Hi all, from the beautiful Turkish land of sun! Today’s post is slightly different to the usual; I don’t want to spend too much time writing a completely new blog post, but I recently finished writing a short story. Therefore, I’ve decided to share that instead. I hope you enjoy, and any feedback, positive or negative, will be greatly appreciated!
With a toothpick, she inspects her teeth in the mirror. She drives it, through the grooves and around the gaps in her blue elastic-band covered teeth. She tries to take away a layer of yellow-ish protection from the minute areas surrounding the blocks. She bins the toothpick, angry at its workmanship. With a hair brush, she fiddles with her shoulder-length hair. Stroking its blackness, she puts it up in a brown bobble. Then down again, as she isn’t satisfied. Pigtails. No. Plaits? No. The brush hears her opinion as it slams against the floorboards. She peels her school uniform off her body, piece by piece. First go the black trousers, the jumper follows. Her polo-shirt gets stuck in the jumper as she pulls at the waist, so both come off, leaving a raggedy mess where her attempts with the brush succeeded once. Everything is thrown onto her un-made bed. She looks in the mirror. Her reflection shows herself, nearly naked in a simple bra and ‘Snoopy’ knickers, and she scrutinises the character she sees. With her hands, she feels her belly, measuring its fat with closed palms. She then slips her hands around her waist, stretching her teenage skin. Now that is how she wants to look. If she wants to be happy, that is what she needs. No wonder she doesn’t have a boyfriend, if she doesn’t look like that.
A mile. Two miles. Three. Music blasts in her ears continuously. Four miles. Five. She collapses in agony. Only one more to go. She can’t possibly give up now, even without any training.
The door behind her slams angrily. A thunder sounds on the stairs. Sighs come from her mother’s mouth. Drama lessons have taught him something, at least.
“Is dinner ready?”
“Nearly. Gret, set the table please, honey.”
She does as she’s told. Not because she’s afraid of the consequences, or that she’s happy to do so, but the choice is between setting the table and making the drinks. Now that is an easy decision to make. Once the mats and the cutlery have been arranged satisfactorily, she sits in her usual chair, in the place she chose to sit on the first day she eat at this table, and plays with her fork.
“What’s for dinner Si?” she shouts to the kitchen, where a slave is placed in front of a stove in an apron with a Christmas pudding smiling happily and joyfully screaming, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”. It’s February. The slave either ignores, or doesn’t hear the shout from the adjoining room.
“Oi,” Greta laughs, as she enters the room with the baking slave, “I asked what’s for dinner?”
“Meatballs,” he finally answers pointing towards the boiling pan, “Sorry hun, hard day at work.”
She smiles, says it’s fine, meatballs are tasty enough, and leaves the room to go back to sit in her usual chair in her usual spot.
The dinner arrives, with the grumbly-stomached family waiting patiently for the promise of food. Greta digs in. Halfway through her meal, she starts to think. This meal is red, she thinks. Not an inch of green. Where are the veg’ in this, she thinks. Ok, it’s full of tomato sauce, but that’s different. I don’t need all this processed meat, she thinks. What will it do to me but make me fat? Fuck, she thinks. What have I done? Abruptly she stops. She lays down her fork. She drinks some water.
“What’s wrong honey? Not hungry?”
She looks up at her mother’s caring eyes, and replies, “No, I’m not. I had a big lunch.” She lies.
Five miles. Six miles. Seven. Eight. Getting better, Miss. Long! Maybe she should join a club. Or a gym. She could go after school. Maybe an hour every few nights. Or two. Hm, maybe two.
“Jesus Gret, you’ve lost some weight!”
Martha exclaims such words, once she turns around to face Greta, both changing from their P.E. kit.
“Blinking heck hun, what ‘you been doing?”
Greta looks down at herself. She supposes that she has lost some weight. After all, she’s been trying hard to.
She does know. They both know it. One doesn’t drop a dress size without at least one change of lifestyle, unless you’re 12 and hitting puberty.
“Well watch out hun, you’re getting very slim.”
Greta laughs off her friend’s comment. No I’m not, she thinks. I’ve got a while to go yet.
“So, did you watch 90210 last night?”
Seven miles. Eight miles. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. Wohoo, half a marathon! On the right track!
She tosses herself onto her other side, clutching her waist with her knees. She can’t go to school like this, she can’t. She doesn’t know why they’re so bad this time. 5 years of periods but never has she experienced such pain! A face pops through the gap between the door and its frame.
