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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4. Chapter 3

Chapter 3
 

You must buy clothes, cut your hair, and take laxatives; anything to make yourself look thinner

 

I woke up by the sound of an ambulance. I was not sure why it was there. I felt something around my mouth, it felt big. I tried to open my eyes, but everything was just blurry. I could not raise my arms, they felt weak. I could hear someone talk. I was not sure who it was, or what the person said. Everything was blurry. It felt like everything was spinning around me, the sounds and the visionary was blurred.  But the epicentre of everything was the pain I felt in my chest.

Memory came slowly. I remembered Marie and a changing room at first, but as everything came back to me slowly, I wish I had not tried to remember.

I heard a voice which I recognized at once; dad’s.

“Honey, I am right here…” He said with a cracked voice. I wish I could have answered him, but my lips were numb and my throat was sore; dried out.

And then I drifted away from consciousness.

 

I heard a beeping sound. Everything around me was plain white. I didn’t have the thing in my face anymore, but I still couldn’t speak. I opened my eyes, but everything was bright, so I closed them again and opened them carefully, one millimetre at a time. When my eyes were fully opened I gained my senses again. I could feel the bed I was lying in, I could hear the birds outside the window. I looked to the right; onto the table. There was a bouquet of flowers with a card from my grandpa. My grandma had died a couple years ago. She was diagnosed with a heart disease and died a few months later.

I heard someone snoring, and I looked to the left. I saw my dad sit on the chair next to my bed, sleeping, and Megan was sitting on the other bed with her phone, playing Angry Birds. She noticed my movements and jumped out of the bed.

“Becca!” she cried out loud. Happy. “I thought you were dead!”

I looked at her. She had never looked older than her actual age. But now, she had dark circles under her eyes, her hair was messy and not clean, and she was thin. Very thin.

“How are you doing Meg?” I asked her.

“I’m fine… A little hungry, but that’s all!” she smiled. I could see in her face that she was lying, but I felt happy that she could stay cheerful.

 Someone was knocking on the door, and immediately after the person entered the room. My dad woke by the knocking, but he was too busy making sure he looked appropriate, to notice that I was awake.

It was a nurse and two policemen.

“Here is Ms. Clarkson.” The nurse said. It was a male, but he looked very feminine.

The two policemen went to say hello to my dad. They acted like I did not exist; like it was only Meg who knew that I was awake. But as my dad turned his face to point out that it was me they were looking for, he noticed that I was awake. He smiled a half smile, but he did not seem happy at all, mainly worried.

“Ms. Clarkson, we are glad that you are awake.” The tall policeman said. They were two, as I mentioned earlier. There was a woman and a man. The woman had long, brown hair which was tied into a ponytail, and the man was almost bald. She looked like she was in her mid-20s and he looked like he was on his way to 50.

“We are here to talk a little with you about what happened the other day…” The male started.

“Wait, did you say ‘the other day’? For how long have I been gone?” I asked.

“3 days.” My dad answered silently.

I had been gone for 3 days. So I had been unconscious for 3 days. I started hyperventilating a little.

“We are here to question you about what you remember from the incident. I brought my female colleague, Janice, who will talk with you. I thought that might be more comfortable than having me question you. Meanwhile the two of you talk; I will be right outside with your dad and sister.”

And they left me alone with the woman named Janice.

“Hello Rebecca, my name is Janice.” She smiled to me. Somehow it reminded me of mum’s smile. She meant me no harm, I could feel that.

“I should question you a little about what happened the other day, if you are not ready to answer yet, just tell me, and I will be back a little later.”

“No… I’m fine… It’s just that I don’t remember much…” I answered.

“Just tell me what you remember; it will eventually come back to you.”

And then I started telling her about what had happened in the classroom before the locker. It all came back to me as I told her about it. Meanwhile I was talking she was recording it, so that she could make a report later.

“Do you want to know what happened after you had passed out?” Janice asked.

I nodded slowly. I kind of did not want to know, but I would figure out eventually.

“You were found lying on the bench in the girls’ locker in your school’s gym by the cleaning lady. She heard a phone call simultaneously, and she went to see. She called 911 and got you an ambulance, along with a group of policemen. On the way to the hospital you were unconscious, and the medics confirmed that you had 2 broken ribs and you needed a new kidney. Other than that you had minor damages to your body, but it was not more than bruises and a couple of fresh cuts by your ankle.”

As she had finished talking, a doctor entered the room to check up on me. He told me that I was ready to go home a little later the same day. All I had to restrain from was exercising and I had to eat lots of food as I was suffering a little from malnutrition.

 

As I sat in the car with dad and Megan, everyone was quiet. The only thing we heard was the sounds from Megan’s game.

Dad looked multiple times in the rear mirror at me, but I chose to ignore. I was upset that I had to eat much food to get back into healthy condition, but I had no other choice.

“Honey, I am sorry if this was all caused by our discussion that morning…” he started. I stared at him.

“It could not be your fault? It was Marie’s and the other girls.”

“Are you sure on that? Their classmates can testify that they were in the class at the same time you were in there…”

“I am sure.”

“Well… Let the police do the work on that, we will go home and get you fed up.”

 

We sat at the dining table, all quiet. Megan had made spaghetti Bolognese, the only recipe she can cook, and we were enjoying the meal and being together again. I was poking a little around in the food, feeling bad that I couldn’t eat much.

“Eat something Becca…” Dad said, pleading.

“I am so sorry, but I have not eaten whilst in coma at the hospital, so my stomach does not feel well if I eat too much…”

“Eat until you are full, then I will eat your food!” Megan smiled. She was a lovely kid, happy and cheerful, and always smiling.

“Well, you must be my cute little trashcan then!” I laughed, and so did Meg and dad.

When we were finished I left the table, saying that I had to go to the bathroom – which was actually true.

It felt dizzying to walk up the stairs again, but I managed without falling. I entered the bathroom to the right and went inside.

For the first time in a long time I stepped onto the weight and looked down. 60 kilos. I had lost 5 kilos during the week. And I could feel it. But it was not enough.

I went to the mirror. Letters were written in the mirror image. I tried to read them.

 

You are not perfect, you do not try hard enough, and furthermore you waste your time on thinking and talking with friends and drawing! Such acts of indulgence shall not be allowed in the future. I expect a lot from you. You are not allowed to eat much. It will start slowly: 
decreasing of fat intake, reading the nutrition labels, cutting out junk food, fried food, etc. For a while, the exercise will be simple: some running, perhaps some crunches and some sit-ups; nothing too serious. Perhaps drop a few pounds, take a little off of that fat tub of a stomach.

 

As I read the text I heard a voice in my head. It did not sound like my own voice. It was a beautiful voice. A voice I admired. I wanted to be that voice.

I opened the medicine cabinet and took an unused file for the nails, and put it down my throat. I started making gagging noises and I felt very bad. I hurried to the toilet and barked up the lovely dinner Megan had made for me as a homecoming meal. I felt bad afterwards. Not bad that I had puked because I was fat, but because of Megan.

“Are you alright?” my dad asked in the door.

“Not really, I feel a little bad…”

“Do you want me to come in?”

“No, I’ll be out in a minute.”

I rose from the toilet, flushed out the food and stared into the mirror.

“200 crunches. Tonight.”

“Who are you?” I whispered.

“Your best and only friend, Ana.”

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