It was one in the morning, and Omen Darkly, lying there in a T-shirt and his boxers, was wide awake.
His eyes ached from the blue light from half a dozen screens in his room and his back ached from the way he was half-sat up with pillows propped behind him. A YouTube video paused on his PlayStation, his laptop idling on his bed with the screensaver playing, his 3DS open next to him on the homepage. All the things he wanted to do, but he just couldn’t be bothered. Instead, he flicked from app to app on his phone, Reddit, Discord, Twitter, Pinterest, Amino, Wish, Tumblr, scrolling and changing and refreshing and letting his eyes glaze at streams of internet content. He resisted the urge to browse familiar tags, saved in search bars, and instead just looked at all, at his dashboard, at the recommended. Sometimes his more specialist searches crept onto his main pages. He tried to ignore them and scrolled quickly onwards, but couldn’t stop them imprinting into his brain.
‘at this point I just walk around the house with new scars and my parents couldn’t give less of a shit’
‘tfw you accidentally hit styro really bad because you’re disassociating but have a swimming lesson in 12hrs’
‘#guro try self-triggering with this one pussies look at the fucking muscles’
He flicked to another app, but the damage was done. He tried to keep convincing himself this wasn’t on purpose, but lying to yourself is always the hardest. He wished it wasn’t.
“Omen, do you have the screwdrivers in your room?!” Caddock Sirroco’s voice could carry miles across a meadow, clear and strong and loud. The pride when he spoke to and of Auger just made it even more incredible to listen to. Omen, however, was always being talked down to by it.
“Yeah, I’ll bring them out,” he replied, shouting through his closed door, cussing himself out internally for not remembering to put them back earlier. He got off his bed, leaving his book open and face-down, and reached underneath, his hand scrambling for the plastic case containing ten screwdrivers of various sizes. He found it, and they were all there, and the latches were shut, so he went to the door and opened it. His father was halfway up the stairs, so Omen went to meet him.
“Sorry. My sharpener broke while I was using it and I needed to screw the blade back on,” Omen said, as his father took the box and went back down the stairs.
“Put them back next time please,” Caddock called as he disappeared into the kitchen, back to whatever he’d been working on. Probably the clock from the front room; Omen had seen him working on that a few times recently. He went back up into his room, shut the door, and climbed back onto his bed, settling into the most-definitely-not-ergonomic pile of pillows and duvet he had to read on.
Next to a pair of tweezers, the sharpener body, two screws, and the two blades sat disassembled on his bedside cabinet. It had been the kind of sharpener with two holes for two different kinds of pencil; now it was a bunch of pieces of metal. He sighed, locked his phone, pushed his blankets away from him to clear a little more space on the bed. He took a tissue from the box on his shelf, and screwed it up, before taking the next one and setting it onto his bed, flat. He almost shivered, but held it back. Carefully, methodically, with a thrill of the new and unknown, he picked up the tweezers with his left hand, and used them to pick up one of the sharpener blades. He sighed in anticipation as he brought the blade closer to him, and then held it as steady as he could. Raising his right hand, he clicked.
A spark, but he didn’t catch it.
Omen held it, the light casting extra shadows in the room, and then moved the metal extracted from the sharpener into the fire. He kept it there for twenty counts of Mississippi, and then took it out, let the flame go out, and gently wafted the tweezers in the air, cooling the thin metal that was now plenty hot. After cooling it for a time he forgot to count, he lowered it onto the tissue on his bed. He was aware of how arbitrary this was. The tissue wasn’t sanitary. His hands weren’t sanitary.
Still, this attempt at cleanliness might comfort Never and Auger if he got weak and told them again.
He repeated his actions with the second blade, catching a spark and cultivating it first time, heating the metal, putting it down, and then dropped the tweezers onto the floor. He was warm, so he took his bottle of water and drank. The water tasted good. Adrenaline was in his blood.
Omen picked up the first blade in his right index finger and thumb, keeping his digits away from the sharp edge, and then lowered it to the side of his right thigh.
He held his breath, applied pressure, and dragged the blade along his skin.
Pain exploded in his mind, the shock of a feeling he hadn’t known how to anticipate, and he gasped, the muscles in his legs tensing and smiling like a madman, twisting his neck to push his face into his pillow. When he righted himself, on his back with his torso propped up a bit, he looked at his thigh. The blood was beading rapidly, more blood than he’d seen from his cuts before, and his mind screamed as it did so often ‘you are only cutting for attention, scissors and dinner knives can’t really hurt you, even this is fucking tame’. Omen was fucking elated, and he put the blade back to his skin, a few centimetres away from the first, and dragged again. Another gasp, another whole-body physical cringe at the feeling, and it was intoxicating. His blood was dark, and some of it was trickling down the side of his leg. He felt the liquid running and it burst through the haze forming in his mind, so he grabbed the tissue he screwed up earlier and wiped the blood before it could hit his bedsheet. When it moved over the two cuts, he hissed softly. Dropping the tissue, he settled back, beginning to get into a rhythm.
Find a place.
After twenty minutes, he began to emerge from the fog in his brain, the wonderful, adrenaline-fuelled drunkenness that took his hand and dragged him through pain that made him feel so fucking amazing, and he knew he had to stop. He had to stop before he came down.
Did he leave the window open behind the curtains? It was cold.
He’d not even touched the second blade. He dropped the one he’d been using onto the tissue with the other and picked them up in their little paper harness, putting them onto his bedside table. He took a fresh tissue from the box and placed it gently against the cuts, blood soaking through instantly, so he just moved a different part onto the wounds. He went through another before the fresher cuts of the bunch stopped oozing blood at an alarming rate, before screwing up all of the bloodied tissue and throwing them across the room to his bin. He didn’t notice if they went in. He reached down the bed, groping about in the lamplight and the glow of his TV screen for his sweatpants. Black. He found them, and put them on, lifting his hips and sliding them up his legs, careful to lift them over the cuts. When the soft fabric settled onto the wounds, it stung, but better blood leech onto these than his pale blue bedsheet. Shaking ever so slightly, Omen pulled his blankets back up, pulling them onto him, tucking them around him. It took five minutes to get through the worst of the comedown, a few tears falling from his eyes but really, he was too exhausted to cry. His mind swirled and blanked at uneven intervals, and he was intensely grateful when he began to feel numb. Comfortable. The rest of the comedown would be until he fell asleep (or passed out; he never knew which was the more appropriate term after a night like this), a feeling of vulnerability, odd urges to go and hug his mother and ask to sleep in her bed like he did after a nightmare as a young child, breathing deeply and evenly without having to try like normal. Some time passed, he didn’t know how much, and it occurred to him to check his phone. A few messages from Never. They’d been chatting, and Omen had stopped replying, so Never had assumed that he’d fallen asleep, and sent some goodnight messages.
A message from Auger, half an hour ago. Saying ‘I can hear you crying. Want to come to my room?’ Omen blinked. It must have been the gasping after the pain shock. Auger meant well, but he was a little insulted at he assumption he’d been crying. Boys don’t cry. Auger certainly didn’t cry. Omen debated messaging back, but decided not to. He’d see Auger tomorrow, after all.
Omen rolled onto his left side, nudged the lid of his laptop completely closed with his foot, put his 3DS into sleep mode, put his phone on top of the little tissue parcel of metal on his bedside table, and flicked the switch on his lamp, darkening the room so he could barely see. He hit X on his controller, and drifted asleep with the bad thoughts in his head dampened by the voiceover of Kevin O’Reilly playing the Sims.