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November 30th, 2008
The stomach grumbles: The killer to every perfect classroom silence. Every kid goes through being "that kid" at some point. It's unavoidable. It seemed to haunt me the most, though. After all, with the way modern society is, it's not always possible to eat substantially.
Today I had a migraine. Every little note seemed to stab each of the individual lobes of my brain. The classroom fan, the quiet whispers from the best friends in the back, the sound and smell of markers on the white board, all murdering me simultaneously. Not to mention, the sun pouring through the wide open window was brighter than ever, today.
The contrast between dark and light is amazing - yet you will never realize it until your eyes have been shut for so incredibly long, that when they finally dare to open, all you see is white daylight and it's blinding.
December 17th, 2008
After opening my eyes this morning, the second thing I did was look in the cracked, oval-shaped mirror across from the bed. The first thing, of course, was the steps it took me to arrive. I looked sick. I always looked pretty sick. I rolled up the bottom half of the men's hoodie I acquired somehow, someway, and began analyzing. I looked disgusting, like a pig. I could have vomited at the sight. Before my lungs released a dry heave, I rolled the hoodie back down and decided I didn't have the time to prepare a multi-course meal for breakfast, and that if by some miracle I'd be hungry at lunch, I'd buy something from the cafeteria.
I changed into a different hoodie, composed of different colors and it was a different brand. I threw on sweats again, because it seemed like a sweatpants day. However, when I looked at my face, I decided it needed some work. Reasonably speaking, nobody could leave the house with a face quite like this, without makeup anyways. Therefore, I threw on a few dabs of mascara to my top lids, followed by foundation evenly spread out through all the right pores. After that, I simply ran the brush through my long, Goldie locks waves. They used to be shiny, sun-highlighted blonde. Now, the color resembles something like Easy Mac, and I hate it.
Once I arrived at school, I passed by their faces. Their names used to be always of a large concern but they stopped caring about me, so I stopped caring about them. As I sped-walked past their cliquey table complete with the school's star athletes, their cheerleader friends, and the big money, I thought to myself. I used to be one of those. I used to sport Coach purses and other designer expenditures. I used to be amongst the cheerleader crowd. I used to date the star athletes, and I used to actually pride myself on these things.
I heard my stomach growling at me, with a spike of pain surging through it as the bell rang. I'd be late again.
December 30th, 2008
The book report was due tomorrow and I wasn't remotely close to finishing anything. The book remained cushioned in dust on my nightstand and the essay due about this particular book couldn't be completed without having knowledge of what the book is about. It had to get done, no doubt about that. A lot of things have to get done and sometimes you have to do them and not complain.
I had a conversation with my lab partner today in Chemistry:
"Ashley, have I ever told you how jealous I am of you?"
I shook my head. "Nope." In all honesty, I couldn’t recall her ever saying much to me at all.
I didn't think she heard me. "Seriously, I love your body. You look so great! You've got to be losing weight..." Her voice lowered to barely a mutter. "Are you taking something?"
I thought about the idea of it, and shrugged it off. "If you want to be skinny, Joanne, you can't eat. That's how I do it, and it kills."
She looked confused, but because Joanne is a cheerleader, a blonde one, with a pretty face and not a whole lot of brain, she knew exactly what I meant. "You know that's proven to like not work or whatever. I learned in health that your body will just burn off every calorie slower so it's like... counterproductive."
I laughed at her in my head. That was probably the biggest word she's ever used.
January 5th, 2009
Saturday mornings used to mean cheer practice. My brain woke me today because of that fact. My stomach began it's routine again. It began to make a ruckus. I was comfortable on the couch, flipping through channels the old school way. The first station was the news, there was a marquee scrolling across the bottom regarding some recalled peanut butter. Next station, a soap opera. They were at a restaurant. He was eating some kind of pasta and she was sobbing all over a fresh salmon. Next station, the food network. I decided I was done there and began to thumb through my mom's magazines.
