It was cold, Julia reflected as she huddled beside the lit fire; shivering from the teasing chills that nipped at her skin and left her teeth chattering. She watched the flames flicker with a liveliness she could not remember sharing and her head dropped to rest on her crossed arms within the dark neglected room.
She wondered silently how much longer she would have to wait, how much longer would she have to wallow in her misery until she could be rescued and cured of the aching loneliness that plagued her. Julia hadn’t been herself for far too long. Not since her father took to beating his problems away on her. Not since her mother had made her rancour clear. She could not even find solace in the child that constantly cried in its basinet from hunger.
A lone tear streaked down Julia’s cheek and it splashed onto the hardwood floor; the room was so quiet she could have sworn she heard it land. The neurotic smile broke out across her face with ease and her humourless laugh pierced through the silence; echoing from wall to wall. She waited patiently, waited for the voice in her head that would sing to her of sin and whisper to her secrets not intended for the innocent. It was the only voice that could murmur to her the pleasures of a life she had been forbidden.
Julia raised her head with a sigh as she listened to her drunken father’s screams of abuse to her sobbing sibling reverberate through the house to reach her ears in hushed and angry tones. Something inside the pit of her stomach twinged as guilt began to fill her mind. Julia longed to care about her baby brother, she wanted to gaze down at him with eyes full of love an elder sister should have, but she prayed nightly to any God who would listen to keep his life short; she didn’t want this for him.
More tears seemed to wet her face now as she opened her palm to reveal the recently sharpened razor; she had held onto it so tightly that blood began to pool in her hand. A morbid smile teasingly played with her lips the longer she focused on the fresh wound and she toyed with the blade in her free hand between her bony fingers.
Not once could she recall a time that she felt wanted. She was always cast aside, forgotten and treated with cruelty. Love and care were foreign things to her. She had never experienced them; not once.
She heard her father stomp his way up the stairs with a stumble to his step and her breath caught in her throat. A whimper pushed its way past the lump that had quickly formed and her father tripped, cussing her name.
Her body shook with fear. She crawled furiously towards the darkest corner of the room, praying he would not find her, and she desperately pressed her knees against her chest to appear as small as possible in the little space available to her.
“Please,” she began to whisper to the empty air around her. “Please, not again.” Her head shook with her plead and the tears ran freely now as fear gripped her.
Julia winced from a sharp pinch in her palm and she remembered the razor, remembered the freedom she would feel each time she ripped into her skin and watch the blood succumb to gravity. Time seemed to slow around her the longer she thought about it; the world seemed to vanish and all that was left was her desperation to be elsewhere, anywhere than there.
She pushed the razor against her wrist, remembered the grisly saying she had discovered online and with a calming breath she whispered, “Down the road, not across the street.”
She dragged the razor down the inside of her wrist and a scream broke through her lips as the most horrendous pain spread through her like fire. As the blood began to spurt from her body she sagged back against the wall and laughed. Her jaw clenched tight and she told herself not to cry as her eyes began to struggle to remain open. She wanted to sleep. All of a sudden exhaustion claimed her and all she wanted was to sleep.
As her father pushed his way through the barricaded door, Julia let sleep take her with a smile; happy for the first, and last time.