Streams of hazy sunshine flow into the room through the cracks in the shutters of the windows. My eyes flutter, causing me to swim in a state between consciousness and fuzzy dreams. I catch a glimpse of my room, the contents of my closet were thrown madly on the floor, and my clothes were sprawled all across, almost covering every inch of it. I open my eyes again; a little more steady this time. The outlines of my clothes merge with the furniture hiding under it, giving my room the feel of a creepy dump. A wave of nausea crashes over me, but it’s not from dizziness; it’s from the stench that’s leaking into my lungs.
I did it again.
I look down to see vomit coating me from hips to ankles, pooling a little on the patch of Persian rug beneath me. I inch a little further to the right, getting a clear view of myself in the dusty freestanding full-length mirror. An image of myself appears as I shudder. A few drops of vomit stain my tank top, my legs masked with the rest of the foul substance. I close my eyes in a vain attempt to force the image out of my head.
Please make it go away.
Tell me that I didn’t do it again.
I ball my hands into fists, hoping to keep them from clawing at my thighs, and I find myself sinking into an old memory.
I was standing in front of the very same tall mirror, staring blankly when a girl manifested out of the mirror before me. Her eyes were a void drawing me in, as dark as stars that had burned out eons ago. She had the type of facial features that resembled a lion’s expression while hunting his prey. You could count the bones in her body just by looking at her. My thighs looked far too meaty next to her slender ones, my hips were too wide in comparison to her narrow waist. She asked about my jeans, the one I bought two months and a week ago. My eyes started darting across the room, hoping to avoid her gaze. I couldn’t bear the embarrassment of confessing that I couldn’t squeeze my legs into them anymore.
She laughed and told me to stop being silly. She gestured for me to come closer, her eyes never leaving mine. She taught me her magical trick; it was really easy! All I had to do was stick my toothbrush down my throat and vomit until I bled.
Over the nights, I saw more and more of her.
“Do you really need to eat that? Are you really hungry?” she’d ask and I’d shove my plate away. So, I skipped a few meals to keep her happy, but a few meals turned to many skipped dinners and lunches, and purging became a routine.
She became cruel, softness and grace no longer lingered in the air around her. Her demands dug daggers into my stomach, traced the outlines of my bones and tore at the flesh. She refused to let me taste anything other than the emptiness she served. I wasn’t miserable, I was quite happy actually; joy rose to my ears at the thought of people whispering behind my back about how skinny I’ve gotten. The image Ana was desperate to achieve became my reality; my body was made of sticks covered with a rough layer of thin skin.
Ana was proud and so was I.
Calories were the enemy and Ana was my guardian, she would never let me fall victim to weakness again.
“You already look like a whale, do you really need to put on more layers of fat? Have some paper and water instead!”
Her devils ran loose in my veins, stealing what was left of my energy. Her demons held the gun, but don’t you see?
Ana didn’t pull the trigger because I was the killer.
I was a senior at her academy and even crawling started to hurt. Ana had me paralyzed in place while she finished off the part of me that wanted to fight back. I might have been sixteen years old but I had the weight of a ten year old.
Then came the day I got caught during one of our meetings. My family rushed me into the hospital while yelling prayers at the top of their lungs, but the damage was done. I woke up in a cold white room, an IV line hooked to the vein in my left arm, and a doctor with a sour expression stood at the foot of the hospital bed. He picked up my file and apologized for what he was about to say. “Your periods stopped, but you already know that don’t you?” he turned his face to the side, staring at an invisible spot on the wall as he continued.
“Do you understand the severity of your situation? You’ll never have kids. You are suffering from extreme malnutrition and if your weight keeps dropping, young lady, you’re going to die. Your heart can’t take any more beating.” The doctor sighed and left the room. For the first time in three years, I was completely alone.
The next few weeks were a blur caught between an emotional tornado and a vicious hurricane. My family members made sure to invest every waking hour in drowning my ears with the cries of their disappointment. They glared at me as the stale hospital food traveled down my throat to rest inside my stomach.
The memory crumbles and I return back to my room.
It’s been three and a half years since I’ve met Ana, fifteen days since my last visit to the doctor.
I am not made of fragile glass; I refuse to let you crack my surface.
I am not made of clay, you don’t have the right to invade my body and mold it to fit your desire.
I grab the scale hiding under the far end of my bed and thrust it at the mirror. It collides noisily with the smooth reflective surface, glass shards clatter and dance at my feet.
Life sucks and then you die, Ana.