catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 17 :: 2010.09.24 — 2010.10.07



I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful-
The eye of the little god, four cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall…
I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Sylvia Plath, “Mirror”

It is March 14, 2008. I have been out of hell the hospital for a mere 17 hours and I am in a strange exam room in a small town I have never visited. The sky is non-colored. I am seated on a green plastic chair that hurts my ass bones.

“Why do you think you’re being admitted?” the woman asks.

I stare blankly at this moron. She has a chart with my name on it in her lap. Shouldn’t she know? Something I hate: adults asking stupid questions.

“Weeeeelllllllllllllll” I say, drawing out the syllables in a bratty pre-teen way I have not yet outgrown, “my mom thinks I’ve lost too much weight.”

“Oh really.” She marks her chart. Soon to be My Chart.  “And how much do you weigh?”

I think back to my first day in hell the hospital. My stark white room, the locked bathroom. The scale that reflects my daily performance. Like a mirror, it displays information in reverse: down is good, up is bad. Yay or nay, right or wrong, no in-between. I pretend to think hard, like the number isn’t sitting gleefully on my tongue: seventy-nine point three.

She writes it down, reaches into a drawer and pulls out a white hospital gown. I take the gown and admire the way my knucklebones move under my papyrus skin.

The heavy door clicks shut. I slide my jeans (00) over my hips. Fold them neatly on top of my red purse, soon to be confiscated. Argyle socks inside black Converse. As I pull my heavy sweater over my head and smooth the static from my hair, I notice the mirror over the sink.

We stare at each other and it spits me out.

My reflection makes me think of that song you learn in elementary school, that “Dem Bones” song or whatever, that’s supposed to teach children anatomy. It runs through my head as I count my vertebrae (the hipbone is connected to the backbone, the backbone is connected to the neck bone) and stand like a ghost.

Please. I think at the mirror, at the girl that has been sliced away from me. Please be here if I need you.

The light shines off of the glass, the mirror is winking. They’re going to make you fat here. It hisses. They’re going to make you fat.

You’re already fat. You’re too much. Look, look, there aren’t enough hollow places yet.

Please. Please be here if I need you.

And the mirror winks again and says, Always.

My admit nurse knocks and re-enters. She takes my height (5’2") and beckons me over to the big silver scale in the corner, that Other Mirror. Blink, blink. Flashes red. Then 78.0.

78, 78, 78 translates to Good, Good, Good. Translates to Mission Accomplished, translates to Can’t Handle Being Normal translates to Still Not Enough, translates to 75, 74, 73 would be Better, Better, Better.

When they finish taking my blood pressure, feeling my abdomen, drawing blood and telling my mom all about my new magic number, I’m finally left alone to dress. I am given a packet of forms to fill out, because they’re going to put me away for real. I take my time, placing my hands in the spaces between my ribs, watching my chest bones move under the lighting that pierces like a scythe.

They’re going to take it away from me.

Someone has placed a vacuum in my chest and is sucking the air out of my lungs, out of my body. They are taking my heart, flattening it with a sledgehammer of fear.

Paper Doll Abigail lurks in the mirror. I raise a hand, She raises one, too.

Please. Please be here if I need you.




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