Maggie Jones CC
He sits in his basement bedroom. His window faces to the north. Outside a summer breeze lifts the stems of wildflowers and gives them a ripple to set them waving, but he sees none of it. His eyes are on his screen. With a delicate finger he pages each image up and away, but he forgets none of them. They all have immaculate faces. Their skin is held in place by magnificent structures of bone beneath. With each push he sends the image away, while saying to himself, “Not me. Not me.”
He watches dramas on his screen each night. The stories are simple, maudlin even, but they reach him very deeply. He sees the girl and boy meet. He observes the pre-written dance. One gives way before the other’s touch. Then one responds to breathless words. Finally, two hands touch for the first time. He sees this and compares his frame to the bodies on the screen. He knows the rules and tells himself not to care. But he cares far more than can be easily thrust aside.
It begins simply. “I’ll just not eat this one time,” he says. Or perhaps, “I’ll only leave off this half slice.” Because he is so young, only fifteen, his body responds immediately. Within days he feels the change. Less folds of skin which so tormented him in the past. More chisel in his face. Sharp skin drawn tight against the skeleton beneath. He loves it.
Like most good things, it cannot last. One day his father asks him how much time he spent in the gym. His mother catches sight of abandoned food. At first, it’s easy to nudge their concerns aside, but soon the lies begin to pile high. It isn’t possible to keep them all straight in his mind. How could he? By now it’s been months and he’s beginning to waste away. It’s no longer just muscles now. Now it is his mind which has also cruelly left him behind. His eyes lie to him when he observes himself in the glass. Where once he saw sculpted beauty, now all he sees are unwanted pounds.
Where will he put these thoughts? He’s come too far from where it started. Like all addictions the first sip of the day never satisfies. Except with him there are no sips and no bites and no mouthfuls. It’s about denial and forbearance and limitation.
However, he’s one of the lucky ones. One day, when his mother begs him again for truth, he confesses what’s been happening behind closed doors. He tells her what the sound of the flush has been concealing. He’s frightened himself into realization: If I don’t find help soon, I’ll dry up and blow away. Like images on a screen.
…grew up in Hungary
…has a debut chapbook of short stories out from Alien Buddha Press and a novelette (In the Beginning) coming out from ELJ Publications.
…enjoys books, podcasts, and long, slow films. Twitter: @ZaryFekete
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.