Contest Entry: Depths of a Child

This entry is by a skilled writer named Jennifer Hartsock. It’s a well written portrayal of heartache at its most fragile moments. Please note that while this is a tasteful piece of writing, it is also graphic. Please read at your own consent.


Note From Jennifer: This is an excerpt from a short story I wrote in 7th grade called “Depths of a Child.” I didn’t edit it only because I want to preserve my writing from that age. I’m submitting this piece because I wrote it of a girl who I have nothing in common with. She is suicidal and depressed, a life I’ve never touched nor can barely understand. This was my attempt to walk in someone else’s shoes.

“Depths of a Child”

Kelly left the house and started walking down the road. She didn’t know where she was going, but she knew she had to leave.


It was Scarlett. Wow, she had actually left school to find her? Kelly turned to face her friend, and Scarlett gasped. Kelly’s face must still be black and crappy from her smeared makeup.

Scarlett threw her arms around her, and held her tightly. “Kelly what’s wrong. Tell me Kelly, now!”

Kelly stood there with her face buried into Scarlett’s shirt; her eyes streaming with tears that she tried to hide from Scarlett, but just couldn’t. Kelly let go of her friend and sat down. She began to talk, but only parts of words and deep breaths exited her mouth. Scarlett gave Kelly some time to catch her breath.

“Oh my God! I’m freaking out!” Kelly began. “I can’t stop crying. I don’t know what happened. All this crap is stressing me out so much!” She took another breath, “I was pissed before and started going crazy.”

She closed her eyes against the tears, but they rolled down as if nothing could stop them; she couldn’t even try to stop them. Kelly had no control over anything.

All she heard from Scarlett was a soft whisper, “What did you do to your arm?”

Shaking her head, Kelly said, “I took my razor and cut my wrist. It wouldn’t stop bleeding, so I wrapped it in medical cloth. I’m so scared. I don’t know what I’m doing any more. I have no one to turn to besides you. My other friends always said, ‘she’s not gonna’ kill herself,’ but I never told them I slit my wrists. They wouldn’t take me seriously. I can’t talk to my foster mom, either. I’m too afraid.”

Kelly opened her eyes and sighed heavily as a tear slid down Scarlett’s cheek. She felt horrible to see Scarlett cry, but Kelly kept going; she was too overwhelmed, too crazy:

“I can’t do this; I’m trying as hard as I can to stay alive. It’s so hard. No one understands my goddamn pain. GOD CALLED IN SICK AND I’M LEFT IN THE RED AND BLACK WALLS OF HELL!”

Kelly looked at Scarlett, who sat there listening to the emotions that Kelly had kept inside herself for far too long. And now with one shocking scream and a cut of a blade, it was all let out. Kelly took in a deep breath; she starting feeling lightheaded.

“Kelly, I am so sorry. Please, I want to help you in any way I can.”

Kelly looked down at her wrist. “The world is turning against me. It’s turning against everybody like me. I don’t know who they are, but I know there are people out there that do this. They try and never make it out because they are too afraid to stay. Some people turn to their lovers. Boyfriends and girlfriends say they love each other, but do they truly mean it, or do they just use them for fun times?” She looked into Scarlett’s eyes. “…Look, you and I are so different, and that’s such a great thing. You don’t want to be like me, worn and broken and confused. I’m just so confused and broken…”

Kelly offered a weak smile, trying to show that she was okay, though inside she was dying for it all to end. She gasped; her hands started to shake a little. She felt weak and her eyesight was blurring in and out of focus.

“I think I’m going home,” Kelly managed to say to Scarlett through the fatigue.

Scarlett hugged Kelly again, and this time her tears stained Kelly’s shirt. Kelly held her tightly and tried to comfort her. This is my fault, Kelly thought. She blamed herself and realized that if she kept going on about herself, Scarlett might not be able to handle it.

Kelly let go and walked away. God knew she had shed her fair share of tears on her friend’s shoulder, and she knew that Scarlett didn’t deserve to be sad. She deserved happiness. She deserved a life that Kelly was dragging her away from. Scarlett needed a life without her.

Her foster mother was gone when Kelly walked in the front door of their house. She had probably gone out looking for Kelly, yet another person who was worrying about her. Kelly lied on her bed, feeling dizzier. She felt as if she had a fever. Her body was so hot.

I failed again, she thought, too afraid of the pain when cutting deep enough to hit veins. The top of her skin had sliced and bled, but she was still alive. She was still in hell.

She peered down at her bandage and noticed that her blood was escaping underneath the bandages, staining the bed sheets. Kelly felt a rush of adrenaline run through. She climbed off the bed and quickly walked into the bathroom to get fresh bandages. She stood by the counter and unfolded the cloth from her arm. She screamed as the blood gushed out of the incision and dripped off her elbow and onto the white tile.

Kelly grabbed the box of gauze and tried to roll the tissue around her arm, but the crimson river kept weeping out. Her reflection in the mirror caught her attention, and Kelly stared back at herself for the longest time. She realized that the girl she saw may never again see that face staring back. What she realized was… she had hit veins.

Her feet came out from under her. Her body hit the floor without a sound. All was silent as the bathroom turned to gray, then faded to black.


Without taking away from Ms. Hartsock’s writing, I want to take this moment to say that if the words above resonate in you an all too painful familiarity… know you’re not alone. You’re voice is one that matters, and the things you feel aren’t a burden you have to carry by yourself. In fact, you were never meant to. Reach out to someone, anyone, whether it be a friend, family member or someone you trust. If you’re not sure who or where to turn, some wonderful people have created a place where folks are available around the clock to listen. Some of them have been where you are.  All of them care what you have to say:

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