Behind The Mask

Come on Rebecca, take a deep breath. It’s nothing, just open and enter. They’ll be nice, you know that. No one will think you are a freak because you aren’t. Just take it slow, remember to smile, and everything will work out smoothly.
It’s now or never. Having friends is fine, but why are you here? To learn. If you don’t learn you’ll be kicked out.

Rebecca Clarkson is a shy and lonely girl who only wants to fit in with her classmates. But she's different from the others. She's chubby and ugly, and no one wants to talk to her. Or is that really how it is?

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2. Chapter 1

Chapter 1


What the scale says is the most important thing

 

The thought of another day was painful. Just another day with people around me who kept staring at me, as if I had been an animal at the zoo. Every single breath I took made me feel alive, and the thought of being alive made me feel sick.
For every step I took away from my bed, my safety, made it hurt inside my chest; made my knees weaker and weaker. Even though it was a couple weeks ago that I started at my new school, I felt sick of it already. No one talked to me, no matter how hard I tried.

“Hi honey, did you sleep well?” My dad asked as I left the room. I had to go to the bathroom; morning showers felt very refreshing.

“It was okay…” I said, as I gave him a hug. The second safest place I knew of was in my dad’s arms. I still remember the evenings with mum and dad, in front of the fireplace cooking marshmallows. But that ended about a year ago, when my parents got separated. My mum was cheating, and my dad found her and her affair lying in bed during “action”, if you know what I mean. All I knew was that they would never get back together. The thought was still painful, though I understood why my dad refused to talk to her. She had hurt him very hard.

They got married back when they were very young. My mum had just turned 19, and dad was 20. He and my mum were happily in love at that time, as far as I have heard. Their marriage lasted for 23 years, and then dad wanted to get separated from mum. I missed mum, since I did not see her anymore. But to be honest with you, I did not really want to.

“I will cook you some breakfast honey…” He said as he went downstairs.

I went to the bathroom and looked into the mirror. A pale face was staring back at me, with big, dark circles under the eyes. The girl in the mirror had long, blonde hair and short bangs above her eyebrows. She had a high forehead, grey eyes with long eyelashes, high cheekbones and full lips.
I opened the water in the tap and washed my face with ice cold water. As I opened the water in the shower it was cold too. Whilst considering whether to take a cold or warm shower, I stepped onto the weight. I measured 5 feet and weighed nearly 132 pounds. It felt like way too much.

And from that morning my obsession began.

I went into the shower, having decided it to be ice cold. The cold water was running in streams down my naked body. I began shivering. I turned around and looked out through the small window which was placed so that it was just as high as my face. I could see my neighbour watering her flowers, her petunias. She was obsessed with petunias, and I could see why. She kept them so nice and beautiful. They were all colours imaginable, and their heads were held up high. It looked as if they were smiling up towards the sun.

As I poured shampoo into my hair, I got some in my eye, making it sting a little. I dried it with a towel and it was fine again.

“Honey, breakfast is ready!” My dad said from the bottom of the stairs.

“I will be there in a minute dad!” I said, but regretted right after, because the shampoo went into my mouth. I started coughing. It tasted horrible. Even though it smelt just like strawberries, it definitely did not taste like that.

As I dried my body I saw that I needed to shave my legs. I took the scraper and some shaving foam and began shaving. At the ankle of my right foot I cut myself by accident and it started bleeding a little. It was a tiny cut but it had a very strong, stinging feel because of the foam. I opened the medical cabinet and took out a piece of bandage.

I looked into the mirror again. The girl had old makeup running down her face after the shower. I had a tendency to forget to remove makeup in the evenings. I went to my closet in my bedroom, where I decided to wear a beautiful, blue top I had gotten for my birthday, along with a pair of shorts and my red vans. I loved to wear my red vans.

