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Eating in a Restaurant This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Nashville, TN
I don’t look the way pretty girls look. Every girl that passed was pretty. Every one. I felt as if I should shrink down like Alice and climb through a tiny door and never come back. Or turn into a roach and crawl down into the drains. Their legs never touched one another. They glided perfectly, side-by-side, but never touched. They were birds and I wanted to fly, too. These girls weren’t in my head. They were right there.

I stole glances at the tops of buildings. One moment of pain, perhaps, then sleep. Forever. I would. I would. The dizzy spells were coming one by one and standing around my body. They took me by the wrists and spun me around and around and embraced me with their hollow shells and spindly arms. I liked the world this way. It was blurring and white and I was empty. I was empty. It was kind…

We stood outside and waited for the restaurant to open. I watched the way the fire from his lighter dove itself into the tip of the cigarette, into the tobacco, as he inhaled ever so slightly. The craving was almost unbearable. The smoke left the end in a steady stream, then self-proclaimed rebellion met it as it aged through the air, and it danced in a hurry, beautiful. It came and met, made a cloud and lingered. I wanted to be that, a lingering cloud of cancer. How lovely. It was then I came to see that I really would love to be anything. Not just a bird, or a cloud of cigarette smoke, but anything. A car, the grass, him, her, them, dead. Dead. Anything but me.

The door opened with a jingling noise that painted blue in my mind. I really must be crazy. We stepped in and were seated. He ordered for both of us and my cheeks were burning. I wanted to run or cry. I’m sick. No. I’m not hungry. No. I don’t like this. No. No. He wouldn’t. He wouldn’t believe me, even though all of those things were true. Normally they wouldn’t be, but they were. I was sick. My head was a disease and my body a weight. I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t ever hungry. But he didn’t care. I didn’t like the food. I hate food. All of it. It’s disgusting and unnecessary. But he didn’t care, he wouldn’t believe me. So I picked up a piece. No knives. I couldn’t make it seem as if I was eating by looking active with a fork and knife. I have to eat. I really have to eat. So I tore it apart, bit by bit. I could see the flecks of anger in his eyes. Not much, just flecks, just enough to be a little upset. I couldn’t help it. I needed it smaller. I hated it. I’m so sorry. I lifted the pieces to my mouth and ate them.

The light melted the air and dripped down from the ceiling onto the table of food. I could see it, the future, through a crystal ball almost, in the plate. My fingertips were icing over but my palms were wet. I hate you, die, I hate you, die, pass out, die, die, die… My head was killing me. My stomach was killing me.

That night I overdosed. I took too many, but so does everyone. I took too many. I smiled, now.

An hour later, there was so much pain, and I couldn’t breathe. Then there was music, and birds. I kept thinking, this is dying, this is dying, this is death. And it was so f***ing beautiful, I could have cried. So I did. And my face was numb, as was everything else. The tears streamed down but I didn’t feel them. It was great. This is dying, this is dying, this is death. And then I slept. Cold and sweaty and blurry, I slept.





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