The social ghosts whispered their gossip behind cups of tea and mock concern. She’s a cutter.
She cuts herself. That’s why she wears long sleeves all the time.
Where did you hear it?
I overheard her when she was on the phone one afternoon.
Why does she do it?
Her husband left her. And she’s depressed or bi-polar or something.
She scratched at the surface trying to interpret the layers of meaning hidden under epidermis. But with each pass of the blade, she was adding layers, not removing them. The scabs and scar tissue became a burial mound.
“I don’t know you,” he said to end sixteen years of marriage. The spiritual void between them had opened long before the physical space was vacated.
She picked up the journal and pen; her doctor’s idea. Initially she was reticent, afraid of the emotions. Now it was a madwoman’s epistles and certainly no gospel.
“To thine own self be true,” she wrote. “But I don’t know myself. Ever since hospital I know what I was and now what I am. But I can’t reconcile the two. I wanted to say to him I wasn’t that person because I was sick; all the things that happened was not really me. If I were an onion, I would be layers of peeled vegetable with nothing at its core. I have hidden things away. Buried them. And lost myself. Somehow I hope to find myself. But what is there to find?”
Putting down her pen she opened the taps of the bath, watching it cascade, raising steam in dervishes. One by one she laid out her personal effects on the basin. Watch. Wedding rings. Earrings. Necklace. She looked at them as simply artefacts of a life that no longer existed and it was impossible to assign any relevant meaning to them. Her eye flicked toward the bathroom cupboard, knowing the blade she had hidden wrapped in a tissue.
She pulled off her jeans, followed by the t-shirt over her head and folded it neatly on top. With a movement akin to a lover’s, she unclasped her bra and removed her underpants, folded them and laid them next to her jeans and t-shirt.
She slid into the water, almost scalding to the skin. She sank deeper, allowing the water to envelope her like a womb. Running her hands over her skin, the tiny bubbles that had formed rushed to the surface and dissipated. An involuntary laugh escaped her lips as she imagined her breasts as bobbing jellyfish under the water. Cupping them she thought back to when they had attracted, wooed and courted her husband. In turn they nurtured and were suckled by the mouths of her children. Instinctively her hand went below her navel and traced the caesarean scar, a tidal mark above the black sea urchin of her pubic hair.
Turning her forearms upwards she compared the scars of a death and a scar that brought forth life. She wanted to be reborn in the primordial water, emerge with lungs and feet, breathe in life giving draughts, to be as Eve in her nakedness.
But the scars branded her as a failure; the cross-hatched lines of an artist’s shading up and down her forearms. The bastard daughter of Eve. She pulled the plug and let the water drain away.
Lazarus, come forth.