tw: self-harm (no blood)
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This year was full of regrets. Moving was the main one. I should've never moved away from the people I grew up with, the people I've known since preschool. I should've stayed with my grandma, where it was safe, where I was safe, where I could call my place home. It was the first time I ever felt lost in a crowd. You know what being lost feels like? It's funny how my grandma told me it's almost like being a penguin in a forest at pitch-black of night. You know you don't belong there. You know there's no one there to help you, no matter how long or how loud you beg, howl, cry out. You know soon enough, you'd go out of your mind. Because it's too silent. Too lonely.
The only difference at school is that it's too loud. I hear everything. And I don't want to.
If somehow, there's a penguin that's really stuck in a forest somewhere, I hope you find yourself a home one day.
I haven't yet.
So now. . . I'll put on paper what should've happened, what I would've liked to happen. What should've been done.
-March 24, entry #5 from Diary of a Broken Teen
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The classroom was empty, except for the smell of chalkboard erasers and my English teacher sitting in her seat, patiently waiting for me to leave. I dropped the library's last copy of Jane Eyre on the carpet. Purposely, of course. I pretended to take eternity placing all of my folders and books inside my backpack, so I'd be the last one in the classroom. And so that no one was still in the hall, possibly listening inside. I took a deep breath and slung my pack over my shoulder.
"Mrs. Marcus, do you know where the guidance counselor's office is?"
She looked up from her files and fixed her glasses. "Oh, sure. It's in the main office — you know where that is, right?" I nodded. "It's in the room on the right. If he's not in there, you can schedule an appointment to see him."
I quickly thanked her and rushed out the door. My heart started to hammer.
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I had deliberately dropped Jane Eyre in front of six people still in the class at recess. But for what reason? What was my intention? With crimson cheeks, I bent down to pick up the book. Then I pretended to fumble with the zippers on my backpack. Soon enough, I was the last student in the class.
"Is something wrong, Julia?" the teacher asked, putting away her files.
I stared at her. I knew my intention. The question, that was supposed to be buried six feet under, was now caught in my throat. "No," I finally answered. Then I zipped my backpack tightly, swung it over my shoulder, and headed towards the bathroom in the farthest building. So far, yet so familiar.
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"Hello again, Julia," Mr. Hisamoto greeted. He gestured for me to sit on the gray chair in front of him. I'd never been in this room before. It had a mild fragrance of citrus and lavender, which I especially liked. A horizontal frame with a black-and-white art piece was on a wall above his desk. His desk. I could never organize my papers as tidily as his.
"What brings you here today? Draw anything new?" Mr. Hisamoto and I first met at lunch, when I was drawing and writing down observations of a tree in my notebook.
I shrugged. "I've been drawing people."
"What kind of people?"
"Students. Sometimes I give them the drawing. Like, as a gift I guess."
He cleared his throat. "That's very nice of you."
Our conversation drifted into study habits, hobbies, what I usually do outside of school, family relationships, school, grades. Mr. Hisamoto took notes while I spoke. When personal topics were introduced, I asked him if he had to tell my parents. He assured me that student confidentity was important. But then he also used the key words, most of the time. I kept that in mind as caution, a subtle reminder.
No wonder everyone liked him. His voice was gentle and kind. He was so easy to talk to. A lot easier than I thought.
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I placed my backpack on the hook of the bathroom stall door. Unfortunately, there was a group of girls who came in just then. I locked the door and held my breath. Why was there never a time where I could be alone?
They finally left after washing their hands, taking mirror photos, and talking. Talking, giggling, talking. They talked so much my head hurt. I dug my nails on the wall. It left a white scratch. I drew a sunflower. A sad face. A family admiring and pointing at fireworks.
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The bell rang. "Looks like we're out of time for now," Mr. Hisamoto said, checking his watch. "Do you want to make an appointment for next time? Maybe next Tuesday at recess or after school?"
"Recess," I informed him. We both knew why I couldn't see him after school.
He nodded. "Who's your homeroom teacher, by the way?"
"Ah, I see. Okay, now hurry for class, Here's the late slip just in case." He swiftly signed his signature and date on a neon green piece of paper. I took it from him and folded it in my pocket, heading for the door.
I didn't notice the corners of my lips stretch into a tiny smile.
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I grabbed my phone from the front pocket of my backpack. 55 percent. And there were still fourteen more minutes of recess. Echoes of students' laughter in the halls, echoes of the shrilling screams from my mother, and the echoes of my own thoughts all blended together into chaos. It drilled into my brain. It burned a hole in my chest. It twisted my vision until everything, everything was blurry.
I tried sending a text to my dad — Can you pick me up early today? I don't feel good. Error. I sent it again. Error. I sent it again. It was slow, but eventually delivered. I squeezed my eyes shut.
My sharp fingernails pierced into my left arm. Hard. I cried.
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I didn't tell my dad I visited the counselor. I didn't tell my mother. My grandma. Yet. I want to tell them someday. Healing is a long process that I can't do alone. I'm just glad that after a full year, I let someone listen. Listen to the tangled mess that I can't fully understand myself. And it might just be the first step to heal.
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My dad didn't pick me up early.
I stormed home. In the rain. I didn't have an umbrella. A mother and her daughter pitied me enough to share theirs. God bless them, I thought. I peered over my shoulder to see the school growing smaller and smaller. And all the words I thought just then started with "I should've."
I should've brought an umbrella.
I should've asked my English teacher where the counselor's office was.
I should've went to the office.
I should've known better than to text my dad.
I should've, should've, should've.
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I should've taken the chance to let someone listen. But I never did.
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