Ten… nine… eight… I resist the urge to pick at my perfectly polished nails. I count backwards in my head. As I sit there, legs crossed, I try not to focus on what I know comes next. My friends all around me are talking, laughing. I fake a smile and force a laugh. I’m sure whatever they said was hilarious, but I can barely hear them over the sound of my heart beating in my ears.
Ten… nine… eight… I begin again. And again. And again. It keeps me from pulling at my hair and biting at my nails. It’s lunch time rush and my eyes follow everyone who walks in to grab a bite. They’ll want food soon. My friends, I mean. And I’ll have to eat soon. My stomach churns at the thought. I have to eat. Food can’t hurt me.
Ten… nine… eight… Once upon a time, food didn’t scare me, but I barely remember that. I used to eat. I wasn’t in the hospital or in therapy or hiding things from my mother so she wouldn’t worry about her baby girl far away in California. I used to like college and my friends.
Ten… nine… eight… I wasn’t always a bubblegum pop Barbie doll, complete with pink highlights and matching bag. Plastic face set in a smile and perfectly applied makeup. What would my tagline be? Would it tell the truth?
“Living paycheck to paycheck for this wardrobe.”
“Dieting because it cuts back on expenses.”
Something like that in the pretty pink, fake cursive they use. That would be something to see in stores. “Don’t be like me, girls! You’ll be miserable for the rest of your life!”
Ten… nine… eight… My friends stand up, giggling. I do the same, stretching my painted lips into a smile. We walk towards the counter to order.
I take in a deep breath.
Based on an in-class exercise in which we observed people outside and used them as a character.