The glimmer on the cold metal was quite mesmerizing, as droplets of water fell slowly from the edge of the blade and into the bathtub. Clara thought to herself, that if she angled the razor towards the light and squinted ever so slightly, it reminded her of how the sun would reflect and dance off the rivers surface, turning it a glistening red; during their summers in Tuscany at grandfathers villa.
It was peaceful there with her parents, they were deeply in love mom and dad. Surrounded by majestic rolling hills, Clara would play by the river with the farm dog during perfect afternoons that seemed to last forever. The serenity was flawless, soothed by warm weather and kissed by cool summer breezes… she was often alone, accompanied only by thoughts of which book to read next. She loved books. It was her escape; from a world, she didn't want to understand much. It was her solace from the other girls in school... who seemed to have interests in, less meaningful things. Not all girls were sugar and spice she thought. Not like the poem at all. Some - if not most girls - were very mean. She hated them, but she hated herself even more, than they despised her.
The summers in Tuscany ended four years ago when mother died, Clara had just turned nine. Now at the age of thirteen, this was her fourth school in as many years. Father had a roaming job see, it required them to move home base every year or so, to another city. To another life. Never enough time to make any true friends. But who would want to be her friend anyway, she said to herself, "Just look at me…”
Clara was a short pudgy kid, with braces and very thick glasses. She wasn’t agile on her feet nor was she ever good at anything except for mathematics and english literature. But oh how she loved to read. Her appetite for distant realms, which came alive from novels and stories, was voracious. Clara wanted to be a writer. She’d often imagine fantastical worlds of flying Dragons and beautiful Elven princess’, which left her in a dream state much throughout the day, with a smile on her face. Perhaps the next time around she’d be a Princess, with long silken robes and married to a Warrior King who would protect her from evil. Yes, this would be the next life. She was sure of it.
There was a sudden knock on the bathroom door. It was her father.
"Clara! Are you still in the bathroom?" he bellowed.
"Yes." Clara replied softly. "Just waiting for the water to get hot daddy."
"Bloody hell, it's been almost an hour. Can't you just take a shower like any other normal kid?" he grunted, as he stomped away down the stairs.
Normal. What would he know about normal? Father smelled like scotch half the time and usually sat in his recliner chair after work, watching TV until he dozed off. Until his cigarette burned down to the butt between his fingers… Dinner was always a microwaved box of pasta or chinese takeaway, hardly any fruits or vegetables. But she didn’t want to complain; he was her father and works long hours as so to keep food on the table. After mother died, dad went from being a rather successful architect, to supplying ink cartridges for small businesses around the American mid-west. How exciting. There were enough problems on his mind. Clara would not trouble him with her, petty concerns.
Indeed the water had now become hot, as steam rose from the tub and lingered up under the ceiling, much like her father's cigarette smoke… Clara began to weep. She missed her mother terribly. Mom would listen, would be supportive. Clara was sure of this. Mother would make her understand, that all the hurtful words the other girls would post on her FaceBook wall were just, harmless words. Words like fat, ugly, four eyes, zit face, bookworm and so on… The other girls would torment her in the lunchroom every day - it never stopped - and how they’d also laugh at her in PE class was the worst. It wasn’t her fault she’d sweat a lot, it was from being nervous. All. The. Time.
And now, the bullying had invaded the bedroom. This ugly thing had come home. Often she would read a negative post, a hurtful comment; in her private inbox or on the FB wall. No escape, none. Zero. Bombarded daily on the PC in her room and also smartphone, it was never-ending. One time there was a boy talking to her at school during lunch, he too was a bookworm nerd. It was a chat about Narnia, quite innocent. The other girls, however, called her a slut. She had never even kissed a boy. Clara couldn’t understand this. Why was she so repulsive? It’s been 3 years since she started the FB account, and the last year had been quite devastating. Time and time again, the other girls would make her feel worthless. As months passed and turned into years, she believed it was true. As a matter of fact, it was all she ever thought about.
