It's cold.

She had the day off from school today because of snow. She presses her palm to the windowpane, feeling the cool glass, then removes it, watching the misty ghost of her hand evaporate from the pane.

She crosses the room to sit on her bed, but only rests there for a moment before leaping up again. She can't find a place for herself today. As soon as she started doing something, she'd get distracted, do something else for awhile. Her mother will be home soon, now, and she hasn't accomplished a thing.

She'd meant to work ahead and outline the next chapters of her psychology and environmental science textbooks, maybe read ahead in her English novel and begin the next set of study questions for her advanced-placement U.S. history class. She'd also meant to practice for her piano lesson on Saturday and maybe do a sketch of herself and her boyfriend in the snow. Normally, on a day off, she'd call him and they'd spend the whole day talking. But he'd had homework. So she spent the day alone.

Earlier that week, they'd had a fight. Something stupid. She'd see him between classes and beg for forgiveness (she'd felt that she was right but would rather give in than have him be angry with her.) He'd make an excuse and walk away, leaving her to run sobbing to her next class.

It had been below freezing that day, but she spent lunch outside in the courtyard, not wearing a jacket, sobbing and letting the wind whip around her. It was cold enough to really hurt, her face and hands stinging and aching from the cold, tears freezing instead of drying where they tracked down her face. The pain had made her feel better.

She used to do the whole "cutting" thing, though she dragged the tip of a safety pin across her skin rather than a blade (more pain, not as deep, less scarring.) But then people found out, so she stopped. Everybody's favorite girl, the good-natured brunt of the jokes, the ditz, the sidekick, the good girl, doesn't get to hurt. Or if she does, she's not allowed to let people know. So she's learned to do it so it doesn't show: crying in perfect silence in the middle of the night; squeezing an ice cube or clawing at the palm of her hand or pinching the skin on her stomach when she wants the pain. It helps. She can smile then.

Even with him, the young man she loves, she can't show it. He tries to explain away her feelings as irrational, thinking it will make her feel better when really she just feels belittled and wants to be held. Symbolic, she thinks wryly: The stinging cold and pain when she's depressed versus the soft warmth of his arms (she's happiest when he's holding her.) She always feels cold when she's sad.

She walks back to her bed, curling up in a ball in the center of it. People always do this when they're sad in the movies, she thinks, but what they never mention is that you can't do it if you're fat: Blubber folds in on itself and doesn't leave your diaphragm room to expand. You can't breathe. She takes tiny, shallow breaths, holding her knees against her chest and crying: She's not sure why she's so sad. She knows she can't have a monopoly on his time. She glances longingly at the cordless phone on the bed next to her anyway, willing herself not to pick it up. She does but throws it across the room, into her closet, where she can't reach it.

It's been suggested, multiple times, that there might be something wrong with her. Well, maybe. But if she can't even afford a prom dress, there's no way she can afford a shrink.

Reaching for the pillow next to her, she presses it to her face and screams his name. It doesn't help. She realizes she's working herself into a frenzy and will probably start to hyperventilate soon if she doesn't do something.

Finally, she stands, runs as fast as she can down the stairs, through her kitchen, out the back door, collapsing in her t-shirt and running pants and bare feet into the snow.

The cold is initially shocking, and her body's first response is to stand up and get out if it, but she forces herself down. The cold rises through her back into her body, numbing and hurting; but as it seeps in, her frustration and depression leave.

All she feels now is the cold.