually love to eat. I just hate forcing myself to throw up everything that I eat. The only reason I do purge is because I want and have to be skinny. Maybe if I’m skinny my mom will return to me with open arms. Maybe if I’m skinny she’ll accept me as her daughter. I know it’s bizarre to think that way but I do. I wish that I knew why she gave me up. Did her management tell her to? Did she think that I would ruin her image? Whatever the reason, I hate her for it.
Exhaling a frustrated breath, I rise from my bed and exit my bedroom. I see three other girls walking down the hallway, giggling and conversing between one another. My heart aches, longing for at least one friend. I shake my head, the pain dispersing. I bow my head, my gaze glued to the hideous, green carpet that the orphanage has yet to replace from when this place used to be a hotel. I pass the elevator, avoiding the cluster of girls waiting in line. I hate elevators; they give me horrible anxiety, just like many other places and situations. I trickle down the deserted stairwell, my hand barely grazing the guardrail. As I near the cafeteria, the chatter and laughter grows louder. I push open the heavy door, exiting the stair well and soon enter the cafeteria. The cafeteria is very similar to one of a high school. My heart hammers painfully against my ribs. My breathing is steadily speeding up. I make my way to the line for food by practically clinging to the walls and hiding in the shadows. I can feel everybody’s eyes on me. I shut my eyes, willing myself to take deep breaths. Suddenly, I remember an interview where Demi talked about her anxiety issues.
“I don’t like award shows. Sometimes, a fan will come up and automatically put their arms around me, and I just shut down and start hyperventilating. I don’t want to sound like a dick or a diva, but I really do have anxiety problems. If I get stuck in a crowd, I’ll start to think, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to die. Something’s going to go wrong, and someone’s going to stab me.’”
Under my breath, I weakly chuckle as I recall the interview. I guess having anxiety is another thing that her and I have in common. God help her if I ever get the chance to meet her. If I do ever get to meet her, anxiety will be the least of her worries. A tap on my shoulder causes me to open my eyes. I turn around to find a girl who appears to be a little older than me.
“Are you okay?” She wonders.
I nod with a fake smile.
“I was just checking because you didn’t seem to notice that the line moved,” She smiles.
I turn back around, realizing that the line did indeed move.
“Thanks,” I mumble to the girl before moving forward.
I grab a blue tray and set it upon the three metal bars that act as a counter. The choices today are hot dog or cheeseburger. I grab a hot dog and set it on my tray along with baked beans and a milk carton. Not only does our cafeteria appear to be one from a school, the food here resembles that from a school in both taste and appearance. Although the food may not be the most delicious or most nutritious, it never leaves you hungry and hardly ever gets somebody sick. When at the end of the line, I type in my personal meal number and press the ‘enter’ key. A personal meal number is a certain number that every child receives here, and no two numbers are exactly the same. We use the numbers whenever we get a meal. If somebody finds out that you purposely skipped a meal, they’ll force you to eat what you didn’t before. There have only been a handful of incidents where girls have had to be sent to a treatment center for eating disorders. Lucky for me, nobody has discovered my secret. As long as I eat my food, I don’t get questioned. Nobody bothers to see if I’ve purged it up.
I return to my room with my food. Setting the tray on my bed, I open the YouTube app on my phone. I play a random Sonny with a Chance episode and set my phone in front of me. I lay my tray on my lap and remove my hot dog from the bun as the video advertisement concludes. I eat my hot dog plain and consume half of my beans, drowning the food with the milk. I pause the video and take the tray to my bathroom. I dump the rest of my beans and the hot dog bun in the toilet. I toss the tray onto the floor and drop down in front of the toilet. I shove my fingers down my throat until I gag and keep gagging until I manage to expel all that I just ate from my body. When finished, I flush the toilet, brush my teeth, and exit the bathroom with the tray in hand. I open my bedroom door, checking to make sure the hallway is empty. I chuck the tray down the hallway like I do after every meal. It’s much easier than returning to the cafeteria. Nobody seems to know that I’m the one who is littering the hallways with empty, blue trays, but somebody always cleans them up. I shut my bedroom door and return to my bed. I hit play, resuming the video.