Author, D.B. Mauldin
It had been a year since her younger brother’s death. Darlene had dreaded this week and all the turmoil of emotions it would bring. Her mother, who had barely gotten out of bed since the death, spent the week screaming and crying. The valium was no longer working or the pain and despair were over riding the prescription medicines her mother was taking. Anyway, her father had to take her mother to the ER for a shot that knocked her out cold, so there was a little peace in the house, for now.
Darlene was still dealing with her own grief and guilt, but nobody seemed to notice. Her mother, by nature, was a very nervous person and had gone through a couple of nervous breakdowns, over the years. Darlene had always been the mother, not the daughter. When Jake was born, she had the responsibility of looking after him too.
The day of the accident, she was supposed to be watching him, which she was, but he had wanted to stay with her and play with the girls, but the boys, and girls, were making fun of him, so Darlene had made him go with the boys to play. He had cried, with both arms clinging around her neck. She had to pry him off. After she had pried him off from around her neck, she stood him in front of her, wiped the tears from his little 6-year-old face, and talked to him softly.
“You are a big boy, now. It’s time for you to play with the boys, not the girls.”
Jake nodded his head, still trying to hold back his tears, and walked off with the boys. Just minutes later he was dead. Darlene didn’t pull the trigger, but she did make him go with the boys, and that was a guilt she would never get over.
Darlene, was now 14, and near the end of the first semester of 9th grade. Her grades had been slipping and she just didn’t care anymore. She had distanced herself from all of her old friends. She just didn’t have the time or energy for friendship anymore. Darlene had become a loner. She went through the motions of going to school, looking after her mother, and taking care of the house. Her father was never home. He went to work early and came home late. He would ask Darlene what groceries were needed and bring them home, but that was about all he attributed to the house. He also paid the bills, she supposed, because nothing was ever cut off.
Darlene knew she was slowly coming undone. Was she destined to a life like her mother’s? The guilt was becoming to much to bear. That’s when Darlene had begun cutting herself. She was always careful to cut in places nobody would see. The cutting helped ease her heartache. She imagined all her pain and guilt flowing out of her with the blood.
Soon after the 2nd semester began, the high school counselor called her in for a talk. Several of the teachers had noticed Darlene’s blood stained clothing and consulted the counselor.
Mrs. Bailey, the counselor, was the first person to show an interest in what Darlene had been going through, since the accident. Unfortunately, Darlene found that she had pushed her emotions so far away, that she couldn’t get the words to come. She couldn’t even cry, she just felt numb. Mrs. Bailey noticed this. She didn’t think Darlene was being defiant on purpose. Mrs. Bailey thought Darlene needed help; more help than she could give her. She handed Darlene a card with her home and office number. “Call me or stop by my office anytime you need to talk.” Darlene stuffed the card into her purse and left.
Mrs. Bailey called Darlene’s father, at work, once Darlene had left her office. From her short conversation with the man, Mrs. Bailey got a clear insight into what was going on at home. She couldn’t talk him into coming in to talk with her. She couldn’t even get him to listen to her on the phone. He said he was busy and hung up.
That night, Darlene’s father came home a little earlier than usual. Darlene had just finished feeding her mother and giving her the last prescription medications for the day. She had heard her father come in and decided she would go to bed without eating tonight, but as she headed to her room, her father called out for her. She entered the living room, where her father was watching the nightly news, and sat down on the sofa.
“Have you been causing trouble at school?”
“Then why is that counselor woman calling me at work?”
Darlene was silent. She felt betrayed. She had thought Mrs. Bailey truly cared and had even been thinking about going to talk to her again tomorrow. Mrs. Bailey didn’t care, she just called her father to get her into more trouble. She felt the heat of tears rising to her eyes.
“Well?” asked her father.
Darlene didn’t know what to tell him. She cleared her throat as she tried to hold back the tears.
“I don’t know. What did she say to you?”
“Nothing. I don’t know. She just wanted me to come in and talk with her, but I told her I didn’t have time, someone has to make a living around here. Then she asked if she could talk to me over the phone? I told her I was busy and hung up. I just thought you were causing trouble at school and you better not be! I’ll send you to reform school.”
Darlene nodded and got up. She walked to her room and locked the door behind her. Her father didn’t care, he just wanted an excuse to send her away. Her mother didn’t care, she was too busy wallowing in her own grief. Mrs. Bailey didn’t care, she just wanted to get Darlene into trouble. She made a cut for each thought and imagined her grief and pain flowing out with the blood. This time it wasn’t working. There was too much pain, too much dark despair, too much grief. The hot tears began to flow as if a damn had burst. Her blood should burst forth like that, maybe then it would all flow out of her and leave her in peace.
Darlene made the last two cuts, a slash across each wrist. She laid back and watched it flow.
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