(A/N Hey y'all. I've noticed a lot of people associate depression with self harm, self harm solely with cutting, and cutting with suicide. I admittedly was of a similar mind until a couple weeks ago when I went to see if there was a self harm awareness day -there is, actually; March 1st - and found a website with support, information, and helpline for those who are depressed, self harm, and their friends/family.
There are many ways to self harm, and I suggest you look it up so you can have a better understanding and... maybe even help you identify when someone you care about is hurting and equip you to handle and understand how to help in their unique situation.
This actually contains spoilers for my newest story, Life and Death, but it will be a long time before I get to this point in the story - this is 6 and a half years after the beginning of the story, and I'm only on chapter 2
Shuffling back to the sofa, I let a small smile settle across my features. Another rehearsal, another night of no one caring. I settle down with my computer, opening Gimp and staring at the blank canvas. Closing the program, I go to check my news feeds when I blink, quietly hissing in a breath.
Blood, blood everywhere. Heart hammering, I keep my breathing quiet as my parents - well, at least Mom - sit idly in front of the TV. I strain to keep my eyes open until tiny dots fill the edge of my vision. Blink. A disfigured mass of crystalline white drowning in a small sea of blood. Glancing up for barely a moment, I almost sigh in relief at her inattention as I curl inwards, the shaking starts. Blink.Wings stick out at odd angles, tail, legs, stomach, neck... All drenched in crimson blood. Forest floor drenched. Blood streaming out from the massive body. Shutting my computer off, I grab my phone and curl towards the back of the couch. Barely a glance. She'll just assume I'm napping until it's really time to go to bed.
"Honey, if you're that tired, you should go to bed," Mom practically growls. I flinch, breathe catching slightly. Easy, I tell 're safe now. He's dead. Blink. More blood. I rapidly blink back tears. More blood, more pain, more... More emptiness. Roughly digging in with my teeth, I find the jagged indent in my lower lip, biting down hard with my top teeth. Right. Present. Focus on the pain. Taking a few steadying breaths, I flip over, swinging off the couch to tell my oblivious parents - well, parent tonight - good night. Mom seems more annoyed with her work than anything, but who knows. With Megs gone... I push the corners of my lips back above my jaw while we briefly hug. Briefly looking at the clock as I head upstairs, I realize my little episode lasted almost half an hour. Idiot. So much to do, and you spend your time thinking about something that happened three and a half kriffing years ago! They're dead. Just kriffing get over it already!
I let my smile drop and shoulders slump the moment I reach the landing. Hmph, as if she would notice anyways. I smirk mirthlessly as I continue my nightly routine, digging into my bottom lip again. The images keep flashing every time my eyes close. Looking in my bathroom mirror, I finally notice how red my lip is. And they say they saw the signs with Megs. Was she different? Yes. Did they do a friggin' thing about it? Hardly anything that really meant anything. I'm not that good at hiding this, am I? Or do they just not care like I always wondered?
Shaking my head, I slip under my covers. Tears stream down my face as I'm forced to relive that moment over and over andover again. Silent sobs rack my body as I wait for my parents to come to bed. Hours pass, midnight passes, it's 2 am before Dad can finally come home. He tried to make it home at a normal time for Mom those first few days after Megs ran away. Why can't he be there when I need him? I snort softly, trembling. Why? Because I'm not worth it. Can't be trusted. Can't handle a few measly courses in high school. Isn't capable of being anything. Would never hold a job. Doesn't care about voice. Didn't care about violin. Doesn't care about anyone but herself. Can't make connections.
Barely able to keep my sounds below a whisper volume, I shut my eyes to the swirl of accusations built up over the years and let the memory play out as I continue this line of thought. Again. If that's really what I've become, why not... No, I don't have anything to cut with that wouldn't look suspicious if Mom or Dad cared enough to look. I shudder, biting down harder on my lip. That's right. And Mom or a doctor would see eventually. How the hell would I explain scars? Razor slips? Maybe, but they don't scar, you idiot! Can't even think something as simple as that through. Besides, like the website said, biting my lip is my own way of dealing with this. That should be enough.
I cry myself to sleep as I have so many nights. It may have been three and a half years since everyone died, since I failed to stop the one threat to all creatures, but the mental wounds are still as deep as even deeper. I couldn't... Couldn't even stop... Sister... Leaving...
On one of those rare days, I fully wake up to my alarm, heart racing. Blinking awake, I swipe it off and scrub the dried tears off with the heels of my hands.
