A Quiet Enemy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Her arms were thin and pale. Her complexion was sallow and she had dark circles under her eyes. Shadows filled the void in her indented cheeks. She smiled weakly. I tried to keep from crying but salty tears began to fall. I wrapped my arms around her. Her body was so thin; she smelled stale and was very cold. I held her bony elbow as I helped her up the stairs to my room.

Years of photographed memories hung on my wall. The wonderful days when we played dress up and world-famous models were gone. This wasn't a game anymore; my best friend was dying. We sat on the floor and faced each other. She asked for a blanket because she was cold; she was always cold. I asked if she could finally accept that she was anorexic; she nodded and looked down. My mind raced; I did not know what to say. I told her I did not know much about anorexia, but I loved her and would do all I could to help. She said all I needed to do was be there for her.

The rest of the day we talked in my room, but I realized I could not cure her problem; it was up to her. I learned that her diet was pinto beans and lettuce; people would stare at her at school and whisper when she walked by.

One night, when my parents were at a meeting, my brother and I sat at home watching television. The phone rang.

"Hello."

"Beth, it's me." She was crying.

"What's wrong?"

"I'm at the hospital. The doctor said I would have died if I had not come in. They don't know if I will make it until Christmas. Beth, I need you," she choked through the sobs.

She was in the Eating Disorder ward. Ironically, it was next to the maternity ward. Every day, when I went to visit her, I walked by crying babies and happy mothers. Then I would walk into the Eating Disorder ward. Thin, pale bodies wandered aimlessly, not knowing whether they wanted to live or die; all they knew was that they felt horribly overweight. I did all I could to try to cheer her up. I brought teen magazines only to find they overemphasized issues of weight and body image. I brought pictures of us together when we were younger, but took them back when she made comments about how fat she was then. I could not believe this: where had my best friend gone? My talkative, loud, brave, wild friend was shy, depressed, angry and waiting to die. One time when I was in her room, we walked by the mirror. She looked at her reflection.

"God, look at me. I look horrible."

I looked at her, "Yes, you do."

With that, she laid her head on my shoulder and cried. Every night I prayed that she would gain weight and go home, but it took months. Even when she did come home, things were not the same. She exercised every day and ate only certain things, always watching her diet. She was still quiet and shy, reserved and depressed, nothing like she had been. Every day I wished this had never happened, and I was still timid and she was the outgoing one who always pushed me to let my feelings out.

But I am thankful. Thankful that she survived, thankful I still have her as a friend.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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