Broken Course

By: Aly Martinez

"YES," I hiss to myself as the silver metal slices across my wrist. Blood pours onto the bathroom floor as I stare emotionlessly, praying that it takes my life along with it. My breath slips from my chest as my head lightens. The dark-red fluid running down my arm does nothing to quell the loathing that still burns inside me.


That’s for Manda.

"I'm sorry. Oh, God. I'm so sorry." But it's not enough just to be sorry anymore.

The tears slide down my cheeks, mingling with the blood on the floor. My life and grief finally meet in the same moment that will enable me to escape both. The numbness overwhelms my body, so I take another swipe across my arm just to remind myself that I'm still here and living—the worst punishment of all. The pain doesn't even register amongst the guilt and hate that devours me.

That’s for Emma.

I briefly catch a glance of my blood-streaked face in the mirror. The hollowness I feel on the inside is finally leaking out, filling my soul as it empties from my veins. I can't fight for a life I don't want to live.

I surrender.

My world may be filled with people, but somehow, I still find myself completely alone in the shadows of my mind. It physically hurts to open my eyes every day. As my lids droop, I don’t fight the exhaustion any longer. I drag the knife across my forearm, pressing as hard as the pain will allow. My hands are shaking and the pain is agonizing. But I deserve this.

That’s for Brett.

"I quit," I announce to the image in the mirror. "I quit," I repeat on a whisper.

I can feel the darkness closing in, freeing everyone who has been tangled in my web since that night. If I'm gone, I can't hurt anyone else. I only wish I could have done this before I’d had the chance to kill the only person who ever loved me unconditionally. I move to my legs and, as quickly as I can, carve the knife across my thigh.

That’s for my family.

My only regret is that I can't clean up the mess I made in this life before I leave it. I don't deserve the attention or the love. I deserve to disappear and fade into ashes. I deserve to be nonexistent. While that should scare me, it seems less painful than continuing the façade of living.

I move to my other leg, the only place that remains unscathed. Then I draw the sharp edge diagonally, watching carefully as the blood springs to the surface.

That’s for Casey.

"Sarah!" I hear Brett scream as he pounds on the bathroom door.

I just want to forget.

"Sarah, what the fuck are you doing?" he shouts, but I barely lift my shaking arm to slice the tip of the knife across my neck—the final effort that will prevent him from forcing me to fight any longer.

I can't do this anymore.

The cool metal tip forces a cry from my lips, but I'm not strong enough to do much more than superficially wound myself.

That’s for myself.

Just as Brett breaks open the door, I glance down at my wrists and legs and let out a relieved breath as I see the irreparable damage.

It's almost over.

I should be frightened. I should be terrified of death. I should be sorry. However, as he begins shouting and frantically trying to put pressure on all of my wounds, I feel none of that.

I feel the end—it's euphoric.

"Sarah, don't do this. Damn it! Stay with me." Brett brushes the hair from my face, but I'm too far gone to even open my eyes and take in one last glance of his beautiful face.

Let me go.

"Just hang on, baby. It’s all going to be okay."

As I drift off in his arms, I know he couldn't be more wrong.





Seven Years Later…


"HEY, BABE." I answer my phone to hear Erica sobbing on the other end. "What’s wrong?" I immediately freeze in the middle of the busy Chicago sidewalk.

"It’s a boy!" She laughs across the line. "We're going to name him Adam."

My whole body instantly relaxes and a smile spreads across my face. "Congratulations!" I say, laughing right along with her.

Suddenly, a tall blonde fumbling through her purse and cussing catches my eye. She’s gorgeous, but her level of anxiety is what really makes me take notice.

"Are you coming up for the baby shower? Some of the nurses at work are putting together a little something for us in a few months."

"Isn’t that for chicks?" I respond, never tearing my eyes off the blonde, who pulls out her cell phone, just to become more agitated.

"No. Slate will be there. You two can hang out while we gasp over baby clothes."

The woman I’m all but gawking at walks away, only to quickly turn back around and head in my direction.

"Erica, can I call you back?"

"Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You can get off the phone, but you’re coming to the shower."

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