The cool water soothed the new cuts I had made with ease; I felt myself relax just a bit before the tension was back inside me again and the pain I had been feeling for days returned. I observed the new shirt I had gotten from my bedroom and threw the other one in the trash; it was all ripped up anyway with slashes now. A pointless attempt to try to make myself control my horrible habit.
I belonged in a mental hospital. I know it. I belonged in a place where they made you force down pills while you cried yourself to sleep every night. My family, though they didn't know of my habit, did not deserve what I was silently putting myself through. My sister was irritating and my father was grumpy, but this didn't mean that I needed to torture myself with new slashes every night, to constantly terrorize myself for the awful person that I was as a punishment…
Dealing with the guilt was unimaginable, of course. Both of my family members and many of my friends had gotten hurt, sometimes nearly killed for my sake. Most of the time I just turned tail and ran. I didn't deserve to be called a warrior. I didn't deserve to be called anything.
My self pity was making me sick. I took the blade again and made another scratch, but I had to be careful. If I bled it would stain my fur and then there would be a problem. I would give nearly anything as long as I didn't have to reveal my secret. I was the funny guy, the kid who was always the optimistic bonehead in the face of trouble. Nobody listed me as depressed or disturbed, which I was sometimes but not always. Only when I got really upset I…did it. But nobody else knew except me.
"Yang, are you ready to go yet?" My sister called through the bathroom door, obviously ready to go to the movies like we had planned.
I pulled down my sleeves and put on my signature plastic smile. "Coming Yin." As I opened the door her face showed no sign of being upset or even wonder. She was as bright as ever, not even bothering to wonder why I had taken so long in the bathroom nor why I was wearing long sleeves when it had to be at least ninety out.
"Have a good time," my father replied once without looking up from his paper. We went out the door and I put a hand to the marks that hid under my shirt just below my left elbow. They stung and I enjoyed it. Friends passed me on the streets and I waved my hand in greeting; as I passed them by I had to wonder if anybody would care if they found out. Tears came to my eyes but I blinked them away; if Yin saw me crying she would instantly know something was wrong.
The rest of our crew was meeting us at the theater. I smiled as I saw them, giving off a total visage of complete happiness and calm, even though the battle scars on my arms showed the war going on inside.