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Becca and Jason
As Jason walks around the kitchen island into the dining room and pops a hand full of popcorn into his mouth, he wonders what’s taking Rebecca so long. She went up to her room to get her biology book so they could study for the upcoming midterm exam, but that was almost twenty minutes ago. Finally he decides to go upstairs to make sure that she’s okay. As he walks to her room, the light is off and her biology book is lying perfectly untouched on her desk. As he calls out her name he sees a flash of light in the corner of his eye from down the hall. As he comes closer the sound of water is faint and he realizes she must be in the bathroom. The doors opened a little, so he slowly pushes it the rest of the way. As he takes in the bathroom and adjusts his eyes to the dimness of the light, his expression becomes filled with dread and worry. Laying there in a disarray of bony limbs, Rebecca is passed out with her fist clenching the corner of the rug.
“Becca?” As his voice breaks the silence, it quivers and cuts out in the end. As he leans down and moves her face so he can see it, he calls her name a couple more times.
He reaches in his pocket for his cell phone and calls 911. His mind becomes more focused as he states her address, his name, and his cell number. As he closes his phone and places it on the sink counter he remembers that the water’s still running. He stands up slowly and brushes the shower curtain back with his hands, steam hits his face and he turns the water off. When he turns around back to Rebecca he notices the toilet seat. It’s propped up and the once clear water is filled with blood. He looks back at Becca’s weak body, where all the energy has been drained from it and he begins to notice things that he tried not to before. The way her hip bones jut out from her jeans and how her back is outlined with bone and her cheeks have become hollow compared to her old soft baby cheeks that he had once adored. In a desperate need to fill the time he flushes the toilet and puts the seat back down so he can sit and bury his face in his hands. As he prays he hears the ambulance cry out in the distance and he waits for them to come closer…waiting for what happens next.
Rebecca lies in bed with her parents standing together in the corner by the window while Dr. Anderson stands next to the bed with her file in her hands reading off the inevitable. “Rebecca shows sure signs of both Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia and she’s under severe conditions. Over the past couple days Rebecca has been fed through a tube to try to help her gain back some healthy weight. Now that we feel that she has put a substantial amount of weight on, we believe that she is ready to be released. We would like you to make an appointment for her to come back for regular weight check-ups. If we see a decrease in her weight she’ll be hospitalized again, but if we see a gradual increase, then we will refer her to Dr. Corveissa. She is highly qualified as both a nutritionist and therapist for these types of conditions. Here’s Dr. Corveissa’s number and some information on her practice.” She hands the information and referral over to Rebecca’s parents and wishes them the best of luck. Before walking out the door, she turns and looks at Rebecca. Studying Rebecca’s face, she puts it to memory, knowing that in most cases, she’d be seeing Rebecca again. She smiled and then walked out the door.
As the room grew quiet from the absence of the doctor, Rebecca waits for what her parents are going to say to her, since they hadn’t much as looked at her over the past couple of days. More than anything they looked disappointed and at that moment, Rebecca truly believed that staying at the hospital would be better then going home with them. They didn’t know her. They wouldn’t understand and all they cared about were their precious reputations. While thinking this, her father gathers up his briefcase and says that it’s time to be getting home. He says he’ll go sign Becca out and meet them at the car. The whole ride home: Silence.
When they arrive home, Rebecca goes upstairs to her bedroom and locks the door. Stripping down to her bra and underwear, she begins poking and squeezing the skin where she feels there is fat. In her long, wall length mirror she turns to her side and tries to contemplate just how much weight she gained from the hospital stay and realizes that she should probably go exercise to burn some calories so she can start losing the weight again. As she’s pulling over a T-shirt and about to put on her tennis shoes, she hears her mom call her down for dinner. She feels like exploding, but she knows she needs to put on an act, so as she turns off her light and gets ready to walk downstairs she puts her hand to her hipbone and rubs it, finding comfort in it.
Downstairs, the clinking of silverware and plates is the only noise that fills the silence. Her parents sit on the ends while she sits on one of the sides. As the only child, Rebecca is used to it just being the three of them. With hectic work schedules though, her parents and her never really had a close-knit relationship. It was always them calling saying they had to work late once again, while she learned to fend for herself. It’s always been that way and she doesn’t see that changing now.
