Sometimes, Maria liked to stand in front of mirror, stripped down to the bone, and look at her bare self. The walls of the toilet stopped winds from blowing and eyes from prying, but Maria could feel a thousand tickles on her skin anyway.
There was nothing fantastic about Maria, really. She was a netballer, which, by any standards, guaranteed the success of her social life. She was in the top class. Despite her hectic sports life and the mountains of projects Maria scored well for everything. She had many friends, schoolmates, strangers and synonyms of which. And she was, according to everyone else, very pretty.
Maria was astoundingly tall for a fifteen-year-old. She had sharp, capturing features all around. Her large eyes mirrored bliss and satisfaction, of which nobody really ever bothers to look beneath.
In front of the mirror, Maria would place a finger on where her face showed up. She would trace the perimeter of her cheeks. From there, she would let her index finger stealthily fall down, outlining her neck and then her chest, and all the way down to her waist. With each glimpse of her charred, wrinkled skin, sour droplets of tears would prick at her eyes. But she would never cry, because crying signified defeat and obedience and agreement that she was indeed this vulnerable and everything else she would never admit to.
Maria used to read those depression magazines. Nobody ever knew, but she hoarded those series like a drug addict. She stashed them inside her underwear drawer. Those depression magazines told you how cutting yourself was bad, how suicide was never the option, how joyous your life could be if you learnt to crawl out of the dark abyss you've let yourself fall into. And Maria would laugh at them, although she agreed, she would heartily and merrily laugh at them. It would be the only time the true music of her laughter would surface.
Because she agreed. Despite her petty little mind she agreed. Cutting was a ghastly way to harm oneself. Cutting meant you wanted people to know, to see, to care, to do something about it — with the expectation that they would, obviously. People who cut were evidently attention-seekers. Either that, or they were too damn stupid to find a more creative method to self-harm.
Suicide certainly wasn't an option for anybody, either. Suicide meant running away from your problems. To run away, of course you'd have to admit you even had problems to escape from. There, this was the big deal for Maria — admitting. She would never admit her problems. She would never admit it. It was as if she were a horrible witch, cooking up spells of misery and gloom and loneliness in her little cauldron, and if ever discovered, she would be drawn and quartered and whatnot.
After what seemed like minutes but were actually hours Maria stepped into the shower. Maria liked showering, not because of how it washed away all the germs and filth until they would never surface on the floor of her bathroom ever again, but mostly because nobody could see, or hear, her crying — not even herself.
Sometimes Maria leant against the wall and felt the cool tiles against her skin and rubbed soap into her eyes because she believed physical pain would steal some of her emotional pain away. Other times Maria preferred to pour her thick, glistening shampoo and her body gel into the same bucket and stir them together until they formed a sticky violet concoction. She would let her fingers skinny-dip into the bucket before letting them skydive into her mouth. Soaps always tasted less appealing than their fragrance.
Echoing inside her mind were the oblivious words of her friends, her relatives, her parents, and sometimes, even herself. Of how they all thought she had the best of everything; a lovely family, a lovely sport, lovely grades, a lovely school and lovely classmates. Friends who would stay with her to the very end, parents who would support any choice of hers (frankly, she would choose to abandon her studies and netball and become a counselor for emotionally troubled children, but her parents would support any choice of hers, right?) and understanding teachers who gave her the best quality education of the country.
Maria crawled out of the shower, the bitter taste of the soaps still fresh on her tongue. Drying herself, she looked at the monster staring back at her from the mirror. A beautiful monster in this ugly, ugly world.
Before doing anything else she placed her ear on the door. The extent of her misery — she could never afford to reveal that to her family. They would panic and wail about it and send her to a hospital and other things they would think would remedy it. But nothing could fix a disappointed heart.
She reached for her pile of clothes and felt for her little weapon underneath. Smooth edges and then slowly a ridged surface were the approval she needed — she grabbed the lighter and brought it out. In a quick, swift motion she flicked the weapon and a slight flame went flickering in front of her. She placed it in front of her stomach, the lean, raggedly rough one which everyone thought hid a six-pack of muscles of which everyone was envious of. She slowly welcomed the heat tickling at her tummy, the feeling of something sizzling and sparking in front of her, as if tendrils were curling around her skin and embracing her and slowly engulfing every bit of her. Every negative thought slowly evaporated with the rising air. She held her breath for each passing second, believing that it would cease the pain. It didn't. But she held on anyway.
"Maria, are you playing on your phone in the toilet again? Hurry down for dinner!" Mother's banging on the door interrupted Maria's thoughts. Maria quickly composed herself, put on her clothes and tossed the lighter out of the small toilet window. It would fall, fall sixteen floors and smash onto the ground and let passersby wonder which bastard had smoked and smoked ciggys and was too inconsiderate to even properly dispose of his lighter.