Gerard’s self-mutilation phase began when he was twelve, preceded by bulimia and succeeded by drug addiction. The phases seemed to melt and blur together, sometimes becoming one mass of medication and razors, sometimes one overlapping another until they all mixed and matched like a Venn diagram. He remembered- as he told his daily dose of 45-minute therapy- being at home, in his bed, playing with scissors.
Playing. With scissors. Just playing, just sipping is fingers in and out of the metal loops, letting them slide through the O shapes as smoothly as if his fingers had been rubbed with oil. It was almost sensual. Almost sexual.
They were completely metal, not plastic at the handles like the kind from Language Arts class when they cut up paper. Metal, as if the shiny material had been melted into molten liquid while it was being produced, and poured into the mold so that the blade would cool and harden into one solid piece. He remembered opening the scissors, letting the points separate and grin like the open mouth of a crocodile; tiny jagged teeth on the inside of the blades smiling almost flirtatiously. Play with me.
He remembered- this he didn’t tell the woman sucking his time- just bitterly thinking, “The people who do this kind of thing aren’t really in pain.” He let the crocodile’s metal jaw touch his palm. He pressed it and it hurt so he stopped. There was a sense of envy. A sense of “Why can /they do it and I can’t?/”
He let the crocodile, mouth open and sharp side up, press the heel of his palm. He thought, “I can do it.” The little jagged teeth on the open lade didn’t hurt when he set it on his skin. He didn’t push it, just let the skin turn white and red with the pressure of minor contact. Gerard had bitten his lip and winced, clenching his jaw as if he was about to receive a shot or something else unpleasant, and gently brought the scissors down his palm.
The skin didn’t even break. It just turned white for a moment, then faded back to its natural shade of pale peach. There was this sudden explosion of frustration in his head and his chest, and it burst like a thin bubble swollen with black muck. He physically groaned, whimpered into his pillow with the hate and frustration at his own fear, his own hesitance. His palm was too sensitive so he opened the scissors as far as they would go, pinky and ring fingers pressed against the blade that was away from his skin to keep it open, and put the sharp end on the side of his wrist. It was the thin layer of skin and muscle (/and faaaaat/) right above the bone, the place that looked so ugly, so puffy and overweight and just ugly even though his stomach had been empty for two days.
Gerard made himself look at it, made himself hate that part until he wanted to cut it, to punish it.
(you stupid fat ass you deserve EVERYTHING those kids give to you I hope you DIE)
A little part of him said no. He didn’t deserve it. He deserved better than that.
(shut up just shut up go on and cut yourself you stupid faggot you’re a weak little bitch)
He wasn’t weak.
(yes you are that’s why no one likes you no one even talks to you you deserve to die)
(just shut up and do it)
He whimpered and let the crocodile bite.
“What happened next?”
Gerard didn’t feel like answering her. He had been having one of those moments where he had talked for so long that he didn’t even realize he was talking anymore. And when he finally realized his mouth was moving his train of thought had melted away. So he shrugged, leaning his cheek on his hand, and let His Therapy stare at him.
Gerard was required to attend forty-five minutes of one-on-one therapy a day, and if he had any less self-control he would have made it his designated nap time. The room was filled with thick, warm, comfortable air that smelled of cinnamon and reminded him of his aunt’s house at Christmas. The couch he was sitting on was almost ridiculously soft; it must have been some of that patented Swedish technology shit because that baby was a cloud. /Group/ therapy had nothing on this bitch.
So he sat in his own thoughts for a while. the sleepy silence of his brain permeated with thoughts like “I’m so tired” and “When’s this over?/” There was an electric clock on the table to his right, but it was turned away from him at such an angle that trying to see the time would have been almost comically conspicuous. He tried to calculate the time in his head but the warmth and dark, homey lighting caused him to forget what number came after four. He thought it might have rhymed with /chives. Gerard started thinking about the word chives and it just made him all giggly inside. What were chives anyway? It was an herb, maybe…
He blinked, and sat up a little straighter in an attempt to rattle his sense alive.
The woman leaned forward in her chair and said in a soft voice, “Are you tired?” She said it as if Gerard might be mentally retarded.
“Uh…/yeah,/” he replied, and a giggle escaped a little on the word. He rubbed his eye and laughed a little. He watched, vaguely worried, as His Therapy wrote something on her paper. She might have been writing something about his sanity. Some medicated bullshit. Patient LOL’s, check meds BTW.
Gerard chewed his nails while he watched her, leaning his chin in the palm of hand so he could nip at his nails. The action reminded him of Frank and he wondered a bit sadly if there was medicine for that too. His Therapy leaned back in her chair.
“I’m going to give this to your doctor, I want to have the dosage on your Xanax checked.” She didn’t look up at him while she wrote something quickly, “I think you’re taking too much.” She said it almost as an afterthought.
Oh, no. Give him more. He was only eating spoonfuls each morning. Gerard rubbed his eyes, mostly just to keep himself awake. His Therapy set her paper back on her lap and looked at him from across the room with eyes that crinkled in the corners. She stood up and made a gesture with her hand.
“Okay, Gerard, we’re done.”
He stood up to follow her. His Therapy led him out of the room and down the hall. Following her made him feel like he was back in the first grade, following his way-too-young teacher to his art class. He felt tiny, young, like the walls were too narrow and he was too foreign. People had been there for so much longer than he had, had been encased in the cocoon that was their hospital. There were people who hadn’t been there for three days; they had been trapped there for weeks, months, longer. Gerard felt his expression weaken, his brow furrow and his lip tremble slightly as he imagined the rest of his sentence there. It was jail. No chance of parole. And capital punishment hadn’t been outlawed yet.