For dinner they’re having lasagna and garlic bread: two no-no’s in Rebecca’s world. With each very small bite she feels herself getting closer and closer to breaking down and slowly tears begin to run down her face and she notices that her parents won’t look her in the eye ever since they had come to the hospital that first day. It’s been the third time she’d had to stay at the hospital for more than a day and she thinks that they’ve finally decided to give up on her. It’s not like they’d really helped her in the past, unless sending her off to see a therapist once a week to talk about her “feelings” was really considered helping. As she feels herself begin to shake from the stress of trying to hold herself together, her father begins to say something: “So Howard called me today and said he thinks he could get me another client. We’re discussing it over golf tomorrow.” With that, Rebecca couldn’t stand being there any longer. She pushed her almost full plate of lasagna back and stood up. With no objections, she grabbed her keys and jacket and walked out the front door.
Before heading to the car though, she walks over to the side of the house by some bushes and pushes her finger down her throat. After vomiting she turned her head slightly up to see two young girls staring at her. Startled as well as ashamed, she quickly wiped her mouth and got in the car, driving off in the opposite direction of the two kids, not looking in her rearview mirror until she turned the corner.
She drove to Jason’s house, seeing as how that’s the only place she could go, knowing that she could find comfort with him next to her. He had been in the ambulance with her that day and had stayed all night out in the hall, until her parents had finally convinced him to go home and get some sleep. He had left reluctantly, only to show up every morning after that to sit by her side. They had been going out for over a year now and he had watched her struggle with this time and time again, pushing him away when she couldn’t bear the shame. He had left that day right before the meeting that she had with her parents and Dr. Anderson, asking her to promise him that she’d call him when she got home. She hadn’t though. Not because she had forgotten, but because she didn’t know what she was going to say to him. They hadn’t really talked about what had happened and she just figured that Jason was giving her some space. He was waiting for her to open up. She didn’t even know how to open up though. She’d been pushing people away for the past two years through this, but he had been the only one that had stayed by her side. She needed him more then ever now, but she wasn’t sure how to ask. She sat outside his house in her car, contemplating whether she wanted to go in or not, when the decision was made for her. Jason came out and started walking towards her as if he knew she’d been there the entire time.
He looked good; better than she remembered. His curly hair poofed up all around while his left side was flattened, telling her that he hadn’t been awake for long. His eyes were dark brown and they stared intensely at her that she had to look down. He walked slowly, his long legs shuffling smoothly across the pavement. The wind picked up and moved his T-shirt to press against his stomach, revealing the outline of his ab muscles which sent shivers down her body.
He came to the side of the car and she opened the door and stepped out. When she looked up he was right there, his body inches from hers. He didn’t move and she curled herself up in his arms. She looked up and his eyes were watery as was hers. A tear ran down her face and he brushed it away with his hand. She began to shake and she threw her arms around his neck with his around her waist. She ran her fingers through his hair and at the bottom of his neck she found his chain. He’d been wearing it for about six months now and it was a reminder of how soon she could lose him. The chain was connected to a square medal plate that had his medical information engraved in it. He had had a seizure that had sent him to the hospital about six months ago for no specific reason that the doctors could give. All they told him was that they foresaw a more severe seizure in the future so they gave him medication that he now takes everyday as well as the chain so if he does have a seizure the ambulance would know what to give him. When it had happened Rebecca had been scared to death and she still sometimes has nightmares about it happening again.
As the minutes passed by, they didn’t say anything. She just held on tightly and he the same, not wanting her to ever leave him. He felt her spine as he ran his fingers down her back and each breath she took as she pressed up against him. She was fragile and already breaking: He wanted to help put the pieces of her back together and make her whole again.
The wind began to pick up and her hair blew in his face and he took in her shampoo sent. She shivered so he took her by the hand and they walked towards his house.
The first bell rang for classes to begin and Rebecca and Jason walked down the hall together. They got to Rebecca’s first class as the minute bell rang and she was about to turn to go into the classroom when Jason grabbed her by the arm and told her to wait.
