I am five weeks deep into my creative writing course, this is a character sketch assignment and the first time I am sharing a piece on my blog. Any feedback/critique is welcome.
Trigger Warning: topics include mental health and eating disorders.
His knees folded up to his chest. Rough skinny jeans bristled the rough of his stubble and a few meandering rays of sun lingered on the wall above him. Night time slowly pulled the sun down, bloated and swollen as his mind. He pushed his hand through his hair, black strands tugged on his unkempt nails. Cracked lips heavily took a breath in, his body shaking it back out. Slow and deep.
Maths textbooks piled on the shelf of his campus dorm room, a layer of dust resting on them as a bed. Some of the dust had now also settled on a food diary, open on a spread that was two weeks old. Photos tacked to a corkboard showed late teens in various costumes in various clubs. Each photo held a slim youth, no, a bone thin youth, with a black side fringe and a huge grin. His arms around friends or ‘cheersing’ his drink to someone behind the camera. The most recent had only been two weeks ago but he hadn’t left his flat since. He’d gone to bed happy that night, drunk and content. When he’d finally woken at 1pm the next afternoon he even felt hungry. Two of his flatmates were ordering pizza and he settled in to watch Zombieland with them.
‘One slice of mushroom pizza’ was the last thing recorded in his food journal. But Sara hadn’t replied to his message by the time the movie had finished. She hadn’t replied by dinner time either, which meant he didn’t eat dinner. He checked his phone every 5 minutes, every 3 minutes. He turned it off and on to check it was working. He text his Mum who responded quickly with a bright reply which he didn’t even read. He checked Sara’s Facebook, ‘active 12 minutes ago’. Well she was alive… At 10:34pm his phone finally flashed; ‘soz missed your message, off to bed, speak later x’.
What did that mean? Only one kiss? When is later? Did she really miss his message or was she lying? She never normally goes to bed this early. How could she have been on Facebook and missed his message. Was she still on Facebook now?
His friends would tell him to stop overthinking, to stop getting attached to girls so quickly, that he needed to eat. They would tell him this with sympathy, with empathy and with love. But he wouldn’t be able to hear them even if they were here now, shouting comfort at him.
He waited until the morning to reply to Sara, to try and start a longer conversation with her. He spent two weeks living for her messages. He ate nibbles of cereal bars when the pain in his stomach became too much. He drank only water and weighed him self hourly, purging for the decreases on the scale. He ignored all the knocks on his door, all the voices asking after him, he knew they didn’t really care. If they cared they would never give up and leave, they would sit forever outside his door.
He looked up at the last rays of the sun, his eyes wet with an ocean of fear and loneliness. The voice came again, this time firmer. “Your flatmates said you haven’t left your room in two weeks, they’re so worried about you, we all are. I mean it, I’m not leaving until you let me in.” His Mum’s voice brought a key of familiarity that started to unlock the fog of his mind.