She used to go to school, study, a post grad in Anthropology. She used to have friends, friends who laughed and ate and went dancing. She used to have a boyfriend, who loved her thick thighs and full buttocks. He would appraise her breasts and say how they were the best he had ever had the privilege of laying on every night. She used to have a dog, she would run with him to the park, she would play fetch and laugh at his small tiny figure get buried in the leaves in autumn.
She has a family, different now from how it used to be. She has a brother whom she had played with as children, competed with in squash, gossiped with about her parents and friends. Oh! how they used to laugh at the world. She has an aunt who loved her ability to see the world in wonderment, her joie de vivre. She has a father who loved her intellect, who would share a whisky with her on the nights she was back home for a visit. She has a mother, who loved her long hair and brushed it until it shined, every night. That was her life before, now she was consumed with different desires and needs. She perceived her world to have changed, she was woke now to who she truly should be. Thin.
She wakes up and looks around her room, it feels as though it is winter. It is spring. The sun shines wanly through her drawn curtains, it hurts her eyes, the light. She is weak and feels as though her stomach is eating itself. She drinks some water and her stomach complains, “That is not what we need” she seems to hear it say. No matter.
She returned from the clinic yesterday afternoon and had gone straight to her room. Avoidance of people is a must, they have teeth.
“No food darling.” Mum had said. “Surely you eat now?”
“No thanks mum, I’m full, they fed me before I left.”
That had been true. She had eaten a whole banana; from the plate of fruits she had been served for afternoon snack.
Mum had made what used to be her favorite, beef lasagna with blue cheese in the middle layer. She could smell the cheese when she had entered the house. It had brought back memories of, of things that used to be in the tunnel. She had gone to her room and under her bed in the floorboards she had hidden a small scale and a measuring tape. Mum had not found the hiding place yet. Quietly and with relish she took them out. She went into her bathroom and stood on the scale. She had gained 5kg’s and her waist was two inches thicker. With violence and determination, she had stuck two finger way, way down into her throat and retched. Nothing came out. The clinic had made her fat. The clinic had lied to her about finding happiness in kg’s and inches.
“You will feel better.”
“You will return to your old life.”
“Your body will not give out.”
“Your beautiful hair will grow back. Look like in your picture there.”
“You can return to school.”
“Remember how happy you used to be?”
She had believed them at first because her brain had become cotton balls and she could no longer think straight. But by the second and the third week it became excruciating, the feeding and cooing of delight they got from it. They would not allow her to weigh herself, they scanned their rooms for vomit, they force-fed you if you refused food for a day. Worst yet, they asked you why.
“Why do this to yourself honey.”
She sat up and looked around her childhood room. She had taken down the many pictures of horses she had pinned on her wall. She had painted it a clean white. She was about to remove the scale when she heard mum.
“Darling? Breakfast.” Six weeks, she thought, and candy floss headed mum probably thought she was cured.
Before she went in, they had stopped calling to her for meals. They had stopped asking her to wake up, do something. They had accepted her. Until.
“I’m coming mum.” She called out already feeling nauseous.
“Come on darling, we can go for a walk afterwards.”
She went down the stairs. She felt weighted down. By all the fat that had accumulated in her body.
“Oh darling, daddy already left. It’s just the two of us. Come sit. I made pancakes.”
She calculated the calories in her head. She sat down and moved the pancake around on her plate. Her mum watched her.
“Did you make any friends darling?”
“Oh that’s nice. Where the doctors good to you?”
“Yes mum, you always ask that.”
“Do you want some syrup, hm, they are a bit dry aren’t they?”
“No thanks mum. They are delicious.”
Munch, munch her mums mouth moved, spit and pieces of food on her teeth as she smiled.
“Well I hoped you liked that.” Mum said as she began to tidy up.
“Yes mum, it was good.” She pushed her plate away, the pancake sat perfectly round on it.
“Do you wanna go for a walk or call up some of your friends. I’m sure they would love to see you.”
“I’m going to take my iPad and watch some movies. I am so tired mum. Sorry.”
“Oh OK darling. I’m making Cesar salad for lunch. Daddy will join us.” She kisses her on the forehead. Her eyes are so sad that she almost wants to pick up the pancakes, one, two, three and stuff them down. She almost wants to, but her waist, they have destroyed her waist.
She walks up to her room and puts a movie on. She lies down, sit ups. She does a hundred. she does bicycles and squats. She has the energy, all that food that she has consumed will see her through a whole two weeks of exercise. Before she went in, she could only do fifty sit ups.
She has a shower, her heart beating fast, her body happy. She weighs herself again. Nothing much has changed. It’s alright, she has time, all the days that stretch out before her will be used to get thin. Nothing else. She takes a nap.
“Darling, daddy’s here. Come down for lunch.” Mum calls out.
How will she not eat in front of dad, he gets angry, bangs the table and threatens.
“Hi dad.” She says.
“Baby. You look so much better. Sorry I missed your homecoming. Look at you. Ha-ha almost back to my little girl.” He kisses her cheek. But his eyes are sad too. She will have to eat something.
“Let’s sit outside, I’ve set everything up.” Mum says.
They sit. There is the salad, oozing with dressing, lettuce drenched. She counts the calories in just one bite of that. She looks at the coke. She could drink that but not yet.
“Here baby. This looks nice mother.”
“Yes, her favorite. Remember this is all you sued to eat in high school, wouldn’t touch any other salad.”
“Hm.” She says.
She eats a lettuce leaf and almost cries. She eats more and now she does cry.
“God damit, you were there for weeks, you have put on weight, no dark marks under your eyes. We did all that fucking therapy. I thought we were past this now. Don’t you want a life, what a fucking waste. Mother say something.”
“I’m sorry daddy. I just can’t.”
She runs upstairs and into the bathroom, her toilet bowl is splattered with lettuce.
They don’t understand. They never will. She does have a life, this is her life.
She locks her door and takes out her phone. She logs back into her group.
-Hi guys, I am back from hell.