The Diet
by A.K. Mayhew

She tried. She used to try so hard to throw up. She couldn’t help it. This is the last time, she’d tell herself. My diet starts after this. After this box of chocolates. After this package of frozen waffles. After this giant bag of M&Ms. And she couldn’t help but eat it all, compulsively, stuffing her mouth piece after piece of chocolate, disgusted with herself but telling herself after that she would start her diet.

Her diet went like this:

·                                - No eating except when necessary.

That meant, if there was a family meal, she could eat. Because her parents could not find out. Breakfast could be one yogurt, since her parents usually noticed whether she ate breakfast or not. She knew it was wrong not to eat, but it was the only way she could ever be—or even feel—skinny. Once she tried to explain this to her boyfriend. Today is a good day, she said, as they walked through town. Why, he said. She felt hungry. She hadn’t eaten all day, for once. And when she felt hungry, when her stomach went concave from lack of food, she felt skinny.

(Because usually, the diet never worked. She could never make it more than one day on her diet.)

She was good at skipping lunch. During lunchtime at her private school, she would take her food out of her brown paper bag, the food her dad had lovingly packed that morning, and she would push it around on the table until the bell rang. A friend only said something once, an off-hand comment to the effect of, “Like you never eat your lunch anyway.”

But she could never make herself throw up. It physically couldn’t happen. And she was so desperate to throw up, because she could never stick to her diet, and not only did she not stick to her diet, but sometimes she overate, compulsively ate until she felt sick. But she could not make herself throw up.

The memory she will never share, though, is the time she tried to duct-tape herself skinny. She only looked skinny if she sucked her stomach in ALL the way. That was skinny. One day she went into the basement and took her dad’s gray shiny sticky duct tape and took it up to the bathroom she and her sister shared. She sucked her stomach in all the way. All the way, until she could barely breathe. She wrapped the duct tape around her stomach, sticky-side out—she wasn’t stupid, you know. She then wrapped another layer around, sticky-side in. She then let her breath and her muscles go, thinking that the duct tape would hold everything in and she would look skinny.

When she did that, though, the bits of her body that were not covered by tape bulged out, like love handles. Even a shirt couldn’t cover up the love handles. So she was back to square one. Fat.

A.K. Mayhew is a Twin Cities native working on her undergraduate degree in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in The Safety Pin Review, MicroHorror, and The Specter Collective. You can find her on twitter @akmayhew or at her blog, http://readingthroughcollege.


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