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Reflections

Reflections

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Published by Ben Burr
A girl with a deadly problem, irony.
A girl with a deadly problem, irony.

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Published by: Ben Burr on Jan 11, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/11/2010

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Ben Burr ReflectionsCourtney stared at her ten-dollar lunch, wasted, at the bottom of the toilet. Therewas a small green bottle of mouthwash from her purse; she turned to the small pictureframe-sized mirror over the sink. She gargled the minty mixture around her mouth andlooked long into her own eyes, ignoring the years of irreversible damage she had done toher child-like body.She had acquired a taste for vomit. Not acquired really, she could stand it, muchlike a lottery winner acquires a taste for pâté or caviar. The taste could be tolerated.The method behind her madness was unclear, even to her. Her bulimia had startedin the twelfth grade, immediately before prom. The dress for which she had beencarelessly fitted months before was suddenly impossible to zip. Her friend Susan told her of the practice, and later instructed her. Susan was a weight-loss guru at the school,herself being addicted to Slim-Fast and smack. She even held Courtney’s hair on the firstattempt, which was an altogether bad experience. Frightened at the last minute, Courtney pulled away from the toilet and proceeded to coat the front of her “Say Yes to Michigan”t-shirt with a mixture of Fritos, Mountain Dew and gummy bears.The subsequent attempts proved to be much more successful. In total, Courtneyhad lost ten pounds by prom time, and she never looked better than she did that night.She was a modern Cinderella. She had never been so complimented in her entire life,although never had positive reinforcement had such a negative consequence.Seven years later, she faced that mirror, still an image of beauty. But it wasn’t theoutside that she had a problem with anymore. The years were beginning to take their toll.More and more, she had to work to cure what her coworkers believed to be chronichalitosis. Her molars were being eaten away by the acids from her stomach, so too washer esophagus. Frequently she suffered through what felt like heartburn or indigestion,which it was to a degree, but was totally of her own making.Framed perfectly in that mirror was a liar. How she’d kept this from Dave, shenever knew. But that didn’t really matter much, now. The writing on the wall came in theform of emails and text messages, late night meetings and secretive calls. This was to betheir final meal together. Her mom had told her to break up with people in a public placeto avoid a scene; Dave’s mom must have told him the same. She wanted to cry, butinstead, she gathered herself together and went back out to the table.He sat there, talking on his phone as he always did, never actually communicatinganything, just speaking. The empty plates still lied there, reminding her of what she had just done.Both were now seated, opposite each other, looking off at happier people aroundthem. “I suppose you know what’s coming,” Dave stuttered while looking down at hisfork. “We had a good run, longer than most. I would like you to think this is my fault, butit’s not.”Courtney sat, silent. Her eyes, as empty and as blue as the sky on a late summer’sday, stare at him.13
 
“You never seemed to mind me; you never cared for me. I don’t want to place blame. You could have been kinder.”“I don’t know what to say. I knew this was coming. Is there someone else?”“I don’t want to discuss this here.”“So there is. Do I know her? Dave, do I know her?”“No…I don’t know. Yes, probably, yes.”“This is my fault? I’m I not pretty enough? I’m not skinny enough? What is it?”“You’re pretty, very pretty. She’s prettier. I didn’t want to have to say that, Ididn’t. I know how that sounds, but it’s the truth. You always said to tell you the truth.”“The truth is that I’m not pretty enough for you.”“I wanted to just do this and part ways. I didn’t want to hurt you. I’m an animal.I’m a fucking piece of shit. Is that what you want me to say?”Immediately after Dave stopped talking, he stands up, throws money down on thetable and walks away. Courtney sat, humiliated, not by the facts, by the words. She didn’twant to cry, not in public anyway. After a minute or two, she stood and walked out.At six o’clock, her stomach was howling. Eating wasn’t an option because sheknew that she wouldn’t be able to keep it down. The scene from earlier kept replayingthrough her mind. He had been such a jerk. His character was awful, but she had knownthis their second date. On one channel, they were showing
The Apartment.
When she had been a little kid, her mom had made her watch it. The scene where Shirley MacClainehad tried to commit suicide had stuck with her all of these years.Courtney walked into her bathroom, just after watching Jack Lemmon win ShirleyMacClaine
.
Again she stared into the mirror. You can look into a million mirrors, butyou’re always going to see the same thing. So many things were on the other side of thatmirror. She couldn’t see them, but she knew they were there. Problems could be solvedon the other side of the mirror. There was only one way to get to the other side. Her handreached down pulled the open the drawer. A small bottle of sleeping pills looked back ather.She removed from the small amber bottle nine of the blue, horse-sized tablets.Her palm was facing heaven, one by one she swallowed them, each one becoming moredifficult. She never looked at them, just gazed into her own blue, blue eyes in the mirror.The inevitable sleep was approaching and the bed seemed to be calling her name.She walked over, sat on the edge flipping through the channels. On one channel was
Waterloo Bridge,
the version with Vivien Leigh. As luck would have it, the moment itcame on was the moment in the film where Leigh throws herself in front of a truck. Her eyes were fixed on the televisionSuddenly, suicide seemed like a severe and drastic solution. Her eyes, fighting tostay open, filled with fear and urgency. Extremely drowsy now, she stumbled to the bathroom, knocking over a lamp and a rocking chair that had belonged to her grandmother. In front of the toilet, she fell to her knees as if at the altar of God. She’ddone this a thousand times before. Her middle and index fingers were thrust franticallydown her throat. The difference now was that nothing was happening. She had becomeimmune to them. Years of self-induced vomiting had virtually eliminated her gag reflex.Thrashing wildly about on the floor, panic was setting in. Once in middle school, whendiscussing ways to fake illness, she had heard that mouthwash makes you vomit.14

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