Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.
Left foot placed two-and-one-half inches from the left edge of the scale, abutting the third raised line on the weighing surface. Right foot about three-and-one-quarter inches from the right side to compensate for a slight imbalance in the scale’s internal mechanisms, abutting the fourth line with the edge of the heel. One deep breath, then an exhale to rid the body of any additional impurities, just as the garbage eaten the last day was shat, stinking, thin and black into the white porcelain toilet, then flushed away, clean.
93 pounds. The numbers glared up at Teresa like a bad test grade. She hadn’t lost any weight in days, despite her five-mile daily jogs and a diet as pure as she wanted to be. She would just have to try harder today, rise to the challenge. Her perfect weight…85 pounds…was within reach. She knew this seemed a tad light, but with her thin bone structure and height of 5’3, it really made sense. She would be able to fit into anything. This country has an obesity epidemic anyway.
As Teresa stepped off the scale, she could feel those eight extra pounds weighing down on her, making her tits mealy, her ass fat and her stomach pudge out like a gelatinous tire when she bent over. All this lard, this shit all over her, was extra, something holding back the pure skeletal-muscular body, her body, underneath. She had been chipping away at this lard for a year now, from her disastrous, shameful weight of 145. She had been a whale, a tanker, her mass squirting out everywhere, her thighs looking like pincushions, her arms flapping loosely like defeated armies’ flags. She was getting better, she had to admit, but she still hadn’t reached her goal. You have to have goals in life. One day soon she would reach hers’, and the extra, the load she had to carry around would be gone, and she would be perfect as a runway model.
Teresa wrapped her cold body in a fluffy pink robe and stepped out of the white tiles of her bathroom and into the chaos that was her parents’ house. The door would barely open because a pile of dust-crusted records that had collapsed in front of it. She shoved at the door with her shoulder until it slid open over the discolored carpet. Stacks of mildewed boxes over- and under-stuffed with water-damaged tax receipts, creased children’s drawings and various hoarder-detritus lined the hallway like trash in an alley. Teresa skirted them with practice, almost stepping in the stinking stain of piss and jizz where the unneutered cats liked to spray. The entire space smelled like a sickly mixture of rotten fruit, animal shit, used drier sheets and fetid sweat. The hall light was busted and the poorly-designed hallway had no windows, so Teresa had to fumble for the doorknob of the only other clean room in the house.
Once inside her room, her haven, she leaned against the closed door like she had just escaped a clot of cannibals. Her room was Spartan, with sharp white and black lines and angles creating a sense of mathematic calm. Air fresheners Teresa had bought with her own money vented clean aromas from the walls and her bed was already made. She dropped the towel and examined herself in the full-length mirror. Still overweight, overweight, nothing like the crisp, svelte runway models that graced the corners of her mirror with their prowling, confident forms. She cocked her hip and saw with disgust that he bone was almost invisible, buried in lard as repulsive as fatback frying in its own fluids. With a rush of anger, she grabbed a chunk of her fat and squeezed it with steaming eyes until it turned red. Sometimes she fantasized about a magic knife that she could use to pare down her body like a butcher cleaning a side of meat, slicing through her fat evenly, freeing her, letting her breathe. But nothing was easy in life; you had to work for it.
So she got on her back, still naked, and stared toning her abs with a series of exercises she had made up herself. She had to admit that the exercises were designed so that she didn’t have to fold her body, which caused a horrifying scrunching and bulging of her jiggling stomach. After these, she worked her arms out, then her legs, then her butt, tightening, always tightening. After an hour, she was done, her body shaking. She felt better. As she stood up, the sides of her vision started to close in, and her head turned to vapor, a fainting spell coming on. Knowing the procedure, she quickly crouched down to force the glucose-starved blood back into her brain.
The spell passed, and she could feel the purifying gastric acids burning the sides of her stomach. She lived for this acetic feeling, but was aware that this could cause ulcers. She would drink a little water, maybe even with a slice of lemon; you had to be healthy.
She reached into the white cube of her mini-fridge past the stacks of celery and carrots and grabbed the Brita. She didn’t like to mix her food with her parents’. They wagged their tongues like old hags about her eating habits, and it disgusted her to think about their meat- and mayonnaise-based foods osmotically impurifying hers’. After passing on a stalk of celery—later, when she had burned through another hour’s calories—she poured a high glass of cool water and chugged it greedily. She loved water. It was the antithesis of food. It had no calories, no fats, no flavor. All it did was wash away any food she might have given in and eaten, cleansing the walls of her organs until there was no food left, just her body.
By this time it was 6 AM. The sun was slipping above the horizon like a burning discus and it was time for her run. Teresa opened her door to the hallway’s shrieking cacophony of confusion, wanting to close her eyes against the tide of slopping filth. She made it outside and inhaled the pure, thin air. It was going to be hot today. Good. The heat made her pores open up and pus out impurities until she was sleek with what was once inside her.
Teresa liked to push herself; she increased her runs by an eighth of a mile every three days. Today was the first day of a new cycle, and she looked forward to it with a small smile. Whenever she ticked up her mileage she felt like shit at the end of it: it was wonderful. She got light-headed, but not in the sudden way that happened at the end of her toning exercises. It came on as slow as pure oxygen being pumped into a face-mask, releasing her mind from logical thought and pain until the balmy headwind seemed to flow straight through her skull.
The light-headedness hit her by mile four this time. Slight eddies of nausea slipped alongside the flow of the feeling, but she ignored them. It only meant she was getting thinner, getting better.
