My boyfriend, Paul had a kit, which he hid in a closet in the basement. He kept the kit inside a locked box, but brought it out for me one night. It was a heavy thing and stank of tobacco. It was a bit big to be a cigar box, but had been fashioned to look the same as one. He had placed the box on our shared bed and creaked the lid open on its rusted hinges. He opened it so I couldn’t see and the deference he showed kept me where I stood. His fingers shook as they disappeared into the reddish wooden box. They reappeared holding a long folding knife. He opened the blade and placed it to one side. His hands disappeared again and another knife appeared. This one was smaller and had a clouded pearl handle.
Next, he removed a clear, plastic bottle of rubbing alcohol. Next, he removed a bundle of fluffy, white gauze. Next came a box of double-edged razors and scalpel in a protective plastic covering. Lastly, he removed two stacks of Polaroid photographs secured together by crisscrossing rubber bands. These he offered to me, his hands shaking. I undid the bands as he settled down on the edge of the bed, staring off toward the wall. The first photo was of a girl with blonde hair down past her shoulder. She was thin and beautiful in a sickly sort of way. Dark shadows hid beneath her eyes which made her smile somewhat hollow and eerie.
The next one was of the same girl, nude on a motel bed. Her arms were wrapped around her knees, concealing her scanty breasts. Her head rested atop her knees and again, she smiled for the camera. I could see every how thin she was. I could count her ribs and could see the sharp curve of her pelvis. The next photo was of her bleeding. Cuts etched along her breasts and arms, drizzling rivets down along her body. She bared her arms for the full effect and again, she had a smile plastered on her face. I looked to Paul, understanding, without asking, that he had done this. It was one of those understanding similar to fitting a puzzle piece and seeing that it belonged in that spot all along.
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