The spray from the hot water accidentally hit the abraded skin on my abdomen, just below my ribs, and a jolt of pain shot through me. I bit down on a scream and quickly whipped my back into the stream of water, letting the water pelt my healed neck instead.

Pain continued to flow and ebb around the wound for another minute, and I wrapped myself up in the thorny and prickly blanket of reality that pain brought.

Keeping the wound, holding onto the pain it brought, must be kind of why some people cut themselves. When the emotional pain grew to such magnitudes that it could no longer be contained, it needed a physical release. By slicing through your skin, by focusing your attention on that pain, you finally got some relief from the suffocating emotional distress as physical pain momentarily drowned everything else out.

But as the pain diminished, my mom's face swam in front of my eyes. Her laughter echoed around me, bouncing between the tiled walls of the shower, and her hand lovingly brushed through my wet hair.

The pain was building in my chest, the pain of my heart being ground into a cold mix of muscle, reverberating through my body. My fists closed along my body and I pressed my lips tightly closed to suppress the screams.

I didn't want to frighten my dad. He was outside, seated in the small couch, in one of the three rooms of our small rented apartment.

While my fingernails dug into the center of my palms, drawing blood, I pictured my dad. Daddy, who silently cried in front of the TV every night since the death of his wife. Sometimes I wished for him to scream, to throw things around him, to curse God. Just make a lot of noise.

Instead, the tears silently rolled down his cheeks. One after the other. Second by second. Minute by minute. Hour by hour. There was barely a sob, not even a sniffle.

So who was I to scream in the shower?

Tears were streaming down my cheeks now as well. They were perfectly contained within the tear ducts throughout the day, but come night, come shower time, and it was a waterfall of salty sorrow mixing with the almost scolding water of the shower.

I bit my lower lip, bending my head back, letting the water disguise my tears and wash away the sound of my sobs. I was having trouble breathing, the sensation of an elephant sitting on my chest becoming increasingly present, as my breath caught on my sobs.

I'd never had a panic attack or an anxiety attack, but I realized then that I was dangerously close to one.

My throat wanted to close up, not letting my lungs expel the carbon dioxide, making my breaths shorter and shorter and my panic build.

I tried to redirect my thoughts, but I seemed to have lost control.

My life was at the mercy of my emotions.

Breathe.

I gasped as Max's voice filled my head. The fleeting - ghostly - caress across the top of my chest shocked my body out of the building anxiety attack, and instead switched to fear as I was overcome with the strongest feeling that Max was standing right behind me.

Behind my very naked body.

Calm down.

I whipped my head around, convinced now that he was in fact standing behind me. He wasn't.

Instead my thoughtless movement placed my wound straight back into the stream of hot water and, this time, I cried out loudly.

"Lizzie?"

I bit the inside of my cheek at my father's voice. He had moved to the outside of the bathroom door in the fraction of a second.

"Are you okay, honey?"

Unbreakable - A Beautiful Lie · (Roswell Fanfiction) ·  √Read this story for FREE!