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Skin and Bones
I blinked the black spots from my eyes and refocused on my surroundings. Standing in front of me was a waitress, looking at me expectantly. She’d just asked for my order, but I was momentarily preoccupied by the spots blooming before my eyes.
“No thanks, I don’t want anything right now,” I said. The waitress left, leaving me to work on my math homework in silence.
Instead of working on my homework, though, I found myself looking around the café. People were congregated throughout the room, typing away on their laptops or sipping coffee. Most of them were eating. I could smell the food wafting from the kitchen, could smell the warm bread, the delicious cinnamon. I felt my stomach growl, begging for food…
No! I couldn’t keep thinking about food like that. I was there to study, not eat.
I tried to focus on my ever-interesting math book, but it couldn’t hold my attention. The growling in my stomach kept distracting me. It was stupid of me to go somewhere that I knew there would be food. I should have just gone home and studied there. But of course, Mom would have wondered why I wasn’t eating.
I let my eyes wander around the room once again. Sitting behind the glass by the cash register was a huge chocolate cake that seemed to be calling out my name. The temptation was almost too much, but I managed to stay in my seat. I wasn’t going to eat, no matter how hungry I got.
It had been over twenty four hours since my last meal, and I was feeling the effects of it. I felt lightheaded, and my stomach felt like it was running on empty. In some kind of sick way, I was proud of that.
“I got this for you,” someone behind me said. Before I turned around to see who it was, I gawked at the huge slice of chocolate cake that had been set in front of me.
After staring at the cake for a few seconds, I looked back to see the source of it. Standing behind me was a girl: Stacy Jenkins, who was in my math class at school. I’d never talked to her before, but I’d always thought she was beautiful. She had auburn hair and sparkling blue eyes that always stood out in the hallway. I couldn’t fathom why she would be bringing me a piece of cake.
“You got this for me?” I asked. “How come?”
“I saw you staring at it,” she said with a shrug as she took a seat next to me. “I thought maybe we could study together.”
“Well, thanks, but I’m not hungry,” I said. But right as I said it, my stomach let out a roaring growl, and I could no longer deny my hunger.
“I don’t think your stomach agrees with you,” she said with a laugh. She didn’t realize just how serious eating was to me. It wasn’t a matter of hunger. It was a matter of taking in too calories. Back then, even a single calorie seemed like too much to me.
“I don’t feel like eating,” I said. As delicious as that cake looked, I couldn’t let myself give in.
“It seems like you didn’t feel like eating lunch today, either. Or yesterday, for that matter,” she said. I couldn’t believe that she’d noticed that; no one else seemed to care whether I ate or not. “You need to eat, Evan.”
“I don’t want to,” I said, but my voice quavered a bit. Why did Stacy care if I ate or not?
“Do it for me then,” Stacy said. “You don’t have to starve yourself.”
“If I want to be skinny I do.”
“Just take a bite,” she said. “We can share it if you want.”
Stacy looked at me with those sparkling blue eyes and my resolve broke completely. Before she came to talk to me, I thought no one cared whether I starved myself or not.
I picked up the fork and apprehensively stuck it into the cake, pulling a piece away. And then I took a bite.