Friday, August 8, 2008


Mona tells us to "cut." Here's where the knife landed.

Rachael was sitting on the floor, leaning against a toilet in a stall of the girl’s bathroom, dress hiked, legs slightly apart and pulled up knees to neck, the needle point of an earring in her right hand. She was cutting a small, jagged cross into the inside of her left thigh.

She had just come from an assembly about self-mutilation, because some wannabe goth girl had gone too far, lost too much blood and fainted in the lunchroom right into her beenie-weenies and was now in the hospital. Amateur, thought Rachael. The girl had subsequently shown up on the parental radar in every house in town, and so an assembly had been hastily assembled in the gymnasium. A powerpoint on self esteem was shown, a lady from social services was trotted out to try to put out the fire. Her voice was lively as she talked, in the way that cartoon birds are lively, but her face was pale and bloodless. Her eyes focused on a point on that back wall of the gym, just over their heads. Zombie, thought Rachael.

Then the school psychologist got up and talked earnestly about emotional numbness in the face of modern American life. The usual suspects, thought Rachael. Divorce. Drugs. Teenage pregnancy. The internet. How kids today had been left hungry, empty, abandoned, and were desperate to feel something real, conjure something true and unequivocal. That’s why they cut themselves, he said. To feel something.

Rachael was pretty sure he was missing the point. Numbness wasn’t the problem.

Numbness would be a relief.

The bell rang. She wiped the blood away with toilet paper, pocketed the earring, scooted off to class. A few spots of blood formed and dried along the edge of the cut as the day passed, tiny flakes of it dropping like scales of rust onto the dirty tiles of the floor below.


meno said...

Are you secretly a teenaged girl?

I like this.

Nancy Dancehall said...

Nope, he isn't, 'cause he's got a little Dickel. I've seen it.

STILL waiting for that joke to get old. And it's just not.

Love this flash fic.

Maggie said...

"Numbness would be a relief"

how astute.

wonderful that you gripped and expounded emotion in such a short piece. I love that.

Clowncar said...

You've sussed out my secret, Meno. I'm a 14 year old girl, masquerading as a middle aged man. Aren't those Jonas Brothers dreamy?

Ah, Nancy, I long for those halcyon days at Rockygrass, while we all sat with our feet in the water and passed around my little dickel for everyone to sample.

Thanks Maggie. Always trying to pack more and more into a smaller and smaller space. Just like a clowncar. Glad you're back, with your vacation over and your staycation beginning.

Mona Buonanotte said...

Whoa. I want to read more!