Prologue:

The elephant collapsed. A ripple of fat expanded outwards from its stomach, arcing over a bloated face and a wrinkled back. Legs flailed, tremors wracking the pulsating mass. Distended stomach oozed across the carpet, elongating in malevolent relish. The floor creaked under the immense weight, voicing it’s complains to the lard above.

The eyes in the mirror blinked at me. I watched a tear on the girl’s cheek roll silently downwards, burning an acid path into inflated skin. As it fell to hit her hand, I felt something cold touch my own.

I didn’t move.

Wavering red-tainted optics were framed by enlarged, undulating cheeks. Hair collapsed over wide shoulders and a thick, shaking body. The large birthmark upon the girl’s stomach stretched, mutated by the lurking fat inside her. All of her was grotesque.

Arms ached from taking the weight of her massive frame. Legs weeped from ripped tendons. Yet the giant clambered to her feet, swaying with the difficulty. Then she collapsed into a soft bed, imagining her own death.

Chapter 1 (Sinful)

“You are a sin.”

The stares of the normals penetrated through my skin, making me feel naked. Blue, green, hazel, brown, every color fixated on one singular blemish – myself. No matter how hard I scrubbed in the bath or shower, the impurity that was me could not be washed away. Nor could my imperfections be pummeled into oblivion. All that remained were the blue and purple accusations, giving away a damaged mind.

I ducked my head, trying to hide behind a curtain of hair before realizing that my hair was up in a ponytail. I hadn’t had time to wash it this morning, and now it was just another fault along with so many others. The familiar burning sensation began to claw at the back of my throat, I tried to push it away, to distract myself, but the thoughts were overwhelming. Tears were welling at the bottom of my eyes now, vast pools of revealing introspection. Now even more normals were looking my way, and whispers were starting. Words that skimmed on the edge of my hearing, not quite distinguishable. They taunted me, causing my mind to fill in the blanks with what could only be the truth.

Two teen girls passed by, dressed in the newest designer clothes. Both had dark brown eyes, which bore into my own, their red-painted lips moving in hushed murmurs. I didn’t know what they were saying but I could guess.

“Oh god, what is she crying about?”

“Come on, if you looked like her, wouldn’t you be crying?”

They both laughed then, and as the tears began to trickle down my flaming cheeks I could only turn away. I faced a young man now, in about his twenties, with a cell phone to his ear. I knew he was talking about me once his eyes found my face, even though I couldn’t hear his words. I just knew.

“Guess what Eric? I just saw this girl in the store. Yes, alone, and no, she’s a teenager. Looks like a boulder though. I mean that bulging stomach, bloated thighs and puffy face? Those shouldn’t be out in public. She shouldn’t be out in public. If you can even call it a she, maybe she’s an it. I can’t even bare to look at her, she’s a sinner.”

The sobs, they made my shoulders shake now. I couldn’t take it. There were too many people, too many judging stares, too many screaming thoughts that ripped apart my mind. I felt like letting loose a long, primal scream. Falling to my knees and shouting at the Heavens, digging my nails into my skin and letting soothing blood flow out and onto the alabaster floor. Yet no – I had to remain in control. I couldn’t be taken away, couldn’t be thought of as mentally ill. I had a secret, and it couldn’t be found out. I was already too gilded. My inside was all rotten.

Stepping behind a shelf of pills, I dried my tears on my sleeve, biting my tongue hard to stop from forming more. A metallic taste filled my mouth, overwhelming my senses. Away from the prying eyes with the comfort of my own blood and pain, I was ready to start rebuilding my mask. Carefully, I constructed a well-known smile onto my face. I knew which muscles to pull, I knew how to add that bounce to my step and friendly tilt to the head. But if anyone had bothered to look closely enough, they would have seen that it was all mechanical. The human was long gone by the time I walked out of the store and started to jog home.

Chapter 2 (Chromatic Darkness)

Colors danced. Hues mingled. Streaks blurred. I turned my head, trying to find the source of the muffled voice. My eyes briefly flickered closed as the world tilted. The wind trailed kisses across my arms and legs as I glided down. Then the ground greeted my folded form. I tried to force the smile back again, but my muscles were not responding.

It was happening again.

Just like in class where the room would suddenly spin as I moved, and then the tendons and muscles in my neck would cease to work for a hesitant moment, causing my chin to tilt downward and leaving my eyes to stare blankly at the floor below.

“Keira?” the voice was tinged with concern, but I didn’t care, couldn’t. I knew I should, but my brain was working, nothing was working. I was locked away in my own body and someone else was driving. I wanted to tell them to go away. To kick them in their stomach and tell them that’s what it felt like when food was inside me. Clenched and painful – and that was only the physical side. If they even knew what went on in my mind…

“Are you ok?”

Slowly, I pried my eyes open into slits, wincing as the sun’s harsh rays stuck my dilated pupils. A figure loomed above, evanescent only in my wishes. Outlines wavered then snapped into focus – the thankful stillness of my body had allowed my eyes to adjust. A soft exhale marked the beginning of my climb. I propped my elbows beneath me then, and regretfully rose from the welcoming ground.

Before me stood Fiona. No fat laced her thin frame. Instead muscles roped up her arms and legs, but as strong as she was, I wouldn’t be happy with it. The muscles were too thick, they took up too much room. Imagine how delicate she would be, like a angel gliding through the world, if her muscles would just disintegrate. Yet who was I to speak? I was the lumbering giant, the enormous dragon, the monster in this scenario.

