Chase left the room soon after, he hadn’t spoken to her once since he’d seen her for who she truly was, she probably resembled a beached whale through his eyes.
She heard the muttered conversation outside her door, just because she was in some kind of mental institute, it didn’t mean her ears had lost their power to listen.
And then she heard the dreaded word whispered harshly by Chase.
“You didn’t know!” he practically shouted. ”
You didn’t know that she had anorexia!”
People like to put labels on things, small-minded people who’s only way in the world is to label people, see a woman struggling to stop her baby crying, she must be a bad mother. See a teenager wearing a hoodie with their headphones plugged in, they must be anti-social. But what people don’t realise is that humans can’t be labelled, there’s no easy way to just stamp a human into a certain category and hope their uniqueness won’t ever show its face again.
The conversation was behind closed doors now, they had probably realised she wasn’t deaf that was funny, they thought they were so clever closing doors on her when in reality she could hear each and every word, and those words hurt.
They had let her have her phone for ten minutes later that day, to talk to her Mum and Dad, to tell them she was okay and safe, Louise, another nurse had stood over her watching her like she was a wild creature, she wasn’t allowed access to the internet because of course that would cause her to spontaneously kill herself.
She deleted the sixteen messages and twenty-one voicemails from her Mother without even being tempted to open one, as far as she was concerned she had no parents anymore, what kind of useless parents watched their child self-destruct? They had practically passed her the button triggering the explosion.
She wondered if she ever got out of here whether she could be an emancipated minor.
But of course, they were going to make her better again here like a rag doll coming apart, they’d sew her back together again, stuff her full of happiness, force food down her throat and send her off with a pat on the head, back to her doll-house family.
Chase had returned with a bowl of soup hardly meeting her eyes, he placed it down on the bedside table.
“You going to force-feed me?” she asked.
He shook his head.
“No Florence I’m not but what I’m going to do is give you this”
He reached into his bag and pulled out a tupperware container, inside where four strawberries, perfectly scarlet.
He handed the box to her, she shivered.
“I’m just going to leave these with you” he said and simply got up and walked away.
She was left nervously holding the box like it was a bomb.
She carefully prised open the lid and stared down at the strawberries, so pristine, it would be so easy, so very easy to just pick one up and bite into the soft flesh.
But that’s what they wanted here, they were trying to trick her. She’d once gorged herself on food so she’d feel better maybe her parents had told them to do the same, to feed her up like a pig ready for slaughter and she wasn’t going to fall for their tricks.
Her stomach grumbled and she jumped slightly, her stomach didn’t grumble anymore, she’d got it under control now, she didn’t even feel hungry anymore, the ache that once plagued her was now nothing more than a dull sense of emptiness.
She held a strawberry up by the stalk like she was a professor studying the outcome of an extremely important experiment and then she put it right down again.
She had come so far already, why stumble at the final hurdle?
Neeta was back, she’d been gone for quite a while but there she was on the bed right next to her, her face split into a wide beam, her grin outlined lips almost as red as the strawberries themselves and her eyes were alight and dancing with frantic energy, she looked how Florence wished she could look, slender, elegant and completely blubber-free.
“I’m so proud of you Flo!” she said stretching out two arms and hugging her tight.
Strangling her tight.
Florence shut her eyes and blinked, Neeta was gone again.
She carefully closed the container clicking down each edge, Neeta was there to save her, she was the only one who truly loved her, they would be fine together just as they had before, she didn’t need food to make her feel better, she’d been there, done that, made those mistakes.
And she wouldn’t be making them again.