Thursday, November 18, 2010


Karen, 19, remembers when she was twelve, and she and best friend Rose weren’t really trying to hurt themselves… right?  Karen isn’t so sure about Rose’s intentions, even back then.

Karen: When we were twelve, Rose and I decided to become blood sisters.  Okay, it was Rose’s idea, and Rose’s razor blade, but I was willing.  I was usually willing to do what Rose wanted, at least back then, before we grew up, and things changed -- our needs changed, our desires intensified and morphed, and well… things were different then, they just were.
     We – or I, anyway -- had no idea the damage a new razor blade could do.  One swipe didn’t only elicit the few drops of blood we needed for our ceremony -- it opened a deep gash in my wrist, that flowed a red river and wouldn’t be stopped even when I clamped my hand over it.
     Of course, Rose wouldn’t let me bleed-out alone, and anyway the ritual was already begun, so she slashed her wrist as well, and we pressed the wide wounds -- gaping like mouths -- together, said a quick, “Sisters forever, ‘til death do us part,” and then ran home to my house before we bled out for real.
     My mother screamed when she saw us.  She dropped the roasting pan, and chicken fat that would’ve become gravy splattered the walls and floor and then all of us screamed, from the hot fat speckling our faces and arms.  I remember thinking, as my mother wrapped our wrists in towels and made us apply pressure -- thinking not that Rose and I were idiots for what we did, but rather that my mother was a crazy witch who should stop screaming at us, and my father wouldn’t have freaked out like that, but he was sure going to go nuts with worry when he came home and saw all the blood and chicken on the kitchen floor, and no one home.
     “We should wait for Dad,” I said.
     “Get in the car fools,” was all she said to that.  “You idiotic... what were you thinking?  Get in the car!  Was this one of those suicide pacts I’ve heard about?  What did I do to deserve this?  Get in the car now!”
     Soon, we were speeding down New Haven Avenue at about five times the speed limit.  My mother continued, “Haven’t I loved you enough?”  Then she was on her cell, trying to reach Rose’s mother, but we could’ve told her it was no use.  It was four o’clock, and Mrs. Ramos would be at Last Stop Bar by now, on her third Bay Breeze, chatting it up with some fat guy or fireman or carpenter or out-of-work Karate instructor or divorced biker or someone... it didn’t really matter, so long as they bought her drinks and later took her home for a quickie, or sometimes even longer -- sometimes they stayed for a week or a month -- and generally they didn’t bother Rose, but anyway...
     It was a big deal, our becoming blood sisters.  We got stitches but no lollipops, and had to talk to three different social workers.  No one got what we were trying to do, or that we didn’t mean to hurt ourselves.
     At least I didn’t.  As time went on, I wondered about Rose.  I wondered how much she was willing to do to try and get her mother’s attention.

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