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Lyn walked into the house wearing a neon pink jacket that I had never seen before. Crazy, she must be, considering that its seventy-nine degrees outside. I looked at her suspiciously then followed her into her room. She jumped when she turned and saw me. “Jesus Christ, LeighAnn.” She was holding her chest to calm her fast pacing heart. “What’s with the jacket?” Maybe I was a little too straight forward, but I didn’t care. Lyn shrugged. “My thyroid doesn’t work.” “Your who?” Lyn turned to face me. “Your thyroid is the nerve in your neck that controls your body temperature. Mine doesn’t work.” She did a demonstration of the location. I noticed a pack of matches on her dresser and the curiosity of what she does with them stroked me the wrong way. She rolled her jacket sleeves up and I noticed bruises all down her arms. I was at a loss for words. The more I paid attention to her; I also noticed the cuts in perfect horizontal lines over the bruises. “You’re one of those?” I blurted out. It took a minute for Lyn to catch on, but then she rolled her sleeves back down, ashamed. “No, no. It’s okay.” I told her, grabbing her hand. I led us to the middle of her bedroom and we sat on her vintage rug. I turned my arm over to show her the scars from when I used to take a razor to my skin. She looked shocked. I shrugged. “It used to make me feel good since my mother never could.” Lyn let my words sink in before responding. “Yeah, that’s why I burn myself. It’s the only thing reminding me that I’m still alive. Would you like me to show you?” She questioned. I swallowed hard, but nodded my head. I wanted to know every grain of dirt I could about this freak. She got up to grab the box of matches and an apple cinnamon scented candle. She lit the candle first, and then turned on her ceiling fan. “Okay,” she started, grabbing another match from the box. She lit it, and then quickly placed it to her skin, shaking it out before it reached the end. “Just like that, easy.” I didn’t know whether to be impressed or terrified. “Doesn’t that hurt?” “Yes, but you get used to it. Do you want to try it?” I gave into peer pressure like the way Christopher gives into food. I picked out a match and lit it, but I hesitated, throwing the dead bud to the floor after it burned the tips of my fingers. “Don’t be scared.” Lyn commanded as she grabbed her phone and lit another match for me. I grabbed it carefully and quickly shoved it against my tan skin and threw my head back in pain. Lyn dropped her phone and hurried over to me, covering my mouth with the palm of her hand. “I wasn’t going to scream.” I said once she removed her hand. She could see the lie all over my face. I glanced down at the ugly red mark on my arm. “How do you not get caught doing this?” “That’s where the candle comes into play.” I was surprised at myself for actually doing this. I left Lyn and her freakish ways alone and ran to the bathroom. I captured a picture of the horrendous, red and brown burn on my skin and posted it to my Instagram, captioning it with: “She burned me!” Then I tagged Lyn in it before contouring the burn in make-up then going to lie on the couch and wait for the comments to roll in. “What a bitch.” “Who would do such a thing?” “That’s messed up.” “Fuck you, Lyn Griffin.” The comments from my classmates were entertaining and I couldn’t stop laughing. The next notification that I received was that Lyn tagged me in a post. I didn’t worry about it too much because I figured it was just her talking about how much she hated me and wished she could move back to Atlanta. Then the post loaded, and I nearly lost it. The post was a video of me taking the match to my own skin and Lyn used the caption: “Here’s the real story.” I knew that bitch was recording me! I tried to report her post for harassment but it had to go through the review process then only gave me the option to block her, but why would I do that if this is the only social media I’m not blocked on and can expose who she really is? I hated this though, and I banged on her bedroom door demanding she remove it. She ignored everything. I called for Lyn’s mom, and she tried knocking on the door as well and telling her to erase it, but that didn’t work either. “You need to take yours down too!” Lyn’s mom yelled. “No.” I refused. “Yes, LeighAnn. You both need to quit with all this drama. Go get me a cotton swab.” “For what?” “I need to get in Lyn’s room! She could be dead!” I rolled my eyes but rushed to the bathroom to fetch a swab. She pulled the cotton off of one end then stuck it through the tiny hole in Lyn’s doorknob, twisting until it opened. Lyn sat up from lying down as her mom joined her on the bed. I stood at the door, watching. “Let me see your arms.” Lyn’s mom didn’t yell nor did she seem mad. Lyn turned her arms to show her. “Honey..” Her mom choked. Lyn bursts into tears. “I’m so sorry.” They sat there holding each other, drowning in each other’s tears. They were sobbing loudly, and it almost made me want to join them. They parted, both with puffy red eyes. “They’re hurting you this bad?” “They don’t stop mama.” “I’m sorry baby girl. Please let me know how I can protect you.” Lyn hugged her mom and started sobbing again. A bolt of jealousy struck my body. Why can’t I have a relationship with my mother like that?

Submitted: November 03, 2020

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