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Daisy couldn’t stop now. She was six out of her seventeen years and hundreds of meals too late to stop. And she cared.
She wasn’t one of those self-righteous fat girls who believe their bodies are beautiful just the way they are. She hadn’t signed any of the body treaties in teen magazines or looked at her thighs and magically realized that they were the most divine thighs south of Cortlant Park. Daisy was fat and she hated it.
“Daisy, please” she begged herself every morning in the mirror, grabbing her cheeks with her palms and pulling them towards her ears. “Please stop!” She repeated, trying so hard to suck in her stomach, as if she could will the fat away. Her skin: that was her best feature. “Daisy, if it wasn’t so stretched out your skin would be so good!” She pulled her skin back, imagining how much like a model she would look if only she wasn’t so fat. “See Daisy? So pretty! You could be so pretty!”
Daisy had so many versions of herself that she couldn’t keep them straight. The girl she was: fatty. The girl she had been, the girl who decorated her room with stickers of bicycles and trees and painted clouds on the ceiling. The reminders depressed her, but seeing the sticker scars if she took them off would be worse. Because that was the girl Daisy wanted to be again.
“Daisy! I’m home! Did you get dinner?” on Wednesdays, Daisy’s mom worked late so Daisy bought dinner. Her mother slammed the apartment door and threw her keys onto the rack. Daisy peeked out of her door and yelled back.
“It’s on the table!” All 2,000 calories of it, Daisy thought, gritting her teeth. She clawed at her stomach, trying to distract the growing hunger. She heard the slam of the refrigerator, her mother getting Coke. 200 calories, but then again her mother wasn’t the fat one. Her stomach groaned. The hunger spread like a disease through her body, first up into her chest, then spreading into her arms, legs, cheeks, and to the end of every strand of hair.
“Daisy, stop! Please, Daisy! STOP!” She shut her eyes as tightly as she could, and opened them to a picture of her father on the wall. Daisy’s skin was darker than his, hazelnut to his almond. Most men’s ears stuck out behind those camouflage hats, their skin pale and shiny against the olive uniform. But Daisy’s father looked so handsome, she thought, and the flag behind him just added to it. Tyra Banks talked a lot about smiling with your eyes on her show, and Daisy thought her father was the master of it. Her stomach yelled in pain, and Daisy closed her eyes again. Her mother hollered up to her.
“Daisy, girls got to eat! You want to be strong, right?” Her mother giggled. Daisy knew she was trying to be sweet, but it just seemed mean. Daisy heard the theme song for America’s Next Top Model bursting from the TV. “Girl, that show you love is on!” Her mother yelled again. That stupid show that Daisy pretended to like so her mother would think she had good body image. After all, Tyra was the one who was supposed to like fat girls. She even pretended to be one. Daisy put her hand on the doorknob but quickly pulled it back like there was a fire on the other side. She turned, and her father was staring at her with those smiling eyes.
“I’m not hungry, I’m not hungry, I’m not hungry!” she whimpered. Her dad just smiled at her. He’d never let her go without supper, but then again her father hadn’t known this Daisy. Fat Daisy. Her dad knew bicycle Daisy. Daisy who spent weekends in the park playing, Daisy who’d rather pass a soccer ball than watch American Idol. Skinny Daisy. “Fine.” She whispered and took her hand off of her stomach. She walked to the kitchen, and got a plate to put the fried chicken onto. She hesitantly opened the fridge, deciding on a diet soda. Zero calories were still too many. And it wouldn’t help her any.
“Daisy, is this chicken from the place on Pitt Street?” Daisy nodded slowly, then blurted yes, realizing her mother was in the other room. She reached her thick hands into the bucket, limiting herself to two pieces and only a small amount of barbeque sauce. It was still 300 calories too many. She joined her mother on the couch, punishing herself with the hunger for a few more minutes. Finally she reached down to the chicken, and slowly raised it to her plump lips. She took a bite, only a small one, while every molecule in her body screamed for her to stop.
It was done now. No more chicken on her plate, no more hope to be that normal girl that her father had loved. But no more hunger. Daisy didn’t know if it was worth it.