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“Najmanji, you are ninety-six pounds, in the ninth percentile for your age and weight.”
I pounded my fist against my door over and over again. I had only lost three pounds since last week! It couldn’t be true, but the Size Measurement (and L…. Locator) never lied. I groaned and sank to the floor. Ninety-six pounds? I was huge! For a fifteen (and a half) year old, that was awful. Especially for a five (and a half) foot tall one! I had the height, but not the weight to go with it.
Dialing her number with the phone in my retina, I called Camano, my best friend and biggest competition. I tried to breathe slowly and surely as the automatic voice message came on. It announced your weight for the day before you were allowed to pick up, and it was required for every citizen. Camano and I were the same height and had the same birthday, so I always measured myself against her.
“Camano is ninety-two pounds, in the fifth percentile for her weight.”
“Hey, this is Camano.”
“Camano!” I cried. “Ninety-two pounds?”
She laughed. “Yeah, I know. Great, isn’t it? What did you get?”
“Ninety-six,” I moaned. “How do you do that?”
“Oh, Najmanji,” she said, shock coloring her words. “Don’t you know you shouldn’t eat anything during the day? I only have one vitamin pack, and that’s right before I go to bed, so I burn it off right away.” She paused. “Please don’t tell me you actually take your food pills?”
I sat in silence. She sighed. “Najmanji, you’re doing okay. But,” she added, “you should really get your act together. Throw away your food, and ditch your vitamins!”
“Please, Camano,” I begged. “I don’t need you to lecture me. I know the risks.”
Camano blew out all her breath. “We could start an exercise regimen, work out a food schedule, get you to start meditating-“
“Camano!” I said, frustrated. “I don’t need any regimens or plans. I just want to be alone!”
“-or we could always have you take extra vitamins on Mondays, and-
“STOP!” I screamed. “PLEASE!”
There was a long silence, and I realized I was holding my breath. Filling my lungs with oxygen, I gasped, “Just leave me alone! If you were any kind of friend you would know that I don’t want your help!”
Then I realized what I had just said. “Camano,” I pleaded. “I didn’t mean to insin-“
“Just don’t.” She spoke in a monotone, and my tears started falling. “I get it.”
“No! I’m sor-“
She hung up.
I was still sitting on the ground, my back to the wall. I let my head fall back onto it, and my hand fell into my lap, blinking hard and fast to keep the tears away. I wasn’t strong enough to get rid of my food. Camano was amazing- she didn’t eat, she meditated all the time, and she was always thinking up new ways to get rid of fat- But I just couldn’t accept her help, no matter what the cost. If I couldn’t help myself, nobody should. I stared up into the mirror on my ceiling, and my brown eyes stared back at me from under a thick swipe of brown hair.
I’d have to tell Minst, my Personal Health Development Instructor. Every week I had to go and talk to her about how I could lose more weight. She was 20, and only 100 pounds- third percentile. Minst says that in today’s society, only the thinnest girls are attractive- and it’s true. Legkisebb, my ex-boyfriend, dumped me because I was in the tenth percentile, and he needed a six or less. He’s only in the fifth percentile, and he’s sixteen.
It’ll kill Minst to know that I’m still above ninety-three. That was my goal for this week, and next week I need to be below ninety. I will have to start skipping my food pills, and maybe Camano’s meditating thing isn’t such a bad idea. If I can get down another ten pounds or so, Legkisebb promised we can go out again. And If I can get to eighty, he said he’ll marry me after high school is over.
I smiled at myself, and wiped my tears away. What was I crying about? This will be fine. As I was picking myself up off the ground, my mom- Kleinsten- came into my room through the door opposite me. I could tell she had my food pill and vitamin packets because mine were customized to sparkle and shoot fireworks.
“Najmanji,” she called, as she was slightly far away. “Come get your vitamins and your food!”
I brushed some hair into my face, to hide my eyes, and said, “Could you leave them on my bedside table? I’m not quite hungry yet.”
She looked a little confused, but nodded and set the little, sparkly pouches down. “What was your weight today?” she asked quietly.
I felt the tears coming again. I hid my face even further and turned away.
“Ninety six,” I whispered. I heard my mother’s sharp intake of breath, and then she was by my side. “You cannot go any higher!” she said frantically into my ear. “Get rid of your food and vitamins today. I won’t tell your father, as long as you get back down!” She began to back away. I watched her leave, wishing for her thin frame and counting her ribs.
As the door shut, I fell back onto my bed. I knew the rules, and the severity of my situation. Anyone in the tenth percentile or higher was killed. It made sense, of course. Who wanted fat people invading our space, breathing our air? I suddenly felt a burst of energy and determination.
I threw myself off my bed, and headed for my dresser. I pulled on some new clothes and grinned at myself in the mirror. Turning around, I sprinted over to the containers and thrust them into my vaporizor. Punching in the numbers for a total elimination of the packets- no trace at all- I saw that my hands were shaking. I rubbed them harshly to get some blood flowing back into them, and then I leaned over and pressed Go. As I watched it silently consume my nourishment for the day, I thought to myself, Only sixteen more pounds to go.