You slide into the bathroom; baggy pyjamas fall from your skeletal frame. The alarm is still going off; through the din you hear the ticking of a clock.
You take a warm inviting shower. There’s one thing on your mind. You try to distract yourself by staring at the bumps in the ceiling but your fat body comes back and floods your thoughts – of course you’re not overweight, quite the opposite.
You drag yourself from the steaming bathroom, shivering, cold to the bone. The beeping of the alarm and the ticking of the clock remains. You run your fingers along your clothes on the rail, pondering which outfit will hide your body best.
One quick glance in the mirror, you look away repulsed – bones jutting from your frail body, every single vertebrate visible down your spine. But your mind haunts you with self-doubt: ‘if only I was thinner’. If you were any thinner you’d be in a hospital bed or on a slab.
You creep downstairs – don’t wake your parents; too late they’re up. Your mind races, trying desperately to come up with an excuse to avoid breakfast: creamy melted butter spread on crisp white toast with the choice of sweet jam, crunchy peanut butter or delightfully rich chocolate spread.
The thought of actually eating this lovely grub sickens you despite your tummy groaning at the prospect; your mind works out ways to burn calories. After forcing yourself to a bite of toast, trying not to gag, you accidentally drop the rest on the floor; the dog scoffs it.
Your mother enters the room teary eyed. You think nothing of it. You are too obsessed to notice poor mum. She can hear the alarm from inside you and the ticking of time running out.
Time to brush your teeth, but is it worth it? They’re a sickly malnourished yellow. You stare blindly into the mirror and scrape away at your caffeine stained tongue. Your gums bleed. You’re proud that you managed to get away with not eating breakfast, again.
As you hover down the stairs, you hear your parents arguing. You slump down on the stairs and, for once, you listen. Your parents are anxiously discussing your weight; your avoidance of food… breakfast… lunch… dinner… and at first you don’t believe it.
Your mind denies the truth in their words. But the more you hear the more you listen; the more of the exchange you take in, the more you understand: it wasn’t my dressing gown that was too big, my clothes disguised me from myself. My body isn’t fat, the food did look tempting, my mother is upset.
I am finally beginning to listen. The more I hear, the more I listen. Finally I listen. It wasn’t my alarm clock punctuating my every move, it was my body’s alarm, warning me about not eating; my own time ticking away.
I can hear; hear another sound, a murmur now; that hospital hum, my mum can hear it too. We both know what it is: life support with my name on it. I can hear it. That’s when it happened. Switch flicked, ticking stopped, machine off, and nothingness.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Hear your body, listen to its alarms and seek help. Don’t wait for the hospital hum.