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She moved to our school at an odd time, the end of 7th grade.  She never shared much of her background with anyone, she was mysterious like that.  She was the better, prettier version of me.  She had perfectly voluminous, smooth straight hair, radiating blue eyes, and a body that you only saw on the internet.  Her first day at our moderate-sized middle school was what you would expect for a girl like her, girls and boys at her heels, wanting to make a first impression.  I knew she would have her own little posse in no time; she just seemed like that kind of girl. 
Our district had seen a new girl before, so I resumed my daily activities, putting her out of my mind for a little.  About a week after she arrived is when it all changed, she came up to me before lunch.  She begged me to sit with her, making sure none of her statement seem as though I could decline.  She grabbed my wrist, a hold she wouldn’t lose on me for a long time, and dragged me to one of the generic long lunch tables.  She forcefully directed me to a seat and placed herself directly across from me; I remained confused. 
I opened my cliche Vera Bradley lunchbox, and began to pull out the very simple lunch I always had: pretzels sticks, goldfish crackers, my family’s famous grilled chicken, and a small piece of chocolate.  It was a lunch for a picky eater, which I had been all my life, but one that was perfectly suitable for a thirteen year old.  She began to question my lunch, insisting that she never brought one to school.  I pondered that point for awhile.  Light conversation continued between us until the monotone bell rang over the loudspeaker.  Before we parted ways to our different classes, she made sure to insist that we would have to start spending more time together.  Our long, dark path of friendship was only beginning.