It isn't until about three in the afternoon when I realize something's wrong. My heart's racing a million miles a second, and I feel incredibly light headed. Glancing at the clock, I realize I don't have enough time before my dance lesson to work up something really sugary. Surely this must simply be low blood sugar. Rare, but I guess it's been a couple years since my last episode. After finding a few quick fixes online, I find my heart rate decreased slightly and the light headedness mostly gone. Finally deeming it safe, I quickly rush upstairs to get ready, arriving back down just in time for Mom to walk in the door from her lunch out with a friend. How these people spend more than thirty minutes - much less four hours - on lunch still baffles me.
An hour later I'm back at the house, and my heart's still a little fast and the world spinning a little from ending with Viennese Waltz. After an hour of more schoolwork I stand up to get some soda when I notice my heart's still pounding. Come to think of it, the slight headache and lightheadedness are still there, too. Shrugging it off, I grab a couple crackers. Once again, Mom's too absorbed in her project to notice any thing's wrong. What would I say, anyways? Already told her about the low blood sugar earlier, and all she did was push a box of Cheeze-Its towards me when I already said it was handled. They wouldn't have done anything, anyways; zero grams of sugar.
Evening comes and my heart is still hammering against my rib cage. I silently growl, taking deep breathes and digging harshly into my lip, trying to slow my dam heart down! Finally, it hits me. The signs are different, but maybe I simply have ignored the subtler ones. Already curled into the couch and away from Mom and Dad, I close my eyes and extend my mind slowly, inwardly groaning as I brush over the exhausted minds of my parents before quickly raising my search to a mere broad mental signature scan. No one's on Earth who unwittingly traveled from another universe. Inwardly sighing, I resign myself to a night of discomfort when I "hear" a strangely familiar voice.
"Um, hello?" Confused, I do a quick scan of my mind, tracing the thin technological communications line through a couple sub-universes before finding it attached to... What the hell?! "Kanan, are you sure someone's on the line?"
Rolling my eyes, I sigh in annoyance. "Yes, now why did you reach out to me? These lines haven't been active for... It's probably been at least two years by now."
"Why didwe... We found you connected to a new frequency.Apparently Spectre 3 noticed it earlier today but failed to say anything."
I chuckle silently despite myself. "Well, then I'll just cut it off, seeing as you don't need my help." I sever the connection between me and the Ghost, my heart slowing a bit. Well then, I guess that answers that question. Maybe I should double-check those notification protocols I set-
"Uh, you're still connected," a third, female voice adds. Sabine, if the snarky sarcasm is anything to go by.
I sigh, pinching the bridge of my nose. Greeeat, so now I can't even disconnect a one-to-one, tech to mind connection. Taking a closer look at the line connecting us, something seems... Different about it. Neither side's connection is stronger, and it doesn't seem to have an originating point, so... My breath catches as it hits me. "Oh you've got to be kriffing kidding me!" I think forcefully, glaring upwards.
"Care to fill us in?" Kanan asks sternly, a note of curiosity seeping into his tone.
"Look, I don'tcare whether God set this up-" protests and sounds of confusion flowed across the line, and I was starting to feel Kanan's- oh hell no! I try to cut off my connection to him, but what the Jedi call the "Force" is simply the life energy that tieseverything together across universes. Rapidly shaking my head, I continue. "I amNOTgetting involved in this mess again. If you have a real, cross-universe emergency, fine. Contact me and I'll sort things out. But this? I'm not going around solving people's ridiculous problems again!" I punctuate my last statement with a complete closure of the conversation portion of my mind and with setting up my entire defense system again, sorting out mazes, booby traps, and false information, the works.
My heart finally slows down to just a tiny bit faster than normal, and I nod sharply, confident I will have peace for the rest of the night. My confidence waivers, smile dropping and shoulders slightly slumping as I remember who I used to be. Hm, now I can't even handle a simple conversation without fear. I shudder, bloody images filling my mind briefly before I force myself to focus on a fanfiction update. The first story tugs my lips upwards slightly, and the next elicits a small, weak laugh. Nothing that fills that hollow, numb feeling inside.
Mom nonetheless glares at me from behind her computer at the laugh. I shrink in on myself slightly, digging into my lip again. Suddenly I hear a gasp of surprise and... Pain? Across the Ghost line. Letting go of my lip in confusion and a little bit of shock, the echo of phantom pain fading with the throbbing of my lip.
