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Fire, Water, Blood

May 2
by
Elizabeth Raedels
in
Health
with
.

I look to my left. The orange flames burn bright against the dark background of the midnight sky. They’re so bright, in fact, that it’s hard to look at them directly for too long. I know that if I were to touch them, they’d scorch my skin and burn me. The burns would be an irritating pink. They’d leak pus, and they’d hurt like Hell.


But would it be worth it just to feel something, anything? I’ve been numb for so long, and the razors don’t do anything for me anymore. The sight of my own blood no longer thrills me, and neither does the slicing of my skin, once so clean but now tainted.

I look to my right. The crystal-clear water swishes in the orange bucket. I know from the condensation on the outside that the water is so cold it’s almost ice. If I stuck my hand in there, it would ache. The blood would run slower, and my bones would become rigid. The pain would be awful, but it would be a feeling, something I so desperately need.

I don’t want to die, not without first confirming that I am alive.

I stand on the concrete, tapping my toes inside my old, black tennis shoes. I contemplate how best to hurt myself, then think to myself how silly that sounds. The corner of my mouth twitches ever so slightly, the closest I can get myself to a smile. I roll up on the balls of my feet, looking between the fire and the water and imagining the unique sensations each would give me.

Then something peculiar happens. It starts in my stomach, feeling like a dead weight. It starts to travel up toward my chest, knocking the oxygen out of my lungs. A sense of dread falls over me. What is happening?

The dead weight moves up to my throat, and I feel like I’m going to throw up.

My eyes start to water and tears fall, and I am completely caught off guard. I start to shake, and I cry out. I stumble forward and suddenly I am blinded by rage. I haven’t cried in years, and I had sworn to myself that I would never cry again. I’ve lost control of my own body, the only thing left I had control over. I growl, and I rush forward, stepping into the fire and letting the flames engulf me.

I scream, but I am not burning. All the sensations I imagined that I would feel when I touched the flames came to nothing. I am standing in the fire, and nothing is happening to me. I have no control. My rage intensifies.

I run to the right, grabbing the orange bucket with a death-grip. I dump the ice cold water on my head, but again, I feel nothing. I attempt to inhale the water as it falls, to see if I would choke on it, but nothing happens.

I am scared, confused, angry, and in total despair.

I take off running. I don’t know where I’m running, but I need to get away. I need to leave my feelings and weakness behind and gain control of my body again. I need to be strong and powerful again.

It seems I have only run in some sort of damning circle. I end up where I ran from, where the fire is still intact and the water is back in the orange bucket. I scream again, or maybe I’ve been screaming the whole time. I grab the bucket, and I throw the water onto the flames. The flames only erupt into bigger flames. I drop the bucket, and I see myself walk out of the flames.

“You failed,” my apparition says to me. “You failed to be strong.”

She walks toward me, and I step back. Suddenly she stops, grabbing her stomach. She starts to gag, and her eyes roll back in her head. From her mouth seeps crimson blood. I know it is all the blood I’ve lost from dragging razors across my skin every day for so many years.

I step back yet again, horrified. She follows me; she speaks in gibberish and more blood falls from her lips, down her chin and onto her chest, soaking her shirt. My shirt. I take off running again. I come full circle again, and this time, when I come to the fire, I don’t stop.

The flames engulf me at once, and the horrible burning sensation is like nothing I’ve felt before. I scream, and I am out of the fire. From the tree above, I watch my human body disintegrate into ashes.


 

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