I stare down at my stomach in disgust. Every extra pound jumps out at me, stabbing me like a knife. Despite the fact that I had barely eaten today, I still managed to gain a pound. I will have to completely skip eating tomorrow if I want to get back on track. One hundred pounds is my goal. I have 31 pounds to lose.
I begin my nightly regime of 200 sit-up, followed by five minute planks and push-ups. My muscles ache terribly when I finish, but I bear the pain. I will do anything to reach my goal.
After I finish my exercises, I take out my razor. I wish that I could just cut all of my fat off, but unfortunately, I do not have that luxury. Slowly, taking the time to feel each cut, I begin cutting. Thirty one cuts, one for each pound I wish to lose. My hipbones are covered in scars from previous attempts to lose weight. I console myself by reasoning that it'll all be worth it in the end. Nobody will care about the numerous scars that cover the skin of my hips. I will have a beautiful body, one that I can be proud of. No amount of pain is too much, not if I reach my goal.
After my cuts have had time to stop bleeding, I begin exercising again. I relish the pain that comes when I tear the cuts open again. The pain pushes me to move faster. I can make it to my goal, if I work hard enough. This will all be worth it in the end.
If anyone has noticed that I walk with a slight limp, they have not said anything. I do not have friends, not here. We are always competing against each other, vying for the attention of our masters. After all, in the Red Room, a few extra pounds could mean elimination. Whenever I waver, I remind myself that if I eat, I'll die. It's worked so far, but I can feel my resolve crumbling. I've been having trouble with my training, but it is because I am not consuming enough to replace the calories that I burn. However, it is of no consequence. I'd rather turn down lunch than gain weight.
Tonight, when I step on the scale, I am pleased to discover that I have lost two pounds.
I do my push-ups, sit ups, and planks, before making 29 new cuts on my hipbones. Thanks to the super serum they injected me with, the cuts from yesterday are almost completely healed.
After finishing my exercises, I go to bed.
This vicious cycle repeats itself every night over the next few weeks. However, at the end of the month, I am down almost 15 pounds. I have had to cut back on my exercises at night, since my body cannot stand the strain, but I am becoming thinner. My hipbones are more pronounced, and I can clearly see my ribs. My new diet and exercise program is working quite well.
I continue following this system, finally ending up with only five pounds to lose. I am only able to do 20 sit ups and push-ups, along with a 30 second plank. Even then, my arms are shaking. Everywhere hurts, but I can't stop. I've been so cold lately, and exercise is the only way to warm myself up. Besides, I only have five pounds to lose. After that, I can go back to my training. I'll be happy with my body, and I'll be able to focus on other things. Everything will be perfect.
When I get the summons to go to the Winter Soldier's quarters, I am surprised. Needless to say, I obey the order and go to his room. I knock once, hesitantly, before a voice sounds from within the room.
"Come in, Natalia." I turn the handle, aching with the effort it takes to do so. Once the door is opened wide enough, I slip inside, marveling at how thin my body has become.
"Why have you summoned me?" I ask, shivering. His room is cold, much colder than I remember it.
"You've been falling behind on your training, Romanova."
"I'm sorry, sir. I'll improve, I swear. Just give me a second chance." The soldier sighs heavily. When he speaks, his voice is surprisingly soft.
"Natalia, I've given you many second chances over the past month or so. You've been rapidly declining in health, which shouldn't be possible, considering the super serum. What's going on?" I choose my words carefully, knowing that I am treading on thin ice.
"I've just been working towards a personal goal."
"And what might that goal be?"
"Sir, I've been trying to reach a weight of 100 pounds, to please you," I whisper, my voice small. The soldier lets out a humorless bark of laughter, his voice now cold and devoid of sympathy.
"You honestly thought that it would please me? You're throwing away your potential to reach a certain weight. You haven't been able to come close to your usual standard in training sessions. If you keep this up, we will be forced to take action," he warns, his voice cold. I shiver, but this time, it is not because of the cold.
"You are dismissed."
I turn and walk out the door, closing it behind me. I can do this. I can lose the final five pounds, and then I can go back to training like I used to. With these thoughts in mind, I return to my room.
It takes a week, but I finally manage to lose my final five pounds. My body is weak, and I am in constant pain. At some level in my brain, I am aware that my body is eating itself to stay alive. I cannot find it in myself to care. I've reached my goal, and that is all that matters.
I try to push myself out of bed, but find that I can't. My body is too weak. I want nothing more than to just close my eyes and go back to sleep. I'm so tired, and my body feels like it weighs a ton. After several minutes of struggling to get up, I give up, laying back against my bed. My breath comes in short gasps, and black begins to cover the edges of my vision. I know that I am dying, but I cannot find it in myself to care. I reached my goal, and that's all that matters. As I lay in my coffin, if I am even buried, I will look beautiful. I will be perfect.
As the darkness advances, I close my eyes and allow my breathing to slow. I can feel my heart slowing, and I embrace the sensation.
Death is coming.
I have reached my goal.
I am ready.