“Time to wake up, honey.”
“I can’t,” she mumbles, “I can’t.”
“Are you sure you can’t? I mean, it’s an important period in your life, right now.”
She’s sure it is. An important period in her life. Oh, the irony. She chuckles, but stops as the pain grips her. She groans loudly, and her mother goes to her side.
“Oh honey, stomach pain?”
She nods, “Cramps,” she says, “Incredibly painful cramps.”
Her mother smiles, rubs Greta’s shoulder and goes to the door.
“Get well soon, darling. Take some pills from the cabinet.”
Greta turns and closes her eyes. If she can get up later, she’ll take some pills.
“Eat, Greta! You’ve been ill, for God’s sake. You need to boost your energy!”
She’s sitting at the table in her usual spot, in her usual chair. On the plate in front of her sits a spinach and feta pastry pie, with some salad and bread. She’s been eating some of the salad, but the pastry lies untouched, except for the lack of spinach, which has made into a neat pile in another area of the plate. That pile, though high, has also been dipped into, but only a tad.
“I’m not hungry,” she replies, quite like a grumpy toddler, but it’s reasonably true.
“Honey, you are hungry. You must be.”
“God, I’m not, okay? Let me be.”
She keeps sliding bits and pieces around the plate, making little slug traces where her spinach has been sliding, and where the dressing on her lettuce leaves has caressed. She cuts a little square of spinach and puts it in her mouth. Then she goes back to the sliding business.
“Jesus Christ, leave this table if you don’t want to eat your mother’s delicious food! What’s wrong with you? You’re acting like a 3 year old! What in the world’s happened to the gorgeous girl I knew I don’t know!”
“SIMON!” her mother screams, but to deaf ears.
“WHAT? Look at her, Tamsin! She’s a bloody RAKE! We give her all this lovely food, and what does she do? She shoves it in our faces with her own face like a bloody damp cloth.”
“Haha, your food lovely, Si? Bloody hell, it’s like eating rat shit. You know, when the chicken is pink, it means it’s not cooked.” Greta shoves her fork into the remainder of his pie and goes to the door, “Eat my pie if it’s such a shame to waste it on myself!”
She doesn’t look back. She goes out through the back door. Luckily she has her trainers on. She runs. As far as her legs can take her.
It’s the summer holidays. She’s finished her exams and she’s exhausted. She’s lying on the sofa, watching a B Movie on Lovefilm Instant. It’s not a bad rom-com. She’s seen much worse. One would ordinarily have some popcorn or biscuits or a can of coke while doing the same, but although biscuits and some warm coke from the back of the drinks cupboard are available, they don’t trigger any wanting in her. She knows they’re there, but she tries not to care that they are. The clock’s hands show that it’s 4 o’ clock. Her brother will be home from school any moment now. If anything he’s a little late; she hopes he hasn’t missed the bus.
“But what if it isn’t what I want?” Jennifer Aniston’s character exclaims on the TV.
“Then you can leave me.”
“But what if I don’t want to leave you?”
“Then you don’t have to.”
She starts to think. I’ve lost a lot of weight, but I still don’t have a boyfriend, she thinks. I’m obviously not pretty. I wish I was as pretty as Jennifer Aniston. Then I wouldn’t have to be so thin. I could be as fat as I’d like, and still have men after me. Should I put some weight on, she thinks. No, I’m not that thin. I still have some ‘puppy fat’ on me.
The door opens and shuts. Her brother rushes up the stairs. She goes back to watching Jennifer Aniston woo yet another man.
“Honey,” her mother says as she sits by Greta’s bed, “I know you’re awake.”
Damn, Greta thinks, I thought I could fool her. She opens her eyes and says, “Yes, mum?”
“Are you ok?”
Greta sighs, “Yes, mum,” she says, “why wouldn’t I be?”
Her mother rubs her shoulder gently, feeling the bone closer to her hand than usual. She looks into her daughter’s hollow eyes, and breathes,
“No, honey, you’re not alright, you’re ill.”
“What?! No I’m not.” She bounces up to prove her point. Her arms are like twigs, but with more muscle from her running. Her fingers long french-fries with white nails on their peaks.
“Honey, you are.”
Greta listens to her words. Maybe I am ill, she thinks. God, I am, aren’t I?