One's Worth

By Spawn of Hell


"Oh shut up, Trent! You're no better than I am."

His voice is petulant as usual. It seems he's stuck in a perpetual pouting mode. It's truly adorable but can also be infuriating as well. There are times when I wish I could rip that fake childish expression from him only so I could finally, maybe, see the real him hidden under. He isn't like everybody thinks he is. He isn't what I used to think he was. He's so much more. Convolute, coil, improvise, demolish some, mend some; you get him. His logic lacks, yet makes sense if you envision it through the same distorting glass as him. Rafael is unique in a way only Rafael can be. So from his unique point of view, nothing could be otherwise. He's like a puzzle whose pieces were harshly put in the wrong places, ruined and no longer fitting adequately where they used to belong. Some pieces were mixed up, linked to others in a semblance of sense, of rectitude. The picture it creates is unclear, confusing and can even appear revoltingly wrong and twisted in the eyes of the amateur observer. It took me years to figure out that I didn't understand him, not because of some fault of mine, but because there isn't much to understand in the first place. He makes sense maybe only to himself.

That said, and despite it all, I cherish him. He's always there for me like no one ever was for him.

"You know I am. You keep confusing your basket for ours!"

The look of pure outrage on his face is priceless.

"I do not! I resent that! When have I ever tried to shoot in my basket?"

"Tried and marked. Three points in one shot. That would be secondary 5. You should have seen your face shift from blissful to appalled when you realised your incredible gaming gave the competing team the lead."

A piqued expression from him is my only answer for at least a moment as the privilege of seeing him uncertain and shifting from one foot to the other is offered to me.

"C'mon! We'll be late for practice again."

And on those words he runs off to find his sport bag lost somewhere in the hellhole basement that he uses as a bedroom. I'm gallant enough to let this slip without teasing him any further. Awfully sympathetic of me, isn't it? I could've had so much fun annoying the hell out of him and trying to discern that furious, easy-to-come blush of his, which I know would be gracing his dark features. Although, most of the time, I can't tell whether he's in a neutral state - blushing, or livid, or whatever. Black skin, you know? He finally emerges from the cavernous pit of a thousand possible deaths with his bag and off we go.


I have this fascination for my own blood, for the scarlet ribbons trailing my skin, trying to melt into the deep chocolate tone of it. I think it all started after this huge fight with my latest foster parents. I was upset. I was crying and I cut myself shaving. I was barely 19 years old. The tears sliding down my cheek met the blood, mingling together in a pinkish drop. It symbolized my pain. Physical pain. Psychological pain. Emotional pain. Isn't it one and the same? It's my pain. As if in a trance, I pushed the razor's blade against my skin once more, freeing another droplet of life. I shuddered at the single thought of what I was doing.


"Cutting is what experts call an unhealthy coping mechanism. This means that the people who do it have not developed healthy ways of dealing with strong emotions, intense pressure, or upsetting relationship problems."

I looked it up on the Internet afterwards and found this definition on some Teens Health site. Truth is, all these words are all fine and dandy, but right there and then, what did I care that I was having trouble coping with all my life's shit?

Everything was going so wrong that day and I hurt so much. I wanted to stop feeling this oppressive pain and cutting is supposed to make you concentrate on something else, on another pain, and gives you a way to control it. You could say it distracted me. It hurt. Even if I had barely cut the skin. I hate pain. Not only was I feeling less than comfortable, but I was also horrified by what I was attempting to do and by the addiction I was exposing myself to. I'm a generally smart person. I thought I knew well enough to stay away from such things. Realising just how desperate I had become to shed this pain only made it worse, making it tighten around my chest, choking me. I was utterly disgusted.

And I continue to be. I've long since lost the count of how many depressive nights ended with a razor blade to my skin.

How have I come to this?


I can't believe him. I can't believe this whole situation. I got to the apartment yesterday after a long day at University only to find my best friend in a pool of his own blood, not responding to any stimuli.

I screamed. I let out one of those harsh throat-scraping cry.

The whole scene is blurry in my head, my memories fogged, so why is it that I can still feel that intense pain, that tearing horror of the moment still lingering even after many hours. I did what I had to do mechanically, calling the ambulance, applying pressure on the numerous angry red lines etched in his inner thigh with a clean cloth, accompanying him to the hospital only to wait hours before facing the news. He is going to live. The doctor said so.

I vaguely remember wondering as I entered my home where our housemates were but dismissing it as irrelevant. Now the obsessing question imposes itself insistently; why did it have to be me? Why did I have to see this, the blood and his skin's paleness and the bluish tint of his lips and the bloodied cutter dropped on the white tiling and those tremors rushing through his otherwise still body?

I find no answer, not to that interrogation, not to any of the many others plaguing me relentlessly. I'm in a daze, not caring that my ass hurts from sitting on this uncomfortable hospital chair too long. My gaze is fixed upon the slow ups and downs of Rafael's chest proving to me that he is indeed still alive.


Now that is something I never thought someone like him would ever try, not after all that he's been through, after the seemingly insurmountable obstacles he got through. I've seen him go through the darnest things life could throw at him barely flinching. So what happened? What happened to make him resort to… to mutilating himself?

I hear him groan; it seems he's coming out of it.

"Trent? Where…? What happened?"

His voice is clammy and so frail.

"You went into shock from the blood loss. The doctor said you will be out of here in a few days. They're keeping you for observation."

His eyes are fixated on the ceiling. I'm guessing he cannot discern the fear and hurt in my voice; it's too expertly hidden. I have to be strong for him. I wonder where I've gone wrong. When did I fail him and in what way?

