(Silence)

Lights fade in slowly. A pale teenage girl in ripped blue jeans and a big, faded, black hooded sweatshirt is sitting on a bare stool, and she hugs herself around her middle as if she's freezing. She has headphones hanging loosely around her neck, and the audience can slightly hear something reminiscent to the strumming of a guitar. Her eyes are lined in thick, smeared mascara, and her hair is tied up in a messy bun. She speaks with a careless tone tinged with cynicism and bitter sarcasm.

You're watching me. I guess that's what they pay you to do - my parents, I mean. It your job. It's your job to listen, watch, scribble notes on that yellow paper plastered to that fancy leather ledger of yours, (how many chronically depressed and mentally deranged teens did you have to listen to to buy that?). Once in a while, you give a quizzical expression, you cock an eyebrow or tilt your head to the side, sporting less-than-genuine expressions of curiosity, of deep care for me, concern laced in your brown eyes. But I see through you. I don't think you know that I can see past all of that bullshit, but I can. (speaks frankly as she begins to pick at the remnants of nail polish on her long fingernails) I'm a number to you, a case file. I'm a plain manila folder in that gray file cabinet in the corner of your room. I'm a few meaningless words scribbled on prescriptions for anti-depressants and on that god damn yellow paper of yours - (mimics writing in the air with broad gestures) "borderline," "self destructive," "suicidal," "paranoid," "antisocial." (hesitates, then sighs and lets her arm fall) That's all I am. That's all I'll ever be to you.

(mindlessly plays with a ball chain around her neck as she ponders something, her eyes squinting) Or maybe I'm like algebra to you. Maybe my "issues" are formulaic to you, just a bunch of numbers and letters that you can so easily manipulate and solve with pills. Just stuff me full of pills until I can't move, can't speak, can't dream, can't think. (speaks with building emotion) Just make me numb, make me hide, oppress me, forbid me (she stands, her fists clenched) - control me! Live my life for me, create a lie, make me smile when all I really want to do is bear my teeth and tear myself from this false reality you've made for me, this...this...

(She struggles to search for a word, and she's trembling, shaking furiously. After a moment, she breathes out shakily and relaxes. Her voice is once again calm, but she fidgets slightly when she talks, and she speaks with almost a nervous fervor.)

I remember when I didn't come to "talk" to you. I remember how it was...before. (catches herself, talking quickly) Believe me, nothing's really changed. But... (she hesitates, and she seems to be in another world, burying herself in memories) I was alone. I felt this sinking feeling, like lead on my chest, suffocating me. I remember how I felt this constant tug between...their reality and my reality. I loved my reality. I loved how I could rip myself away from the world - (she shakes her head suddenly, as if she was trying to shake herself from a dream) - no, not rip. Cut. (enunciates the word slowly) Yes, that's what I did. (she slowly put a hand over her forearm, gripping tightly) It hurt, of course it did. But I deserved it. I still do. But I can remember how it felt - this icy numbness, nothing like any pills could ever give, this iciness so cold that it felt hot, (She closes her eyes as she speaks with a gradual crescendo of emotion), white hot. Something clutched in my hand, it was that coldness, and my flesh crying out, crying "no, no!" (Her eyes snap open, and she looks around frantically, beginning to pace as her speech gets louder and almost unintelligible), but my hands wouldn't - couldn't - stop, and suddenly, a sharpness that sent me spiraling into the cosmos, wrenched me from the earth, from my puny little existence that meant nothing to this greater understanding that I felt, this tranquility washing over me like water, and there was this swelling, this rush, this beautiful bubble of crimson that blinded me as I tumbled, tumbled, (arms outstretched), deeper and deeper into this knowledge that only I could understand. It was me, it was mine, it was mine. Only mine.

(She blinks and draws her arms in, feeling her cheeks gently for the gray mascara tears that had begun running themselves down the curves of her face. She sits suddenly, ignoring the stool, which now stands alone. She breathes in deeply and, when she looks to the audience, all the chaos that was in her eyes is gone. She draws invisible swirls with her pointer finger on the wood of the stage as she speaks.)

You constantly ask to see the scars. Why, I couldn't guess. Maybe you're a sick-o too. Maybe you're just like me, and you want to compare or something. Maybe we're two of a kind. A pair. Maybe you're more like me than I thought. Maybe you aren't this sterile, untouched woman that the world has left unscathed. Maybe you are crazy. (She smiles and laughs quietly, shaking her head.)

You ask me to about my parents all of the time, too. About when they found out. (She smirks slightly) I remember the shock that contorted their faces, then the anger, then the sadness. What idiots they had been, how my mother had cried and tried to hug me and tried to tell me that everything would be okay - (her face slowly goes blank, and she looks away from the audience) I remember how I clutched my arms...and how I wouldn't let go, and how I screamed and thrashed and kept saying, "Don't touch me, don't touch me!" I remember my father yelling, the lamp tumbling off of my dresser and shattering, the bulb exploding with the most furious popping sound, and there was this ringing in my ears that I couldn't get rid of, couldn't get rid of, and I was dizzy, and I had lost everything, lost everything! (She begins to scream as the final crescendo of emotion comes over her) My music, (rips the headphones from her neck and throws them across the stage),my freedom, my reality! The one thing that kept me alive was torn away from me like I had been torn away so many times from their reality. They're trying to drag me back, that's all they're doing! They can't take it that I'm free, that I've lived more than they ever will, that I know more than they'll ever learn. I'm free, and they're trapped in their square little world of normality that I've learned to escape from. I'm free, and they're trapped. I'm free!

(She beats a clenched fists against her chest twice as she speaks the words "I'm free!" She the sighs and tries to clench her hands, but she can't seem to. She lets her arms fall.)

And now, you say that time's up, that I'm making good progress, and I suddenly panic. I don't want to leave, I want to tell you everything. I want to share everything with you. Everything. ...but I don't. I walk out of your office like I have so many times before, silent, head bowed, telling myself that I'll talk next time. Next time. Always next time.

Lights fade.