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The Girl in the Mirror
The tears sting. I can’t see anything anymore, but it doesn’t matter—I don’t want to see this world any longer. Laying in bed the sheets envelope me. Their once smooth fabric feels like coarse sand paper against my weak skin. I know the radio is on, but I can’t hear it. The only sound is my breathing, fast, erratic—I can’t stop.
My stomach bloats, filled with food. What had I done?
I’ve worked so hard to be thin and I achieved it. Then there was one single moment of weakness. For a split second I remembered what cake tasted like and it hit me—the scent, the smell, the feeling of a satisfied stomach. I ate it all and more. I couldn’t stop myself. Once my throat was opened to the coming of food nothing stopped me.
Strange hic-ups interrupt my tears, making me feel stupid.
There’s only one way I can undo this. I’ve heard of how bad it is, but it will only be this one time; just one simple moment to take back my sins. My stomach gurgles as if to tell me I’m doing the right thing in wanting to discard the food. My body doesn’t need it or want its nutrition.
The tear stained sheets cling to my skin as I lift my head—too fast; the room rushes around me, threatening to crush me if I don’t lie down again. With a heaving cough I pull my feet forward and slide off the bed. The room is dark; the digital clock reads 3:48 AM. Every movement I make causes the floor boards to creak in this old house. I feel my way around the room until I reach the door. With a twist of a handle I enter the hallway.
The silence is deafening. Down the hall my parents sleep, unaware of my insomnia. In the back of my throat my cries persist, but I keep myself quiet in the short distance it takes to reach the bathroom.
I worry they’ll hear me. If they see what I’m doing they’ll stop me for sure, maybe even send me to the hospital. But then everything I worked for will be of waste. I count my steps, monitor my breathing, until the haven of the bathroom gives way to me.
I shut the wooden door behind myself. For a moment I stand there in the darkness, petrified that my parents will find me. I listen, stopping my tears, until I hear the quiet breathing down the hall. I turn the lock and switch on the light.
The bathroom glows with an ominous hue. It reminds me of a quarantined area that doctors use to observe you, watching behind a one-way mirror. In front of me the mirror gazes and I stare back, seeing how hideous I’ve become. My eyes squint in the new light, never fully open; my long hair that once traveled down my spine is now thin and brittle. Everything about me is dying. If there were doctors or scientists looking through this mirror at me right now they’d say I’m insane.
The toilet awaits a few feet away from me. It beckons to me like a Siren taking its victim—I follow without a second thought. On my knees the thin carpet over the linoleum doesn’t do much to soften the surface. My body shivers even though my parents always leave the heat on during the night. Goosebumps rise on my withering skin.
I raise the lid off the toilet, letting the smells of waste fill my nose. My first reaction is to turn away, but then I remember I’m here to rid myself of waste. I brace myself, laying both arms across the rim.
With just one hand—just a finger—I can undo this.
My right hand creeps to my mouth, past my lips and to the back of my throat. I gag, feeling a shift in my body. All at once everything feels wrong. I wonder why other people do this, but once I see the contents of the bowl below my face I understand. It’s done. The poisoned food is gone. My throats burns and aches, begging for water, but I refuse.
Food still remains in my system—I can feel it. My hand pushes against my abdomen, coming into contact with my stomach that contains the poison. It didn’t work—or at least not all the way.
I brace myself, hovering over the toilet bowl. This time my hand shakes more and I can’t get it to move past my lips; that’s when I realize I’m crying again. Everything hurts. I don’t want to do this. I have to do this.
The food in my stomach is a constant reminder.
With shaky limbs I bring myself to stand. The mirror looks back at me. A girl stands with possessed eyes. She’s determined to be rid of her problems—little did she know it was herself.
The girl moves her hand toward to the mirror, opening a medicine cabinet. She scans the shelves, searching but unable to find. There are no laxatives in the house. She slams the cabinet shut in a fit of anger. The girl in the mirror stares at her reflection—she is a monster.
Her lips quiver and the next thing she is aware of is the pain in her hand. Broken glass is scattered at her feet, blood dripping from her fingers. The mirror is broken. If the scientists had been observing her they were long gone now, no longer caring for her safety.
The pain envelopes the girl and she slips to the ground, crying. But it isn’t for the food she had eaten or for how much she hated herself. It was for something simple—her hand is cut. She screams out, finally releasing everything she’s held back in the past mouths. She doesn’t care about the food in her stomach or the vomit in the toilet.
There’s a knock at the door, quiet and uncertain. “Honey, you okay?”
She doesn’t respond.
In a small, slow movement the door hinges open. The girl clutches her hand to her chest, blood staining her pajamas. The mother peaks through the door to the bathroom. The first thing she see’s is the broken mirror, then her daughter on the floor bleeding. It hits her like a sixteen wheeler on a highway. The toilet still sits, the lid open. Her eyes focus on the contents in the bowl and that’s all it takes to make the mother cry out. The daughter sits with her eyes closed, as if at peace with the distraction of physical pain in her palm.
The whispers from the mother can barley be heard as she gazes at her daughter. “Please…”
The girl begins to weep again, no longer distracted by the cut in her hand. “I can’t,” she says.