This room is far too white.
White walls, white bed sheets, white bandages, white hospital gown, white floor, white white white. The only other color is dull gray-blue. A stripe of it runs around the room and it colors the guest chairs. The guest chairs are not empty, as I would have thought they would be. A tall Asian boy sits in one chair, thick-rimmed glasses falling down his nose as he types away on his phone like always. A tan boy with lots of jewelry and bright blue hair shoved underneath a thick knit cap is sitting in another, earbuds in his ears and a far-away expression on his face. And in the third chair sits a petite, black-haired girl, wearing a blue dress over jeans and reading Pride and Prejudice. And this is the girl I speak to.
“It didn’t work, huh?”
Her head shoots up like one of those Whack-a-Mole things I played when I was a kid. "No, it didn't, if you meant to kill yourself." She smiles. “I told you it was hard to cut that deep.”
“Stop encouraging him,” Aden says, looking up from his phone and rolling his eyes at Charlotte. Lyric smiles, tugging the earbuds out of his ears.
“You’ll have wicked scars though,” Charlotte says, not paying attention to Aden, who looks rather irked. “It’ll be pretty awesome.”
I want to hug Charlotte. The second I think this, she puts her book down and slides her arms around my neck. She smells like honey-scented shampoo. It’s refreshing compared to the harsh, stale hospital smell I’ve been inhaling for the past minute since I’ve been awake. I kiss her cheek as she pulls away, and she kisses the top of my head. Lyric pretends not to notice, but Aden looks obviously disturbed. He doesn’t get us, doesn’t quite fit in with us, but we needed a manager and he was cheap, good, and willing to drive our tour van.
“Can I see it?” I ask, looking up at Char’s face. She’s pale and her black hair falls in loose curls around her shoulders. She shrugs, and they tumble.
I look down at my left arm. It’s covered in white gauze and tape and it’s hard to find a place to start. I eventually manage to peel all the tape off, then I start on the bandage.
When the white gauze falls onto the matching bed sheets, I’m left staring at the words carved into my arm. I remember doing it; it hurt like a motherfucker, then wouldn’t stop bleeding. The last thing I remember was Lyric banging on the bathroom door of the motel room.
Charlotte’s pale hand reaches out and her fingertips touch the stitched-up skin. She’s quiet, reverent.
“It’s a shame,” she says softly after a while, “that people are going to think you were only trying to make a statement. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s people being unaware of how deep someone’s pain is.”
“You sound like you condone what he did, Charlotte,” Aden says, looking up from his phone once more.
“The last thing I want is you dead,” Charlotte says to me in a raised voice so Aden can hear, looking at me with deep brown eyes. “You know that.”
I lace my fingers with hers. “I know.”
“You’ve got to stop trying to off yourself,” Lyric says, drumming his fingers on his thighs. He’s an antsy person. His mom says it’s ADHD, but Charlotte says that rhythm is in his soul and he has to get it out some way or another. Charlotte is usually right about these matters.
I look down at my arm. I wasn’t trying to kill myself, really. It just got out of hand. Daddy’s Little Plaything, my arm reads in stitched slices. It’s the name of our band, it’s the subject of my therapy sessions, it’s everything. It’s consumed me. I am my issues, I am my problem. It’s too late to turn back now.
This is what I think. Charlotte thinks otherwise. Charlotte was a toy once too; she was something to be used, abused, and thrown away just like I was. But she used it to her benefit, she wrote songs about it and she made us famous in our little Jersey town. The difference between Charlotte and me is that Charlotte is strong and I am weak. This is why I cut myself last night. This is why Charlotte’s skin is whole. This is why I’m on a hundred different medications for depression and PTSD. This is why she smiles. This is why I frown.
Charlotte reaches her hand out again, but this time she reaches up and tucks a lock of black, curly hair behind my ear. “Don’t think about it too much,” she says softly. “Let it go. Let it be.” And with that, she kisses me on the lips, soft and sweet and wet. I kiss back, tangling fingers in her hair, which is so like mine.
“Heads up,” Lyric says, and Charlotte pulls away just in time to see the door open and our mother walk in. And our mom looks resigned, because she’s been in this place before, been called to the hospital in the middle of the night more times than any mother should be. She brings with her an uncertain future, uncertain except for one constant: my sister, Charlotte.
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