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Her mind was exhausted, her body weak. But still she fought forward, being strong like she thought she was. Beside her Marisa stuffed her face with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. The smell was intoxicating and drove Clarisse’s taste buds wild. You don’t want that. You don’t need that. The voice screams. She tries to satisfy her mind with yet another sip of water. Water was easy; it came with no guilt and helped to extinguish the burning fire in the pit of her stomach. But still the siren calls of melted chocolate ate at her strength, from the blue plate in the middle of the table.
To the world Clarisse was just an ordinary girl, pretty, athletic and some would even say smart, smart but fat, not that anyone other than the voice within her head would admit it. She was reminded of it every time she stepped in front of the mirror; she saw the way the weight rolled on her stomach, how her thighs rubbed when she walked and the way her arms jiggled when she waved. She saw it all, but still was oblivious to her sunken eyes, protruding cheek bones, and defined ribs poking from under her tightly drawn skin. Her eyes just worked differently than those of ordinary people. Yet sitting in the kitchen, and dressed in overly baggy clothes, no one would ever suspect anything.
Just that morning Clarisse had analysed, weighed and measured, writing the numbers down in the spiral bound notebook under her mattress. Her pale face formed a frown as she looked down at the number displayed on the small digital frame. The voice within her head disapproved and showed no effort to hide its menacing remarks. If only you hadn’t eaten that extra cheese cube with supper last night, then you wouldn’t have those roles on your stomach, and your thighs wouldn’t be the huge logs that they are. I can’t believe you even show yourself in public, you disgust me. Clarisse hadn’t known what the perfect weight would be, but hoped that one day she would just know, and the disgusting act that she was forced to keep up would be over, it tired her terribly having to pretend all the time. Having to think of how normal Clarisse would react.
“These cookies are so good!” Marisa had said drawing out the so with another bite of chocolaty goodness. “Come one you have to try one!” The girl gushed.
Marisa was the true test of Clarisse’s acting, as she could tell even before her if something was wrong. It was always extra tiring being with Marisa, and often she ended up sleeping for hours after the preppy blonde girl left.
“Here” the girl said nudging the plate now only half full towards Clarisse, who knew that she would have to shove the calorie filled lump down her throat. Only a small bite and you will have to punish yourself tomorrow for that, you can’t go filling yourself with fat, or you will never be skinny. The voice beat her with words that she never wanted to hear. ‘If only the voice weren’t there’ she thought, ‘I would be able to eat that whole plate of cookies.’ But the voice was there, and it would never leave until she was skinny.
Clarisse reached for a cookie and placed it on the clean white napkin in front of her. Carefully she picked off a single chocolate chip and placed the sweetness within her mouth savouring its godly taste. The rumbling of her stomach was put at ease for a few seconds with the hope that more food would follow but slowly began its constant complaints once again as it realized its dream would not be fulfilled.
The whole time Marissa watched her carefully. “Have some more, you can’t tell there amazingness from such a small bite.” She said after a few minutes of silence, a fake grin posted on her face, the concern clearly evident in her dark brown eyes.
The voice pounded her with grief. That bite was enough, how can she expect you to eat more when you are already so fat? Clarisse smiled slightly and moved from her chair to refill her glass of water. This time she couldn’t help but agree with the voice and it took all her strength not to snap at the too kind girl in front of her. But Marissa didn’t give up. “Seriously” she insisted, her playfulness no longer evident her strict voice.
“I don’t feel so good” Clarisse responded and this time it wasn’t another lie. Her head spun and her stomach felt as if it was flipping.
“Clare, I'm worried about you” Marissa cried clearly concerned. Oh s***, she knows. The voice cried out. Now what are you going to do fatty? Your best friend thinks you’re too fat too. “Your too skinny.” Well that was a surprise, a good joke though. How can she say your too skinny when your so fat? Do you not see these rolls, and the bags of fat on my legs? But Clarisse couldn’t think straight, it was only the voice talking now
“Go” The voice said pointing to the door, and ushering Clarisse’s friend away. Marissa didn’t budge. “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE” it cried, finally snapping from exhaustion. Marissa, shock over whelming her face at the sudden outburst, moved from her chair and hesitantly inched towards the door. “NOW” The voice called, forcing Marissa to make the final steps out the door.
Still overwhelmed by nausea, Clarisse griped the kitchen counter. The voice inched her along, towards the door snapping the lock closed on the girls face. On the other side, tears streamed down Marissa’s face, but Clarisse ignored it.
The smell of cookies filled her head once again. Fat, Fat, Fat. The voice chanted in her mind. Clarisse turned away to avoid the constant urge to stuff her face. She was strong, and one day she would be skinny too. But for now, you’re just fat. The voice mocked. She turned towards her room and stumbled down the hall. She flopped down on her bed, finally letting that day’s exhausted wipe over her. Slowly as tears streamed down her face, she piled on yet another blanket to keep away her constant shivers and fell into a deep dark sleep. The voice still sung in her ear but this time its haunting tone was interlaced with that days scale number. Fat, 80, Fat, 80, Fat, 80, Fat, Fat, Fat. But eventually she slipped into a place where even the voice couldn’t reach her.
* * *
Later when people were asked about Clarisse’s death, they would say that they never saw it coming. That it was a complete and total surprise. That she had always seemed so in control and happy. But deep down inside these peoples own voices would be tormenting them, not with the guilt of eating an extra cheese cube, but of ignoring the obvious signs of anorexia that the seemingly happy girl had shown. All of them were too afraid to take action against the disease that lived within the beautiful girl. Only Marissa questioned it, but by then it was too late, and although this is only a work of fiction, eating disorders aren’t and they won’t just go away. These people want to stop but can’t without help. Please don’t let anyone else suffer through this alone.