hunger can be comforting.
|I woke up in utter pain. I was soaked in sweat, tears flowing down my cheeks. My stomach grumbled loudly. “Nmmm…just shut up,” I moaned, curling up in a fetal position.
“Jake, time for vitals,” Anita shouted into my room.
I slowly sat up, the aches making me almost immobile. As I stood, my weak body trembled, suddenly cold. I forced myself to wonder down the hall and sit on the floor with everyone else, waiting for their turn. I crossed my arms over my tummy real tight so no one could hear my hunger.
“You look REALLY pale. Are you doing alright?” Liz asked, plopping down next to me. She brought arms around me, grimacing. “You’re bony! Been wasting away, huh?”
I wetted my stale lips, gulping down extra saliva. “Didn’t sleep well last night.”
Her eyes swept my face. “Hmmm…”
Robert walked out of vitals, squeezing my shoulder. “You’re up,” he whispered, tears in his eyes. I slowly got up, swaying a little as I made it into the room. I immediately stepped on the scale, knowing Linda asks me to first thing every morning now.
“One hundred and thirty-five,” Linda read. She gave me a look of concern. “You’re six foot and weigh this little, hun. What’s bothering you? You’re looking so gaunt…”
I sighed, collapsing onto the bed. My belly roared. “Just numb,” I began to say. “Difficult to eat…” The pains came back, my stomach feeling as though someone was stabbing me repeatedly. “Nmmm,” I groaned, tears falling again.
Linda handed me a milk carton. “Drink this…it’ll help the hunger pangs. I hope you are talking with your therapist about this. From the looks of it, you might be developing an eating disorder.”
I chugged the milk, my stomach taking a break from yelling at me. I began to get very cold. “I don’t have an eating disorder,” I argued.
She placed a granola bar in my hand and another milk. “Then eat.”
I bit my lip. “Breakfast is soon, I’ll eat there—“
“Eat. You’re scaring me.” She eyed my body. “I don’t want to see you end up like Alyssa.”
“I’m not going to,” I spat, getting up and stomping out the door. I threw the food into the garbage bin and slid into my room. I yanked out my sketch book from under my bed and scribbled away, not even knowing what the heck I was drawing. Dumb bitch needs to stay out of my business. I’m fine.
“Hey man.” I turned to see Mike standing in the doorway. The bed sunk under his weight. He looked at my drawing. “What the heck is that?” he blurted out.
I glared down at it. My heart lept; the temperature within me dropped to below freezing. The aches rhythmically pulsated. It was Him…
I poked at the macaroni and cheese with my fork, grimacing at how it jiggled like jello. I chugged my water, trying my best to calm down about the obnoxious food. Everything about food was annoying. The texture and taste, the smell of it made me want to put a fist through the wall. My stomach whimpered, eyeing Mike. He smacked loudly. My head ached, face burning. The way people eat is so grotesque…the clashing of metal on plates as they shovel food in their mouths, their bellies expanding, resembling farm animals…
I got up and stomped out of the cafeteria. Can’t take much more of this…
“Jake! What are you doing?!” Ben shouted after me. “You barely even ate—“
The world spun around me, my body trembling, nauseous…everything blacked out.
I woke up to whiteness. “Eck,” I groaned, squinting my eyes. I turned onto my side, witnessing an IV was jabbed in my arm. Oh God, not this again… I glared at Dawn dressed in red. “Hey…” I croaked weakly.
“Jake, you’re on the upper ward.”
My heart fluttered, body scorching hot. Everything blurred, wetness oozing down my cheeks. “But…but why?”
“It’s only going to be for a couple weeks.”
“Why the FUCK AM I IN HERE!” I screamed. My stomach followed. I tucked my head into my arms and sobbed.
“You’re not eating. You’ve lost so much weight…twenty-five pounds…we’re worried you’re slipping into a downward spiral with your self-destructive behavior.” I felt her hand rest on my upper back, rubbing it. “You need to eat…you’re very dehydrated from malnutrition, that’s why you passed out.”
“I don’t have a fucking eating disorder,” I growled, body tensing up.
“How come you aren’t eating?”
