BOOK EXCERPT: “Cold cuts”

The feeling of dread that accompanies each meal is terrible. Sometimes I am so anxious I literally tremble all over; smoking soothes my nerves a little. I feel guilty about everything I eat but I would also feel guilty not eating. I am caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. 

Nevertheless, my body is feeling better, so slightly it’s hardly worth mentioning but still. If nothing else, I manage to sit and study for hours on end. I am still as stubborn as ever and I am determined to pass the year despite everything. I study like crazy, even if partly because I’ve convinced myself that studying burns calories. I stay away from the weighing scales just in case.

Then suddenly one Saturday after lunch I give in to curiosity, lock myself in the bathroom and decide to check how much I weigh. Weight is just a number, I say to myself. Yet the number 47 is shocking and destructive and my world collapses just like that. I sit on the bathtub, dumbstruck and speechless, staring into nothingness. A few seconds later the terror explodes in a fireworks of pain and hatred.

No! What have I done? I weigh 47 kilograms.

This is a disaster. How can I fix this? There is no easy way out, I realize this. I screwed up the effort of the last 6 months in four bloody weeks. And for what? To please mummy and daddy? What the fuck?! I am an adult woman, I don’t need to please my parents. I’ve grown into a big fat pig and there is no excuse for that. I feel ashamed, then sad and finally furious with myself. I want to beat myself up, and quite literally, too. I really deserve to be punished for my carelessness.

This thought ignites a strange stream of thoughts and actions. I stop crying and start moving like a robot, as if I were under a spell. I feel I have to punish myself properly and then I might be forgiven. I open the medicine cabinet, take out my Dad’s razor and remove the blade. I look at it for a while, the thin metal looks so inviting. I place it on my left wrist, close my eyes and take a deep breath. The razor is so thin I feel next to nothing.

I push in and pull along my wrist repeatedly, again and again and again.

And once more.

And once more.

And then again.

I open my eyes and stare at a bloody wrist. It’s white and red and strangely appealing to look at. 

I made fourteen cuts.

For a while I feel nothing, I just stare at the massacre on my hand. Soon, there is a pulsating pain, my flesh throbs and burns and hurts as if my skin were on fire. The pain is immense. 

I watch the blood that trickles from the forcefully open veins. Little bubbles. Larger bubbles.
Little streams of red running down my flesh and making little pools on the floor. I am entranced for a while.

My thoughts are smooth and calm like trout in a pond. “I cut myself,” I think. “I am bleeding. It looks terrible. I will bleed out and die. This is good.” The room goes blurry. I don’t know if I am crying or fainting.

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