Loki had been gone three days when I first sat down to draw the blade across my wrist. It stung and I cried for the first time in months, the tears mixing with the blood and the stinging intensified. My sobbing made me shake and eventually the blade slipped between my fingers, forcing me to wrap a bandage around my arm and put myself to bed. It was cold that night and I felt horrifically alone without Loki’s arms around me.
In the morning I woke to find my brain in a kind of fog. The fingers of my left hand were dull and dumb, doing up the buttons of my shirt a feat equal to climbing Everest. I tried to study, I tried to read, I tried to watch a movie but all any of it did was remind me of how alone I was. Our usually cluttered apartment felt a mile wide as I wandered around, my socks sliding over the floorboards.
As always, I found myself on the bathroom floor with a blade pressed into my skin, watching the blood drip down onto the white linoleum as I breathed through the pain. The endorphins didn’t make me feel at ease though and when I finally curled up in bed, all I could feel was the beat of my pulse against the bandage around my arm.
This went on for another three or four days. Intermittent classes broke the cycle of getting up, moping around the apartment, cutting, and crawling into bed again. The apartment was a mess, tissues and food wrappers scattered around the kitchen and living room. I couldn’t remember the last time I washed my hair but showering hadn’t stopped. Showers meant hot water and hot water meant veins coming to the surface and the blood welling faster and cloaking my world in red.
After a week, I was becoming aware that something needed to change. My homework was piling up by the front door where I dumped my book bag. The dirty dishes were attracting flies – so was the trash can. The milk in the fridge was slowly devolving into some kind of lumpy yoghurt and I had dissolved away to a frown and a limp left arm.
Sitting on the edge of the bath tub, I stared at the red lines crisscrossing over my wrist. The cuts had all scabbed over, the earlier ones already fading to scars in some places despite being repeatedly reopened. I trailed my fingers over the dry skin, smearing blood from the tiny droplets that had welled up when I took off the bandage.
What do I do? He’s not coming back if he’s been gone for a week and I can’t keep living like this… Do I just stop living? Do I make him hurt the way he made me hurt? I shuddered slightly, wrapping my fingers tightly around my wrist and letting the pain surge through me before my thoughts became sombre again. I want to go home.
Sighing and blinking tears from my eyes, I got up and retrieved my blades from the medicine cabinet. It took what little willpower I had left to close the door without grabbing the bottle of sleeping pills or painkillers. I sat back down on the edge of the tub, a blade between my thumb and forefinger as I surveyed the half-healed cuts once more.
A week was all it took to get me to a point where there was nowhere left on my forearm to cut. I couldn’t cut my right arm, I needed it too much. All my strength was in it. I desperately tried to remember my physiology classes, to remember where there were veins close to the surface before the sly glimmer of purple moved. I ran my pinky finger over the skin and I could feel the pulse of blood beneath it. I caught my lip between my teeth and hoped it would work as I slid the blade across it.
After ten minutes my lap was soaked with blood and tears. I couldn’t tell why I was crying though – a small part of me thought it was happiness but I desperately didn’t want to believe that. I kept letting the blade bite down, blood running down my arm faster and faster until I heard the door to the apartment shut.
“I’m so sorry I was gone so long,” he called from the corridor. “It’s chaos up there! Damn Asgardians can’t keep the world straight for five minutes without me to come up with solutions to anything.” I could hear Loki walking about in the living room, his footsteps heavy on the floorboards. “What’s happened here? It looks like the city started using the apartment as a landfill.”
I dropped the blade and moved to lock the bathroom door but I slipped on the pool of blood, squealing as I fell to the floor before a scream was ripped from my throat as my arm was crushed beneath me.
Loki screamed my name and I could hear him running before the door burst open. He swore before I felt him reaching for me, turning me onto my back and holding my face in his hands as I wept and clutched my arm against my stomach.
“Oh gods, what have you done?” He shuffled closer and pulled me into his lap. One of his hands left me before I felt a towel fall over me. He pressed it to my arm and I cried out as he tried to stop the bleeding.
“Shh, please don’t cry, my love. I’m here, it’s alright. We’ll fix this. Oh, why did you do all this?”
I fought back the tears. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
He didn’t reply but through my blurry eyes I could see he was staring intently at the wall. I wanted to hug him, I wanted to bury my face in his shoulder and have him rub my back and shower me with kisses. But when pain washed over me once more, I knew that would have to wait.
Loki continued applying pressure to the wounds while I cried, drifting in and out of awareness as he cleaned me up. I felt him pull off my bloody jeans, socks and shirt; a warm cloth wiping away blood that stained my skin. The bandage he wrapped around my arm was tight and I would learn later that I had bled straight through it.
I was almost asleep when Loki finally lifted me into his arms and carried me from the bathroom. He lay me down on our bed, placing a pillow under my arm to stop me rolling onto it while I slept. Blankets were pulled over me and my hair was tucked behind my ear before he pressed a kiss to my temple.
“Don’t leave me,” I whispered, burrowing deeper into the blankets.
“I won’t,” Loki replied as he stroked my hair. “I’ll quickly clean up the bathroom and then I’ll be back.”
There was a moment of silence. “Maybe. Just try and rest.”
I continued to drift in and out of sleep, only rousing properly when I felt the mattress sink behind me and an arm slipped around my waist. Loki’s breath was warm against my neck and I felt a small smile spread across my face.
“I’ll never let this happen again,” he murmured. “Whatever it takes, I don’t ever want to come home to find you like that again. I know it’s not that simple… Whatever you need me to do to help you, I will do it. Even if it means forsaking Asgard, I’ll do what I have to to help you be happy.”
I moved my hand to rest over his, squeezing gently. “This is a good start.”
I felt him press a kiss to the side of my neck and I knew that this could finally be my chance to start healing.