He was led down the hall, the plain, beige hall which was so cold and empty in comparison to the room where he’d just been, to his door. The door was wooden, completely empty, the only sign that it was the room he was supposed to stay at was a tiny white card taped to the upper right corner of the door with his name written in red marker. His Therapy made another gesture with her hand, a sort of wave, at the door. Gerard looked at her sideways, smiled sheepishly, and let himself in the room. His Therapy said nothing.
The walls were green. Dark green, forest green, and the only thing it made him feel was a wanting for home, for his own space. He walked to the window, the only source of natural light, and put his fingers on the wooden frame. Gerard wanted to open it, he wanted breeze. His insides felt like they were covered in dust, his brain coated with gunk, and he wanted to flush it out before he returned to the place that would force the dust back in. Gerard looked down to the latch and before he could get his fingers around it, he stopped. He moved his hand away. Something sad breathed passed his lips.
In black marker around the latch were the scribbled words It doesn’t work.
Frank tried not to think. Because when he thought, he thought of Gerard, he thought of how he hadn’t gotten a call or a word or a message in three days.
No, that wasn’t entirely true. He had gotten from an increasingly disgruntled, agitated Finch, He’s too scared to call you. But he was hardly satisfied. The hospital didn’t accept calls from friends and Gerard wasn’t allowed to have visitors yet. Waiting for Gerard felt like waiting for spring in the beginnings of winter. Gerard would be gone for the first icicles, the first day that school was closed because of overwhelming snow. He couldn’t see that Frank now wore a jacket over his hoodie to keep warm; he couldn’t see the weather forecast for snow or the posters for their school’s winter dance. And with that thought Frank would sigh and try not to think about how badly he wanted to take Gerard.
It was sleeting. Not rain, not snow. Frank kicked his feet mindlessly and rhythmically on his bed, his toes bouncing on his comforter and he lay on his belly. The window next to him let in the wet, slushy sound of the sleet. He could hear his own heart amongst the noise, thumping in his stomach like the sound of a drum in the distance. He breathed and it seemed to flush out the fluff in his belly, leaving room for the little bit of loneliness that had wedged itself in the spaces of his body. It felt odd, like the beginning of a virus he couldn’t fight off. Frank closed his eyes and let himself feel emotionally nauseous.
His pants were vibrating. Frank wasn’t sure whether or not this was a good or bad thing. He reached into his pant pocket and wrapped his hand around his buzzing phone. It was a number he didn’t know and he laid his head down in his bed as he flipped open the phone. Frank grunted a little, tired enough to not care that he sounded like a zombie.
There wasn’t an answer at first, just some distant sounds of chatter and movement. Frank rubbed his hand through his hair as he waited to speak, since it was possible that whoever was on the other line hadn’t heard his sub-human noise of recognition.
Frank did a sort of spasm in his bed. He flipped over and swung his legs over the side of the bed to sit himself up.
“G-…/Gerard?”/ he sputtered. There was a little choking laugh on the other line and it sounded almost like a sob.
“Hi,” Gerard said through a light laugh. “Um…yeah.”
Frank didn’t know where to start or what to say. He had questions, updates, things he wanted to say but was too afraid to. Do you like me?
“Hey,” he said, suddenly nervous and he didn’t know why. “You…You’re /okay./” He smiled, wishing Gerard could see it, but mostly wishing he could see Gerard smiling. Gerard made a breathy sound.
“Yeah, sorta.” He was quiet for a moment, and in the near silence Frank wanted to just blurt, I love you. It was rash and mindless and he wasn’t even sure it was true, but it wanted to burst from his mouth.
“I’m sorry I didn’t call you before,” Gerard said. “I was just, um…” he chuckled a little. “…a little scared?” He said it like a question, like “You don’t have to take me seriously if you don’t want to.” Frank opened his mouth; he wanted to ask so badly that it seemed to be caught on his tongue: Will you go out with me? He hated how simple it sounded. Gerard was so complex and interesting that boyfriend didn’t seem to be able to cover a relationship with him.
“No, it’s okay,” Frank said, waving his hand in a dismissing way, “I, uh, was just worried about you.”
Gerard almost giggled. “Why?”
Frank paused, the silence feeling heavy, but not awkward. “…Because I care about you.”
“I care you about you too.” Frank could tell Gerard was smiling. He felt nervous, a little excited. He bit his lip, running his tongue along his lip ring.
“Um, Gerard,” he began. “I…was kinda of thinking…” Frank realized that it was probably not an appropriate time to be asking for a relationship, but he couldn’t help himself. The tug, the need, was pulling at his insides.
Frank didn’t know how to finish his thoughts, how to phrase his want. He froze, and tugged lightly at his hair, trying to remember what it was he wanted to say.
“I think we should…do something.”
There was the plastic sound of the phone moving on the other line. “…Like what?”
Frank hadn’t even had time to think of an answer when he heard a long, high beep on the phone. Gerard cursed.
“I have five minutes left on the phone,” he muttered. “Sorry, I have to go, I spent all my minutes talking to my brother and Finch. The phone will like…cut off…”
Frank felt his brain jump into high-gear as if it had been electrocuted. Everything he wanted to say was suddenly on the tip of his tongue, was clear as glass.
“Wait, Gerard,” he sputtered.
Frank nearly choked on his words, but he had less than five minutes to get out his thoughts. “…I really…really like you.”
Gerard inhaled, held his breath for about a second before a tiny giggle burst through his mouth. “I…I really, really, like you too.” The phone beeped again and Gerard sighed. “Um, I’ll talk to you…tomorrow, I think. And, um…” he laughed lowly again and Frank was overwhelmed with the hot passion he felt for Gerard. “…You’re cute.”
They both smiled on their ends of the phone. And when their time was up the sleet was the only thing Frank could hear.
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