Cab | Louis Tomlinson

If you met someone who spoke to you in the same way you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?

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3. ☓ chapter two

I made a mobile back in fourth grade. It’s been hanging right above my bed since then, but I don’t mind even though my old friends used to comment on it while laughing their arses off. I never let the words get to me, though, because for some reason, I can’t help but smile whenever I look at it. It’s like listening to your old favourite song while thinking of how much your life has changed since then and to me, that thought is quite compelling.

  I used to dance around in my room when I thought no one was watching. Even though I knew Broadway was no place for a girl like me, my childhood dream stayed with me at heart, reminding me that it was okay to hope. I wanted to be famous and acknowledged, to be seen by other people. In school, I would sit and admire all the popular girls in silence, knowing I didn’t have the looks for something like that.

  Beauty is the key to so many things.

  My mom usually caught me at night spinning around, making me blush before accusing her of spying on me. It was out of love, though, and I could never say it without smiling and laughing a little – we were so close and alike as persons. She’s always told me I got my personality from her. It was still incredibly embarrassing, but when I look back at it, I think I wanted her to see it. My own little one man’s show. At least I’d get a little attention then.

  I’d know someone found me entertaining enough to stay for the whole show.

  Most people get sad when they think of how their lives used to be. I guess there’s a reason for that – they don’t want to be reminded that that happiness is now long gone and hard to get back. Nobody wants someone to tell them that they used to be greater, more succeeding at life, and I’m no exception.

  However, I know that nothing’s going to change if I don’t make my mind up for it. I’m a realist and that’s as real as it gets. I used to lie awake at two AM, playing back the whole night like a tape, as if my life depended on it. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to scream and break something because I felt so damn helpless. Eventually, I realised that I could and had to do something and that day, I quit the late night thinking. Instead, I acted.

  And that’s when I started skipping my meals.

  I’m not like most other teenage anorexics – at least I don’t think so. I don’t count every calorie I ingest or weigh myself every time I take a shower, hoping I lost a few pounds. Personally, I’m not even sure how people keep up with those things because I can’t. I don’t know how to remember all those numbers, and I think that’s one thing that made me so different from the girls at Riverdale. They were all so caught up in their food that they couldn’t keep a conversation rolling without talking about it, and it freaked me out. It freaked me out how much control food could have over someone’s life.

  But I guess we all have that one irrelevant thing that controls our lives more than it should.

  Sometimes I feel all right. Actually, I feel more than all right – I feel great! I have no trouble sleeping, eating, conversing or anything at all, and for a short while, I let myself believe that it’ll stay that way. It feels better to live under the impression that I have finally found peace and closure – that the memory of him and those dark eyes that lured me inside his cage no longer haunt me.

  Of course, nothing like that goes unnoticed. Sooner or later, I’ll fall right back in and start running again, telling myself harshly that I should’ve kept going even when happiness dared to show his face.

  It’s hard to explain. If I were to tell someone about how it feels, I probably wouldn’t get that far before stopping myself. I can’t tell them about the nights after the accident where I would sneak out and crash a party nearby because I was so convinced that the alcohol would make the shame and anger go away. Neither can I tell them about how the boys would come up to me with a charming smile across their faces, getting me to drink even more until everything seemed to turn into one big blur, leaving me in confusion the next morning over waking up in nothing but underwear and humiliation at a stranger’s house.

  If I could tell them about that, really make them feel the things I felt, everything would be less complicated.

  My problem is that I have no urge or craving for food. I don’t think to myself: Don’t do it even though you want to, when it comes to eating because I rarely think about it at all unlike the others. To me, the feeling gets lost in the many hours of frustration – it seems like I have more important things to actually care about. Finding something chewable hasn’t been in my interest since that night.

  Becky was surprised that I was able to eat whatever the staff served me when all she did was stare at it while close to throwing up. I tend to get surprised a lot myself because there are times where the thought of potato chips and ketchup makes me sick – actually, it’s like that most of the time. Food does sicken me, but mostly just because I planted that thought inside my head. I told myself to think like that because it would distract me from the real problem – from what I keep running from and still can’t get myself to face.

  Food is a problem to me, but it’s not the one that fills up the most of my empty, heavy heart. It never really mattered that much to me. I’ve got the exercise for that – the running and gasping and smiling while hearing my lungs warn me about a catastrophic explosion if I don’t stop. I ignore all of the warnings, though, because as long as it makes me feel again, I’m willing to do almost anything in my power.

  I feel. I do, but it doesn’t make me feel alive. It feels like I’ve been a wandering zombie since that night – looking for a coffin that doesn’t exist. Always searching for peace and closure when it’s nowhere to be found. There are always these tired thoughts lurking in the shadows – tired smiles, tired eyes, tired voices. I don’t know how to make my actions seem believable anymore when I’m as inhuman as it gets.

  At the same time, I’ve never felt more human.

  They say that pain is the most human thing to feel. It’s something that connects us and binds us together – something relatable. By listening to a song about heartache, we’ll find ourselves connecting with the artist, and by reading a book about losing someone to the slender fingers of death, we’ll find ourselves wanting to know the author behind this book because they made us feel less alone.

  At least I do.

  I lie for a few minutes and stare at the mobile hanging above me, rocking from side to side like a boat. There are dozens of birds in different shapes and colours – all wings have a different pattern. One by one, they catch my eye, making me wonder what kind of person I was while mixing the colours to paint the birds. How did I manage to create something so beautiful? So … personal.

  I didn’t know I had a personality.

  I’ve tried to fill the void with something. Something that can replace the heart I once had – the one that was beating vividly, reminding me of how alive I was. Nevertheless, the more I try, the more I seem to fall down – it feels like he’s here watching every single one of my moves carefully to make sure I don’t forget about the past.