“Just resting in the sun,” I mumbled quietly. I wanted to form a smile to aid my words but the darkness was just too compelling. What was the point?

“Are you sure?” A cough followed before Fiona continued. “You look a little pale.”

Something splintered inside me and within a second the inside of my body was burning with flames. If only it would consume the fat.

“I’m fine, Fiona.” The words were sharp, and I felt a sense of pleasure as I spoke them. It was no one’s business but mine what I felt like. If I was dead I wouldn’t want people to know until the last possible second. I wanted to remain control, to know something other people didn’t, until my very last breath. This type of vivid emotion didn’t happen too often. It was a brief flare of crimson in my mind among all the other muted greys of happiness and joy. Those words rang hollow now, for I’d come to understand that there was no such thing. Despite my clear anger though, she would not back down.

“At least get some water,” she prodded, not fully convinced. Oh how I hated her at the moment. She knew what was wrong, everyone did. You could see it by one glimpse at my bulging form. I was fat.

It took a momentous effort but finally I was able to drag the corners of my mouth up in a wavering smile. A fake smile for a fake girl, painted on by rough brushstrokes of despair. Splashed on colors to create the picture of normal.

“Definitely!” I replied, still grinning, “Now that you mention it…I do feel thirsty.” Before she could say another word I staggered away, legs trembling under my own monstrous weight. My mind screamed obscene thoughts, hurtling images of what I looked like. Thighs kissing, arms sagging, stomach stretching.

My lips touched the water, cooling the fiery thoughts for a brief moment – but then they bounced back, as fierce as ever. I gulped as much as I could, as if I could wash away the voices. It didn’t work. I should still be running. Burning more, eating less. I’d never reach my goal if I continued like this. I was weak-willed, a low-life. My hand lifted and I felt something wet on my cheek – tears. Good. I should be crying. I deserved it. Only when I was thin could I be ever begin to be happy.

The fat girl turned. Face dripping with water, splashed on after a hot run just like the big smile. The others on the cross-country team smiled back and then passed on by, oblivious to the darkness in her eyes which grew larger.

Chapter 3 (The Arrival):

I bounced on the balls of my feet with eagerness as I walked. Long strides took me over the grey concrete – it was time. As soon as my eyes alighted on the figure in the recent distance, a genuine smile broke out. Relief, yearning, and much more.

“Judy!” I called, as I stuffed my cold hands beneath my arms. She turned, dark hair bouncing in it’s ringlets and her eyes replicated the smile on her face.

“Wow, I’ve never seen you out of school before, this is so weird,” I mentioned nonchalantly. All I could think about was the packages. All I wanted was the packages. A blossom of guilt opened in my chest. Would I have made the effort to hang out with Judy if she had not been giving me them? She had no idea how important they were…and I couldn’t give the impression that they were.

“Yeah,” she replied, looking as if she was going to say more, but before she could I blurted out.

“Do you have them?”

Grinning, Judy nodded. “Oh yes, right here!” she replied happily. She lifted a brown paper bag, in which two forms lay. Excitement burned through my veins, I wanted them right now. Carefully, I reached out a hand and took them from her, feeling the twine hand holder bite into my dry hand.

As we headed up the steep hill back to my house, I felt as if my head was in the clouds. They were here. They were all I could think about. Yet I had to keep talking and smiling about normal things, even though I itched to tell her all about what was really inside those closed packages. Yet she wouldn’t understand. They were just for me. Not even my best friend knew and she never would.

When my old wooden house came into view I directed Judy down the side. My parents were home after all; I couldn’t let them see what Judy had brought. I placed them inside the basement, trying not to seem suspicious. Then we headed up to my room and just sat, talking.

Time seemed to distort and stretch. It was fun with Judy, but my mind was elsewhere throughout it all. Thoughts of decreasing numbers and possibilities clouded what my eyes could see. When she finally left I felt as if I’d been waiting for years. It only took a matter of minutes to smuggle the brown boxes upstairs and into my rooms, where I clicked the lock shut and set them upon my dirty carpet.

My eyes soaked them in at first, traveling over the boxes edges. A brief lull, as I processed what I had believed to be impossible. Then I grabbed my itouch in one hand and quickly clicked on the green message app. The words I typed were short and to the point. Excitement dulled the flourish I liked to put in my words. They arrived. Opening now.

Turning the volume up with trembling fingers so I could hear when a reply came through, I set it back on the ground. My eyes flickered back to the packages. They were still sitting there. Waiting. It was if I just expected them to disappear. To walk away. For someone to leap out and cry out that it was all a joke, that they were going to lock me up in a mental facility, or worse, tell my parents everything. I’d been so close to ones like them before, until they’d been snatched away. That had been a couple weeks back, when I’d tried to buy them from the store…

My itouch was seeping coldness into my clenched hand, the money which hid beneath the case only another secret I kept hidden. Adults passed by me, tall and superior, only casting suspicious glances at the sweaty girl. First I entered into safeway, but standing before the automatic doors I found that they would not open for me. I took a step closer, and still they remained shut. They were probably afraid I would eat all the food without paying for it. I whispered a promise that I wouldn’t as I pushed through them, eyes downcast in shame. The stores cool airconditioning brushed against my face, and I felt people’s eyes turn at the newcomer. A red blush burnt its way across my cheeks, I knew that I didn’t belong. Still I managed to keep my feet moving, and they dragged me over into an aisle where no one could see.

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