"I'm not hungry."
All around me was the hustle and bustle of the school canteen. My best friend, Aaron, shoved a plate of food in front of me. My stomach growled involuntarily; I was starving. It had been three days since my meeting with my tutor, and I'd only lost a pound.
"Really, I don't want it. You have it."
"You're fooling no-one, Pen. Just eat the damn lunch. Why are you skipping meals, anyway?"
"I haven't been feeling well. I can't stand the sight of food."
This wasn't technically a lie; I'd been dizzy and light headed all day, and looking at food made for uncomfortable sensations in my gut. My body craved food, but I couldn't allow myself to have it. Every mouthful reduced the amount of weight I was loosing.
"Fine, well, if you really don't want it..." Aaron grabbed the plate and started eating. I was suddenly acutely aware of everything around me; the smell of the food, the sounds of people eating. I needed to get out.
"Hey, where are you going?!"
I sprinted to the bathroom. Throwing open a cubicle, I dropped to my knees and leant over the bowl, feeling as though I would be sick, but nothing came. After staying there for a cautionary few moments, I fell back onto the floor. Gradually, I tried to slow my breathing, to allow the queasiness to pass. I realised that I was sweating, and that my hair was sticking to my face. Outside, I heard the bell go for the next class. As the noise in the corridor died down, I left.
I walked straight to the medical room, signed out as ill, and went home. That night I sat and watched videos of my favourite dancers, like Darcy Bustle and Rudolf Nureyev, trying desperately to ignore the hunger pangs, and the growing complaints of my stomach as it demanded to be fed. I eventually fell asleep, in the early hours of the morning, my slumber fuelled by sheer exhaustion.
I had to get this part; if I did, this would all be worth it.