“You haven’t been eating.” These were the first words he said to me for over a year. A year, and that’s what I get? No “how have you been?”, no hug, no kiss? I look down at my boots. He sighs. “Why can’t you see what you’re doing to yourself?” He drops his suitcase and grabs one of my arms; hold it up to my face. “You make me want to cry sometimes.” He mumbles, then pulls me in and embraces me. We stay that way for a long time, in the middle of the airport, as I breathe in the scent of him and listen to his heartbeat. Eventually, we break apart, and he stares into my eyes, trying to understand. But he never will. He knows nothing of the things I hear, the things I do.
“Did you drive?” He asks.
I shake my head. “Bus.”
“We’d better get a taxi, then.” He fumbles in his pocket, producing a mobile phone after a couple of minutes, and looks up the number. I watch him as he calls. He looks so different in his uniform. Scary, almost. The khaki coloured trousers, jacket and hat and the big boots make him seem so… Impersonal. He doesn’t look like he could ever love, and yet… He stays with me. The only reason I can come up with is that he loves me, though I can’t imagine why. I’m a terrible and disgusting person.
He hangs up and turns to me as if about to say something, but shakes his head and picks up his suitcase.
“They’ll be here in five. Let’s wait outside.” I follow him blindly, wriggling between the flocks of people rushing by to get their flights. The taxi arrives, and he opens the door for me while he puts his suitcase in the boot. He gets in, and gives the driver an address I am not familiar with. At my confused look, he says, “You think I’m going to let you starve yourself? We’re getting Thai food.” My mouth waters. I love Thai; it’s my favourite food. Then I think of the calories in a green Thai curry, and my mouth dries up. The chicken, the vegetables, the spices, all that rice! I can’t eat it. I won’teat it. We sit in steely silence in the taxi for the half-hour drive to the restaurant. He’s angry with me. He wants me to eat. But he can’t make me. I can’t eat, because if I do, She’ll be angry.
She. She is the reason for my lack of eating, my cutting, my burning, my smoking, my purging, my exercising. She is both my worst enemy and my best friend. Without her, I would be nothing. With her, I am nothing. All I am is “the anorexic girl in the corner”. Never in the centre, no, people might notice. I am always on the outside. Going to parties, but never drinking (do you know how many calories are in a can of beer? No thanks.); singing in choir but never solo; talking to people, but never having friends. She is my only friend. If you can call her that. She helps me. She punishes me. “If you think you can touch that, you are oh-so-wrong.” “Do you want to get fat? Spit it out, now! Get to the bathroom, and you’d better get it all out.” “I don’t care if your gums are bleeding. Until you bring up bile and blood, you’d better keep going!” “Now run. Run until you’re sick, then do it again.” But She wasn’t always so cruel. She could be kind sometimes, too. Gently telling me to ignore the others, the ones who talked about me behind my back. The ones who talked about me to my face. “Ignore them. You don’t need them.” “All you need is me.” “We can do this.”
We arrive at the restaurant, Daniel pays the driver, and turns to me. “You’re eating, Mignon. Even if I have to force-feed you.” He gives me a stern look, then opens the door and speaks to the waiter. We are told to find a table and Daniel picks one in the corner near the kitchen. He wants me to smell the food. Don’t fall for it. You can do this. She whispers in my ear. Daniel orders for both of us. “I’ll have the noodles and can you get her a green chicken curry please? Thanks.” He smiles at the waitress, who gives me a look as she leaves the table. He turns to me, and I pull a face. “I could have ordered for myself.” I grumble.