89. That was all I saw. All I felt as I timidly brushed the dense skin. I instantly withdrew my touch, mortified by having any contact with the repugnant object. The walls seemed denser now, more intimidating; with just one touch. In a panic I rocked my legs faster, sporadically bouncing them. I glanced down at the trembling fat upon my calves, I only shook faster; as if at any moment the fat would detach from the bones. The adipose tissue dancing in mid-air. I wish.
“Hazel, just eat one piece. You used to like bananas.” My mum muttered calmly. 89. I used to like myself too, things change. I merely continued to rock and stroke the curved object upon my lap. As I tugged a clump of my thin, black bob behind my ear; I could sense the terror boiling within me, terror not just at the numbers coiled within the textured flesh but at the knowledge that if I swallowed a morsel I would not be able to prevent myself from having another bite. Until just the empty husk lay despondent within my palms.
“I can’t.” I muttered, my forearms flexing and casting the fruit on to the navy carpet. 89, 52, 42; the numbers that control my thoughts. The tense atmosphere suddenly evaporated as both mum and Zoey breathed a frustrated sigh. The sigh initiated a fury within me, a blistering rage ascending. They have no right to hold a spec of frustration in their polluted air. They’re the ones forcing me to ram platefuls of thick, coagulated, repulsive calories down my searing throat. The anger pierced the edges of my flesh until my fingertips burnt, the navy seat irritating the skin it found. They have no idea how much I yearn for proper food, food without self-loathing. Life is grey without it. Bleak and dull. Colourless.
“Maybe we’ll try next time then. But I want you to eat when you get home. Do you promise me?” Zoey asked, adjusting her position and brushing her ginger/grey curls back from her portly shoulders. I merely nodded.
“Right, let’s go weigh you then.”
Mum gave an encouraging smile as I stood, a faintness washing over me; I welcomed the well-known delirium as it tingled down to my numb finger tips. With a light sigh, I followed my gargantuan eating disorder consultant through the equally large door and into the seemingly infinite hallway. This building always disturbs me with its oddly sized rooms and walls, as if they want you to feel even more disconcerted.
We entered room 7 and I was greeted with the familiar scene, the clinical bed on my left; the various units and cupboards coated in a collage of puerile drawings and demeaning diagrams, seeming to mock me. Odd pictures placed on each wall, certain words prominent within the frames. Hope. Freedom. Happiness. Finally my eyes wandered to the height chart, the tall mirror and of course the focal point of the room. The scales. The little machine that seems so pompous and pious. I felt guilty just glancing at it.
“Jumper off then, and slip your shoes off.”
I reluctantly fiddled with the hem of my oversized, green jumper and tugged it over my shoulders before chucking it aside. The cold instantly hit me. Assaulting my frame and winding me. Before slipping my pumps off I glared at the figure in the reflection. She was disappointing and belittling. Vile. Disgusting and repulsive just to view. The mini dress seemed as dull as her. The pale pink clashing with her pale complexion. Her hip bones barely visible. Her collar bones not prominent enough. Thighs too close together. Unsatisfactory. I gave up trying to dissociate myself from the image and looked at Zoey, she was scrawling something illegibly onto her clipboard. Of course.
“Anything in your pockets?” I shook my head. I wouldn’t need to hide anything or water load with how much weight I’ll have put on over the past week. With that terrifying musing I stepped upon the black plate. The thick digits rapidly zoomed from 0.00 up and up, rising and rising with my trepidation. Up and up. Bang.
“Okay that’s great.” She mumbled. I stepped off. My brain frozen. My surrounding reality swirling before me, caving in until it gradually, and yet at the same time instantly, drowned me. 48.3kg. 7 stone 6 lbs. I’d stayed the same. Static. Level. I couldn’t quite tell whether the prevailing emotion was contentedness or devastation. Contentedness that I hadn’t put on any weight. Devastation at the fact that I still have 27lbs to lose before I’m happy. 20 at the least. Would I feel happy then? Would she be happy? The thin Hazel imprisoned within this shell, caked in flesh. I am not this person. I am a thin girl engulfed by these layers.
“She’s remained static. So it’s all positive.” Zoey chimed, satisfaction reverberating in her tone. She sounded so proud. Mum’s eyes glistened with relief. As if all the underlying issues in my chaotic mind were instantaneously fixed, mended. A proverbial bandage has been placed over the cracks in my thoughts and the scar tissue is slowly and peacefully binding together. As if.
Mum’s electronic cigarette lit up orange like a miniature traffic light, wisps of the vapour rose to the roof of the car as if I could smudge it across the sky like oil paint.
“I think that was positive. You haven’t lost. That’s good… that’s good…” She repeated the words as if placing a plaster over the invisible wounds between us. I could feel the emotions bubbling up within me, I wanted to beg her; to ask her to help. But I knew that if I reached out, there would be no more concealing of chicken pieces no more hiding within my safety bubble of antacids and zero cokes. I was alone within this self-inflicted coma, this one on one battle. But the thing that I feared the most was that I may never be able to be free of the shrapnel. And the truth was, I was out of ammo. I am merely a rag doll, a shell of a real girl; battered and bruised by the gusts of winds, hitting every rock on the way.
Before I could control it, all the unsaid words and searing thoughts rose up like a bile within my chest and rolled down my cheeks like acid. My chest heaved, my breath caught on the tears and spluttered out. Mum didn’t say anything, she simply wrapped me in the safe enclosure of her arms, I lay my weary head upon her shoulder and allowed the terror to burst out in sporadic sobs.
“I’m scared…” I muttered through the tremors.
“I know love, but I’m here.”