“A loss so great”

”You see that boy over there biting his lip?” My mother asked.

”What about him?”

”How can he do that to himself. His lips are bleeding. It has to hurt.” She wasn’t talking to me. My mother had a habit of venting out loud.

”And that girl” She continued ”Biting her nails. Why do they do that?”

I don’t know was my answer back then when I was a kid.

Why do people hurt themselves?

Why do they bite their lips until they bleed?

Why do they gnaw on their cuticles until there’s nothing left?

Back then I couldn’t give my mother an answer. Back then I didn’t know what that boy or the girl felt like.

Now I sit here and study my nails. The bleeding red cuticles around them. Why do people do this to themselves?

I look at the layers of scars on my arm and wonder if I can give my mother an answer now.

I want to tell her that the boy sitting there on the train biting his lips had none to talk to. None he could confide in, none who wanted to listen.

I want to tell her that the girl had suffered a loss so great that she saw no other option than hurting herself, just to escape the pain.

I want to tell my mother all of this but I can’t.

I can’t because I have suffered a loss so great that I’ll do anything to escape the pain. A loss which has left me without anyone to talk to. Without anyone who listens.

Now the only place I can tell my mother is over her grave.

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