Her legs were trembling slightly as she stopped on mile 5.138, but the feeling kept flowing disconcertingly through her. Suddenly, the benevolence of the flow ended and a sickly wall of mud slopped into her body from behind. It felt like her brain was oscillating crazily in thick swamp-water. She fell to her knees and retched up a stream of yellow bile. Focusing through the nausea like a drunk driver squinting one eye shut on the thruway, she pressed her eyes closed and breathed through her nose. Her brain oscillated slower and finally stopped, allowing her to relish the residue of the burning juices like an after-dinner mint.
She had designed her run so it terminated back in front of her parents’ house. Realizing that her stooped form was visible from the front windows, she quickly stood up while brushing the dirt from her knees.
She wove weakly to the front steps and lowered herself to a sitting position, relishing the feeling of her thigh-bones pressing into the cement through her ass. The sun was acidically burning through the clouds of fog surrounding the hill that her parent’s house sat upon. Teresa raised her eyes to the sun and held them there until her vision blackened around the flaming orb. She loved the sun—life-giver, purifier—and the way it singed her fair skin on summer days. She closed her eyes respectfully towards it and felt its light dominating her face like the shine of a bronze shield.
Teresa felt the floor vibrating with foot-smacks far before the door opened. The vibrations were heavier than her father’s—it must be her neurotic whale of a mother. The door opened behind her with a crack and she could hear the labored breathing behind her. Teresa didn’t open her eyes or even turn her head. She knew her mother had emerged from her dank cave of a room for her morning cancer-stick, a Virginia Slim, which always looked absurd in her wet, flopping lips. She could feel her mother’s eyes on her, worry-filled and silent as a grandma bear’s. The noxious fumes of the tobacco settled around her like desert smog and she quickly rose and walked around the house without a word.
She entered the house through the basement, a wasted, useless pile of a room, everything wet and dripping from various pipe-leaks that her father had been too lazy to repair. The whole place stank as badly as a produce dumpster in the sun. She held her breath, wrapping the freshness of the outdoors in her torso. In the semi-darkness, she stumbled over an open box of sarongs and sandals labeled “College”—remnants from her parents’ thinner, but no less sloppy past.
The sharp, sickly smell of fried fat oozed into her nose as she opened the door to the kitchen. Her father was making the daily breakfast for himself and her mom. It consisted of fat-streaked bacon, plaster-heavy pancakes with viscous maple syrup, eggs saturated with bacon-lard, and mealy sausages shining with their own intestinal juices. Teresa saw her obese father, dressed in stained sweatpants and a ratty T-shirt, dipping a piece of Wonderbread into the brackish, burnt fat left in the frying pan. He laboriously turned to her while sucking down the wet bread.
“Hi, honey. Do you want some breakfast?”
Her father already knew the answer, given with a disgusted sneer. The question was more of a plea than anything else. Both her parents were convinced that Teresa was too skinny, and she knew she was—when compared to her parent’s bloated, sweating bodies. It disgusted her to be around them, knowing that she was cursed with the same gluttonous genetics as them, that she had once looked like them. It made her feel superior to compare their bodies to her own, as imperfect as it was. She could hear the mucousy mouth-breathing of her father from across the room, sounding like a pig snorting its nose through piles of shit. She didn’t need to answer the question. She just walked silently to the base of the staircase and glanced at her father with tight lips.
It was seven-thirty when she re-entered her acetic room. She would allow herself a carrot and a stalk of celery. She figured that she had burned about 700 calories during her run. The food would run her about 75 calories; acceptable.
The mirror was located right next to the mini-fridge, and she admired how her jaw muscles stood out, sinewy, as she ground down on the food. Posted above her mirror was the philosophy that she lived her life by:
Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.
She reflected on this as she ate, crouched below the saying as though it was an alter. The pictures of models were set below the mantra. They followed it too, she was sure, but they were successes to it, while she was still a failure. An improving failure, though. Teresa planned the rest of her Saturday. It would be a good day, a day of fasting, or further exercise. Perhaps she would have a present by the end of the day: another pound lost, another slice of fat thrown away, another step towards her weight-goal that shined always before her like the burning column. She rested on this thought.
She suddenly snapped out of it with horror and looked down. She had been eating without knowing it during her entire fantasy. Four carrots were gone. Four. She stared at the awful space in her fridge with horror and revulsion. The carrots now resided heavily in her stomach, she could feel their weight, bloating her up, filling her with panic. Her breath came quickly as though struggling to whistle past the stopper that her inattention, her weakness as created. She tried breathing deeply to calm herself. She needed to be proactive, to address this carnal sin. She remembered the pure, crackling burn in her throat from after her morning run. She stood up, then walked quickly and stiffly into the bathroom.
Purging was harder then she thought. She jammed her quaking fingers down her throat until it was bruised, feeling the shit she consumed well up only to fall back down with a sickening plop. She grabbed a toothbrush, then shoved this down her throat, forcing it past her tense tonsils. It still wasn’t working. She then realized her stupidity in forcing down the handle. She spun the toothbrush around and forced it down, bristles first, feeling it tearing her soft throat-flesh. That did it. The vomit exploded upwards, sweet and orange, squirting through her nostrils and gumming up past the toothbrush. She jammed the toothbrush down until there was nothing left, not even bile.
The sides of her vision quickly collapsed inwards. This time she didn’t drop to her knees. She let the blackness fold towards her pupils further and further until the only thing she could see was the orange vomit in the bowl. This part of her vision diminished slower, like clouds of foggy squid-ink flowing in the sea. The blackness was so pure, as pure as paper, as pure as water, as pure and the burning eye of the sun. The blackness consumed her then, and all she could feel around her was her own freed body.