Piece Of Cake

Entry by: Daisy

23rd September 2015
Piece of Cake…

‘When a Piece of Cake Is Not a Piece of Cake’

“Come on Ben. It’s only a small piece and it’s your birthday,” coaxed nursing assistant Gavin.

The ‘innocent’ slice of Victoria sponge cake waited expectantly in front of Ben, on a boring, white ceramic disc. The thin layer of jam holding the airy wedges together glistened and was slightly smeared over the marginally thicker layer of cream, which he estimated was roughly 0.6cms in width.

It was indeed a relatively thin slice of cake. But to Ben, it resembled a challenge more akin to trying to get to Everest’s base camp by rolling up the mountain with all vital limbs taped to his sides, whilst enduring someone kick dirt in his face and attempting to bury him alive in snow. Even if he made it to base camp, there was still a further journey to travel.

Ben had never wanted to climb Everest. He never wanted the cake. He had no aspirations to climb Everest and he certainly had no aspirations to eat the cake.

“Come on Ben. You’ve only got ten minutes left. Wouldn’t it be a great day if you were to start to try and get better on your birthday?” asked Gavin, leaning forward towards Ben, who was attempting to muster as much physical space from the cake as he could whilst still remaining in his chair.

Ben felt nothing but contempt for the cake and he treated Gavin’s idiotic suggestions as usual background noise. He sat silently as he tried to dare the cake to confess its sins. As far as Ben could tell, the cake probably had about 350 of them, but he felt safer rounding the number up to 400.

“Why would eating cake make me better?” inquired Ben.

“It won’t, but it’s a start,” hushed Gavin.

“A start to a life of obesity,” muttered Ben.

“Eating that isn’t going to affect your weight. It’s what people do as a normal custom in everyday society,” said Gavin.

“Maybe that’s why everyday society resembles people your size,” sniped Ben. He couldn’t help it. He knew it was mean, but feeding times at Besby Adolescent Eating Disorder Ward, were war. As long as the opposition attacked his Anorexia, his Anorexia would let out spiteful comments in defence. Having a birthday was no reason to show weakness as far as Ben was concerned, or at least his Anorexia was concerned.

“Look, I’m not talking to your Anorexia, Ben, I’m talking to you. Why can’t you eat this cake? What do you think it will do to you? Tell me and we’ll talk about it,” coaxed Gavin.

Ben sloped further down into his chair and tapped his feet. It wasn’t long to go. He was sure he could wait the time out.

“Ben, do you really want to spend the rest of your days in a room like this?” said Gavin, pulling his chair further towards Ben.

Ben could feel himself twitching. The cake was too close; Gavin was too close; and Gavin’s propaganda was even closer. The question enraged his Anorexia, because if he said ‘No’ then it would come back to eating the cake, and Ben did not want to eat the cake. Everything Gavin said came back to eating the cake. To Ben, it seemed ridiculous that his fate lay in such a gross concoction of human greed and calorific absurdity.

“I’ve got all day Ben. If you don’t eat it now then I will save it for snack time before bed. That will give you two and a half hours to think about it,” said Gavin, laying his palm flat on the table and nudging the plate over with his index finger.

It was too much for Ben’s Anorexia as his mind exploded into a silent and unspoken rage. All he could think of was his desire to smash Gavin’s interfering fingers. Ben hadn’t eaten any solid food in 2 months. He couldn’t fathom why this chancer thought a few caring nods and ridiculous suggestions might change his mind. If he knew how to change his mind he would. It wasn’t exactly like he had a decent quality of life any more.

“You’ve got one minute left. What’s the worst that could happen if you let me help you take a few steps?” said Gavin, picking up the fork and breaking off a thin bit of cake. He held it out towards Ben, but Ben was no longer looking. He had buried his chin against his chest.

Gavin moved in with the fork.

“Come on Ben, it’s just a little bit of cake. What could be bad about taking some control in your life?”

“Everything,” whispered Ben. His psyche screamed out the other answers: ‘EVERYTHING! Nothing, maybe something. DISGRACE! Failure’. It was far more than just eating a piece of cake; it was buying into the idea that it was OK for humans to falsely occupy themselves with unnecessary calories; it was the idea of allowing the state to tell him what he should be eating like he was an uneducated child; it was like confirming that life was OK and it was perfectly normal to sit and eat cake - clearly it wasn’t, or Ben, wouldn’t be sat in Hell at Besby. Christ he wished he could just eat the cake, but he hated hypocrites and if he ate the cake, that’s what he’d become. He also despised the fact that these morons had thought a birthday cake an ideal gift for a person suffering with Anorexia.

He felt his teeth clenching as his temples pulsed. The thin slice of cake was just inches from his face.

“If you eat this mouthful now, then I won’t bring the cake back later. I just want you to see what you have to cope with in normal social situations. That’s why we have given you cake this dinnertime, because out in the real world, people give each other cakes on their birthday. You can’t run off, or people might think you’re a bit strange Ben. You don’t have to eat cake every day, you just have to be able to cope with it. Now come on, I know you want your freedom back.”

Every fibre in Ben’s body wanted to leap forward and stab Gavin with the fork. But instead he lifted his head to admire the persistence of his tormentor. The voices in his head screamed that he was too far ahead to quit; that Gavin was not a good enough role model to bother listening to; and that his Anorexia would torment him forever if he dared cede to the will of the hospital minion. He hated himself: he hated Gavin, he hated the room he had to sit in at meal times to receive intense supervision; he hated the tube feeds; he hated the organised pretend-to-be-happy time enforced in the ward activities; and he hated the fact he was cornered.

There was nowhere else to go and Ben, knew that either that day, or the next day, or a day not far away, he would eventually have to start taking control of his life. What he had to do in that moment would probably be reflected upon as a relative doddle compared to what he feared would unfold after.

He closed his eyes and allowed Gavin the responsibility of loading the slither of chaos into his mouth. It was like chewing sand and, Ben, quickly swallowed before he could change his mind.

“Well done Ben. You should be so proud of yourself. By the time you reach sixteen you’ll be forgetting about this little blip in your life,” enthused Gavin, as he patted Ben’s knee and removed the plate.

Ben, remained with his eyes closed while he tried to process his immediate sense of guilt and fear. All he could think about was whether the piece of cake was actually going to change his life or not. He was sure time would tell. The first steps to recovery were certainly not easy - they were maddening, terrifying, vicious, and uncertain.