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Lunchtime

She’s stuffing her face like there’s no tomorrow. A whole sandwich, white bread no less, a brownie, a soda, chips. I watch her eat and eat and eat, shoving things down her throat like there’s no such thing as calories. How can someone possibly look at eating so simply, like it’s nothing? How can she just eat all this stuff and not even care?

She finishes her sandwich and doesn’t even stop to breathe. Soda comes next, big gulps that I can practically hear across the cafeteria. She tears into the chips like a rabid dog, crisps flying everywhere as a few lucky ones land on her pink tongue. It darts out, licking her lips clean, all the tiny salt crystals dissolving instantly.

I watch her munch alone. I’m alone, but she’s not. But there’s something in her eyes, a haunted look of food dirtying her body from the inside that makes me clench my fists. She doesn’t deserve to eat that food. She doesn’t deserve the luxury of self esteem. How come she can have it and I can’t? And where did all those people come from, her friends clustered around her? How come people are so willing to talk to her, and sit with her, when she is so disgusting, stuffing herself to the gills with food? And here I am, alone, hungry, cold and skinny as a rail. Where are all my friends?

Doesn’t everyone want the skinny girl? To have her, to be her. Doesn’t everyone think skinny is the new beautiful? But where are my friends? I tug on my size 0 pants, checking that they’re still a little too loose. Here I am, barely breathing and oh so ready for someone, anyone, to talk to.

I pluck up my water bottle, already half empty, and down the rest. It burbles in my empty stomach, the acid immediately devouring it in an attempt to stop the burning ache of hunger. The girl is onto her brownie now, fluttering her tongue to catch every last crumb. God, do you really need every single calorie? She licks her pinky finger clean. I want to puke.

Instead I jam a piece of lettuce in my mouth. Chew, chew, chew, swallow. I go through the motions of eating mechanically, ordering my body what to do next, guiding it through each step. I am so tired, even my jaw aches as I mulch the lettuce into a pulp. The juice turns bitter in my mouth, splashing my teeth in diluted green. I lick them clean too, tossing the rest of the lettuce bag back onto the table. I curl up on my chair with my knees tucked under my chest. My sweatshirt sleeves gape over my hands, but it does little to keep me warm. I curl the fleece over my fingers and pull up tighter.

The girl is laughing now, head thrown back, eyes scrunched. In her hand is the soda, threatening to slosh everywhere. I eye it for a second, wondering about how sweet it would taste. You can’t eat that! I immediately order myself. How could you be so stupid? I turn away from the girl.

That girl is me, or was me, before this. Before the monster ravaged my body. Before anorexia took over.

Now I’m just a shell of that girl, the hollow skeleton of her. Just the bones, skin stretched taut, with nothing in between except a set of dark thoughts and haunted eyes to match. Suddenly I want to be that girl again, to eat whatever I want, when I want. I want to be oblivious again. I want to be happy.

I watch her crush the can under her toe with ease, tucking it into her palm and starting out of the room. Her hips sway as she makes her way out, and for once that size two doesn’t look so bad after all.

Tomorrow I will eat a sandwich. And a soda. And chips and a brownie and whatever else I can find in my house. It’ll taste a whole lot better than water, lettuce, and low self-esteem.




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