"Aren't you… Aren't you gonna ask?"

What a stupid question on his part.

"Ask what?"

A stupid answer in return. He sighs tiredly. I imagine it must not be easy for him.

"You know, it's not… I don't do it often. I just…"

"Don't lie to me Rafael, not to me. I saw the scars."

His eyes close, refusing to meet mine however desperate I am for some contact with him. And at the same time I'm afraid of what I'd see in them were he to allow me a glimpse.

"I'm not sure what to say…"

"Then let me say something," I said biting back prickling tears. "I know I shouldn't and it is counter-productive to your getting better, but… But never do that again. Don't you dare do that again."

I choked on my last words and finally Rafael's eyes met mine. I was blown away by the emotions intertwined so tightly in them I could barely distinguish a few. The jerk he gave me was powerful despite his recent collapse. I fell forward letting myself be dragged into his arms. The tears rolled down my cheeks unapologetically and any barrier I had forced up collapsed. I couldn't help but ramble on frenetically.

"I was so scared, Raf. So fucking scared, out of my mind."

Even my loud sobs couldn't cover his softly uttered words.

"I'm sorry."


I can't say I never did it again because I did. Trent ask me never to lie to him, and so when he asked me one night if the bloodied tissues in the garbage can were what he thought they were, I told the absolute truth.


The look of disappointment that flashed across his face then was demoralizing to say the least. The faith he put in me touches me to no end and yet I can't seem to live up to it. He thinks I'm some kind of life hero just because I lived through everything that occurred, bad and good, in my life. He thinks I'm strong? I wish I could explain how he is the one who holds me up when I just want to surrender. Without him, I don't think life would be possible at all. I don't want to disappoint him. I want him to be able to see me for who I really am and still be proud of it.

I found my voice again but it came out as a pleading whisper.

"I'm trying, Trent, I really am. I…"

He interrupted me before I got really pathetic.

"Hey, it's ok. I understand. So you had a small relapse, it's not such a big deal."

"How can you say that? Yes, it is!" My voice gained in intensity and ferventness. "I feel like I'll never be rid of this shit. You keep saying over and over again that it's just a small misstep, but can you not see how just that can… Each time it's like I'm back to square one."

His grey eyes softened.

"But you're not." A few small steps brought him closer to me and made it possible for him to lay a comforting hand on my shoulder. "You remember what the therapist said? Just the fact that you're acknowledging that cutting is a bad habit and that you want to rid yourself of it is half the work. I know it's not easy, but you can always lean on me. It's like they said in the song. Everybody needs a friend to lean on sometimes. So when the urge to cut yourself makes itself felt just call me on my cell wherever I am, whatever I'm doing. It's gonna be alright."

I don't know what I did to deserve such a friend, but I'm thanking God and the Heavens above for this blessing. That scene took place two years ago and I am proud to say I never cut myself again since. I'm not sure why I've been able to pull myself out of this one. Cutting can be such an addictive and destructive habit that takes and takes from you until you have nothing left to give. I like to think Trent was the main reason for my rehabilitation and he insists it was all my doing. Life without him would not be life at all. One day, I'll let him know that.


I thought the horror was behind me, that I'd never have to watch him in a pool of his own blood again, or to wait for him at the hospital, or to keep watch beside his bed only to be sure he is still breathing. And of all the stupid things to do, jumping in front of a speeding car to save my life, endangering his, is the worst. I thought these idiocies only happened in Hollywood movies. But he actually pushed me out of the way. And got hit instead of me.

That dumbass!

I got out of it with a few scratches and a bad cut on the left cheek. He got a fractured leg - in three different places, mind you-, three cracked ribs and a multitude of minor cuts. And a serious bump on the head. Nothing life-threatening it would seem, but this felt like a repeat of last time.

My hands are shaking badly, but I don't feel the need to cry. Maybe it's the nerves, or maybe it's something else. He could've died again. I say so to him as soon as he wakes up, an accusing note in my voice.

"You could've died! Again!"

"So what?! I'm gonna be fucked up for a while. It was worth it to save your life."

I am unsure what to answer. How could he ever think his life was worth sacrificing over mine? I feel a surge of hate towards his parents for abandoning him to foster homes, towards those same foster homes that rejected him one after the other, towards his teachers for branding him less intelligent than others, towards every racist that ever insulted him, towards myself for believing him to be indestructible, and finally towards him for not understanding his true worth.

Despite it all, I let it be and that was the biggest mistake I've ever made. Half an hour later, his body started convulsing. Another half-hour later, the emergency team gave up on him. The shock to his head had caused an epileptic attack and his brain had been deprived of oxygen for too long before they were able to control the seizure. The moment they stopped pressing firmly and repetitively on his chest, his heart stopped beating, no longer stimulated by the brain.

That's how my important someone left me alone here to deal with his death. He doesn't care now; he's dead. But what about me, huh? What about me?

As I watch him one last time in an ultimate goodbye, I feel like shouting to him, knowing he has paid with his own life:

'Was it still worth it to save me?'


Author's Note: Well, hello everybody. This is a small one-shot as you well saw. It's actually an English assignment, a creative writing project that had to have at least some minimal relation to a book we had to read for class called Blindness by Jose Saramago. Not a bad book for those who haven't read it. Anyways, this is a little something for you to read while waiting for the co-written story I promised. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, just forget I ever mentioned it. Tell me what you thought of it, will ya? Thankie!