Living In Sin

Entry by: Freya

7th June 2016
The girl in the mirror

I am a fat chick. Hope you don’t mind me saying it aloud. Because some people do mind calling the things by their true name. Not me. A fat chick is fat, not big-boned. I don’t beat about the bushes.

If enjoying my food is a sin, then I’m guilty, but I don’t have to be reminded about it every freakin day.

‘There isn’t more to you than cholesterol clogging your arteries!’ The stares of my family and friends shout at me the moment our eyes meet.

Don’t get me wrong. I realise what eating too much does to my health. I know that my pancreas struggles to cope with the amount of sugar in my diet, like a smoker understands that each cigarette pushes her one step closer to cancer. Yet, I refuse to spend every waking hour dwelling on it. To me, there’s more to life than the spare tyre on my belly.

Not to my family. My mum was a model in her youth and is currently on a water-based diet to maintain her bony figure. Well, that's her choice. I like my cheeseburger.

She stopped sitting to dinner with me when I was still in primary school. She never said it aloud, but her gaze told me she put on weight just watching me chew and that was ruining her career. If you ask me, good riddance. I like my bacon greasy. Why let someone who hates the mere look of it ruin your digestion by constant nagging?

Take today, for example. I’m munching my lunch, nothing too sinister even by Mum’s standards, some fish and chips, and she’s having my aunt Coralie for tea. They perch opposite me by the kitchen table, their cups of slimming algae-coloured brew steaming, as they chat.

‘If Lucy lost twenty kilos, she would be a stunning girl. She’s got my face after all. I can’t comprehend why she wastes her beauty. She will get wrinkles soon enough.’

Mum isn't really saying that, not in these words at least, but I read her face like an open book.

Aunt Coralie grins coyly towards me and says nothing, always the one to keep up appearances of a well-bred woman. She then rearranges her top, stroking her super flat belly so that I notice that unlike her niece’s, hers is a perfect figure.

You will understand my reaching for a Nutella jar and stuffing myself with it this very moment. G, it's spec-ta-cu-lar! Every little taste bud in my mouth awakens and cancans like crazy. The nuts, the coco. And the fragrance of it… Afterwards I notice that even my sweat tastes kind of sweet.

My aunt’s eyes widen in terror. She stares at my mum, and then they both drop their gaze. To inspect their bellies, I’m guessing. They are likely expecting a bulge forming there in reaction to so much second-hand over-indulgence.

As you may have guessed, I’m fairly resilient. Their glances don’t bother me. I sometimes feel I am like the Ayers Rock in Central Australia, majestic and indifferent to anything beyond my own existence. And my existence is pretty much about savouring. You could say: to chew is the reason I breathe. But we need to eat and we may as well enjoy it.

Since I live in a first world country where there is always something to nibble on at easy reach, my life could be perfect, if not for Mum taking me from one doctor to another, searching for the cure for my larger than life appetite. That’s why I’m now at the cuckoo’s clinic. She finally succeeded in persuading some naïve young psychiatrist that I am digging an early grave for myself.

Yes, Dr Redford, you are naïve. This entry is my first task in the talk therapy you designed for me. I am to write about who I am. I am a fat chick. No more, certainly no less, and happy to stay that way. If that’s a sin, the pleasure’s worth frying in hell.


‘Lucy, can you hear me?’ Doctor Redford bends over the bed.

The girl stirs, wiggling her toes under a thick quilt. She sniffs, and her eyelids flutter. As she opens her eyes, they widen in surprise. It melts only after she recognises a familiar face.

‘Can you manage to sit down?’

The girl braces herself, straining every muscle, but her body doesn't comprehend what she requests of it. It lays heavy like a log in a mountain stream, unshaken by its current.

‘I know it’s hard. We can’t expect a sixteen-year-old girl with your weigh to function without problems.’

The girl stares at him, a crease forming between her brows.

‘Let’s try again. Slowly. I’ll help you.’ He places his left arm around her shoulders, reaching with his right for her hand. He then pulls her into a sitting position. ‘Well done, Lucy. Tube feeding and a happy pill have done you good. Now, let’s see if you can sit without help.’

He assists her in lying down again and withdraws slowly, staying close, his hands frozen mid-air, in case she needs support.

She drags herself to a sitting position, her whole body shuddering in effort, her jaws clasped. Drawing heavy breaths, she tilts her head. Her glance rests briefly on the narrow bed’s iron frame, before wandering to the little metal table shedding its creamy varnish on one side, and finally to a long frameless mirror. Her gaze pauses on the latter object. She stares for a minute as if frozen but then waves, her hand tentative. The girl in the mirror waves back.

‘I can see you’re tired, Lucy. We can try again tomorrow.’

‘Who’s that girl?’ she whispers, ignoring her doctor's comment. Her tongue examines the flaky lips. ‘What happened to her?’

Dr Redford points towards the mirror.

‘Meet Lucy. She would have died if her mum hadn’t brought her here against her protests. She has an eating disorder. It’s a tough case. I admit I struggle with helping that girl. But…,’ he hesitates, ‘perhaps you could do something for her?’

Dr Redford’s sky blue eyes focus on the girl, his mouth slightly ajar, his body tense as if his whole life depended on Lucy’s answer.

She glances back to the girl in the mirror. The skin on the girl’s hollow cheeks is nearly transparent, blue veins blooming around her nose. Tiny like a doll, with mulberry eyes occupying half of her sickly face, the reflection-girl reaches with her hand towards her listless hair. It resembles trusses of withered damp reeds. The girl’s skeletal hand then drops to her cheek, stroking it. Her gaze rests on the pair of legs sticking out of her pajama like two branches of some skimpy tree. She brushes them with her long, fragile fingers.

‘And I thought gluttony was my sin,’ she murmurs to herself.

But Dr Redford’s sensitive ear catches the whisper.

‘There is no sin; there’s illness,’ he reassures.

Lucy clenches her fists and her knuckles crunch. There is more power in this gesture than in any other she has made since opening her eyes. She clenches and unclenches her fists as if to draw strength from at least one part of her frail body.

She glances back at Dr Redford, her eyes brimming with tears. But there is some change in her gaze, as if she's just made a committment.

He’s watching her every move with utter concentration.

‘I want to live,’ she decides, and he sighs his relief.