By now, the steam had filled the entire bathroom; she was sitting upright, embracing the moment - which to her was quite mystical – swaying back and forth to a seemingly unheard rhythm emanating from the television downstairs. It was calming. Her tender fingers glided the razor above the surface of the water, slicing through the small ripples with ease. The movies she had watched made her believe that this form of suicide was the easiest and most peaceful. The Internet had been helpful too, in providing this theoretical information.
It was time.
Clara held the razor in her right hand and brought the sharp edge towards her left wrist, remembering to penetrate the skin with the tip of the blade first, before running it deep and at a 45-degree angle from left to right towards the body. In one smooth, confident stroke. There was a wet popping sound when the blade broke her skin, like squeezing a section of bubble wrap underwater. Clara had punctured the vein. There was no pain - the girls at school hurt a lot more than this – funny, she thought, it seemed like the start of a new adventure.
Switching the razor to the other hand, the deep cut on the left wrist began to bleed. Drops of crimson blood penetrated the water and transformed into gorgeous wisps of flowing red silk in slow motion, just floating there; reminiscent to another form of father’s cigarette smoke. One after another the drops of blood fell into the clear water, turning the bathtub into a kaleidoscope of reddish pink watercolour brush strokes. It was hypnotic.
“Is this how mermaids died?” she whispered to herself. It brought another smile to her face and Clara giggled a little.
Her right wrist was a little more cumbersome, she was right-handed. But her nimble artistic left fingers - that played the chords of a violin so effortlessly - gained their composure. There was no pop this time, forgetting to puncture the skin quickly. Her mind was a bit clouded by now, but calm. The single downward stroke was again executed with perfection; her skin and flesh separated the same way she used to split open a strawberry jam donut in half.
Her blood poured out in pulses, the same colour as the jam. Clara was giggling again. No more school for her. No more names. No more tears alone in bed. She would see her mother soon, in glorious Elven robes. Clara understood now with peaceful content, the girls - those cheerleaders - would never be given the opportunity to hurt her again. Ever. Her mother would understand, she used to be a cheerleader.
"Clara!" her father was at the door again. "Come on, I need to take a dump." he said with a cartoonish chuckle that reminded her of the times they watched Popeye together. “I really gotta g-g-g-g-goooooo.”
She laughed, "Ok daddy. I’m almost done. You wont have to wait for me again." she replied ever so sweetly. "I’m almost finished."
Clara rested her head on the back of the tub and turned off the faucet with her small stubby toes. There was silence. And steam. Both hands were floating in the water by her sides; the tub had become a deep dark red.
“My goodness” she thought to herself, “it’s such a brilliant, fascinating colour.”
A few minutes had passed, Clara thought the light of the bathroom had dimmed a bit; and the steam was just lingering there, like a stagnant dead fog. The steam from the hot water was different this time; it reminded her of a cemetery scene from a horror movie. Not like cigarette smoke at all. Now, it was a bit frightening. She felt like climbing out of the tub, but wasn’t able to gather the strength to lift herself up. A ringing sound had surfaced within her ears; it wouldn’t stop and was quite overpowering, uncomfortable. Deafening. Clara wanted to desperately call out to her father, but was unable to speak, unable to move.
It was getting dark; her vision had become lazy and unfocused, less vivid. The edges of sight became circular and smaller, closing in on her like the end of a Looney Tunes cartoon. There seemed shadows dancing everywhere… Clara was utterly alone, as she had always been in life. She tried to lift her right arm out of the water, to reach the side of the bathtub hoping to wake herself, but just couldn't do it. She didn’t understand why it was so cold? Clara was getting tired, sleepy.
"Daddy, please can you come in?" she whimpered faintly, wanting him to turn the lights on, not expecting the adventure to be so cold and dark.
As a relatively short amount of time had passed, her eyes closed, her breath became weak and in a moment… Clara was gone. Her last thought, was being together with her mother and father in Tuscany. They were playing by the shore of a crimson river. It was summertime.
EPILOGUE: Since the start of social media, FaceCrook, Instascam and Twittler… there have been 56 suicides of children aged between 9-15 years old, as a direct result of Cyber Bullying. These cases are the ones that are reported in the western world. And what of the rest of the world?
I wrote this story years ago, wanted to share it again with you Steemians...
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