He looked nervous and she laughed out loud as she saw him struggle for his words; he’d never been the one to struggle with what he was going to say. “Umm…I want you to have this.” He reached around his neck and unclasped the chain. As he put it around her neck she studied it and noticed that on the back he had engraved a cross and their initials. She looked up at him questioningly and he said, “You need it more then I do.” As he said this, she looked to the other side of the metal plate where his medical information had been to see that it had been crossed out and in place it said, “Recovering Anorexic.” A tear began to from and she quickly wiped it away.
“I went to the doctor this past week and he told me that I could go off my medication now. He thinks I’m past having any more seizures. I just thought that you should hold onto it now. I mean I wore it for so long and it always reminded me that at any moment, something could happen to me. Nothing has though, and I want you to wear it now to show that I’m not going to let anything happen to you either. I’m gonna help you get through this Becca.”
She looked at him without saying anything and seconds began to pass by. She looked down at the necklace and back up to Jason, but before she could say anything, he had already started his way over to the senior buildings. She stood a while longer before finally turning to go sit in the back of English 3 and drown out the groan of the teachers’ voice. The chain swayed as she walked and she began to rub the engraving with her thumb; putting to memory that R with the J looped into it. Then she turned it over to look at where it said, “Recovering Anorexic” and began to question if that was really what she wanted.
“Stop it Jason. That tickles!” Rebecca fell off the couch onto the floor in a heap of giggles. Jason and her had been sitting on the couch doing math homework when she had looked up to catch him staring at her. She laughed and then gave him a disapproving look, telling him that they needed to concentrate. In the end though, he had began tickling her and she started to laugh uncontrollably.
“Hey Jason. Becca. Umm, I need the trash taken out if you don’t mind Jason.” His dad walked in the door from work and looked at them on the couch with this face that looked far off; remembering something from the past that put a smile on his face.
Jason got off the couch, “I’ll be right back. You need anything?”
“No, I’m good. Thanks.” She smiled up at him and he made a funny face, making her laugh.
After Jason went out the front door with the trash, Rebecca got up and wandered into the kitchen where Jason’s mom, Kelly, was sitting at the bar reading. When Rebecca noticed she was busy, she began to walk back, but then Kelly noticed her.
“Hey Becca. Why don’t you come on over here? I haven’t seen you around in awhile. You’re looking good.”
Rebecca was about to say thanks, but then she noticed what Kelly was reading. It was a devotional for women. She walked over to the bar and sat down. “What are you reading about?”
Kelly looked down at the book and then at her notes and said, “Well, there’s a story in here about running away from everybody, especially God. The lesson’s about how we get worn down and stressed about the future and we forget that we need to give control of our lives over to God, even when we feel like we’re not gonna get through. There’s a verse in here that I really like. Hold on, let me find it.” She began flipping through her bible and scanning a page in Jeremiah. “Here we go: Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”
Rebecca sat still, thinking about the verse. Jason came back in and sat down next to Rebecca. He looked at his mom and then at her and he began talking. It seemed like background noise as she replayed what Kelly had said over in her head. So many times in life, Rebecca felt like she was never good enough; always failing at one thing or another. One of her greatest fears was failing in life and not having a future. Here she was, a nobody. Why would God have plans for her? As far as she could see, she had made her life as big as a disaster as possible and there was no hope. No college, career, life. She just thought that on the path she was going, she’s be gone before too long, dying this slow death of perfection, when she was no where close to it; perfection that is.
As she started coming back to Jason and his mom, she felt hazed. She’d been running from God for so long now, but here were these two wonderful people who have gone through so much, and yet they’re as close to God as ever. A feeling came over her suddenly and she almost felt like crying. She didn’t want to leave this place. It was here where she felt like she belonged. Here with Jason and his mom, talking about the bible; this was home to her. She looked over at Jason who had managed to push his seat closer to hers and she stared mesmerized. He hadn’t run from her when she had fallen once again from her eating disorder like so many of her other friends had. Instead he was still there with her, loving her unconditionally, waiting for her to let him in, to let him help her.
