The cutting began when she was twelve. Hiding behind the curtains, she would slip the penknife from her jeans pocket and press it. Once. Twice. Each time harder than the last. And the tears would fall hot and fast. They would sting the cuts just like she knew they would. It was a habit.
Gradually people came to realise that the lines weren’t accidents. She had to change her playground. That was the reason why she never wore short skirts. People would see. People would talk. But it took her years to figure out that no matter what she did or where she went, people would find out about her past. People would still talk. Ann-Laurie’s daughter. The one that was sold to a man three times her age in exchange for drugs. She cursed her looks and broke the mirrors. But after they sent her for psychiatric help, she found another way to vent her pain without drawing attention. Nobody knew any better.
She tortured herself with the images, those rough hands on her, that weight that dragged her down, body and soul. She knew she’d be tainted forever from his actions. From the action of her bitch of a mother. She cursed her in her heart, and when she wearied of that blood-red anger pulsing through her filthy blood, she gave up and let the tears come as they had the first time he took her.
Bought. The embarrassment of it all, the shame, and to think it was all over the papers. Small town, everyone knew. Ann-Laurie’s daughter. She would never be able to run away from it all. Someone would inevitably come from somewhere in her dark past and ruin it all for her. They’d meet her in the diner, the mall, the street, all while she would be holding on to the pieces of a life that seemed too good to be true, and they’d shatter it all.
She had lost more than five boyfriends that way and countless friends, changed jobs and cities and still it hounded her. There just had to be one accursed nosy neighbour who knew. And the threatening clouds would always come. She breathed a sigh as she watched Matt sleep. Eventually he would find out all of the truth. They always do.