Letters On My Arm

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“Cat!”

I leap out of my head. “How long?” I pant.

Daniel shakes his head. “I’m not sure, I only just-”

“Where are they?” I look around, and I speak quickly. “I had a knife, they were coming at me, I, I think I got one…”

Daniel’s gone quiet. “Where is he?”

I point across from us. There’s a big heap of black on the ground, almost like slime. The knife is lying on top of it, black and red on it both. I can remember now; after I ran him through with the blade, the others got behind me. The knife was in him, I was too slow to take it out in time.

“What do you remember from Delirium?” Daniel asks.

I shake my head. “It’s a blur,” I say. “Which means nothing happened.”

“Nothing happened in Delirium,” Daniel says slowly. “But in Reality…” He shows me my bedroom. It’s a mess as usual, but if you look closely, you can see things. Things that were on my bed are now spilled over the floor. Shoes are in random places, no two matching shoes are together.

I open the window, and the mass of black is sucked out. Daniel and I watch it float away, into the world of Reality. After a while, he speaks to me. “Your hand…”

I look at them, and I see it; the red smudge on it, originating from one thin line across my finger. “How did-”

Then I remember again. A knife, no a sword, slashes at me, cutting my hand as I hold it out, as feeble protection. “How did it only get one finger?” I whisper. It’s one singular cut, two centimetres long at most. “Are they gone Daniel?”

He nods. He’s unusually silent, and I’m beginning to panic and wonder what on earth he’s thinking when I see the red marks on my arm.

F R E A K.

“No…”

“Cat…” Daniel warns.

“No!” I crumple. “I didn’t…I didn’t…”

“Listen Cat listen-”

“I promised!” I’m in tears. “I can’t…”

“Cat, they’re not cuts!”

“What?”

He holds my arm in front of me, and I flinch away. “Look Cat,” he whispers.

Reluctantly, I turn my head back. The letters are angry red, but they aren’t dripping. “Scratches, not cuts,” he says soothingly. “It’s not that bad.”

I give him a look. “I know,” he says, “it’s bad, but scratches fade, scratches don’t leave scars. You didn’t self harm.”

“Didn’t I?”

“Scratches don’t count.”

“What about beating yourself with a bar?” I retort. “That doesn’t scar either.”

His eyes are full of sorrow. They’re grey today, because my room is blue. “I’m sorry,” he says softly. “You need rest.”

I lie down, and he sits next to me. “You could be doing this,” I say quietly. “You could’ve sent those things on me, and I wouldn’t know.”

He takes off his jacket and shows me his own arm. A gash is on his left index finger, bleeding softly. And lower, F R E A and K are on his arm as bright as blood.

“How many scars of mine do you have?” I whisper.

He shows me his leg, with lines running down it. He shows me the lash marks on my arms, from long ago. “There’s even older ones,” he tells me. “D’you want to go there?”

I shake my head. Mummy, I’m bleeding! Mummy, I’m bleeding! “Stop.”

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