The first line for this fictional short story was supplied by writer and blogger, Chris.
If I hear them say “It’s for your own good” one more time…
Hard to remember exactly when it started. I had always been popular at school, and mixed in with that gang of girls that everyone wanted to be a part of. The brighter ones, the prettier ones, the ones who just knew how it all worked. They had welcomed me in, so despite my initial surprise, I readily accepted.
For a while, it was great. One wonderful year when I felt on top of the world.
That summer holiday when I was fifteen was the best ever. There were so many things arranged. We would all meet at the shopping centre, trying on clothes that we couldn’t afford. Making a burger and milkshake last for three hours, until they asked us to leave if we weren’t buying anything else. Chatting to the cool older boys who walked around scoping us out, pretending we were eighteen, even though they never believed us.
On hot days, we would hang around under the trees in the park, laughing at the fat people and the arguing families. Then one day, Bella suggested going to the swimming pool. Looking back, that’s when it started. I remember now.
I was still wearing a one-piece then. Bella and the rest had bikinis, as they didn’t really intend to do any swimming. All they wanted to do was stand in the water and look good. No point getting their hair wet or ruining their make-up. I went off and swum a couple of lengths, and when I got back to the girls, Bella was pulling a face. “Not very cool, Sammi. We don’t come here to swim you know”. Daisy was nodding, and she suddenly pointed at me. “Or to show off those horrible fatty lumps on your thighs. Yuk!”
Surely they were teasing me? I grinned like a fool, looking at each of them in turn. But something had changed. Bella pulled herslf up the side and stood on the edge of the pool. “We’re going round to Daisy’s now, see you another time, Sammi”.
Then they were gone, like they didn’t even know me.
Looking at my legs in the changing room mirror, I suddenly noticed those lumps Daisy had mentioned. She was right, they were repulsive. At home later that day, I was amazed to find they had all unfriended me on Facebook, and I got no replies to half a dozen texts I sent out. Mum called up from downstairs. “Samantha, dinner’s ready”. I went out onto the landing and told her I wasn’t hungry, then lay down on my bed and started to move my legs around in a cycling style. I would work off those lumps, and everything would be okay.
When my mum and dad had gone to bed, I crept downstairs and ate half of the lemon meringue pie I had missed out on after dinner. Then when I was still hungry, I ate four packets of cheese and onion crisps I found in a cupboard. Back in my room, I found an old easter egg I had saved, and ate all that too. Minutes later, a wave of guilt swept over me, and I went into the bathroom and stuck two fingers down my throat until I brought it all up.
It was horrible, throwing up like that. I resolved that the best way would be to eat nothing at all. At least until my thighs were free of lumps.
Telling mum I wasn’t hungry didn’t work for long. When I hadn’t eaten anything for three days, she stopped believing I had made myself some toast or a sandwich when she was at work. “There must be something wrong. I’m going to make an appointment for you at the doctor”. Despite my protests, I had little alternative but to go. The doctor sent me for some x-rays and blood tests, but everything was normal. I laughed when we were told that. They obviously hadn’t been looking at my thighs.
They weren’t normal.
When it came time to go back to school, I told mum I was ill. Dad came up to my room to see me. He felt my forehead, asked me some silly questions, then said I was okay to go to school. He still treated me like a baby.
So I put on my uniform and walked out as normal. I stood around at the back of the shops until they had gone to work, then went home. I knew the school would ring mum, but I didn’t care. No way was I going back to face those girls, and their taunts about my thighs.
The next year was a hard one, but I wasn’t worried. I had gone down to a size four in clothes, and felt great. Mum said I had to listen to the dietician, and the psychologist. “You have to eat something, or they will force you to go into hospital, love. And you know it’s bad for your health. Your breath smells horrible, and I don’t think you’ve had your period for some time now. If you don’t get back to school soon, I doubt the doctor will keep covering for you, and you have already missed out on taking your exams this year”.
She came upstairs later, with a bowl of cornflakes. I didn’t mind those, as I could easily flush them down the toilet later.
“Just eat some of these, love. You know it’s for your own good”.