Katya walked down her street on her way home from a day in the city. She’d spent hundreds of dollars on gifts for her friends.
She stopped to chat to Mr Walker as he gardened, and Beth and Harold as they shared afternoon tea on their rambling verandah.
‘Care to join us, Katya?’ asked Beth.
‘No thanks,’ Katya replied, holding up her bags by way of an excuse.
She continued towards her home. Walking down her street was never a quick outing.
‘Beautiful day, Mrs Greenleaf,’ she said with a smile.
‘Got a few goodies there, my dear,’ responded Mrs Greenleaf. She was Katya’s favourite and closest neighbour.
‘Yes, I’ve done well.’ Katya felt warm inside, thinking of how Mrs Greenleaf would adore the teapot and matching cup and saucer she’d bought for her.
Inside her home, Katya placed the bags in the guest room. Closing the door, she felt the bite of loneliness gnaw at her skin. With a sigh, she went directly into her bathroom, pulled up her skirt and stared at the red ropey scars on her thighs. She swallowed with a gulp, desperately wanting to ignore the inner voice that whispered, Do it. Do it.
For a fleeting second, Katya told herself not to give in. But her inner critic won. She picked up her small paring knife and scored deeply into one of the scars. With equal parts relief and awe she watched as the blood appeared from beneath her skin and trickled downwards onto the tiled floor.