She stifled another sob and drew the blade across her skin in quick, short strokes, pressing down just enough to break the skin and spill blood but not so hard that she would leave scars. She knew from experience exactly how much pressure she needed, in order to get the desired effect without leaving behind too many indicators of what she was doing to herself.
She tipped her head back against the lip of the tub and let the pain sink in, let the blood flow freely along her arm and tickle her skin in little streams of scarlet. She held the knife loosely in her other hand, the weight and shape of it memorized by her fingers long ago. She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and closed her eyes.
Bright lights danced around the black insides of her eyelids as she sat and let her blood dribble slowly down the drain. It had been… how long, now? A week? No, ten days since the last time. She remembered, because her mother had screamed at her, and she hadn’t been able to take it.
She started to cry again, the tears trickling along the sides of her face and eventually winding down into her hair. Everything hurt nowadays, everything left little chips in her armor that she couldn’t find ways to fix.
And the worst part was, none of them ever noticed. No one ever seemed to be able to look her in the eye and see all the scars that went deeper than her skin. Not a one of them had ever apologized, or seen just how much their words and actions hurt her.
The cuts on her arm were her way of dealing with it, of giving her body something to heal, because she couldn’t heal the wounds inside. It helped her rationalize it, control it, work through the problems and pain. Gave her a visual indicator for when she had found a new breaking point and been pushed too far.
She felt the little rivulets of red along her arm start to slow as the blood clotted and started to seal the wounds once more. Her hand instinctively tightened around the handle of her knife, ready to open them once more, but she stopped herself before she did.
Everything hurt, nowadays; everything was out of her control, everything made her want to scream, but this… This she could control. This pain was not beyond her control, not beyond her understanding. When a knife cut into skin, the nerve endings in the skin would react, sending signals to the brain and causing the sensation of pain. She understood how it happened, how the electrical impulses would be carried up her arm from the slices in her skin all the way to her brain and then translated into a message of pain in an instant. She could comprehend that.
It was all the other sorts of pain, the sorts that settled in under her ribcage when her mother yelled, or the sort that jolted down her spine when her father threatened her, the sort that throbbed in her head when she had been crying all night because she just didn’t understand… It was those sorts of pain, those hurts, that truly scared her.