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I turn my CD player up a couple of decibels. Not loud enough to attract his attention - I don't want that - but loud enough to drown out his voice as he rages at my fourteen-year-old brother. I'd like to stand up for Caleb. I even imagine myself going out there and bravely speaking out in my younger brother's defense. But the problem is, I'm just a big chicken.
Besides that, I know what will happen if I try to tell Dad that it's not Caleb's fault, if I try to explain that Mom forgot to give us lunch money again today, and that Caleb was just trying to get by. But I can tell by the volume of Dad's voice that it's already too late for reasoning. And while I can't discern his exact words over the sound of Avril Lavigne's lyrics, I can feel them cutting and slicing through Caleb - and through me.
I imagine my younger brother shredded and bleeding out there. A big red puddle spilled out across the pale yellow linoleum in our kitchen.
My dad never hits us with his fists. He never slaps us around or takes off his belt. He's too concerned about leaving welts or bruises, something that someone might notice. But his words are worse than a beating. And they leave invisible scars - scarsthat never seem to fade.
Finally it gets quiet out there. I hear Caleb's bedroom door, across the hall from mine, closing quietly. He knows not to slam it. That would only prolong the agony. And after a bit, I hear the door to the garage bang shut and then my dad's Ford diesel truck roaring down the driveway and onto the road.
I know that it's safe to go out now. Still feeling guilty for not defending Caleb, I creep out and stand in the hallway, hovering like a criminal in front of his door, my hand poised to knock softly, ready to go in and tell him I understand how he feels and that I'm sorry, but I can hear him crying now. And I can hear him punching something. It sounds like his pillow or maybe his mattress - pow pow pow again and again - and I know that trying to say something to him while he's like this will only make things worse.
The last time I tried to comfort him, he got seriously angry at me. He told me that I didn't understand anything. He said that Dad might come down on me sometimes, but never as hard. "You're Dad's favorite," he finally spat, slamming his door in my face. And so I know better than to say anything when he's feeling this mad. But it worries me. What if he becomes like Dad? What if the day comes when I can't even talk to him about anything?
I look at the closed door at the end of the hallway. My parents' bedroom. I know that Mom is in there. I can hear the little TV playing quietly, strains of that obnoxious Jeopardy! theme music. It's her favorite show. When she's feeling good, she can get most of the answers right. But she's been in one of her "down" moods for several weeks now. No telling how long this one will last.
As much as I hate to disturb her when she's like this, I know this is my best chance to ask her for lunch money - for both me and Caleb. Either that or I'll have to see if there's anything in the kitchen that I can use to make us lunches for tomorrow. Either way, I have to make sure that Caleb does not have to borrow money from anyone. I don't know why he went and bummed lunch money from Sally today.
Sally is our cousin. Her family lives in a nicer neighborhood a couple of miles from here, and although she may be good to loan out a buck or two, Caleb should've known she'd tell her dad (who is our dad's older brother). Caleb should've known that Uncle Garrett would call our dad to rib him about Caleb begging money from his precious Sally today. And that's exactly what happened, and that's what ignited our dad's highly volatile fuse tonight.
But in all fairness to Caleb, if it hadn't been the lunch money, it would've been something else. Like a trash can still sitting out on the street, a bike parked in the front yard, shoes left on the floor in the living room ... it doesn't take much. Dad went ballistic one night last week just because someone left the hose running. Turned out it was him. But he never apologized.
His solution after one of his tirades is to leave here enraged. He goes to one of two places. He wants us to think he's at his friend Jimmy's house, where they mess around with the restoration of an old Corvette and drink cheap beer. But he spends a fair amount of time at The Dark Horse Tavern. It's a sleazy-looking place on one of the side streets downtown. He parks his pickup in the back and hangs out there until he's forgotten whatever it was that made him so angry.
Dysfunctional? Um, yeah. But most people looking at our family from the outside are totally clueless. Including Dad's best friend Jimmy and even Uncle Garrett. Despite Uncle Garrett's flaws, I'm sure he has no idea that his younger brother has such an out-of-control anger problem. Most people who know my dad think that he's the "nicest guy in town." He manages Jackson's Tire Company and always has a ready smile or goofy joke for everyone - everyone who doesn't live inside this house, that is. And I'm sure that everyone just looks at our family and assumes everything's just fine and dandy in here. Sure, we might not be impressive when it comes to money, but we are all very adept at keeping up appearances. For some reason that's very important to my dad.
My question is, what am I supposed to do with all this pain? I mean I've got Caleb across the hall now, crying and swearing and pounding on things. I've got my mom holed up in her room, eyes glazed over by Xanax I'm sure, sitting in the little glider rocker next to her bed, just staring at the tiny TV that sits on their bureau. I feel like I'm going to burst.
Instead of returning to my room, I go into the bathroom that Caleb and I share. We do our best not to fight over it like some of my friends do with their siblings - at least not while Dad is around. I sigh as I look into the mirror above the bathroom sink. My face, as usual, is expressionless. Although the eyes would be a giveaway, if anyone was really looking. To me they are two black holes. A constant reminder of the deep hopelessness of my life. I push a strand of straight dark hair out of my face. I've been growing my bangs out, and they've reached that place where they're just in the way. Sort of like me.
