She touched her wrists and glanced around. “I don’t know what to say to you. I haven’t been talking to many people lately.”
“Yeah, I saw.” I hesitated. I didn’t want to interrogate her, but I had questions. Maybe if I asked, she wouldn’t be so afraid of having me find things out. At least she’d have the choice of answering or telling me to mind my own business. “What happened to your wrists?”
She opened her mouth and stared at me. I guessed I’d crossed some line, but she didn’t seem upset. Just surprised.
I pushed apart some of the bracelets on my left wrist, the one with the worse scars since I was right-handed, and pointed to the messy white lines. “I did these when I was eleven. And twelve. And… you get the idea. You’re the first person I’ve showed them to besides my mom and my doctors.”
She frowned. “Why me? Because of the bandages?”
“And because I think I can trust you.” Explaining why I’d shown her was complicated. It had just seemed like the right thing to do so she would know she wasn’t alone.
“What happened to you?”
I should have known she would ask. I had to think about what to tell her. When I heard about bad things that had happened to other people, sometimes it made my own crap so much worse. I didn’t want to make things harder for Alyssa.
“Someone did something to me,” I said finally, keeping it vague on purpose. I’d had tons of practice talking to my therapists about the incident, and nowadays sometimes I didn’t even show any emotion when I recited it. But Alyssa didn’t need details. “I was eleven. I wanted to die afterward, but I knew that would hurt my mom and sister, because it hadn’t been too long since my father had died. So I did this to myself instead.”
Her face went pale. “Did they know what happened to you?”
“Yeah. It was kind of hard to miss.” I didn’t want to think about that day, so I clenched my fists and pushed it out of my brain as hard as I could. “My mom took me to doctors and therapists and stuff, but I still… I felt like I had to do this.” I touched my scars. “Like I deserved it, and it let all the poison out. But the poison never totally goes away.”