TRIGGER WARNING: THIS PIECE CONTAINS SUBJECT MATTER PERTAINING TO AND CENTERED AROUND ACTS OF SELF-HARM.
Flutter your eyes open with some resistance from the sandman's handiwork. Rub your face, noticing at second glance the rusty dried blood still under your fingernails from last night. That is when it should begin to register in your head that your left bicep is in pain. It isn't at all like the aching soreness that comes the day after a flu shot though. No, this is more of a stinging pain. Stop to notice that it hurts slightly more than the time that you slammed your hand down on a bee with her stinger pointed at the sky, but at the same time, it isn't quite on the level of intolerance as when you were nine and burned your arm on that pot in your friend's kitchen. Chuckle a bit at the thought of how back then you were too embarrassed, for some reason, to say anything, so instead decided to rip off the burned skin thinking that it couldn't possibly be good if left on.
Now to actually deal with the issue at hand. First things first, lift the sleeve of your white undershirt which is now stained with specks of muddy crimson. Stay calm. You have never been caught before and aren't going to let this be the time that you slip up. Remember that you had tissues in the pocket of your jeans, which are now hanging on the closet door. Get out of bed and grab the tissues, wetting all but one of them with the water bottle you keep on your night table. Pause after you start to think that you hear someone coming. Pretend to be asleep again. Your heart begins to thump like a car with square tires going down a rocky hill as your mother walks in to put away your laundry. Wait for her to leave.
Start now by wiping your face to remove any potential tear marks that may be leftover from last night. Allow a cool breeze to come in from the slightly cracked window and mix on your face with the water. Let it refresh you, waking you up a bit more and allowing you to think a bit clearer. The shirt has to go. Take off the stained shirt, taking extra care not to drag it along the newly formed slit.
Now that you can see your arm completely, clean off the wound and any residual stains around it. Wonder why you really cut deep this time. Come to the conclusion that you were abnormally anxious last night. Put on a new shirt and ball up the old one in the pocket of your shorts. Take the one remaining dry tissue and wrap it around the cut carefully, just in case it begins seeping again. It hurts to the touch, but you know that it is necessary to wrap it if you want it to go unnoticed.
Quietly creep into the bathroom across from your bedroom, trying not to attract the attention of the dogs who will give you away immediately. The smell of coffee is in the air and you can hear the clanging together of pots and pans. Someone is in the kitchen. It is probably just your mom making herself breakfast. Work quietly now and try not to draw attention. Bury the stained shirt at the bottom of the hamper before closing the bathroom door carefully. Remove the tissue for a brief second and find the hydrogen peroxide in the medicine cabinet. Put your arm over the sink, and pour it over the valley in your flesh.
Watch as the white bubbles foam up, cleaning the cut properly. It's an almost tranquil scene, reminiscent of waves crashing on the shore, turning into seafoam and washing up over multicolored shells during low tide. Re-apply the tissue, which now should slightly stick to your dampened skin rather than resting on top of it.
Find the comb on the counter that your father runs through his hair every morning. Using one of its teeth, scrape the dried blood from under your nails, then rinse it off. Even though you do not need to actually use the bathroom, flush the toilet in case someone sees you leaving, to give the impression that you did need to. Open the door and wash your hands, going along further with your ruse.
Work up enough composure to smile, and walk into your kitchen where, as you guessed, you will find your mother. Tell her "good morning" and let out an exhausted yawn as she tells you of how she was just coming to wake you and made you breakfast. French toast and coffee. There is Mrs. Butterworth's brand syrup on the table next to the Horizon brand half-and-half. Thank her, grab some utensils, sit down at the table and start to eat.
Think about how happy she looks to see you, and how sad she would be if she knew how truly tormented you were on the inside, or if she knew what you were doing to yourself. Take note of the nearly hundred-pound dog happily gazing up at you and wagging his tail left and right like a metronome. Get up, letting him out in the yard to play with the smaller dog, which you aren't as fond of and which sticks to your mom's side at nearly all times. Sit back down and continue to eat your breakfast.
With each chew of food and sip of coffee, contemplate how bad things have gotten. Realize that this has become a common practice for you. Realize that this is unhealthy and that you need to stop. Realize that you are depressed, that you are anxious, and that you need help.
Repeat the previous steps less than a week later.