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Did You Like Your Present?

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Sarah and Alice were the best of friends. They did everything together. They were inseparable. They lived on the same street too. Almost every day they would hang out together after they got home from school. They were as close as friends could be. They shared the same interests and hobbies. Today was Alice's 15th Birthday, and Sarah had to make it her best.

The party was at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and besides Sarah, Jack was the only other person invited. Alice was in love with Jack, ever since she first met him in seventh grade. She had a diary where she wrote how much she loved him and showed it only to Sarah, because she trusted her with everything.

Sarah put on her pink polka dot bikini and observed herself in the mirror. She was very pretty and fit. She had golden brown hair with hazel eyes. She never used makeup because she had incredible natural beauty. She was very popular at school, but she ignored the popular crowd and all the boys for Alice. Sarah hurried out to her BMW and brought Alice's present with her- a photo of the two of them at Alice's last birthday party.

Finally, Sarah arrived at the beach and met up with Jack and Alice. Alice was trying to make conversation with him, but when Jack saw Sarah, he jumped up out of his lounge chair to greet her with a tight hug. Sarah hugged back without hesitation, because she really liked him too. The rest of the birthday party, Jack hung out with Sarah, and Sarah began to forget about her best friend. Jack carried Sarah into the water with him and they buried each other in the sand. They laughed and laughed while Alice stood in the shallow water of the ocean all alone.

The more time passed the closer and closer Jack and Sarah became. They started revealing their secrets and the most shocking secret- Jack liked her. Sarah confessed her love for him, and they became boyfriend and girlfriend in an instant. After moments of serious love, they started to play around. Alice was sitting underneath an umbrella by herself and heard Jack sing, "Take off that polka dot bikini, girl." Alice was deeply hurt inside, but she just kept smiling.

The party was coming to an end- presents were already opened and pictures were taken. Sarah said goodbye to Alice.

"Are you having a happy birthday?"

"I sure am," she replied.

Jack waved goodbye to Alice and gave Sarah a goodbye kiss. Sarah went home with a fluttering heart, and Alice with a broken one. School went on for weeks and weeks and Alice's attitude began to change. She seemed too happy. She seemed too happy about her best friend and her crush being together. Sarah noticed how Alice had so many mood swings. Alice seemed to be turning into a bipolar freak.

Months and months of school went by and Alice started to become more normal. Sarah felt that everything has finally worn off on Alice. Sarah knew how Alice held grudges on people. Insane grudges that would last years. But Sarah thought that because she was Alice's best friend that she was forgiven. Alice started hugging Sarah more and more, and she became even more open to her.

Four months passed. Now it was a week until Sarah's birthday. Alice was now totally normal and as sweet as she was before the birthday party. She almost seemed sweeter to Sarah.

"Sarah, I know that your birthday is coming up, so I am going to give you a present. I am going to tell you my deepest secret."

Sarah was shocked to hear that her best friend used to cut herself because she felt like an outcast and was bullied. She said that the blood and pain made her feel good. She said she felt pleasure. She warned Sarah not to do it.

"Do not do it to yourself, Sarah. I don't want you to hurt yourself, because I care for you. It is addicting and it is very hard to stop. I had to go through therapy to finally stop doing it. I stopped cutting myself after a couple of months."

Sarah was so shocked and couldn't relieve her mind of the scars on Alice's arms.

That night, Sarah looked up online videos about self-harm. She noticed that all the videos had a strict warning, "may be triggering."

"I won't be triggered. Why would I ever want to hurt myself?" Sarah thought.

That night she took a hair pin and scratched at her arm until it was deep enough to leave a scab. She quickly disposed of the hair pin and then spoke not about it at school the next day. But the next night she peeled off the scab and made it bleed. She then scratched at herself again, but twice. She now had three streaks across her arm. She had been triggered. But she couldn't keep this a secret. She told Alice and she was very upset.

"I can't believe you did this to yourself, Sarah!" Alice yelled. "It is addicting! You'll do it again, and you won't even know you did it! Trust me, I've been there! It will get worse! You'll eventually start using sharper objects and you'll then dig deeper! Don't do that again!" she yelled.

