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 hard to explain. 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.”
“Does it get better?”
Her voice was so tiny and scared I almost cried. I pushed the tears away to hang out with the memories and answered fast. I had to give Alyssa some hope. And myself. “Yeah, it does. I didn’t used to be able to go to school. I spent a lot of time in the hospital during middle school. That’s why I’m a year behind now. They tried to hold me back two grades, but my mother talked them into letting me make up one online.”
“That’s good.” She tilted her head to one side and studied me. “You were in my class in sixth grade, weren’t you?”
“Probably.” I didn’t remember much of that year, and I wasn’t about to try. I’d started the year as Alexandra, and I’d forgotten most of her life.
She took the hint and changed the subject. “Thanks for telling me about that.”
“We have to stick together.” I touched the scars again so she’d know what I meant. Even though she hadn’t told me why her wrists were bandaged, I didn’t doubt my guess about it. “So yours?”
“I wanted to die.” The way she said it made me think she was using my words on purpose, which was fine. Sometimes using someone else’s words made talking easier.