  My parents aren’t home. If they were, I would’ve been able to hear their voices or the humming my mom always does while cooking. When I was younger, she told me that her biggest dream as a teenager was to become a singer, but that she had to give up that dream to take care of me and make sure I grew up, knowing that I was loved and taken good care of. I remember asking her if she was mad at me for forcing her to do that, and then she told me that once I get to experience the love she has for me, I’ll understand perfectly that there was no choice or forcing.

  The sun has found a way to overcome the clouds today. It leaves a contrast in my bedroom. I can see the shadows on my pink wall clearly, as if someone snuck in at night and drew the shapes of them. And I can see myself as I sit up, letting my fingers run through the messy, thin hair – how stick-alike my arms are and the way my bones stand out in an unnatural way I never saw on my friends.

  I silence my thoughts by letting my feet brush the ground carefully before getting up. A feeling of dizziness hits me for a moment just like every other time I stand up after sitting somewhere for a while, but the rainbow coloured snow disappears from my eyesight in nothing more than a few seconds and leaves me with a clear vision of the world.

  Sometimes it makes me sad, though – I like the blindness.

  As I make my way downstairs, I can’t help but notice how little sound my feet are making. Slip, slip, slip. It used to be a whole lot louder – the stairway used to make cranky noises that made me complain about it to my mom, yelling at her even though she was nowhere to be seen. (She usually didn’t hear it anyway because of her bad hearing.)

  So many things in this old, little house remind me of what everything used to be like. It used to be a lot nicer – a lot warmer. But the temperature hasn’t actually changed. We always adjust the air condition to match the impression of our house perfectly. I can feel it, though – how everything has changed even though it hasn’t. We’re still the same, boring family even though the whole neighbourhood knows about that night and what went down. We try to act like everything’s back to normal – at least my parents do – but it’s nothing but a ridiculous act. The only moment my dad actually speaks to me in a nice tone without sounding blameful is when we’re in public, and even though I like picturing it’s real, I know that it means nothing to him. I mean nothing to him.

  I grab one of the greenish bananas from the bowl by the window and study it for a second to make sure there are no black marks anywhere on the peel. Then I make my way towards the refrigerator to get some milk to pour over the muesli I’ve gathered in the trashcan, lying there nicely. As soon as the liquid fluid touches the surface of the oatmeal, it starts to soften up and remind me more of vomit, though.

  My releasing papers are hanging on the fridge like a diploma. Apparently, my mom considers it something to be proud of even though it’s everything but. It’s nowhere close to being compared to a diploma or an acceptance letter because all it really tells the people looking at it, is that I was weak enough to fall into the spell of an eating disorder.

  There is a bottle of antidepressants on one of the shelves made out of tree. I was advised to take them whenever I felt the slightest sadder than usual since they believe it’s something that comes whenever the sun goes away. They called it a winter depression if I remember correctly, but they’ve never been so wrong.

  The sadness is in my shadow – I carry it with me wherever I go no matter what time. Always right behind me, leaving trails of tearstains and hopelessness that will soon attach to someone new. It has taken so many other teenagers’ lives, and once it’s gotten to me, it’ll find another victim to bring down.

  I’m still tired even though I had a good night’s sleep with no nightmares or bad memories. It doesn’t surprise me, though, because this feeling is always bothering me, making me want to fall asleep whenever I sit down or blink, and I can’t seem to shake it off. I’ve tried numerous of times, but nothing seems to work except for sleeping and resting my head for a day. Giving me a break, a day off to finally relax.

  However, I know that if I do that, I’ll turn into Sleeping Beauty even though I am no one to be called beautiful.

  I don’t like the thought of dirt on my clothes, but I know I have no choice as I place my running clothes that are folded nicely in one of the bushes near my house. The green colour of my shirt blends in perfectly and as soon as I step away a few steps, they go invisible. No one would notice it lying there – not even the sharpest knives in the drawer.

  I’m praying that a dog won’t pee on it.

“I’ll just have some of the vegetables if you don’t mind,” I tell my mom who’s standing in the kitchen. “I got really hungry throughout the day and ate a whole bunch of muesli … sorry.”

  Sometimes it scares me how genuine I seem when I am nowhere close to being that. I’m a wreck, a girl who used to have a personality but is now adjusting to whoever she is with. Like a chameleon – except for the fact that they’re born to do that. I’m not.

  “Oh, don’t worry about that, sweetie!” she smiles, looking like the happiest person on earth.

  I didn’t know anyone could be so pleased about their daughter skipping dinner.

  “So, what did you do today?” she continue as she sit down next to my dad. “Anything interesting?”

  I think about how I hid my sports clothes and threw out some perfectly fine muesli. “Uhm, no. Not really. I’ve been at home all day.”

  Liar, liar, pants on fire. I gulp.

  “Maybe you could call some of your friends if you’re bored?” Always so optimistic. “I mean, you haven’t seen them in forever! I’m sure you miss them as much as they miss you.”

  She’s so blind. Why can’t she just realise that I grew up? Why does she act like I’m still her little baby girl? Why do we have to keep playing pretend and act like I have a social life when it disappeared along with the rest of me?

  I was never the most popular girl, but I had status. I had friends, a life and a bright future – everything a human needs in order to survive here in London. It’s surprising how everything can go away just like that. Disturbing. One mistake, that’s all it takes.

  How did I end up like this?

  “Sure!” The celery sounds just like a human bone breaking into pieces once I let my teeth dig into the surface. “Sure, I’ll call Cami tomorrow.”

  Liar, liar, pants on fire.

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