It won't be that long, and you can be out of this madhouse for good. Recently I've been playing with the idea of graduating a year early, getting out of here when I'm only seventeen. I've heard it can be done.
The question is, can I really last that long? Every single day I tell myself I'm not going to do this again. I'm not going to give in one more time. And some days I actually succeed. But on other days, like today, it is impossible. The tightness inside my chest is painful right now. And I wonder if a fairly healthy sixteen-year-old can have a heart attack or maybe a stroke. Maybe that would be the answer.
For no particular reason, other than habit, I turn on the tap water and let it just run into the sink. It's how I usually do this thing. Maybe I figure the sound will camouflage what's really going on in here. I don't know. Maybe the swooshing sound relaxes me. Or maybe it's comforting to watch the water flow. Like, there's something that still works. But I just stand there and watch it running down the sink. I don't wash my hands or brush my teeth or wash my face. I simply stand there, hands planted on either side of the sink, as I lean forward and stare at the water flowing from the faucet and going down the drain. I'm sure my dad would think this was not only incredibly stupid but very wasteful. I'm sure if I were ever caught, I would get a sharp-tongued lecture on just how much he pays for the water and electric bill every month and how selfish and ignorant I am. Normally, I do try to be frugal and respectful of his "hard-earned" money, but there are times, like now, when I just don't care.
I don't know how long I stand there wasting valuable water, but finally I turn off the faucet and take a deep breath. I wish I could stop this thing, but I still ache inside. Instead of diminishing, the pain only seems to grow, pushing against my insides until I don't see how I can possibly contain it anymore.
I open the bottom drawer on my side of the bathroom cabinet. It's where I keep my "feminine" products - a place I can be certain that my dad or brother would never go looking. As for my mother, well, she would never think to go looking for anything of mine in the first place. She can hardly find her slippers in the morning.
I take out a box of tampons and turn it over. A sliver of silver glints from where the cardboard overlaps on the bottom. I carefully slide out the blade and hold it between my thumb and forefinger. It's an old-fashioned, two-sided kind of blade. I swiped one from Caleb when he first started shaving with my grandpa's old brass razor set. It didn't take my little brother very long to realize that there are better shaving instruments available, so he never notices when a blade goes missing from the little cardboard box in the back of his drawer. Not that I've had to replace many blades during these past six months. As long as you wash and dry them and keep them in a safe place, they can last quite a while.
At first I thought I would limit my cutting to my left arm. But after a few weeks, I started running out of places to cut. And that's when I realized I'm fairly coordinated when it comes to cutting with my left hand. My right arm has a series of evenly spaced stripes to prove this. I push up the sleeve of my shirt and examine the stripes with regular interest, running my fingers over the ones that are healed, barely touching the ones that are still healing. Each one could tell its own story. Okay, the stories would be pretty similar, but each scar is unique. The most recent cut was only two days ago. It's still pretty sore, but at least it's not infected.
Already I am beginning to feel relief. I have no idea why. But it's always like this. Just the security of holding the blade in my hand, just knowing that I am in control now ... it's almost enough. But not quite.
I lower the blade to the pale skin on the inside of my arm, and using a sharp corner of the blade, I quickly make a two-inch slash. I know not to go too deep. And when I'm in control, like now, I can do it just right. And just like that, I'm done. I hardly feel the pain of the cut at all. It's like it doesn't even hurt.
I watch with familiar fascination as the blood oozes out in a clean, straight line. There is something reassuring about seeing my bright-red blood exposed like this. It's like this sign that I'm still alive and, weird as it sounds, that someday everything will be okay. Although the euphoria that follows the cutting never lasts as long as I wish it would, it's a quick fix that mostly works.
As usual, I feel better as I press a wad of toilet paper onto the wound. For the moment, this cut absorbs all my attention and emotional energy. It blocks out what I am unable to deal with. And for a while I am convinced that I will actually survive my life.
And, hey, this isn't as bad as doing drugs, like some kids do. Or getting drunk, like my dad is doing right now. Or just checking out, like my mom did last year and continues to do on an off-and-on basis.
Am I proud of my behavior? Of course not. But for the time being, it's all I have to keep me from falling. So don't judge me.
Excerpted from blade silver by Melody Carlson Copyright © 2005 by Melody Carlson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted January 29, 2009
This was one of the most difficult and painful teen fiction books I have ever read. It was so real, like I was reading an actual account of a teenage cutter. I wish that no one ever has to go through what Ruth did, but I know that there are so many kids who share the same experience. I could not stand Ruth's dad. I believe that verbal abuse is just as bad if not more so than physical abuse as inner scars are slower to heal. There is an explanation as to why he acted that way but I was glad that the story did not portray him unrealistically changing at the end of the book. It was horrifying to read about how Ruth would get a 'high' from hurting herself in such a matter. Even worse because she would feel sometimes that she deserved it. I think that it was very sad that her extended family did not do anything to protect the kids from their abusive father. Ruth's recovery did not seem fake, in fact it only made it more realistic because it took her so long to accept help. Melody Carlson is gifted at bringing touchy subjects like this to life. The subjects in this series are difficult and not ones many Christians like to face. In fact, there are some who think that teens only face these kinds of issues because of a lack of faith. Thus, many teens especially those who are Christians find that they have no one to go to about their problems. This series shows readers what really happens out there, allowing for questions and advice about where to turn for help. I believe this is the first Christian book to mention cutting. There needs to be more books that talk about this subject as there are many people out there who need help.
