Dark green eyes gazed back at me in the bathroom mirror as I clutched the edge of the sink, my lower stomach pressed against that same edge to which I clung so tightly. There was blood in the sink; I'd had another gushing nosebleed. I hadn't slept since I'd bought that 8ball, so the eyes that stared at me looked tired, glazed over with exhaustion and the horrible feeling of coming down from a fat line(or seven) of crank.
I sniffed and rubbed my sore nose, giving my gaunt face a half-hearted grin. Then, I quickly pulled my hair back and dunked my head in the cold water that filled my bathroom sink to the brim. It was the only way to make the blood clot and stop the nosebleed.
Goosebumbs rose up on my arms, legs, chest. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I gave a bone-quivering shiver, already aching for breath. I steeled my will and counted in my head. I got all the way to ten before I stood straight up, gasping and giving a few sound coughs.
I repeated the process for I don't know how long, but I got the bleeding to stop.
Breakfast awaited; the delicacy of bran flakes blew my mind for the 15th morning in a row. I didn't have much in the house, and it was all I really ever ate. Breakfast was the one meal I never neglected.
Then again, it wasn't really morning; the clock on my cheap cell phone read 3:49pm, but I cared not. I'd spent all of this day and the previous night... Well, tripping my ass off.
By the time I'd managed to dress myself and finish eating, it was time to drag my lazy self to work. My job was at a hospital, checking patients in and out. It wasn't difficult work and I could do it when I was blazing high. Best of all, it paid the rent.
It wasn't much of a walk, and I even sort of enjoyed gazing at the streets of West Sanitarium -maybe it was a little sick, but I found the city interesting. West Sanitarium was shrouded with mystery and horror stories of gruesome murders and things that go bump in the night; that was precisely what I liked about my home.
Odd things went on all over Sanitarium -it had been named that by the citizens for a reason. The city's real name was the General Civilization Project. It spanned across the connected continents of North America and Eurasia, the only civilization left on Earth.
Of course, most of Earth was far too difficult to populate; it was a miracle that Sanitarium had expanded as much as it had.
A line of ice in the bathroom before I clocked in kept me motivated and cheery as I entered countless injured individual's information into my computer, gave directions to doctors and rooms, denied families visits because of the time of day, and watched as the general population of the waiting room increased. This would happen every day when it started to get dark; The homeless population had elevated in Sanitarium over the years, and oftentimes young men and women would come in, so obviously blazed, complain of a stomachache, and then "wait" all night to be seen. I knew the instant they sat down they'd be fast asleep, so I never called the fake names they gave me.
I had all too soon written this off as a regular night when a teenage girl was rushed into the emergency room doors. She insisted on walking on her own, but the bandages on her arms were dripping blood. She wobbled on her feet, swayed. My heart stopped a little when I saw the trail of crimson she'd left on the floor. A doctor walked on either side of her, arms positioned to catch her when she fell.
She didn't fall, or even so much as stumble. Something about the way she moved, the way she refused to let anyone help her made me want to. So I volunteered to be her nurse, knowing that in a busy place like this no doctor could deny my help, and followed the bloody breadcrumb trail. I checked her into the ICU personally, took her vitals and set her up in bed 9.
I unwrapped the bandages from her arms when the blood ceased to flow. "How'd you get so cut up, sweetie?" I couldn't help but ask as I dabbed each and every wound with a cloth, making throughly sure that none of them would get infected. Not under my watch.
"My mom says I did it to myself... I guess I did, but I don't feel like it's my fault."
I blinked, paused, and then kept cleaning. A few of the cuts were deep enough to need stitches. I could see old ones healing over, and countless scars.
I'd heard it before; she was a self-injurer. Several young ladies and gentlemen had been rushed into the emergency room in the same state, all wobbling and refusing help.
"I know you've probably heard this a thousand times, but if you keep this up you're gonna wind up dead. Or worse, locked up. Asylums in Sanitarium aren't good places..." I paused again before rolling up my long sleeves, showing her the secret lines of scar tissue that littered my wrists, all the way up to my elbow. "Whatever's happened to you in the past isn't your fault, but you're the only one who can change your future."
She was silent apart from a few winces as I stitched her up in a few places, and then wrapped clean linen around her arms. Finally, when I stood, she spoke, "How did you quit?"
I gave her a little smile and reached into my pocket, finding one of several little slips of paper inside. "Take it a day at a time, it's easier that way," I handed her the wrinkled note, "Call me if you ever need to talk. I'd better not see you back here again."
I took my break after that, needing some fresh air and definitely a cigarette. I got both out on the rooftop, looking over the massive expanse of Sanitarium below. Another line and a sandwich I forced down (some people actually starved themselves from snorting too much) made me keen and alert for the next 4 hours, and then it was time to pass the metaphorical receptionist baton to the next runner up. She was a shy, young thing -Julie. Pretty, but too innocent; not my type. I clocked out without saying a word to her, not exactly in the most social mood.
Of course, what the girl in bed 9 didn't know was that I'd never quit self-injuring, not fully anyway. I still hurt myself, still saw fit to damage my body, just in a different way.