I heard the machine that monitored my heart. Its beep, beep, beep was somewhat comforting. I was thankful that at least something in the room was steady, until I remembered that the beep, beep, beep measured my heart. And that wasn't so steady.
"No more lies," Ari had just said. But if I wasn't supposed to tell her lies, then what was I supposed to do? The truth would only hurt her.
And so, I lied. "I'm sorry, Ari," I whispered. "It's just that...I want to be skinny. That's all I want. I just want to be skinny."
I didn't tell her about how being anorexic gave me an identity. About how being anorexic gave me a sense of control. About how being anorexic was soothing, in a way.
About how being anorexic was a way of punishing myself for being such a bad person.
Chances were, Ari didn't know what a bad person I was. But I was a bad person, indeed. All I had to do in order to convince myself of my wickedness was think of my vanity and selfishness and pride and deceit and lack of control and...and...and...But I was too tired to think anymore. All I could do was numbly flex my stomach muscles.
"I want to know what I have to do."
What I have to do. I must be a chore to her. I must be an inconvenience! At that thought, I became dreadfully anxious, and my heartrate began to pick up. Oh, great.
Ari glanced at the monitor and sighed. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make your heart speed up." She shook her head. "I'm at a loss, Tamar. Tell me what to do."
I hated it when Ari called me "Tamar" instead of "Tam." She rarely used my full name unless the situation was really serious.
"I'm sorry for stressing you, Ari."
The conversation was going nowhere, and it was all my fault. For one beautiful moment, I allowed myself to stop exercising. Only when I stopped exercising did I realize how much I'd needed a break. But that break only lasted for a moment or so. I couldn't waste any precious time.
Ari must have noticed the movement of my stomach under the sheet, because she stiffened and asked, "Are you exercising?"
"No," I lied, and I stopped. "I'm sorry. I just...fidget when I get nervous." You're a big, fat liar, Tamar, and all you ever tell are big, fat lies! I scolded myself.
My heart was hurting, and I couldn't make it stop. Granted, this happened quite often, but the pain was worse than usual. Overcome by the throbbing in my chest, I rolled over so I wouldn't have to face Ari. She could always tell when I was in pain.
Then again, maybe she couldn't. She hadn't seen the anorexia.
Just let me die here.