The first cut was never the deepest. No matter what the song said.
The fist cuts were shallow.
Just below the surface.
Nothing more than a shadow of a scratch.
Like a timid swimmer dipping a toe victim into the water.
She let the knife ride against the surface of the skin and then just ever so slightly push it in.
Like a first kiss.
The response was always greater than the pain itself. She cut himself worse just from working in the garden or cutting vegetables in the kitchen. But still, it was all about the expectation of pain.
The tensing of the body awaiting penetration.
She started cutting when she was just twelve. The first time it had been nothing more than a poke. Something Dr. Pilcher, he with with the smelly breath, would say was a “negative coping mechanism”. The other doctors used similar terms but they never understood.
Neither did her teachers.
Or her parents.
Or her friends.
Or even her pet.
No one was ever able to pierce beyond the thin layer of veneer to the deep dark wood beneath that was her.
To understand the release that cutting brought. The exhaling of emotion. Like a small tear in a balloon with too much air.
It excited her. Even now.
She allowed the second cut to pry deeper into the flesh. Just above the thigh. This way, as she learned, there would be no questions at work on Monday or strange looks while sitting on the bus. The cuts would remain unnoticed except to the flesh.
The third and fourth and fifth cuts were almost too much. She held the knife with both hands and pushed against the pain deep into the skin. The blood ran freely and turned from a red to a deep black.
It ran down like rainwater.
She started to piss herself and had to cross her legs and steady herself. She waited until she could on. She stopped to look at what she had done.
She wiped sway the smears of blood to see the cuts. To touch the point of release. The pain was taken away for just that moment. That is what people do not understand.
It is not about the cut.
It is what the cut does: the release of the slow suffocation that is life.
Like a small tear in a balloon.
She felt better and turned to see what she had done.
“I’ll let you rest a while before we start again.” She said to him.
He tried to scream again through the corners of his duct taped mouth. She watched his tears throwing from the corners of his eyes as he shook his head back and forth.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
Awaiting the next release of air from the balloon.