Minutes passed by and dinnertime finally rolled around. She helped Jason set the table and when they were done he started chasing her through the house. She let out a scream and started laughing harder then she had in a long time. When she reached the laundry room she stopped, gasping for air. Jason was right behind her breathing heavy and laughing as well. The room was cramped and silence filled the air. Jason got this soft look on his face and he stared intensely down at Rebecca. She came closer and he brushed a strand of hair out of her face. She smiled timidly and he bent his face down to kiss her nose.
All of a sudden a loud bang broke the moment and Jason’s younger brother, Micah, came running in the room with a squirt gun. He began shooting water at them and Jason got annoyed, chasing him into the next room. Rebecca just stood there laughing as she wiped water from her face. She followed them into the next room and Jason had Micah down on the floor and they were both shooting at each other, getting soaked in the process. “Come on you two, let’s go eat dinner,” but even as she said it, she didn’t really want to go. Jason and Micah just looked up at Rebecca like they were completely unaware that she’d been standing there. They both stood up and Jason ruffled up Micah’s hair. Micah socked him in the arm and Jason just laughed. Micah walked past where Rebecca was lingering in the doorway. When it was just the two of them again, Jason stepped into the doorway with Rebecca and looking down at her, she wiped water from his face with her hand before they both headed to the dining room.
Everybody settled into their seats and piled their plates up with homemade taco salad, one of Rebecca’s favorite dishes. As it came to her she struggled with each spoonful she put on her plate and hoped no one noticed. After everybody had gotten some, they gathered hands. It was tradition at their house to go around the table and have everybody say something. As it came to Rebecca she quietly said, “Thank you Lord for today and for the wonderful people around me. They’ve all been such a blessing to have in my life. I ask you right now to please give me the strength and the want to get better. I’m sorry that I’ve let everyone around me down, especially you. I’ve been running from you for a long time and I just ask that you pull me closer to you. Thanks again for the beautiful people around this table, especially Jason who I believe has been sent down to be my guardian angel. I never thought I’d be so gifted with a person who could love me as much as he does. Thank you for the hands that prepared this meal and I just ask that it be a blessing to our bodies. Amen.”
After a chorus of whispered amen’s, the table remained quiet. Kelly sniffled as her eyes grew watery and Jason sat still, squeezing Rebecca’s knee under the table. He kept his hand there throughout the whole meal, rubbing his thumb against the side of her knee. Rebecca ate some, but then pushed her plate back, debating on throwing up or not. She decided not to, knowing that it would be too obvious. Instead she decided to be okay with having some to eat, though it was a struggle, she was slowly getting used to.
Rebecca helped clean up the kitchen some before Kelly finally shooed her out, telling her that she’d done enough. Jason and her walked hand-in-hand down to the lake next to his house. There was a warm summer breeze, but Rebecca shivered some. As they made their way down to a bench, Jason wrapped his arms around her to keep her warm.
When they finally made it down, the bench creaked a little from the weight of them. Rebecca laid her head on Jason’s shoulder and he embraced her with his arms. They were quiet for awhile, just taking in the perfect night, trying to make it last. Finally in a whisper Jason said, “I love you Becca and I don’t want to ever lose you.” His voice quivered as he said it and his eyes were moist. She looked up at him and grabbed his hand. She put it in a fist and held it to her.
“I love you too and I’m not going anywhere. I need you so much right now. I can’t do this on my own. I don’t know if I’m ready to be strong, but I’m trying and I need you to be there to pick me up when I fall.” A tear slowly ran down her face and Jason kissed it away. He brought her to his lap and cradled her in his arms.
“I promise that I will never leave you. I will be here every step of the way. You can count on me whenever you need me Becca, day or night, no matter what.” Then he whispered, “I’m right here,” and he pulled her to him in a tight embrace and kissed her. At first gentle, but then it became more heated before they both pulled away slightly, breathing heavy. They stayed there together watching the clouds pass by before Rebecca finally said that she needed to be getting home. On the long drive home she promised herself that she would try to get better. It was the least she could do.