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My eyes glazed over, tears began to form in the corner of my eyes, but I hardly noticed. Someone babbled in the background. I stood up, fumbling my hands and tangling my legs. I tripped, dodged the desk near my face, and stood back up again.
Walking away, shaking, I stuck my hand in my pocket, lovingly stroking my lifeline, my savior.
The hall was getting dark, my vision tunneling. I walked out the side door, shouldering my way through the blazing heat. I made my way towards my light blue baby: my beat up 2005 Ford Taurus. Making my way to the front seat, I got in my car, revved the engine, and turned the AC up to the max. Picking my lifeline out of my pocket, I held her, while I stripped off my pants. I put my savior to my leg, dug in, and sliced. Relief tearing through me like a rush of wind, I nearly cried out in ecstasy. My little savior; my little short razor.
I quickly sliced open my leg one, two for all the tears my teacher made me shed. Three, four, for my stupid klutzy fall. Five, six, for my disgusting rolls of fat. Seven, eight, because that’s what a bitch like me deserves.
Opening up my glove box, I pulled out my trusty baby wipes, wiped off my razor, stuck a rag on my leg and taped it to my skin. I shoved my legs back into my skinny jeans, put my car in reverse and headed out of the dreary parking lot, seemingly able to breathe again.
I sat on the swing outside the apartment, rocking back and forth as I stared at the dead grass. Geez, my feet are sweaty. I rocked forward, my leg burned, I rocked back, my leg stung: it felt good, like an itch I’d finally managed to get, a knee jerk reaction to shame, loneliness, and sadness. I looked up at the sunken sunset, nothing in this miserable place was happy, even the sunset looked sad. How can one place take something as beautiful as a sunset and make it seem like a lackluster, tedious waste of time?
I dug in my square black leather purse, picking out my cigarettes and lit up, savoring the slight warmth on my face. Marlboro reds. I thought about the library and sighed. I wish I had stayed.
I’d left on impulse, I’d have to finish my book later. I thought about the mounds of research I had left to complete. It was on my desk next to a probably now cold slice of an extra cheesy, cheese pizza that my flatmate Leslie had left for me: I’d have to find a way to chuck it without her noticing.
My thoughts wandered, back to BYU—Idaho, I thought about my roommates, I thought about my last week. The week my mental breakdown began in full force. The week I stayed up for four days straight watching anime. It had been great, but it had also been a distraction from life. A distraction from all my questions. Back then I had wondered how so many people could proclaim to be right in their beliefs when only one thing could be true at a time. I had wondered how people could bare to consume calorie-filled products like pizza on a everyday basis. I’d wondered, if I could freeze somebody in the snow and if my roommate Al could be the test subject. If I sat Al down in the snow, and never let her move, I wondered if nobody would find her until spring when the ice melted. I had imagined the headline: “Maniac Freezes Annoying Roommate” and chuckled softly—I’d have to repent later.
Most of those worries were gone now. Melted away like snow in the wake of coming spring. Tapping the ash from my cigarette, I let it fall to the ground and stamped it out. I picked it up and chucked it into the neighbor’s yard so that my renter wouldn’t notice. Renting from a Mormon is so damn annoying. So many rules. I inwardly chided myself, aghast at my language. My church leaders would be so disappointed in me now, disappointed in whom I had become.
I slung my purse across my shoulders and headed in the back door of the house I lived in.
The house had 6 rooms, one of them a shared master bedroom, therefore six roommates. It was definitely a drag, but as long as they kept away from me, I was alright with it.
I headed to my tiny room and locked the door behind me. I sat on my plush chair, scooted up to my desk, and logged onto my beloved pro-ana site. Hours passed like that. I messaged other girls and we chatted back and forth. “Pro-ana,” as I called it, was a site detailing tips on how to starve yourself to the death. My online friends and I would compete to see who could starve the longest. I myself, had made up a game for it. I called it, “The Starving Games.” Fifty girls would compete to see who could starve the longest. Only 100 calories of liquid were allowed per day. After five days, I had broken down and ate a lick of frosting, which turned into a cookie then two: my tummy hurt for days afterwards.
After a few more hours, I shouldered on a jacket, although it was astronomically hot in Arizona, I was always freezing on my fasting weeks. It was like my body couldn’t expend enough energy to keep me warm. My friend, Stacey, had texted and it was time to meet up. Our several activities were worth the meet ups and the possibility that I might be peer pressured into eating. Tonight however, we were just going out for coffee and some cigs.
When I picked her up in my little blue car—she began chatting right away.
“Guess what Kat?” she began, “Annie is pregnant. I knew it would happen, her boyfriend is such a dick.”
“He just wasn’t being safe enough.” I countered but I only listened with half an ear: I needed a cigarette. Bad.
She chatted away as we drove to the coffee place. I envied her. Stacey was perfect, beautiful, gorgeous, everything that boys want. She was practically skin and bones, but I could still discern some fat on her. My whale body was so dang jealous. I would make boys who had no hope of ever finding somebody semi-pretty grimace, I had short cropped hair, ruined from too much bleaching, my nails were short and stubby, and I was covered in mounds of fat. My bones were not even close to being visible. I, a big fat glob of disappointment, a weight on all who knew me. One, two, for my miserable fat excuse of a dieter. I tucked the thought away for later—saving it for my nightly ritual.
