They don't know yet. I haven't told them and they haven't asked. Of course they haven't, why would they? But they'll find out today. I'm on my way to Magnets house and they'll all be there.
They'll ask questions. I guess I'll tell the truth. It's kind of hard to hide. I'm wearing a long sleeved shirt but they'll notice eventually. Bandages are hard to hide, especially ones as thick as mine.
X-Ray will probably be angry. Zigzag might be upset, or he might think it's cool. He's like that. But, on the whole, I don't think they'll care. They never seemed to before, why should they now?
So why am I so nervous? If they're not gonna care, why should I? But I can't help it. I don't want them to know. I don't want to answer their questions.
I took a deep breath and knocked on Magnets door. A moment later the door opened and I was facing all of D-Tent. I was the last one there. I guess I was late. I had been walking slowly, not looking forward to the confrontation.
I held my breath but no one noticed.
We were sitting on the couch watching TV, eating chips. I was just reaching for the bag when Magnet suddenly asked, "Dude, what happened to your wrists?"
And they say I have a big mouth.
Everyone goes silent, staring at the bandages they've just noticed.
"Nuttin'," I muttered.
"Can't be nothing, look how thick those bandages are."
They're all looking at me. I can sense it. I'm looking down at my shoes. One of my shoe laces has come untied.
"Well Squid, are you gonna spill it or what?" X-Ray asked.
I kept my gaze on the shoelace. "I cut myself."
I swear nobody breathed. No one moved. Eyes locked on the bandages. God, this is worse than I thought it would be.
"With what?" Armpit asked.
"Razor blade," I mumbled.
"On purpose?" Caveman asked, eyes wide.
Duh, you can't just slash both wrists by accident, in a perfect line.
I paused. Memories rush into my head. My mother, my father, beer, blood, beatings, bruises, pain. I just wanted it to end. Something splashes down onto one of my bandages. A tear.
Oh God, I'm crying, in front of all of them. And I can't use that allergy excuse. They never believed it anyway. A hand appears on my shoulder. X-Rays.
"Squid, are you ok?"
I want to scream. No I'm fucking not ok. What do you think?! I shrug his hand off. "'M fine."
There's a moments pause, then the sound of footsteps, and the door shutting. X-Ray kneels down in front of me.
"Squid? We're alone now, it's just you and me, and you can talk to me, right?"
I wiped my eyes, then looked up at him, then back down at my untied shoelace. It's pissing me off. I want to do it up but it'll hurt my wrists too much. Man, I'm useless. I can't even do up my own shoelace. I can hear my mothers voice in my head.
"You're so pathetic! You'll end up like your father, or dead in the gutter. I wish you'd never been born!"
They were the last words she said to me before I went to Camp Green Lake, and I haven't seen her since.
"Squid?" X-Ray's looking at me, concerned, maybe even a bit freaked.
"I wish I'd never been born," I muttered.
I shrugged, keeping my head down.
"Squid?" X-Ray raised his eyebrows, a hint of warning in his voice. "Tell me what's wrong."
I shruuged again, "No one cares."
I shrugged. I knew I was irritating X-Ray with my irresponsiveness but I just didn't know what to say.
"Squid, look at me."
I found myself obeying. Force of habit I guess. Back at Camp X-Ray would speak and I'd jump into action. There was a sincerity in X-Rays face that I'd never seen before. I blinked back tears.
"You never called," I accused, not knowing what else to say. "Not once."
X-Ray opened and closed his mouth, looking guilty. "I'm sorry?" he offered.
I exhaled angrily, "It ain't your fault." I shook my head, as if that would somehow arrange my thoughts into something comprehensible, "I never called you neither… oh shit."
I could feel tears splashing onto my hands, could hear the hitch in my voice. I put my head in my hands, left it there until the tears overflowed down my wrists and onto the bandages.
"I just wanted it to stop," I tried to explain, feeling I should say something. "I wish we'd never left camp."
Wow, where did that come from? I didn't know I thought that. It makes some kind of sense though. At camp we were all even. It didn't matter if I had no father, or if my mum was too drunk to get up from the couch. We just dug holes.
X-Ray stayed silent and I was afraid to look at him. I spoke before the deafening silence made it impossible.
"I just… everything's so hard, ya know?"
X-Ray was silent.
I was getting angry. "It was stupid ok? I shouldn't have done it."
Still, X-Ray was silent.
I scowled, lifting my head so I could look at him, "Goddammit! Would you just say something?!"
X-Ray stared at me, calmly of course. X-Ray never lost his cool.
"Don't do it again," he said finally.
I felt some tension release. It felt stable, like back at Camp Green Lake – I hated it and I love it, because everything was so straightforward: get up, dig, play pool, sleep. Don't worry about rows of Fs on report cards, or detentions for not doing homework and other stupid things. I sometimes felt like screaming at the teachers. They don't know how hard it is to concentrate on school when I'm worrying about what'll happen when I get home. Mum could be passed out on the couch or floor, or she could be smashing things, waiting for me to get home because I'm her favourite thing to smash.
I used to pray that she'd be unconscious. How bad is that, hoping that your mum would be blacked out so you wouldn't have to deal with her. Sometimes I'd think that one day, I might get home and she'd be dead, drunk so much she got alcohol poisoning or choked on her own vomit. Sometimes I almost used to pray for this as well.
Maybe I'll end like her. Not much point going on if that's all I have to look forward to.
"I'm gonna come round and see you tomorrow, ok? All of D-Tent will."
I shrugged, "My foster parents might not like that."
X-Ray blinked, "Since when did you have foster parents?"
"Since getting back from Camp."
"What about your own parents?"
X-Ray must have seen my eyes cloud over because he quickly changed the subject. "Well, why don't you come to my house?"
"…your house?" I asked uncertainly.
"Yeah. Squiddly, from now on we're gonna show you that we care."
I frowned, I didn't much like being told that I couldn't look after myself, and I didn't much like being called Squiddly either.
"I can take care of myself, you know."
X-Ray looked doubtful, "If you're so good at looking after yourself then how come you're sittin' in front of me with both your wrists stitched up?"
I didn't answer that.
"Are you going to try it again?"
X-Ray frowned. "Don't," he said.
"What gives you the right to tell me what to do?" I asked sulkily.
"I'm the leader of D-Tent," X-Ray said.
"Well, maybe I don't want to be part of D-Tent anymore," I muttered.
Suddenly the door swung open and the rest of D-Tent spilled into the room.
"You don't wanna be a part of D-Tent anymore?" Zigzag asked, wide eyed.
I sighed. Everyone was staring at me in disbelief.
"Dude," said Armpit, "You can't just stop being part of D-Tent. Once you're in you can't get out. We're like the Mafia or something."
"Yeah," said X-Ray, staring me straight in the face. "Like Armpit said. You're stuck with us."
X-Ray grinned, and slowly I began to smile too. This was it. I could forget about my mother, the drunk, and my father, missing since I was three. I could forget about my foster parents, trying to make a good home for me. I felt sorry for them, because I'd just realized that I already had a home. With D-Tent.