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Sharp Relief

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As coping mechanisms go cleaning is certainly healthier than cutting. However as a distraction technique it fails spectacularly. He never meant for this to become a regular part of his life but the distractions only help for a while. He has the entire Christmas break off work but more alone time isn't always a good thing. This morning when Don complained about having to go to work he should have snuggled back under the covers for a lie in but instead a plan formed in his mind. To keep the urge at bay he began cleaning but scrubbing the tiles in the kitchen and cleaning the counters are not quite cathartic enough. He empties the cupboards, washes the shelves and refills them. By lunch time he's dusted every surface downstairs and even hoovered underneath the couch cushions. The whole time he's focused on the bathroom, telling himself he's avoiding it but knowing full well he's leaving it till last like some kind of reward or treat.

He hasn't cut in two weeks and there's nothing particularly awful about today compared with any other but the need is there. He plugs in the Christmas tree lights like they might blot out his dark thoughts. Don had insisted they have a menorah and a Christmas tree to honour both their sets of beliefs. He loves his lover for always being so thoughtful and though the lights are pretty he can't find enough beauty in them to hold his attention. Last night Don had come home to find him sitting on the couch in the dark with just the tree lights on. He thinks Don was sufficiently convinced that he was just enjoying the peace and quiet. Don had sat next to him and talked about his day. David had kissed him and used that intimate moment to avoid talking about his. He wasn't always good enough at faking happiness and didn't want Don to have to worry about leaving him alone.

He hadn't had to fake the kiss. He loves Don, and even if he sometimes can't understand why he knows Don loves him. The kiss had progressed to touches and then Don on his knees pulling at David's jeans. There'd been a moment of pure joy afterwards when Don pulled him down onto the floor and kissed him. They'd lain there on the floor breathing heavily while the fairy lights twinkled. He knows he had that happy moment, even if he can't quite recall what happiness feels like right now. He hates the way his brain operates on the dark days. Happy memories can seem so distant and far removed. In the darkest of moments when it feels like he might never be happy again he cuts. He sometimes wishes he could cope without it but it stops his thoughts snowballing and twisting in his mind.

At least with in being winter he can sleep in his t-shirt without questions being asked. He knows just where on his arm he wants to mark. He closes the sitting room door quietly and takes the stairs at a run. He doesn't even need to look in the press to locate the small first aid kit. When his fingers close round it he pulls it free, knocking over a few cleaning supplies. He'll put everything back later, once it's done. He takes his jumper off quickly and takes the razor blade from the box. He makes two small cuts on the top of his arm, one with a quick slicing motion and the other with a slow drag of the blade. Blood trickles from the parallel lines on his arms and the relief is almost instantaneous. Nothing else feels like this. He presses his nail into one of the cuts till he makes himself cry. Afterwards he cleans the blade with an antiseptic wipe and puts it back carefully. He uses another wipe for his arm and finds a large plaster.

He's genuinely please to see Don when he comes home. Everything is easier, the conversations and interactions. They laugh over dinner as they reminisce about their school days. They toast Lockwood's memory and Hector's. Don kisses him as they do the dishes and David talks about doing a night class in the new year. Don resolves to work on his writing and nervously shows David some of his short stories.

"These are great. There's some similar themes but I really love the one about Mr Atkinson's shop. Have you a title for it?"

"Not yet. I've always written for me. I just think I ought to give it a proper go. I get ideas for stories all the time and sometimes they go round and round in my head till I write them down. I'm glad you didn't fail me, Mr Posner."

"You're not one of my students but I meant what I said. You're good, Don."

Don hugs him quickly and then puts the kettle on. They have tea and biscuits while watching tv and David doesn't have to feign contentment. He's okay, at least until the next time.