It began with little things, like telling me that I should change my eating habits.  Get rid of “the bad foods”, as she called them.  Seemed easy enough, and sounded completely reasonable.  So that’s what I did, I cut out all of the “non-healthy” food I had in my life, thinking I was doing good for myself.  But what I didn’t realize was that Anna had a different interpretation of what getting rid of these types of foods meant.  She didn’t just want me to get rid of these foods, but also replace them with nothing. 
She was so convincing. 
I did as she said.  I stopped having a snack after school and dessert after dinner.  Water was the only drink I allowed myself.  But she wasn’t happy, which meant I wasn’t either.  The hanging mirror behind my white-panelled bedroom door became my second home, I couldn’t pull myself away from it. 
I was too fat.
I was never going to be as pretty as the rest of the girls in my school, let alone Anna.  She told me cutting out the food wasn’t working well enough, I needed to try something else.  “No” was not in my vocabulary.  I began doing stomach workouts, I needed to fix that area first.  I would sit up in my room, watching my favorite shows on my laptop and doing crunches.  I started with fifty, then one-hundred, increasing the repetitions until I was no longer physically able to lift myself off my carpeted bedroom floor.  There is slim chance I was actually doing the crunches correctly, but it pleased Anna and me. 
But how could I stop there?  I had to keep pushing myself, it was the only way I could possibly remain on track to achieving Anna’s goal for me.  I took to running around my neighborhood.  At first, it was a relatively relaxing time, a time where I could clear all of her criticisms out of my mind, and it became an activity I thoroughly enjoyed.  She couldn’t stand that; I could have no breaks, no happiness.  She forced me to stop listening to music while I ran.  I instead had to listen to the sound of my “good work”, meaning my extremely deep, quick breaths and the sound of my feet pounding against the uneven pavement.  I could think of nothing except how slow I was going, how I should be able to go faster.  It may sound like proper motivation, but it truly became an unbearable, painful experience. 
Summer.  Free time.  But Anna would not let me hang out with my friends or go to the pool.  I couldn’t possibly wear a bikini, not with all of the other perfect girls surrounding me.  I was instructed that my free time was to be spent exercising.  I would run alone or walk my dog along my peaceful street up to four times a day.  When I wasn’t outside, I was up in my room watching and mimicking every fitness YouTube video I could find.  When I wasn’t exercising, I was standing.  I wasn’t to sit or lay down until I went to bed.  Anna told me to keep all of these activities a secret, but my family was suspicious.  They didn’t take any action though, not because they didn’t care, but because they couldn’t fathom or process what Anna was doing to me.  They, like me, tolerated Anna, they thought that she was helping me?motivating me. 
The exact date is one I can’t remember, maybe early July.  I was out for my first brutal run of the day.  I was so distracted, consumed in her words.  My legs felt like weights.  I couldn’t maneuver them.  Rough pavement met my body.  My phone, which was measuring my distance and time, soared into the deep grass of my neighbor’s overgrown yard.  My hands were covered in blood, dust from the road stinging the cuts.  My knees poured rivers of red down my legs onto my tattered Nike shoes.  I caught myself before my face hit the ground.  I took a deep breath but couldn’t help but erupt into tears and screams of pain.  I tried to use my tear-blurred vision to look around for help.  My neighbor sat on his industrial-sized lawn mower, earmuffs covering his ears; he would be no aid.  I pulled my limp and gashed body off the ground, brushing off my extremities, and reached for my phone.  It was shattered, pieces of glass spilling out as I faced it toward me.
I walked, disheveled, back to my house.  I shakily rang on the door bell, and without a word, my worried mother guided me to our marble kitchen counter and cleaned up my wounds.  I hadn’t finished my run.  I had to go back out.  That was the most painful run I have ever been on.  There were cuts right where each of my joints bent that split open with every move.  Upon my return, my mom met me at our chipped green paint door with a disapproving look.  This was the tipping point.
A month later.  August 2.  I had been physically restrained and forced into the grey Mercedes that sat in our dreary garage.  Panic attack.  Screaming.  Crying.  Horrible words flowing out of my enraged mouth and into my mom’s hurting ears.  I had no idea where we were going.  Lost in confusion, rage, and tears, I locked my eyes on the speeding highway outside the window.  Our tires screeched into the parking lot of Children’s Hospital marked with a red emergency sign.  An hour later, white hospital band wrapped twice around my needle of a wrist, my name was called by a woman in purple scrubs clad in Charlie Brown characters.  The nurse pulled in one of the vitals carts and began to examine me.  My eyes moved to the scale, and my heart dropped.  I couldn’t get weighed.  I knew I weighed too much.  I was terrified.  The nurse had to ask me three times to step on.  She and my mom had to physically force me onto it.  The fake-friendly face of the nurse changed to one of pure shock and worry.  72 pounds, the weight of an average ten year old.  I knew that something was wrong with me, but I couldn’t get Anna’s comments out of my head.  The number didn’t matter, I still looked overweight.
I was checked into a hospital room and asked a series of mind-numbing questions.  What made you do this?  When did this start?  How do you feel about your weight?  I didn’t know.  I explained Anna was my friend?she didn’t mean to do this, she wanted to help me.  She still wanted to help me.  I spent the next week in the same bland bed.  I was only allowed to move to go to the bathroom, and if I wanted to go outside the room, I had to be pushed in a wheelchair.  My organs were failing.  My heartrate was so low.  It stopped for fourteen seconds one night.  I awoke to doctors rushing in at the alarm of my abundance of monitors. 
Strangely, Anna never actually came to the hospital, but she was there, in my mind and in the words I spoke.  I insisted to all the doctors and therapists that I was fine, that I could go home.  I saw the terror in their eyes.  They were afraid the next step I took would cause me to internally collapse.  My brain wasn’t mine, it was Anna’s.  I didn’t need a feeding tube.  I didn’t need to be sent to a special hospital.  I was fine.  My parents knew this wasn’t me and it killed them that they couldn’t help the real me inside.  I have never seen my sister more scared to look at me in my entire life.  She was terrified of the skin-and-bone shell of a sister that was before her.  She couldn’t help.  No one could.
I was let out of the jail of a hospital with 6 pounds back on me, a pledge to stop exercising for awhile, and a therapy session booked.  Anna and I went to therapy together for months; discussing what our friendship truly was.  I defended her for awhile, saying that she was right and that she had done me a favor.  Every night was a different screaming fight with a parent.  I didn’t want them to send Anna away.  My parents started to treat me like a child, but they had no choice.  They watched every bite of every meal I ate, making sure that it entered my mouth and stayed there.  Gradually, therapy sessions became further and further apart and Anna eventually wasn’t present at them. 
I don’t know when she left or why. 
I didn’t know whether to feel thankful or angry.
I still go to therapy today.  I talk with my therapist about how to be less reliant on people like Anna and how to not let her sneak back.  But it doesn’t matter whether I can see her or not. Everytime I eat, look in the mirror, exercise, or try on clothes I can still hear her.  You look terrible.  Don’t eat that.  You’re so slow.  You don’t deserve that.  As time goes on, the more therapy sessions I got to, and the stronger I become, the quieter her voice gets.  But she’ll always be there.
Anna.
She was my best friend.
She was my worst enemy.
She was anorexia.






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reach4marsThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 11 at 12:55 pm
Thank you for sharing this piece, I loved every bit of it
 
MeepsRule said...
Apr. 11 at 8:44 am
That is literally one of the best stories I've read. I love it!
 
Stifling_DarknessThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 11 at 12:37 am
Woah.... I'm so impressed by this piece... fantastic. You did truly great. Keep writing.
 
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