I stare into the mirror and ignore the chills. The creeping dread that seeps through my body overpowers the freezing sensation from my bare feet on the cold tiled floor.
Step on the scale.
Just do it.
My dead eyes stare back as I take inventory of the parts assembled into the unrecognizable person before me--a sad parody of my old self. Dry, translucent skin stretched over faint blue veins radiating from my center like a dying sapling's branches come first winter. Nonexistent breasts. Bones protruding at sickening angles from my
overly prominent clavicles. Sharp hips. Dark shadows and hollows. Bags under drooping eyelids. Spaces that once contained life that now hold sunken skin. Rib cage.
I turn three quarters and strain to look over my shoulder. I never really had a butt to begin with, but now it's just a phantom. Even when standing straight the knobby bones of my spinal chord are clearly visible.
Slowly, I wrap my index finger and thumb around my wrist and slowly slide it up my arm. The fuzzy lanugo that covers me like a soft down reminds me of a baby duck tickles the palm of my hand as I slide my closed finger loop over my elbow. My scarred knuckles stick out like miniature Appalachians Mountains.
I slip one hand around my upper thigh. I can almost touch my fingers with my thumb. A little slice of too-white artificial light shines through the wide gap between my legs.
I glance back to the emotionless girl in the glass. I've become so pale lately. Where did all my blood go?
Turning to the side, I observe my concave tummy hiding under my ribs. My heart's cage is visible through my flimsy cotton tee. I smile, but then I remember my legs.
Like overstuffed sausages, I waddle towards the mirror, my movement constricted by swollen limbs. Cellulite rubs against cellulite and produces a sickening swish sound. I can feel the fat hanging off of me. My belly oozes over my jeans in a grotesque manner. Globs of skin and flab jiggle aggressively from my arms, and my cheeks look like inflated balloons about to explode. I cringe, horrified.
How could you let yourself become like this?
I don't know.
You'll never look like They do. They hate you.
Tears bead around my eyelashes, threatening to spill over at any moment.
No one can even look at you. Not even your family. And you thought people would like you for who you are? Ha.
I can't look at myself. I'm disgusting.
You know what to do.
My hands shake as I lift my top over my protruding shoulder blades and peel off my 'skinny' jeans.
I wriggle out of my underwear and toss it on the crumpled dress I left abandoned on the floor. Can't add any extra weight, fatty.
Glancing at the toilet, I debate whether or not I should purge again. My throat burns and nose is running from the first round, but I don't want to upset the Number Gods.
You've already @#!*% off the mirror. You're not allowed to feel good about yourself until you're perfect.
The scale. The mirror. Their opinion is the only one that counts.
I can't argue with that. I kneel down at the toilet--the toilet is your friend-- and begin to stick my fingers into my bile-coated mouth. The dried remnants of my last meal crusts on the rim. My mother had cooked a large meal for my birthday and I messed up and
ate--breakfast for dinner: eggs Benedict with steaming strawberry pancakes topped off with mint ice cream cake--my favorite, or it used to be. Back when I ate.
They don't know.
They'll never know.
They can't know.
I prepare myself for the first and most painful heave.
Feed the porcelain bowl.
I sit up, startled. Where did that...?
When I was little, my brother and I had spent a particularly long car trip entertaining ourselves with finding names for throwing up: Vomit. Barf. Puke. Hurl. Spew. Toss your cookies. Lose your lunch. Feed the porcelain bowl. Or my personal favorite: Redesignate in Technicolor.
It was the funniest thing, back then. We came up with a few of our own that made no sense, but to our childish minds we were hit comedians specializing in bizarre sayings and funny words. Hilarious.
Until I started to vomit on purpose. As little as two times a day to as much as ten. 18 was a personal low. Now I avoid eating altogether except when absolutely necessary, but not all caloric incidents can be avoided, especially not on a massive Quincenera starring me.
I shake my head and try to clear my head of my unexplained nostalgic memory recall. I start to lean over the antibacterial-white toilet, but I hesitate.
What do you think you're doing? There's at least 367 calories of pure
sugar left in you. Get it out, get it out!
The image of me and my brother giggling, laughing over what would become my life sticks with me. We were so carefree, so...happy. Those two children were me and him in another life. Him, the brother who looked at me yesterday and my empty plate mournfully across the tense dinner table and looked away, as if I was already skin and bones, ready to be carted away in a dark casket and cast six feet under. And me, the stupid little girl who forgot how to eat.
I push myself away from the toilet and twist out of the uncomfortable-yet-mandatory purging position. I often can't get it all up on the first round and usually have to eat more to fully empty my stomach, but I can't vomit again. Not today.
Fine. Be nostalgic. Your loss. You'll soon be looking back on today and wishing you looked like this.
She wasn't finished. It'll be less disgusting than tomorrow morning if you let all that sugar and carbs sit in you, @#!*% . You know they multiply. Your traitorous body is already gleefully churning it into fat! Come tomorrow you'll weigh twice as much. The numbers don't lie.
That stupid, snarky voice in my head.
She's always right.
We're always right.
I'm always right.
Now go, like a good little freak and check the scale! You're not brave enough to face the toilet again--not my problem you caved to the cake. Ugh. Sweets are Satan's food.
I take in as much air as I can, feeling my lungs expand with the newfound oxygen, and quickly release, pushing and straining my gut to force any lingering air out of me-- a trick I learned from my old flamboyant theater teacher. "Oh, honey," he had said with a fabulous flick of the hands in a stereotypical singsong tone, "even the tiniest bit of air can tip the scale. And we can't possibly have that." That was back when it read 154 pounds. Gross. I spit out my saliva instead of swallowing.
Can't be taking any chances.
I cautiously poke one toe on the glassy face of the scale.
The numbers don't lie.
Quickly I step on to the scale and shut my eyes. In Egyptian mythology, a dead soul's heart was weighed against a feather—if it was lighter, they were free to pass. If not they were devoured. This weighing was life or death. If I didn't pass, I would eat myself
Come on. Light as a feather. Light as a feather. Light as a....
I wish my stomach would digest itself faster.
I open my eyes.
I closed my eyes again, but when I opened them the hideous number still loomed.
Make that 89.2, you little @#!*% . You breathed.
I jump off the scale as if it had burned me, but my mind is consumed, haunted, by wretched digital readout.
That's a huge number.
I'm a monster.
Told you so.
I feel the tears stream down my cheeks in little rivets of despair.
I’ll never make it. I'll never be skinny.
I punch the mirror with all the strength I possess, shattering the cheap plastic. My fragmented body mocks me, ballooning and staring back at me from a thousand malicious angles.
Ignoring the shards that worked their way into my acid-scarred hand, I yank on my fuzzy robe, leaving my floofy dress crumpled on the chilly tile, and stomp out the bathroom door. I'm too ashamed to even face myself.
Happy birthday to me.