~Written by Eleni Kinney~

*WARNING* this story may trigger some people

She looks in the mirror. All she sees is fat and flesh, a revolting body, a reminder that no one will ever love her. I have to be skinny, I have to be pretty. The thought of another pound added, another calorie eaten revolts her. Emptiness is key, skip the meals, purge the food, burn, burn, burn the calories. Have to be pretty, have to be skinny. That night is the first night she skips a meal, that night is the first time she stays up far too late to exercise, that night is the first night she empties her stomach to feel lighter, that night is the moment she is lost to the disease. Swept away by the riptide into the cold dark recesses of the ocean, it’s too deep to swim up, so she just lets herself sink further and further to the bottom. Empty stomach, empty heart, empty mind, she is freezing cold, only warmed by the spark of joy she is brought when she steps on the scale to see another pound lost. She looks in the mirror. Just a few more pounds. She’s smaller but feels as if she’s drowning in flesh. Have to be skinny, have to be pretty. She doesn’t want to go out, to have fun with her friends, they won’t understand it. She’s eating nothing, exercising excessively, purging, taking diet pills, have to be pretty, have to be skinny. She stays at home alone. Darkness.

A hospital bed, an IV, a nurse murmuring kind, soft words. Words are background noise, floating in and out of focus. Blacked out. Scared the shit out of your mother and I. Are you okay? Are you okay? Are you okay? Just tell me how you’re feeling. She opens her mouth to speak and tells them everything. Then the doctor. Then the therapist. And each time, she feels a little bit better. She still doesn’t eat solid food, but she’s making it. She looks in the mirror. This time she sees what everyone else sees. All bones, and sharp edges. Gaunt cheeks, hollow eyes, this isn’t her. This will not define her.

Recovery isn’t easy. She can’t hold out for long. She’d begun to swim up toward the moonlit surface, kicking with all her might, but the weight of an anchor weighs her down, and she falls deeper into the depths. Have to be pretty, have to be skinny. She hides behind a smile, throwing up the food she eats as a show for her mother, hiding her diet pills in her cupboard, keeping secrets just for this. Someone will love her if only she is pretty. Sadness consumes her like a tidal wave. She’s all alone…

A little girl, a little sister, stands in front of a casket. Her sister is gone and it’s all her fault. If only she was prettier, skinnier, like her, her sister would’ve stayed. I have to be pretty, I have to be skinny.


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