Her hair did not cascade down her back in a luscious sheen nor was her skin bronze and glowing and there was no gleaming smile that reached her sparkly, vivacious eyes. Rather, short wispy hair drifted over a yellow, sullen face and cracked lips were set in a perpetual pout. Her eyes were dull and despondent as they roamed over the identical girl in the mirror.
“Eat something,” her mum pleaded. “You’re too thin.”
She ignored her mum. Her mum was wrong. She didn’t see her flabby thighs or the fat that made her stomach wobble.
“Nothing to worry about ma’am, she’s just going through a phase. Just make her eat more,” the doctor calmed.
“She’s lost even more weight! She doesn’t eat! I have every right to be worried,” her mum beseeched.
But she wasn’t worried. She smiled. At least she was improving.
“Hey, look at that anorexic chick. I would hate to look like that,” a girl said to her friend as she jogged past.
She ignored them. She was good at that.
“Oh my dear, you look positively dreadful,” her grandma tutted.
She agreed. Her hips were still dreadfully fatty.
“Maybe you should see a doctor. We learnt about anorexia in health class. It’s very bad.”
She ignored her friends. They wouldn’t understand. They were all so skinny and beautiful. Except Jane. She was pretty sure she didn’t look that bad.
“What are we going to do?” her mum sobbed into her father’s shoulders.
She just sighed. She didn’t understand why no one could see that she was too big. She had seen anorexic girls. They were skinny and looked sickly. She wasn’t skinny. Despite what everyone said.
“I can’t help you. Sorry but she has gone too far.” Mum just glared at the pristinely groomed therapist.
She couldn’t jog anymore. It hurt too much. Her bones felt like they would splinter. She just settled for a brisk walk instead.
“That’s it! I can’t watch this happen any longer,” her father bellowed as he stormed out the door, his large suitcase scraping the wall as it bounced along behind him.
It was cold in the hospital.
“Her body is shutting down. Her heart is failing. You’re lucky you were near her when she collapsed.”
She grimaced as she saw the tubes stuck to her tiny wrists; at the bones that protruded from the dry, diaphanous skin. She had known all along that something was wrong. That it wasn’t everyone else whose perception was clouded. But her own.
“Daddy left because of me.”
“No, no,” her mother crooned. “He couldn’t stand to watch his daughter fade away into nothing.”
Her mother brushed back her wispy hair.
“He said he’ll come back if you promise to try . . . try to get better.”
“I’ll try Mum,” she whispered.