I’ve been long absent and treacherously slack in my visits. Work and study are so dastardly demanding. But hey, it’s a gloriously sunny day in the backwash that is February and The Perilous Reading Society has a rebrand pending.
During the meanwhile, and to stop the site rusting over, this is a re-post from 2016. Some stories don’t have happy endings. It’s not a metaphor for anything, I’m just a not happy ending sort of moody today.
Dark spells crawl simple into the world. A seed perhaps. A look. A word. To water. A laugh to sew and grow and come to mean that eating in a dream still counts as eating.
The door to the communal lounge is unkindly heavy and she’s caught running to keep up. Anger slip-sliding on grey vinyl, boxed and peroxide, ‘Why don’t you ever listen to me!’
‘Fine.’ Mum spins, colliding the space between them, ‘Go on then, I’m listening.’
‘I hate that you’re made to feel like the enemy. I hate the atonement for failing. I hate that only spoiled food feels good enough. For me. I hate all of it. But unfortunately, hating isn’t the same as not needing…’ The girl backs down, stands down, eases herself down to shipwreck in the unfamiliarity of their containment. ‘If you could hear what I hear inside my head you’d understand.’
‘Don’t be so dramatic, Carla. Everyone has that stupid little, critical voice sounding off inside their head. You just grit your teeth and choose not to listen that’s all.’
That’s all. Spell bites harder into flesh, deeper into mind. She tries to stand straight with it but the dizziness that rolls tidal won’t shift much anymore, ‘When it’s roaring inside your head 24 hours a day? When you’re too tired to fight anymore? When it’s so much easier just to listen…’
Mum softens, ‘They say that we have two fighting wolves inside of us, one good and one bad, and the one that wins is the one we feed.’
‘Wolves?’ her voice, fingers to mouth in secret, ‘The voices, they never leave me alone, Mum. They tell me that I don’t deserve food, that I never do enough, that my body is repulsive, that I take up too much room, that I don’t deserve a life… they tell me that I should never have been born.’
Mum turns to look out of the window. A long stretch of grass down to trees, ‘Minnie sends her love, and Alex.’
‘Great.’ The girl curls her fingers around her arm, checking how much they overlap.
‘You hurt them too you know, doing this, being here. Alex is too scared to ask how you are, he doesn’t even want to come home anymore because he says you’re still there, reminding us of how we failed.’
‘People think it’s about control, being in charge of your own death.’
Mum goes perching on the words, ‘Everyone has difficult stuff going on in their lives, what would happen to the world if we all went starving ourselves to death?’
Day scours through slatted windows, chopping the light to bars. Carla shifting smaller in her space, ‘You know, I remember the day I was born. I remember what I was wearing, where I was, who I was with. And most of all I remember what I was eating.’ She smiles but there’s not sunshine there, ‘Just three words, Mum. That’s all it took. Three words to kill me and bring me back to life as another person.’
Mum has to ask the question with her eyes. Voice snuck to tight to cry.
‘This girl, I’d seen her around school but nothing like saying hello. And she comes and sits down next to me and says she likes my lunch box. Calls her friends over. She talks about my shoes, asks where I got them. I said you’d bought them for me. It felt like I’d done something wrong when she smirked, and turned to her friends and said my words back. But then she talked about herself and, Mum, it was okay. It was nice. We ate and talked and it was nice. Then she stood up, and she said, See ya, fatty. See ya, fatty. Just like that. And they all laughed. I guess tear is spelled the same as tear for a reason? Because I never cried but I sure got cut up that day.’
‘She was just a cruel, pathetic bully, she was only trying to hurt you because she feels bad about…’
‘Spare me the armchair psych, I know what she was doing. I know what she was. But you wanna know what the real pathetic in all this is? If she came and asked to be my friend right now, I’d feel happy, lucky to be in her company. I don’t even get to hate her for what she did, I just get to hate myself. Pretty messed up, eh?’
The tilt of her. Fingers. Uncurling, begging, ‘Tell me what to do, Carla, please tell me what to do.’
‘I wish I could tell you, Mum,’ she says, ‘because ever since the day I was born, everything tastes of poison, and I’m sick to death of eating it.’
Dark Spells come crawling out small and black as tar. Made from mean and come to mean and all the things in-between. And bit by bit they eat their victims from the inside out until there is nothing left of them but skin and bone.
image – sciencemag.org