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Skin Deep

By the time her Mother had arrived home Florence was an emotional wreck, not even her usual calming yoga could stop her shaking. Cooper’s words cut her to the core, she didn’t really have a problem did she?

She had a problem before, she was unwell, obese before she was fine now, doing this was her way of getting better, she didn’t have the dreaded a word.

“Flo!” her mother called closing the door behind her.

“Flo love I’m not feeling too well, there’s leftovers in the fridge, help yourself!”

She didn’t know why she was surprised, her Mother never felt well these days.

Cooper’s words kept replaying in her head,

“Your ill Florence” “I think you have anorexia”

When she was three, Florence had an imaginary friend called Neeta, Neeta was everything she was not, brave where she was shy, pretty where she was plain and always so, so popular. At three years old having an imaginary friend had been normal, her parents had even set a place for dinner for Neeta each night. But at sixteen talking to a figment of her own imagination was very, very strange.

It had started with her spilling her thoughts into the diary her Mother had got her, sometimes she liked to pretend she was talking to a real-life person instead of writing in a book, and she pictured Neeta, her childhood imaginary friend, eventually Neeta came to life like she had climbed out of the diary’s pages.

Florence could tell her anything and she would sit there, not judging just listening. But Neeta had begun to become meaner by the day, she would pester Florence to check the calories of everything she ate, tell her that all the girls at school still called her ‘fatso.’

It wasn’t any different today.

“You know you have a problem Florence” she whined “You know Coopers true you’re anorexic”

Florence covered her ears,

“Shut up Neeta” she whispered

“A-N-O-R-E-X-I-C” Neeta shouted into her ear, Florence couldn’t take it anymore, she ran into her bathroom and locked the door, Neeta couldn’t follow her in here.

She took her time organising everything, feeling a weird sense of satisfaction that this, at least she could control.

She couldn’t decide what blade to use, so she grabbed a pair of scissors and a razor.

It was going to be a slow start, scissors were not the best choice.

“Fat girl”

“Hey Florence, I think I know a friend who had a fat girl fetish, want his number?”

“You wouldn’t look out of place at a whale sanctuary”

“Wow, how could someone let them self go like that?”

“I think I’d rather be dead than fat”

“Ew, the FBPG touched me, is fat contagious?”

She’d misjudged how hard it would really be, she hacked away at her thigh for a while, feeling each jab like they were words being thrown at her.

She growled in frustration, the scissors weren’t making her feel enough, they weren’t compensation for the pain she felt in her heart and the words floating around in her mind.

She moved on to the razor blade, warm tears slipping down her cheeks starting with her right thigh again, selecting the same area, her hands trembled but she managed a few clean swipes of the blades across her skin, there was alot of blood.

More tears flowed, she wanted to stop, wanted to figure out another way, but pain could only be fought with pain.

She took a few deep breaths and waited for the bleeding on her left to slow, she then covered the cuts with plasters and slipped into a pair of tracksuits, Neeta had stopped screaming and now sat calmly on the edge of her bed.

At twenty minutes to midnight, she swallowed five laxatives.

She was sure she slept for hours, but her sleep was seriously interrupted as the laxative kicked in.

By the time she had no fluid left in her body she would crawl back to bed and then have to get up again two minutes later.

Digoxin was the perfect drug to commit suicide. She’d seen people come into the drugstore after taking an incorrect dose. As a heart medication, mistakes resulted in an array of side effects, including heart palpitations, excessive committing and could be fatal to those whose bodies couldn’t cope.

Her body definitely couldn’t cope.

She crushed the pills into a fine powder, ready for that night, because that was when she had decided to do it, that night she would be free from earthly sorrow.

She cleaned away the evidence, taking the rest of the Digoxin and packaging it into her backpack.

It was a Saturday Morning and to her surprise both her father and Mother were at the table.

“Have a seat Florence” her father said, no one was talking. Her mother stared at her father like she was waiting for something but her father ignored her and readjusted his tie, he looked like he had a bad case of jet-lag.

The silence became uncomfortable.

“Whats wrong?” Florence asked.

“It’s probably just a misunderstanding sweetie” her mother wouldn’t meet her eyes.

“What is?”

“Florence I think you know what’s wrong” her father finally looked up

“The daughter sitting across from me today isn’t the daughter I used to know, we know something is wrong, deeply, deeply wrong, but I didn’t know things were so bad until I received a call today from a store assistant called Denise who claims she saw you stealing a box of heart medication”

Her father’s neck was getting red patches.

“It’s heart medication Florence! First the weight loss and don’t think we didn’t notice! And now you’re dabbling in dangerous drugs!”

Eyes wide she couldn’t think, she couldn’t focus. Her mother reached over the table to hold her hand as if pleading for an explanation, something that could stop this runaway train.

Her father’s foot snagged on one of the straps of her bad and he stumbled, he grabbed her backpack and upended it onto the table, she leapt up to stop him but her mothers previously comforting hand suddenly morphed into a vice grip.

It felt as if everything happened in slow motion, the contents of her bag pulled onto the table. Amid the stash of blood-soaked bandages sat a half-emptied box of pills, her diet planner and a box of extra-strength laxative.

And just to complete the parental nightmare- the bloodied scissors landed with a dull thump.

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