I have tasted chocolate cake. I have tasted it sliding off my metal fork across my teeth onto my tongue and down my throat into my belly. Too sweet and chewy and dangerous. I have tasted it come back up my esophagus, into my mouth — bitter and slimy — and watched it fall into the toilet. I have tasted it off of my hand wiping my face. I have tasted it in my nose, blown out into a tissue.
I pulled the shoelaces in my Nike’s tight and knotted them. I made a pass at the mirror before heading out of the women’s locker room, up to the treadmills. My eyes elavatored my reflection. I grabbed the sides of my hips with my index fingers and thumbs. The amount of skin and fat I held felt the same as it did the night before.
On the treadmill I pounded my feet against the fast-moving floor to the rhythm of my pulse. I could feel the blood beat in my ears mixing with the bass of a blasting NWA song. My eyes glazed over.
I thought about all of the prettiest girls I knew. The ones I did not get along with. The friends I felt guilty, jealous pangs toward. My boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend with the fake hair and the fake tan and the perfect ass who he cheated on me with a month before. I thought about the time I was making out with him in the backseat of his car before school when he ran his hand down my lower back and said, “These are getting kind of tight,” as he felt my skin push out over the top of my jeans. I pressed the button on the treadmill that wielded a plus sign and ran faster.
The ringing in my ears began. My face reigned hot through the gym’s blasting AC. My therapy session the night before had backfired on my psychiatrist. She made me lie down on the floor and traced the outline of my body. I stood up and she held up the result with a satisfied look on her face.
“I look huge,” I said. She frowned.
Six hundred and fifty calories burned. I went back to the locker room, stood on the scale and winced.
Back “home” at my aunt’s house, I inhaled the pasta she made for dinner. Four hundred calories added. I excused myself and started the shower. I leaned over the toilet and put the toothbrush into my throat that had become raw and calloused from the multiple daily assaults.
In the shower my salty tears ran down my already salt-encrusted face. My skin stung as I held it under the high-pressure shower head. I gasped for air under the water but stayed put.
My muscles throbbed and my bones popped under the sheets when I finally lay down.
If I could only get thin enough, maybe I would just disappear.