The Food Body

A short narrative about how everyday experiences are perceived when struggling with mental health problems.

This is fictional.

As with every child, I was a greedy one. Whenever I asked for more than my mum’s recommended daily calorie intake she told me to picture the food on my body. So I did. I’d imagine the chocolate buttons I wanted seeping through onto the outer layer of my skin. They looked like ugly moles.

I don’t think adults seem to realise that children remember everything you say or do.

The chocolate button moles were a product of my imagination after 5 years of development. Imagine what my mind can conjure up after 17 years. It can picture slices of bread cushioning my waist. If the bread paired up with my waist, how would I fit in my jeans? So I won’t eat the bread.

When I go to eat vegetables, all I can focus on is their colour. If I eat broccoli or green beans will I turn puke green? Branches of mush pushing up through my skin, puncturing my delicate ‘soft as a baby’s bottom’ forearms?

I focus on water. Water is clear and indestructible, almost invisible. Maybe if water is all I feed my body, I’ll be invisible too. I hope I become invisible – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, invisible.

Because of my transparency, the doctors have let me off college for a while. I was missed until my classmates realised why I was off wasn’t that exciting. After one ‘get well soon’ letter with no response they left me to it.

My mum works nights, my sister lives with her girlfriend and my dad fucked off a long time ago. That leaves mum and me watching daytime TV together most days. A tense cliffhanger of whether the white retired couple want to buy this house in Spain or this house in Spain closes into an advert of some presumably C-Lister trying to sell a yoghurt with sex noises.

I divert my eyes to the bookcase. Every Harry Potter with the spines criminally creased, Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, the usuals. Four shelves worth of the first 100 books that come to the average person’s mind. I can only just about reach the top shelf. Jane Eyre will have to wait until I stretch on the washing line and turn into, what’s his name? Flat Stanley? He’s probably in there somewhere, too.

On top of the bookcase you can see a book, spine facing the wall. But I still know what the faded green spine says. You Are What You Eat. She probably thinks I don’t know it’s there. I know though. When I realised it had been demoted from the bottom shelf I searched every nook and cranny whilst she was at work in order to find it. Whenever I sneak a look in it, I ensure I pick it up in a way that doesn’t disturb the dust. She’d never work it out. They don’t advise you about your children sneaking around your problematically named self help books on Loose Women. And on that topic, they must all eat shit.

I was planning to make this a short story, of 1000 words roughly. Partway through I realised it reads well as just being an insight into a broken person’s mind, almost poetically.

Thank you for reading.


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