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I Threw Up
By Aleah G.
age: 15
Pennsylvania

A fly pauses on my shoulder. ''I threw up,'' my voice cracks as my perfectly manicured hand brushes the irritating creature off. ''I threw up, again.'' The haunting words dash through my head-then float, suspended in midair.
''Everyone throws up. It's a virus, nothing new. Just go home, Fey.'' Joan grasps my chilled palm and then quickly turns away.

I walk over to the sink and rinse my mouth. The bitter taste lingers.
Perhaps if I were to stumble out of the bathroom with a bulky red S.O.S. sign, somebody would help, support me. Brushing off caked eye shadow, I'd show the person the human I really am. And, he'd hold me, until I no longer need to slip tissues into my back pocket. Nevertheless, reality sits on the white bathroom counter, knowing fantasies don't come true.

As I glance into the fingerprinted mirror, a skinny teenager with oversized lips stares back. Strands of her limp hair stick to her cashmere sweater. Gradually, I reach into the glass, searching for her essence-buried in the black, blue, and browns of sullen eyes. But there is no spirit, she is only a reflection.
Slowly, I take a black Sharpie(r) out of my back pocket and carefully inscribe on the wall above the mirror, ''Pluck the perfect apple... But know not what's at its core.'' I stare at my graffiti, a hollowness rippling through my frail body.
Strolling out of the pink bathroom with my backpack slung from one shoulder, I saunter though the empty hall. Three Altoids(r) in mouth and arched eyebrows painted with liner create the standard wealthy teen fašade.

Someday, I'd like to be the next Marilyn Monroe-men hanging at my feet, photographs begging to be signed. When reporters question, ''Why an actress?'', I'd retort, ''Cause I'm so darn good at pretending.'' They'd nod, scribbling down my reply, their noses scrunched up under their drab glasses, not noticing that I was dabbing on cherry-red lipstick...pondering the authenticity of my words.
Carefully, I pry the skinny door of my locker open, fingers reaching inside for my English book. As my hand touches the smooth bind of the new paperback, I observe how Scotch Tape(r) collages photos of models, Mom, Dad, and me across the metal panel of the locker wall. Until, slowly my eyes fixate on the model clipped from Seventeen.

My mother use to declare that if you look deeply into any photo's pupils, you can see far beyond the body and into the soul. Unfortunately, I can't see this woman's soul, her eyes are tilted away. However, her mouth pouts, a sloppy application of the wrong lipstick shade, and her nose is classy European. Halting gracefully two inches above her knee, her dress is a simple spaghetti strap top with a flowing emerald bottom. Yet, her stunning hourglass waist is the center of picture. The moon rays beam on the sophisticated way she twists her hip and marvelously punctuate her tight belt.

Gently, I peel her of the prison and stick her into my pocket.
I'm almost there. I almost have a waist like hers. My stomach grumbles. I can feel the digestive liquids crashing into each other. My eyes moisten.
I stand in the center of the hall, my choice clear as running water. To the right is English class with the dusty posters of prepositions and infinitives-everything normal-a script, a play. To the left is the Guidance Office with the ''10 Guiding Rules'' taped to the sandpaper door. I can't choose, but stand in the middle, waiting for a sign.

A tap on my shoulder, I jump. ''Fey, why aren't you in class?''

I shrug my shoulders sheepishly and start walking stage left-ready to resume my act.

''Wait. Anything wrong?'' my math teacher asks, double taking.
This is my chance to tell somebody about my desire to be the girl in the magazine, about my hunger and my stomach. I take a deep breath ready to expose myself and lift off my disguise, but the jarring bell rings. I lost the chance. I turn away.

* * *


Dinner comes, the family time. Mom cooks pasta, an easy ten minute dinner coated with Alfredo sauce. Fried onions are quickly set in a separate black bowl.
''I heard you were sick today.'' Mom mentions, rolling steaming noodles on her fork.

''Yeah,'' I wrinkle my nose, chewing my pasta.

''Better?''

''Fine,'' I take a glass of water.

''Your math teacher called to ask if everything was ok.''

''Uh huh.''

''Is everything ok?''

The phone rings, and Mom hesitates. Slowly, she props her fork against her plate. Should she get it or listen to my answer? She reaches up, plucking the receiver off the hook.

I rise from the table, quietly, waiting for someone to stop me and tell me to sit back down. But, nobody does.

I stroll down the wooden hallway, gazing at the paintings on the wall. ''I'm going to the bathroom,'' I call over my shoulder. There's no answer, just my mother conversing on a plastic object.
I kneel over the creamy white toilet. In my pocket pressed against my thigh, is the girl with the opaque skin and hourglass waist. Subconsciously, I pull out the Sharpie(r).''

''Ignorance Blinds,'' I scrawl on the square paper. I nod my head and turn it over. In black ink on the back I write, ''I NEED HELP.'' A burning etches my throat. The reeking smell of bile fills my nose. I bend forward to release.

* * *

Desperately, I sit down at my desk, picking up a pen. Writing brings me to another world, a better one, where creatures care about me and understand me.
But today, my two worlds dovetail in an uncomfortable clash. I shift in my chair, no longer the playwright who masters the script. Instead, a teenager-afraid of herself.

Tell, the creatures whisper. My pen stumbles across the partially white sheet as their cheeks turn crimson from the chafing wind. But they are warm inside. They have the spirit of my breath. They are the keepers of my soul.

''I did tell, but Joan didn't understand.''
Tell! their voices become louder, more desperate. They are zipping around in circles faster and faster. Hands on their watches are whizzing from digit to digit. Tell. Must. Tell.

''I tried! What more can I do?''
Was it worth it? my creatures ask. Your hourglass stomach?

''No, it wasn't. If only I could go back. Have the choice again.'' I bite my lip. My mascara is dripping down my face.
Then go back.

''I can't! I can't!'' I shut my eyes, my head pounding furiously.
Tell! they scream. Time is out of control.
I take a deep breath. I'm drowning. The world is spinning, spinning. My mouth opens. The pen drops from my hand. I rush to the creamy white toilet with its haunting stare.

Mother opens the bathroom door, the telephone in hand. ''Fey-'' her voice echoes, bouncing off the enclosing walls. She bends down, touching my limp hair. ''I'm here, honey. I'm here.''

But, her voice is far away, so far away. My head falls forward on the cold, tile floor. In my hand is the crumpled paper. ''I threw up.'' The moon rays beam down on my flat abdomen, highlighting my tight belt. I gaze into my mother's blue eyes. ''I threw up, again.''
 

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