I wait a couple more hours before heading to bed, barely paying attention to the old reruns. As I head to bed, I have to be more careful with my body language. Can't let them see what's going on. If they care, they'll ask. If they care, they'll finally see through the facade. They don't see. They don't ask. I slump in my bathroom again, eyes flitting to my now dull-bladed razor. Idiot. Forgetful. I told myself I would get a new blade and... see whether there was something else that could help a few days ago. I haven't even gone into the laundry room cabinet with the extra razor heads in weeks. Stupid. Useless. Weak.
Blinking back tears, I steel my posture and carefully compose my expression for the few steps past the laundry room to my bedroom, just in case. No one's there. Slipping past my door, I climb into my tall bed. Well, relatively anyways; it comes up to my waist, but I'm only five foot one. Barely. Why even get excited about another half inch! It's not like it would make a difference when the few coloratura roles call for average height and taller women. Hmph, I'm lucky to have gotten this tall. Then again, who would take someone who doesn't even know ballet very well. Or whose primary career will be in cyber security. I give a slight smile bittersweetly at that. I can hardly bring myself to do anything nowadays. Why even bother wasting more of my parents' money. But... They did say I could go to Liberty. Maybe I'll finally find help there. I snort softly. Who would help someone who can't even hold a conversation? Why would someone like me be worth anyone's time.
I go to clamp down on my lip when I remember the echo of a phantom pain earlier. Without checking the connection, I feel a wave of concern growing on the other end. Hesitantly I bite down on my lip, drawing a muffled yelp from Kanan. I immediately let go, and his mind rushes to meet mine, running full-force into my spherical wall. Kanan pauses for a moment before lightly brushing against me, concern radiating from him.
Lightly biting my lip without inflicting damage, I hesitantly let him into my conversation area, bypassing the traps.
"Are you okay? What happened?" Kanan asks, more questions bubbling in his mind. At least he knows not to- wait, why would he know when to stop? Kanan isn't exactly the most patient Spectre. He softly, more gently repeats the first question.
"I'm fine," I snap.
"No, you're not," he returns softly. "You don't have to tell me what's going on, but I can tell you from experience it might help."
Glaring into space, I almost bite back a retort when I think about his last phrase. "From... Experience?"
He nods, a faint impression showing in my mind of him as we talk. "Ezra... Had some personal issues from his past. I helped him through-"
I blanched, curling into myself as I realized with horror what I had done. "I-I'm so s-sorry." I bite my lip harshly, the pain reminding me- fudge. I release, mentally berating myself for putting these people in more pain than I had already put them through.
"What? Why are you apologizing!" Kanan gently caressed my mind. "It's not your fault-"
I rapidly shook my head. "But it is! I wrote that Ezra was raped by an Aa'ra. I wrote that he cut himself while he was on the streets and until you came to an understanding after the Luminary disaster. I wrote that he accidentally hit a vein while cutting because he felt like a failure when things built up after he found out his parents were truly dead!" I was practically shouting at him by the end, sobbing without a sound. No wonder no one wants to be around me. No wonder my own parents reject me. I hurt innocent people. I make a child get raped because I'm having... bad thoughts.
"Shhh, shh, it's okay," Kanan tries to put a physical arm around me, but it falls to his side. He goes for a mental caress instead, confusion and concern swirling. "What do you mean you wrote it?"
"All of that happened, right?" he nodded. I take a deep, shuddering breath. "Well, whenever someone writes a story, makes a movie, does a TV show, etc. it turns into an alternate universe. Or, in the case of fan fiction, the stories might combine to... That's not the point. I wrote a story about Ezra cutting, and so it happened."
Kanan drew back slightly in shock, and I steeled myself against him abandoning me. Leaving me to deal with this alone like every- suddenly a warm, loving embrace envelops my mind, calming waves flowing through me. I stiffen at first, the contact strange and almost too familiar. Whether he's sincere or not, I decide to simply relax and enjoy the small comfort while I can.
Kanan pulls back after a few minutes, leaving me wanting more, wanting to find that peace again. That's when I remember. When I remember the reason I feared that conversation, that connection. "You have to go. NOW." I say coldly, turning away from his mind. Kanan starts to protest but backs off. Just as he's about to leave, I add, "That was... nice. Thank you."
(A/N What was she so afraid of? What's this about alternate universes? How can she connect telepathically to technology? Find out this and more in "Life and Death" accessible either through my homepage, site search, or in "book crossovers: Inheritance Cycle & X-overs")