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  • i. Cutting saps your power. It smacks of weakness and victimhood - disgusting. Not for me, never for me. When I hurt bad enough and deep enough to make it physical, the last thing I want is to give a knife or a match or a pill all my power. My particular pleasure is turning my own body against itself. Summoning all my strength and grace and ruthlessness and shoving it down my throat. Biting into the meat of my hand and sinking in deep. Smashing my own head until my ears ring and my stomach, unbalanced, begins to roil. Who wouldn't want to know that the force of their own jaw was worthy of separating flesh from bone? Who wouldn't want a body so mighty, capable of paralysis with a single assiduous thud?

    When push comes to shove, I don't want to be human. I want to be the fairy excluded from the christening, the malnourished thirteenth titan, the hangdog eighth dwarf. The forgotten oddball that somehow makes itself impossible to ignore. The one who doesn't lose control, until I do. I'm p-poor, stuttering Professor Quirrell, until Lord Voldemort rallies him and rips the turban from his particular monstrosities. I'm human until the cosmos needs a Shiva.

    ii. It wasn't that I tried to die, or even particularly wanted to. It was a singularly lethal combination of lack of desire to live and a sudden, splitting rage. I wanted to Teach Him a Lesson. Smash and bang and screech myself listless and hemorrhaged. News of my hospitalization would reach him through the grapevine (increasingly short these days), and he would know that he had driven me to it. He would picture my brain bloody and stuttering with broken neurons and have to Live With What He Had Made Me Do.

    It wasn't that I tried to die. But in the back of my mind, it was a worthy destination if it would make him love me again, if it could be enough to rouse in him some feeling toward me other than that blasted apathy. Maybe then he might know how it feels to be Just One Moment Too Late.

    If I had to snuff out my own life to ruin his, then so. bleeding. be. it.

    iii. I stacked dishes too haphazardly into my arms. It took every bit of breath I had not to dash them to pieces and grind the shards into my bare feet.

    I dropped a glass, maybe on purpose. "Careful," said my mother. "A lot of broken pieces here."

    I slammed the cabinet door, waited for the satisfying reverb. "I hope they cut me."

    She's too easy to shock, my mother. Softhearted people always are. Somehow I missed those genes.

    More dishes. More trips around the kitchen, my feet growing heavier and the door slams more pronounced. And then - suddenly I was punching and beating the same door, over and over with fist and palm and every possible angle of my fingers; I hoped they would all break. It wasn't enough. My hands were too strong. Harder, dammit. Harder and faster I needed to rape myself into a coma.

    I approached the fridge, a six-foot silver Goliath. A worthy foe at last. I struck it with an open palm. When it refused to offer me more than a sting, I reared back and ran headlong into it.

    "Stop hurting yourself!" my mother shrieked.

    It was satisfying to hear a voice, a real voice, as strident as the violence inside me. I stood dumbly between the refrigerator and the sink, blinking like a newborn. My head didn't hurt, not yet.

    I know my mother, and I know when she's expecting a revelation. Sunshine and rainbows, sturm and drang - it's all the same to her. It's opening up, which I am not good at doing. I could open up to someone, once. To one person, and since that unfortunate series of cataclysms that left my heart shredded, mistrust throbs in my whole rotten core. No more bloody heart-to-hearts.

    I wouldn't give her an apology, or even an explanation. Instead I opened the fridge. Took out milk; scrounged for a box of cereal.

    They say his pulse never got above eighty-five. Even when he ate her tongue.

    Is this how Hannibal Lecters are made?
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