She's typically gone all day long, and by the time she gets home at night I've been asleep for a few hours. Lately I haven't really been sleeping, but that's around when she walks in. And in the morning she leaves before I even wake up. I think the last time I spoke to her was around a couple of weeks ago, but I could be wrong. My days run together. I remember her last words: "There’s pancakes in the microwave if you get hungry."
That sent my stomach into frenzy yet again. I ignored it, and continued to thumb through the celebrities dresses from the Oscar's. Eva Longoria was so thin. Her long, purple backless gown would have ripped at the seams if I were to try to squeeze into it. Continuing down the page, I noticed Natalie Portman's perfect figure gracing a shorter blue dress and as the page continued, more supermodels and celebrities were flaunting their perfectly tanned, chiseled features on the glossy page. I couldn't take it. I shut the magazine, and I headed to the bathroom.
January 23rd, 2009
Joanne had her cheerleading outfit on today. They must have had some sort of game tonight. It killed me that she still was prettier than me, after all this time. You’d think that after elementary, middle, and some high school she would have gotten uglier. She eyed me strange as she walked in, her short, sandy curls bounced in her loosely wrapped ribbon. "Jeez Ashley, why'd you quit cheerleading again?"
I sighed, looking at her incomplete lab as she fished through her purse for a pen(I'm assuming). She was going to ask to copy mine, since mine was in front of me, done, and ready to turn in. "I was demoted." Wrong word. Completely wrong word. But she didn’t need to know.
"You mean they booted you off?" She asked with her typical Joanne attitude.
"More or less."
"More? Less? Why?"
"Health reasons. I wanted to continue the games, the competitions, everything. But... evidently something interfered."
She looked at me again, my torso and legs, anyhow, and then paused. After a moment of that, she began to copy my paper without even asking me. Really, you've got to appreciate a slacker. "For real, with your body, these new uniforms would look amazing on you. It's a shame you had to quit."
I nodded. "Yeah, tell me about it..."
My stomach screamed again, and about a quarter of the class turned to face me. I hate when that happens.
January 30th, 2009
My mom and I were actually both home today, at the same time, in the same place. It was shocking to me, but she even asked about me. "How's your love life, Ashley?" She piped up about midway through the conversation.
"What love life?" I mumbled,
"It's fine, mom. Everything's fine." Was all I said. She was making dinner and I don't really know quite what it was, but it smelled like salty, cheesy, delicious goodness. As soon as I began to surrender to its tug, I cut the tie. "Hey I've got a project to finish. Can I eat later?"
She continued to jumble around pans and pots while simultaneously dumping ingredients into them. The scent was driving me mad. "Are you sure? I'm making your favorite, cheesy potatoes...”
Those used to be my favorite.
"I'm alright. Thanks though." was all I said before departing up to my lonely bedroom to work on this imaginary project. Being alone like this made me think about things apart from my normal mindset. I wasn't thinking about people like Joanne or Eva Longoria. I was thinking about other components of my life. It made me feel a little fuzzy suddenly. Somehow, my vision turned dark and I was face down against my mattress in an instant.
January 31st, 2009
Today Joanne was strange. She walked up, but looked at me as if I were a member of some foreign species or something. It was as if I was an alien on her home turf. She looked mortified by me so much as standing near her in Chemistry. I may have been poor with words, but I definitely could take a hint. About halfway through the lab of the day, I spoke up. "You feeling alright today, Joe?"
She looked pretty stoic, and focused on the task at hand. Essentially, mentally detached from the conversation. Her hair was in wispy waves today and pulled back into a low bun. She wasn't wearing her cheerleading outfit today, or even anything remotely stylish. She was sporting a cardigan that could have been one from her mom's closet topped off with Light blue sweats that didn't match anything on her except her dark teal eyes, her bangs hid those today though. "I was about to ask you the same thing... you.. uh... well actually. I just won't say anything."