As I sat down by the table, Megan, my little sister, sat there too. She was 9 years old, and I was 16. She looked a lot like me when I was that age. But the only difference was that she had long, brown and curly hair. She was wearing a pyjama with flowers on it, and she looked very little in it. I did not mind at all. I did not want her to become a grown up. Unfortunately, that is not how it works.

“Becca, there is bread in the toaster if you want?” My dad said as he poured me a cup of tea.

“No thanks, I think I will eat some oatmeal this morning actually…” I said.

“Oh well… I will get you a bowl then!” He turned his face towards me and smiled. He was a very caring father, and I loved him for that.

“Becca, daddy says you have to walk me to school today” Megan said to me. She had strawberry jam all over her face.

“Haha, okay, I will… But only if you wipe your face first, I don’t think you should try wearing strawberry jam as your makeup!” I laughed at her.

My dad came with the bowl with oatmeal, and I got the milk and poured it on top. I avoided using the sugar this morning, and it seemed like my father noticed that. But he said nothing. We sat there, eating all silent; so silent that we could hear Fox, our Alaskan malamute, snore in the living room.

If there was one thing Megan and I had loved to do when our parents were still together, it would be to sit together with Fox in front of the fireplace on Saturday nights, listening to our parents talk quietly about the TV programs, and the tiny little peeps Megan made when she was sleeping with Fox as her pillow. Meanwhile, I was reading my favourite book and listening to music on my iPod.

“Honey, I think you have to go now, else you will be late” my dad said whilst having a finger on his watch. I hurried to eat the last bits of my cereal and put it in the dishwasher. Megan went upstairs to get her rain boots. Even though it was not raining, she loved to wear those rain boots. She once wore them to the beach in her bathing suit.

“Come on Megan, we do not want to be late!” I called her as I was packing the last few things for classes.

As we went outside the sun was shining. I barely noticed the ambulance parked a little further down the street. Mrs. Eriksen, an old lady, had become sick lately, and now she was being picked up for going to the hospital.

“Rebecca?” Megan asked with her little, sweet voice.

“Yes sweetie?” I asked her. We were holding hands. I do not really know why, Megan was a big girl now, and she could handle herself.

“Why did you not want any toast for breakfast?” She was more observant than I had hoped she would be.

“I just felt like a change. I have gotten a little tired of white bread with nutella…” I said and she giggled. As we proceeded towards school she tripped and fell. I helped her up, but she had hit her knee. For the first time ever, she did not cry.

“Does it not hurt at all Megan?” I asked her with curiosity in my voice.

“No, I am a big girl now!” she said proud. We both laughed and kept walking.

As we reached school she gave me a hug and ran towards her best friend Nathalie. And I went inside.

The school looked like a real institution; with grey floors and white walls, and dark blue doors with metal handles. My classroom was on the top floor, and as I went inside, it was all a big mess. As I took one more step inside the class, everyone went quiet and stared at me. The girls were giggling and whispering, and the guys were laughing loudly as I took the next step.

With their eyes in my back I sat down in the front all alone. I hung my schoolbag on the back of the chair, took my pencil case and my sketching book and started drawing. I was not very good at it, but it felt like a big relief. Mainly, I drew roses and other flowers, and that, I had become good at after some time. Marie, one of the typical pretty-girls came over to me and looked over my shoulder.

“Hmm… Look at this! Little fatty-Becca is drawing flowers!” She said in a voice which did not show any good. She ran around the class, flipping through the pages. I kept hoping for her to stop so that she wouldn’t reach That page.

“Look at this, girls! Rebecca has drawn a heart with two names in it!” She laughed.

“Give it to me!” I yelled at her, with tears flowing into my eyes.

“It says: Rebecca and James!” Marie yelled.

The boys stared from James to me and vice versa. It was so embarrassing.

“Rebecca likes James!” They all yelled at me with a disgusted hint in their voices.

