"I have to tell you something," she says, so I follow her to a private spot behind the bungalows and I wait. We are not allowed to be back here, but no one ever comes back to check. She told me. She comes back here sometimes, she's told me. She likes to punch the wall, she's told me. And right now, I can see the chipped paint, plaster cracking where she has had at it. I can see the tall green shrubbery, blocking us from the rest of the kids, threaded thickly with cobwebs and little white spiders.

She doesn't say anything, just rolls up her pant leg like that's going to speak for her, and of course it does. Like the four raw, red marks on her skin don't tell me more than words ever could. I just stand there. I don't bend to see the marks. I know they are there. I just stand there and wait for the speech to come. It always does, a torrential flooding of words.

"There were these scissors in my room…I remember I saw them when I was looking for my Aragorn magnet…then I didn't really think about it, but last night…I was just upset. I cut the tags off my pillows so if anyone saw the scissors I could say, you know, it was about the pillows. Like anyone gives a damn about me."

I just stand there and listen, let her talk. I try hard not to hear her words. She does think about my feelings, I know she does, but she's having some trouble right now. I try to ignore the parts about her running the blade across the same stretch of skin over and over, wishing for blood. I know it is not easy for her to admit all of this. It helps her to have to face it. So I just stand there and take all of it, listen to all of it, like it doesn't hurt me, like I don't want to cry, I just let her cry like inside I'm not crying myself.

Finally she says, "Please don't be angry."

Angry? "I'm not angry…I just don't want you to do this. You know you can call me."

"It was late."

How is it possible that I contain myself enough not to swear at her? Maybe it's because I care about her. Jesus. I don't want her doing this. Does she really think this only affects her? I've heard that, heard her say it. She says this is just to keep her going, just her way of getting from day to day. Sometimes, on the Internet late at night, she will tell me about the things she thinks about. She says sometimes she wants to turn herself over to a mental hospital. She tells me she wants to sneak into her parents' cupboard and drink herself into a stupor. Does she tell these things to other people? I wonder. It scares me. But I'm going to be there to listen, and tell her no. Someone has to.

Why? Easy. Because I care. Because if she just hangs on, things will get better. Because I have seen her happy. Isn't that worth fighting for?