I was beyond confused, but a slight preoccupation with the short bouts of pain through my abdomen interfered. I kept pretty hunched over, because if I maintained proper posture the pain only increased. Along with that, my stomach was still making itself known vocally. "I'm not sure what you're talking about."
She shook her head, looking exasperated. It couldn't have been anything I've said or done because of a couple of reasons: 1) I barely know the girl, and 2) I never exchanged words with her about anything besides chemistry labs and diet tips. "You know that something's wrong, Ashley. I wish I could put a finger on it but, you look sad all the time, You look confused, lost, hopeless, and worst of all... you're starting to look so... so... gross."
That word hit like a stick of dynamites. Gross. Gross... I couldn't really be that way. I decided. She was jealous, and it's not a form of flattery.
One month later:
I looked in the mirror before I got out of bed today. Everything felt colder than it did yesterday. Everything seemed more black and fuzzy. I don't remember where things went wrong, or what particular incident made things blow out of proportion. If you ask me, I'd say it was everything. I couldn't tell you which was black and which was white. I couldn't say which was carbon monoxide, and which was oxygen. And honestly, I couldn't tell you right and left. Thing is - I could have sworn that I was standing, except I was lying down. I was lying down and I didn't remember how it happened. That's when I realized I couldn't see, or breathe. That's when I realized I was unconscious.
One week later:
It's strange being unconscious - because you're not conscious. You can't really tell that you're thinking, living, breathing... but you are. You do all of those things when you're unconscious. What's strange is that you end up doing a lot of what feels like "mindless thinking". Let me explain: It's like daydreaming. You let every feeling, emotion, fear, anything raw and abstract hit you and it's quite overpowering. This doesn't happen while mindlessly staring into blackness. Because when you're unconscious, you don't know much of anything. You just think, and hold onto life somehow. This happens when, or if, you're lucky enough to open your eyes again.
Treatment at the Redwood Rehabilitation Center seemed just like the fake lights I woke up to. I never really imagined what it'd be like to have to go through counseling, therapy, and be fed through a tube. When I first woke up, they tried to feed me. I remember being hungry, but saying no anyways. Ever since, they've kept a tube in me. My therapist talks to me like I'm mentally unstable and my parents always show up here incognito. It's understandable - who would want to have it be known that their daughter is a nutcase?
Aside from my ashamed parents, my only visitor was Joanne. She hadn't changed. She remained virtually silent about the fact that we were in what could easily be misconstrued as a mental institution - considering the entire place was lined with the whitest of white walls, and there was a smell throughout the place similar to a doctor's office. There were even padded rooms, and some patients on other floors were in white jackets that prevented much movement. Joanne didn't say much of anything except that people were worried about me, and that I was missing all sorts of work in chemistry. She also talked about guys, which was just part of any conversation involving Joanne.
She came in last Tuesday, with what seemed like a chip on her shoulder and a fake, awkward grin stapled to her lips. "Hey, Ash." She said, bringing me more of the same carnations she brought last time. It's the lack of thought that counts.
She continued to stare blankly, and let her hand run through her bangs as she brushed them out of her face. "How’s treatment?”
I sighed. "Satisfactory, I guess.”
"Just satisfactory?" She sat down on the crisp white sheets next to me, looking mindlessly through the pale window.
"It has its ups and downs."
The rest of her visit was rather silent and kept to a minimal of small-talk. She didn't have much to say to me and I really didn't have much to say to her. She did however inform me of some juicy gossip regarding my ex-best friend. I didn't really get the gist of it. The tall trees extending through the green fields on the other side of the glass distracted me. The sun was shining and I enjoyed the natural feel of the light on my skin, through the thick panes and all. I enjoyed the reflection of the beams piercing the edge of the bed and extending down towards the large square tiles, which made the dirt specs seem transparent or non-existent. I relished in the absence of darkness. I chose to ignore the chance of relapse and took a clean breath.