Final Leaf of Autumn

“Darling, stop.”

Arms held her from behind, hands grabbing her wrists before she could do any more damage to herself. She was quaking in his arms, delicate frame rattling like the final leaf of autumn still clinging to the branch of her tree.

He pried her fingers open with the greatest care, taking the razor gingerly in one hand while the other laced their fingers together. He squeezed her hand gently, setting the razor on the counter, kissing her tear-stained cheek as he checked her wrists.

Her wrists were intact, though smudged red from the other tiny, oozing wounds. Her breathing was ragged, and her eyes were unfocused as they stared at her wrists. He put gentle pressure on her wounds, moving slowly from one to another as he assured himself she wasn’t in any immediate danger.

He guided her to the tub and gently lowered her onto the lip of it, grabbing a wash cloth to start cleaning her up. Tears were still running down her face, silently dripping into her lap as he knelt in front of her.

He worked quickly, cleaning the blood from her hands, and smiled softly up at her when he had finished. He cupped her face in his hands, thumbs stroking her cheeks, wiping away her tears as her breathing evened out to a more sedate pace. She looked back at him, lips twitching into a ghost of a smile, and he smiled back, taking her hands in his, kissing each mark she had made.

“Darling,” he squeezed her hands, holding back tears of his own. “Stop.”

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