6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 31, 2011
I really love this book, and all the true color books. It really talks about her struggles and her cutting and what she's going through. God can help you through anything beilive in him.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 30, 2013
I cute bc of all the bad things that happends to me on a day today bases my stepdad calling really bad names .ugly wish i would just die my mom hateing me i cant do anything right then all the people who says they care or loves me leaves me here on my own my little brother told me he glad i want to kill myself then he good get someone better . And then my best guy friend leaves me after he promised never to leave me or hurt me again i understand
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 23, 2013
A cutter is someone who is going through a tough time in their life and uses self harm for their emotions. They do this by cutting themselves.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 22, 2013
Posted March 4, 2013
Posted January 11, 2013
I myself am a teenage girl, and i am also an ex-cutter, and every word I read was like memories. This book is definitely accurate in portraying the mind, emotions, and day-to-day life of a cutter. The writing is amazing; this story is just so real. I definitely recommend it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 27, 2012
Posted November 12, 2012
This book is another genius work from the wonderful Melody Carson. As I was reading it, I was a little uncomfortable at first. The whole situation of cutting is rather touchy for me. I don't cut but I do know a few who do and it was so hard to watch them suffer each day. In this book, Ruth must try and overcome her desperate need to cut, to feel like she has control over that one thing. I truly applaud Melody because she can address these situations so well and describe them perfectly. I felt a lot of emotion in this book and I really understood Abby's point of view. It is painfully sad but so very true and Melody has done a fantastic job again of explaining the horrible situation and how to try and cope. I would reccomend this book for sure, but only for the ages of at least 13 and up, or a very mature 12 year old, maybe. It sends out a great story though which is why I reccomend it so highly.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 6, 2012
Melody Carlson is an amazing writer in my opinion. Her series,True Colors, is inspiring and should be read by all teenagers,boys abd girls. Carlson really knows and understands teenagers and their thoughts and feelings. Blade Silver focuses on a young women named Ruth who is going through verbal and sometimes physical abuse from her father and believes that the answer to her family situation is to hide away at home and at school and cut herself. The situation gets worse when Ruth's younger brother runs away from home. Finally, Ruth agrees to see a counselor about her cutting. The counselor puts Ruth in a home for teenage girls who cut like her for a month. During thi time,Ruth makes a new friend and also becomes a Christain. Ruthh goes home in amonth to find that he family and friends hav embraced her cutting problem and are willing to stick by her while she quits. I would strongly recommend this book for all teens.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 25, 2012
I have been recently reading this series of books. This book had a great story and an excellent message in it.
This book had a number of problems in it. Just like the other books, it has a number of events that led up to the resolution.
I think this book has a good message for girls who are having some problems with family stress and other mental pain.
I think it is important for teenage girls who are having problems with certain things to read these books. It can really change the way they live their life!
Posted March 14, 2012
very fast paced book, being in the medical field i was curious how accurate the cutting would be. very realistic ! anyone teens, adults should read stories like this because it happens more than you know. recommend other books by melody carlson!!!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 15, 2012
Posted January 3, 2012
Posted November 28, 2011
Posted July 12, 2011
Melody Carlson's Blade Silver is truly a deep and touching story. It can show all the motions of what it is like to be a Self Injure and to be abused. This Story will change the way you view people.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 20, 2010
I love the true colors series. theyre a good read and you can relate to them. these are good books to read because they can help young readers find themselves. i didnt enjoy this particular book as much as some of the others from the series. it was a short read but got boring.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 18, 2010
This book is the second TrueColors book I've read. Melody Carlson is a great author, I very much enjoy her books. This book was so good it took me only a few hours to read. The characters were very believable and so was the story. The truth that she really did believe that she 'needed' to cut herself, that she felt that nothing else could help. I would say this is a great read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 14, 2009
I Also Recommend:
How can you understand the searing desire to open a vein unless you are one of the many who use SI as a coping method? For those uninitiated who wish to see into the mind of a cutter, Melody Carlson has crafted an amazing glance into one branch of SI.
Ruth Anne is a brilliant student, with a close group of friends, and a family that looks normal on the outside; however, once through the doors of her parent's ranch-style house it is revealed that her father is verbally abusive, her mother is more ghost than person, and Ruth and her brother Caleb are struggling to cope with the chaos their life has become.
My single complaint with the book was the rather sudden appearance of God in the storyline; while I was aware of the fact that the book was classified as religious, I was still slightly disappointed by Carlson's need to get the message of God out as the only way to truly quit cutting.
However, I still believe that this book can be a wonderful resource for creating a bridge of understanding between a teenage cutter and their parents, and for giving all involved a sense of hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Posted June 3, 2008