Bloodletting

I’m not a doctor or anything. Or a historian. But in the ancient world, when people were sick, they would sometimes cut them open and bleed them out. They thought that a lot bad shit that went down with the body and the mind had to do with an imbalance of humors in the body and if you bled, sweat or vomited it out, you’d get better. So, yeah. Like I said, I’m not a doctor or anything. I’m just saying maybe they were on to something.

I don’t know where the idea came from. My mom would probably say I read it on the internet or saw it on TV or that I was copying that damn Sara who she never liked anyway. I don’t know if any of that’s true. All I know is that one day, I was sitting there and I looked down at my thigh. It was pale and white and I was thinking about how fat it was and I wished it was possible to give yourself liposuction and I just thought, “If I cut it, it would bleed. And I would feel better.”

So I did.

And I did.

Nothing momentous happened after that. Outside my head, I mean. Inside my head it was like I’d been wearing a pair of too tight shoes my whole life and it had never been an option to take them off until suddenly I did and it was such a relief. Inside my head, it was like a big pressure cooker finally released. Inside my head, I watched the blood leak out of my body and each drop that spilled out took something with it. Took away the names, took away the tests, took away the grades and the upcoming college decisions and that time at Beth Stuart’s house party where I wasn’t even supposed to be and that guy from that public school cornered me in the bathroom and…

It took three more cuts, but I even felt better about that.

Outside my head, I still went down and sat captive at the dinner table while mom asked how school was and we both pretended like dad wasn’t already drunk, even though he’d only been home from work for fifteen minutes. Maybe my mom would feel better if she cut too. I don’t know. It’s not like I can really ask her.

I don’t have to work hard to hide it. No one notices. I wear pants all the time anyway and our gym shorts have to go to the knee. God forbid we show any skin and send the male population into a sexual brain aneurysm from catching sight of the top of our thigh or maybe even the curve of our shoulder. Everyone is so body conscious anyway that you just have say something like, “God I’m so fat!” and then no one even looks at you. Another high-school girl complaining she’s fat with her perfect house and perfect smile and perfect grades. Nothing to see here; move along.

Maybe someday I will be a doctor. I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll even make it to my next birthday. Like maybe I’ll cut to deep on accident (purpose) and then bleed out on my bathroom floor. It would have to be the bathroom because that’s tile and I don’t want to leave a big mess behind that’s hard to clean up. But other days I think, maybe I’ll be a doctor. I’m smart enough and I can work hard. Maybe I’ll figure out that there really is something in the blood that needs to be released. Then all the white-silvery lines on my legs wouldn’t be shameful scars I’m strangely proud of. Instead, they’d be like research and I could take photos and put them in my research paper and people would look at me and say, wow, what an amazing story. I would nod and maybe blush a bit and thank them.

That’s far away. Maybe so far away it will never happen. All I have is today and my razor. I got three questions wrong on my math test and one of them I should have known. The other two were bullshit and we haven’t even been taught that stuff yet. But that other one I got wrong really bothers me. It’s going to need at least one cut. Or maybe two, I think as I the razor slips through the top layers of skin letting out the bright red underneath. I feel a little better, but not quite there yet. I saw that public school guy again, too. He’s getting a scholarship to some fancy school and everyone talks about how great a student he is. I want to tell them what kind of guy he is. He’s the kind of guy that waits until you have one too many drinks and knows he outweighs you by sixty pounds. He’s sloppy and ugly and has a mean laugh.

Three, four, five. Deep breath.

So, yeah. I just think those ancient guys were onto something.

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