Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mirror image

Beatrice stared at her plate. There were too many staring back up at her, taunting her to reach out for them with her pristine silverware. Approximately twelve pieces of romaine lettuce occupied her plate, and as she struggled with the dilemma of how to best dispose of them, Beatrice mentally calculated their nutritional content, their fat content and calories, taking into account the calories spent on chewing them to a greenish pulp, and with a determined stab, she captured the first morsel of lettuce. As she looked at the last piece of lettuce still left on her plate, Beatrice began to feel the familiar wave of guilt that followed every meal. She looked around the room, wondering if anyone would notice if she didn't finish her plate, but she reconsidered and placed it gingerly into her mouth, and methodically chewed and swallowed it.

Beatrice felt guilty, incredibly guilty. She rushed to her room and lifted up her shirt, staring at her disappearing midriff in her full-length mirror. All she could see was fat and ugliness. She pinched the skin separating her bones from the rest of world and grimaced as she tightened her grip on the offending flesh. She turned slightly, trying to determine whether her profile gave away the contents of her stomach. Had it not been for that fattening salad dressing, she might have felt a little better, but all she could do now was hope that it didn't convert itself into ugly ugly fat.

Beatrice pulled her shirt back down and stared at her sullen face. It was getting harder and harder to hide the bags under her eyes. Her cheekbones protruding, she turned her face from side to side, inspecting it for imperfections. "Kate Moss wouldn't be caught dead looking like this," she thought to herself in a self-accusatory tone.

Sitting at the dinner table surrounded by the scrutiny of envious faces, Beatrice had relinquished her control for one hour. One measly hour that had resulted in having to eat something that she hadn't planned, something that she didn't deserve.

Beatrice carefully opened her jewelry box, looking over her shoulder to make sure no-one was spying on her. The romantic couple which crowned it ceased to dance, the music having stopped playing for them long ago. A secret compartment revealed a small jar of pills labeled Ephedrine, the rest of the writing indecipherable; some sort of East Asian symbols covered the label entirely. Beatrice tossed one pill into her mouth and washed it down with a swig of flat Diet Coke.

As she walked to the door, Beatrice caught her reflection in the mirror and stopped for another look. She tried to look beyond the shrinking flesh to the person inhabiting it but there was not a shred of recognition on the face staring back, only accusations. Beatrice walked out of the room, plastering a smile on her face and silently wondered when she would finally recognize the person staring back.