Sarah promised Alice that she wouldn't do it again, but she didn't have the self-control to restrain herself. She broke the glass from a picture of she and Alice to use to scratch her arm.

She could barely tell Alice.

"Don't do that! you promised me you wouldn't! You are just gonna keep doing it until you have nowhere left on your body! Next you'll start cutting your legs!" Alice yelled.

Alice cooled down. At the end of school, Alice offered to come and sleep over at Sarah's house. Alice managed to convince her parents to let her stay overnight on a school night. That night, Sarah felt confident with Alice sleeping in her room with her. She felt confident that she wouldn't do anything that night. She fell asleep rather quickly. In the morning she felt burning on her leg.

She went into the bathroom to change. She was putting on her pants when she saw bloody streaks spelling "HELP ME" on her upper thigh. There was a frown cut deep underneath it. She was freaking out. Alice was right! This cut was definitely not made by a hair pin. And this was not repetitive scratching. It was a cut.

Alice walked in when Sarah was cleaning up her leg. There were bloody paper towels on the counter.

"Sarah! What did you do?!"

Sarah didn't know what she did. She didn't recall doing anything last night. Then she remembered Alice's warning "You won't even know you're doing it!"

"Alice, you're right!" Sarah cried. "I'm doing it unconsciously!" Sarah started bawling. She was so scared. She knew she needed help, but she didn't want it.

"You can't tell anybody!" Sarah warned. "Especially Jack!" she cried.

Alice promised not to tell, and then Sarah bandaged up her leg and went to school with Alice. Sarah felt so nervous about hurting herself again. She went home after the school day ended and wrote 100 times "I will not hurt myself." on her mirror.

Because she was so scared, she tried to find the glass that she had scratched herself with. She took it and threw it out the window. She saw it hit the tree and land in the bushes by her window.

She called Alice, telling her that she threw away the glass.

"I tossed it."

"Where?"

"Out my window. It landed in the bushes. I have to sleep now, I have a test tomorrow."

"Love you, Sarah. Don't hurt yourself, promise?"

Sarah hung up the phone before she could hear Alice's last sentence.

She went to bed and fell asleep. She had the urge to go to the bathroom that night. She got up and relieved herself and went back to bed. She felt a draft. She forgot to close her window. She closed it, then fell asleep.

Her mother came to wake her that morning. Sarah picked out her clothes and got undressed. When she took off her shirt, she saw the discoloration of red on her pajama top. She looked down.

"JACK" was cut into her stomach in the middle of a heart, surrounded by smaller hearts. The blood felt warm. It was relatively new. Sarah started bawling. This cut was deeper than the last. She needed to talk to Alice. She had to stop doing this. Sarah cleaned up and hurried to school.

"AGAIN?!" Alice yelled. "This is becoming too obvious. Look at all the cuts on you! I am going to sleep over tonight. I will end this," Alice announced.

School went by slowly, and Sarah was becoming weak. Sarah had to wear layers of pants and shirts to keep the blood from bleeding through. Alice was welcomed into the house. She brought a party bag with her. It was Sarah's birthday.

"Sarah is really tired, so she better go to bed now!" Alice told Sarah's parents.

Alice and Sarah both got ready for bed.

"I promise this will end tonight."

"You are 100% sure? It has to end tonight, Alice."

"Yes."

Sarah fell asleep quickly, but she saw Alice fall asleep first. That night Sarah had dreams. Nightmares. She was cut again. On her wrist. The dream was almost real, she could almost feel pain. She woke up, sweating. She could barely move. She looked at her wrist and saw crimson blood gushing from her arm. Her vision was blurry. She could barely read "HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH". It was cut unsafely deep and in large letters.

"I am going crazy," Sarah thought. The burning was worse than acid. Her arm was tingling. She was light headed. She was drifting. She had lost too much blood. Alice woke up.

She had an eerie look on her face. A large smile crept up Alice's face. Sarah could hear this last sentence before her eyes glazed over.

"Happy birthday, Sarah," she laughed. Alice paused for a moment and admired her work on Sarah's body.

"Did you like your presents?"

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