Someone honked, and I looked up in just enough time to stop just before the middle of the intersection, right smack dab in the middle of a red light. Stacey was screaming and I tried to make her shut up. Too bad she was here, maybe I wouldn’t have stopped.
“Yes you would you pansy,” my logical brain told me. “You couldn’t even begin the process of killing yourself that night at the lake, you’re a fat, ugly piece of shit.”
I’d taken to calling the voice in my head, Ana, goddess of weight loss. She was my idol and goddess but sometimes she could be a real bitch, like right now.
I slowly checked the intersection, it was luckily rather empty, and continued to run the rest of the light. I was glad I hadn’t got in a wreck, I wouldn’t want to be the cause of someone else being in pain. Especially not Stacey, let alone a potential victim with a family in one of the cars opposite of me.
Stacey rambled on about me being a careless driver, while I drove the rest of the way to the shop. I thought about that night at the lake. The night where I had started hearing voices in my head.
“You can’t kill yourself until you are 98 pounds Kat!” Those were the first words Ana had ever said to me. The thought had me faintly trembling. I remembered driving to the lake, I remembered preparing to kill myself. I had stopped at a gas station and bought a couple packs of cigarettes and a lighter before I went, planning to smoke them all and then drown myself afterwards. I made it to Saguaro lake, climbed up onto the hood of my baby, and lit up. I’d chain smoked the cigs, putting each one out on my left leg. After twenty five or so, I had calmed down enough to realize that the voice was right and that it would be rash to kill myself before I reached my goal weight. I decided to wait until November 15, now only three months away.
My thoughts slowly came back to the present as Stacey and I got out of the car and headed into the shop. I looked up at the options, calculating the amount of calories per item in my head. I decided to go with the safe option and chose a regular black coffee, black like my soul. Stacey and I headed onto the patio to smoke with our drink options. I heaved a sigh of relief as I took a drag of the cigarette, pure and utter relief overtook me. The ride over had been stressful and scary.
Stacey and I chatted away about life, about our separate stories of how we had slowly left church in each other's absence (while I was away at BYU-Idaho), about smoking, and the sense of relaxation it gave us. Each of us, for our own separate reasons, careful to not bring up the subject of weight. She wanted to fly under the radar and so did I. I didn’t want anyone, especially my family, to know until after I had got down to my goal weight. I had five siblings in my family, one sister and four brothers. Three older siblings, two younger brothers. They were an adventurous bunch. We had been very close at one point, Lars was slightly older than me and my older brother Marshall was a pain. I wanted my brothers and dad to feel bad for calling me fat and chubby, but most of all, I wanted to feel bad myself for being fat and chubby. I sighed at myself, I hadn’t been so petty growing up, I’d just kinda grown that way the last couple months. As a young girl, I’d always been my mother’s helper. As a teenager, I’d been my mother’s nightmare and as a young adult I’d become my mother’s biggest disappointment.
I took Stacey home after an hour or two, careful not to repeat my driving experience from earlier: zoning out while driving was dangerous.
I lay in bed, later that night. I’d zoned out—my form of coping with the world. I would sit and stare at something, not focusing on anything, completely lost to thought, hardly blinking, and unable to move from my trance like state until some minute noise would startle me back to reality. Having depression was like having a great black hole as a lab partner— terrifying but somehow leaving me unable to look away. I had always felt a little depressed growing up, my siblings called me emo, but never like this. Back then, it had felt like my body was hoping and dreaming for life, while my brain sauntered and skipped over my mental graveyard screaming for myself to, “die in the dirt.” Now it felt like my body had finally given up and joined my brain in its graveyard dance.
I lifted myself off of bed to begin my nightly routine. First, I had to burn at least 500 calories. I began my jumping jacks careful to count correctly.
I ended at 572, careful to write the number down on the mirror in expo marker, just in case I woke up in the middle of the night to continue my exercise. I grabbed my scale, towel, and bucket, and headed to the shower.
I put the water on as hot as possible and stepped into the shower bringing my bucket with me. I washed my hair, scrubbed my body, and then sat down on the shower floor ready to begin my nightly ritual.
One, two, for my miserable fat excuse of a dieter. I dug my knife out of my bucket and dug down on my leg, blood dribbling down, getting washed away by water.
“Three, four for the five calories from coffee,” Ana reminded me. The knife slid down my thigh and I reveled in the agonizing pain.
Five, six you bitch. I pounded the knife in deeper, carving in a big “D.”
Seven, eight for running that red light. I carved an “I” next to the D. Blood splattered and dribbled, the shower drowning out my whimpers.
Nine, ten for everything else. I finished up by cutting an “E” next to the I.
“DIE soon, you little whore,” Ana whispered in my head.
I wrapped two towels around me, careful to cover the wounds and headed back to my room. I put a towel on top of the bed sheets and went to bed with the lights on, not bothering to patch up my tattered legs.