after the third day, she starts to feel light-headed all the time. Her head is floating slightly above the rest of her world; still joined, but tenuously. She drinks small glasses of chilled water that burn her throat to keep her stomach full, but the light-headedness will not go away. Every couple of hours she checks her face in the bathroom mirror. The mirror is getting dirty and stained, she hasn’t cleaned the apartment in several weeks. Her skin looks dull, verging on unhealthy. Perhaps there is a tiny bit less fat around the cheeks than before? She checks her thighs, her stomach, the backs of her arms. Each maybe is a little smaller than yesterday. She will keep doing this. Perhaps just until she looks like the boys and girls in the bars downtown. Until someone beautiful stares at her and cannot pull away. That one boy. How romantic it will be when they are sitting over coffee together in some quiet café one day, and she tells him how she made herself beautiful for him.
on the fourth day she takes an antihistamine at a friend’s place and almost throws up. Blood flows into her head in a wide hot rush, making her dizzy. The edges of her vision start to turn purple like she’s blacking out and she staggers into her friend’s kitchen on legs that feel like thin strips of flexible steel, bending at random. Columns of numbers are pulsing through her head; calorie counts of all the different foods slowly mouldering in her fridge. If she picks right, perhaps she can eat one thing that will keep her alive without taking in too many calories. Cucumber, lettuce. Something that is food on the outside, water on the inside. This long line of thoughts follows her like a vapour trail all the way to the ground.
later that evening she rides downtown on her bike. It is almost pure white except for the stretched out French logo on the crossbar. The gears must be broken though, or maybe the tires are flat, because she can’t drag herself up the hill. Eventually she dismounts and pushes the bike up, her body angled against it so she is close to falling into the sidewalk. She can almost see the noise pushing through her, creating this sick feeling like a circular headache; the head that’s not even joined to her body any more.
that night, as a kind of torture of encouragement, she watches a documentary about chocolate. An expensive slideshow arrangement with close up shots of assortments and rich thick brown moving liquid fills the screen from edge to edge. Seeing the figures spooning chocolate into each other fills her with a horrible jolting nausea.
on the fifth morning, there is a sharp pain in her stomach, or maybe her kidneys, that will not go away. She tries stretching, but that makes it slightly worse. Even though her nails are short, one breaks off while she is cleaning the bathroom sink again. The apple that was left out on the counter five days ago has flies all over it, and there is a sick sweet smell from some food going bad somewhere else. She lies down on the kitchen floor and curls into a ball that stops the pain in her stomach for a little while.