[TW: The following flash contains reference to an eating disorder and self-harm.]
Mia wants me to die.
Porcelain cools my forehead as I hunch over the leaky toilet. She holds my hair back, combs through frazzled strands with her fingers, intertwines it with hers. Weeks ago, she’d convinced me to chase MDMA with flat orange soda, and I’d flitted around Dad’s apartment as the world dilated. The tablets were stamped with smiley faces, but my own dopey grin felt foreign on a face reserved for pressed lips and creased brow. Artificial happiness spindled through my brain, unknotted my synapses, but Mia tangled them back up.
She helped dye my hair with cherry Kool-Aid: two packs to dye and four dissolved on my tongue ’til syrupy saliva dripped down my chin. My hair faded to the same pink as the sugar-spun guts I puked up after.
I wipe chapped lips with my shirt hem. She watches, perched cross-legged and prim on the counter. Under the sink, a pack of disposable razors winks at me, and Mia nods. Mom bought them for me, a peace offering. She thought if I felt pampered-pretty, I’d stop hanging out with Mia. Did she know I’d skip the spa day, drag the razors across my skin? Did she want me dead, too?
My blood beads in Rorschach blots on my upper thigh, and Mia licks her lips. I slice tally marks into my skin: one for every binge. Silvery scar tissue patchworks the swell of my hip. You deserve this, says Mia, her eyes hypnotic.
Before I met Mia, back when Mom and Dad lived symbiotic, I found Dad’s old philosophy textbook. He’d bought it in college, when he and Mom puzzled together in late-night library sessions, but now it was mummified with dust. An ancient relic, like their love. Symbiosis turned necrosis.
I read about dualism and ethics and tabula rasa. I read about a physician, Duncan McArthur, who posited that souls had a physical weight. 21 grams, to be precise.
Mia sidles up to me, pinches the fat that soufflés over my shorts. Her fingers are cold and anesthetic. Reaches up, rests her thumbs in the skeleton scoops of my eye sockets; when she presses down, capillaries firework. Drains the blood from my cheeks ’til they’re gaunt, but never gaunt enough. Splatters blood in my mouth ’til acid and iron ferment together. Punches my jaw ’til it swells. Rots my teeth ’til they’re tarred, like my soul. Tears away chunks of me, ’til I’m raw meat on the cool linoleum.
Dad walks into the bathroom, and Mia doesn’t bother hiding. His eyes bug out, mouth twists into a lemony scowl.
“How can you do these disgusting things?” he spits.
“Because I’m a disgusting person.”
“There are easier ways to lose weight, you know.” His voice is pillowy, but still feels like a gut punch.
Only Mia understands. I won’t be happy ’til I lose the 21 grams.
Mia wraps me in her arms, maternal, then squeezes tight ’til I split at the seams.
Enya Mayne is a Psychology student with a passion for creating. A dedicated daydreamer, stories are her sustenance. When she’s not writing, you can find her painting, telling lame jokes, Googling questionable things, and reading anything she can get her hands on.