I rushed up from my chair. I could see that the boys were all laughing, except from James. I had never really noticed him before, I just liked the sound of his voice, and the way he was calm. I didn’t really know what he looked like. I hurried out of the classroom and rushed towards the toilet. I locked the door behind me and stood in front of the sink and the tiny mirror above. I stared into it, furious and crying at the same time; angry that they allowed themselves to be like that, but also furious that I allowed them to.

Rebecca, why aren’t you like the others; a normal girl with a mum and dad living together, and friends who like you? Why are you not normal and not weighing too much? Imagine being a tall, skinny girl who is 5 feet 5 tall and weighs 100 pounds?

“Why are you not normal?!” I whispered to the mirror image.

I was frustrated. I sat down on the toilet, leaning my head towards the wall, crying. It should not be like this. I started here a couple weeks ago, and yet they acted like they had known me for longer time, felt like they could bully me all they wanted.

I sat there for a while, but at last the bell rang. The choice was between staying in the toilet and going to class.

I took a deep breath as I pressed down the door handle and entered the hallway. It was nearly empty, and for that I was glad. I went down the hall, I did not feel like entering the class again, but soon I realized that next class would be P.E. I was horrified. I did not want to go there; being left alone with the girls in the changing room, having no chance of mental survival. I took a deep breath and decided to go, even though my stomach was crumbling by the thought of going inside.

 

I entered the gym changing room, and I immediately regretted. The girls were staring at me as if I did not belong there. I kept walking further into the changing room.

I dropped my bag on the bench and started taking off my clothes. The other girls were on their way down into the gym. None of them waited for me. I hurried to get on my clothes and I was off, on my way to the gym.

In the gym the teachers had prepared a fitness area, where we had to do muscle exercises and a running area. I decided to go with the muscle training. I started doing crunches. I had decided for 100, divided into 4 terms. 25 became easy to do very fast, so I raised it to one break with 50 crunches at a time.

 

“Look at Rebecca; she wants to get rid of her belly fat!” Marie said, “Too bad, it is already too late! You are fat!”

 


“Mirror, mirror on the wall, why am I not skinny at all?” I whispered as I stared into the mirror; the face staring at me, judgingly, in the mirror with tears in her eyes. She was ugly; big and fat and ugly, and everyone around her knew. The girl in the mirror turned around. I stared down at my naked feet, hoping that I had lost some weight. 100 grams would be better than gaining weight.

I stepped onto the weight, and closed my eyes. I did not dare to open them. But as I did, it felt like a knife was stabbing me hard in the chest. I had gained 500 grams of weight. To some people it was nothing. But as I lifted the shirt up, I could see those 500 grams there. I saw them; the numbers written on my belly. I was fat, and I knew it.

“Honey, come downstairs, there’s dinner!” my dad yelled. I went to my room to wear my pyjamas. I went downstairs and sat by the table. My dad had cooked mac and cheese, which used to be my favourite dish. Megan took the food happily, poured spoon after spoon onto her plate, and so did my dad. When they had taken the food, I raised to get myself a glass of water. As I sat down and still had not taken any food, my dad looked worryingly at me.

“Don’t you want some food?” he asked. Instead of answering I shook my head in response.

“Are you ill? You always eat mac and cheese!” he grinned, trying to seem enthusiastic. But honestly, I could see a worried and scared face behind the façade.

“I do not feel good. I think I will go to bed… Goodnight.” I said as I left the table and went upstairs to lie in my bed.

As I lay down under my duvet I lifted my shirt a little and put a hand on my belly. I could feel the fat under my skin; all the grease from the crisps and chips, icecream and butterscotch that I had eaten lately.

I decided to do crunches. I started with a goal of 50. But as soon as that was done, it was too little. I raised the amount to 75, but it was still not good enough. I took a break and sat up in my bed and stared into the mirror. Who was I fooling? I would never get rid of all the fat I had in my body.

I went to the bathroom to fetch a sleeping pill and swallowed it. I went back into my bed and lay down, and with a tear in my eye, I closed my eyes and drifted away.

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