I am 11. I am crying so hard I am going to ‘make myself sick,’ like Dad has warned me before.
I am not old enough to know that if you really want to die, you must cut yourself vertically. I am only 11. I do not know these things yet. And so I do not die. I am alive when Dad comes home, warm, calm, but sad. He holds my tiny wrist in his big hands and begins to wash off the blood in the bathroom sick. I cry and howl at the pain. “Dad please, please no, Dad, it hurts, Dad, please, please no, please stop,” I beg and I beg.
“I want to but I can’t, Courtney, I need to make sure it doesn’t get infected,” he says.
He kneels in front of me as I huff and puff reddened cheeks, trying to catch my breath as he wraps my throbbing wound.
“Why did you do this to yourself, sweetheart?” He asks.
In this moment, in this hospital, where my Dad is not here to wrap the bleeding wound I have become, I spill, I gush, I run, I flood. I bleed, I blubber, I beg. I beg as if my life depends on it — but it doesn’t — because I don’t have cancer.
“Please, please, Dad, please don’t make me do this, I don’t want to do this, please Dad…” I trail off into my hands.
My father does not answer me, he only stares through a screen.
“Do you want to live?” The doctor demands. My head jerks to my left, my face contorts as I look at hers — hers, looking the way people look at someone when they are holding a gun to their head.
“Do you want to live?” She orders again. Her eyes move back and forth and back and forth between mine, a jagged heartbeat. I stare at her. She is pushing the gun into my skull, she is asking me if I want her to pull the trigger. She is squeezing the hairpin, and all I smell is gunmetal, all I hear is a ticking deep inside of me.
I do not answer her, because I do not know the answer to her question.