I sighed, looking up at her. The tears slowed down. “I can’t feel. Miss my family, my sister, but they hate me.” I began to sob again. “What’s the point of caring when I’ll be along for the rest of my life? Insane and lonely…what’s the POINT? There’s no one to really care for; no one to truly care for me.”
Her eyes glazed over, eyebrows crinkled. “I care about you.”
I gulped down extra saliva. “That’s your JOB.”
Her face went red, a tear rolling down her gorgeous face. That’s when she kissed me on the cheek. “I care about you,” she whispered into my ear. “I’m worried about you. There’s something special about you that I’ve never encountered in my life. I hate watching someone like you suffer so bad…”
Shock took over. Did that seriously happen? Isn’t this illegal? I don’t care though. There’s something about her, too… A nurse came in with a tray of food. The smell of it brought a sour taste in my mouth. She pulled out the little “table” connected to the bed, setting the food before me. Chicken noodle soup and a milk carton with a red apple on the side. My trembling hand grabbed the milk, taking so much effort to just open it. I chugged it, my eyes stuck on Dawn. She was watching me like a hawk.
I glanced down at the food, trying not to breathe in the nasty fumes. My hand reached for the spoon and dunked it into the bowl, filling it up with broth. The taste was awful, reminded me of urine. I dropped the silverware on the tray, anger taking over.
“What’s wrong?” Dawn asked me.
“Food just doesn’t taste right anymore,” I explained, glaring at the shining apple. “It tastes off, like I have the flu or something…”
“You do realize if you keep losing weight you’re only going to be stuck on this ward for longer,” she pointed out, rubbing my bone-thin arm.
I viciously bit into the apple, munching quickly and gulping it down so I wouldn’t have to taste it. I felt myself grimace at the feeling in my stomach and I eyed my arm with the IV. If only it was a morphine drip… My head ached, yearning for a fix. I would even smoke crystal meth if I had the freedom to do so. My nostril itched. I used to love the sting, the scorching burn of cocaine going up my nasal cavity. The pain was a high in itself, and when the speed kicked in I was always caught in this state of euphoria. I rested my hand on my emaciated stomach…shit, it wasn’t even a stomach anymore. My eyes gently closed, a sigh escaping my neglected lips.
I felt Dawn’s warm hand rub mine, gripping it suddenly. “You need to have faith in yourself. You are a strong MAN, you just keep denying yourself,” she murmured. “Jake, you have so much potential to succeed; you need to stop hating yourself. It wasn’t your fault that the abuse happened—“
“Stop!” I blurted, jaw clenching. My eyes sprung open, glaring into the gorgeous Caribbean ocean her eyes reflected. There were tears rolling down her cheeks. My heart fluttered, softening again. “…please…”
“If you don’t face your past, you are only going to get worse.” Dawn stroked my arm lovingly yet again. “They were in the wrong, not you…”
My vision blurred, cheeks hot. “Just stop it,” I whimpered. My hand slid over the large slope of my rib cage, feeling the sharp indention between every rib. I felt my hips. There were rock hard, jutting out like razors. There was nothing to me anymore. I was literally a bag of bones. Waves of shame drowned me. I sat up, forcing myself to eat the soup, lifting the bowl and chugging the broth. I spooned in the rest, not even chewing, just wanting to get something in me.
Dawn squeezed my hand approvingly. “See, you can do it. You need to believe in yourself.”
“You sound so cliché,” I grumbled, rolling my eyes. “Almost like Ben.”
She giggled, shaking her head, her pearl-studded earrings glowing in the light. “It’s true, though. You need to quit second-guessing yourself, you’re smart.”
“Pssssh, no I’m NOT. Stop trying to flatter me. We all know I’m a freaking idiot,” I coughed, squeezing my eyes shut. “I’m tired. So could you do me a favor and deal with the other psycho’s you attempt to help?”
My hand was suddenly cold. I peeked, noticing that she was standing, rejection written all over her. “Yes. I will. A nurse will come soon to give you your medication.” I heard the tip-tap of her heals and the click of a door.
How could a woman like that possibly genuinely like me? …it doesn’t make any sense…and it obviously can’t be true.