A Birthday Wish

January 11, 2010
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She stares resentfully at the chocolate cake;
it mocks her with its sticky frosting and moist center,
its pink roses of spun sugar and carefully scripted writing.
Yet, she swallows each bite, slowly, painfully,
hating herself all the while.
As the smoke wafts up to the ceiling, it carries her whispered wish:
“I want to be thin.”

After dinner the girls gather, giggling incessantly
as they pore over Cosmopolitan and paint their toenails fire engine red,
modeling miniskirts and hiding behind powder blue eye shadow.
Nobody notices that she isn’t there, and by
the time she is, her shame has already swirled down into nothingness,
forgotten.

Later that night, she stands before her mirror,
examining a flat, curveless stomach,
pleased to see the ribs jutting out beneath her chalky skin.
She gazes at a picture taped to her mirror:
a skeletal runway girl, her legs spindles and
her eyes dark and haunted. Soon.

Her mother knocks on the door, leaning in to kiss her good night,
looking blindly at her youngest.
“Happy thirteenth birthday, my darling.
Welcome to adolescence.”





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