Dee is sixteen
Dee is engaged in a staring contest with the toilet. It’s one in the morning, and she’s in her oldest pair of pajamas. The shirt is tight enough that she can see her night brace through it and the pants, well-
She breaks eye contact with the toilet to glare at the toothbrush in her hand. Ingrid Nelson had told her this would work. So far, no fucking dice.
Another wave of nausea hits from the salt water she’d chugged earlier. Dee hurriedly depresses the toothbrush on her tongue, pushes it back as far as she can until she gags, leans over the toilet, and- nothing.
Not even your gag reflex works. Can you do anything right, Deandra?
She viciously throws the toothbrush at the wall. Her mom is hardly even awake these days, but Dee doesn’t need to hear the insults out loud anymore.
Dennis’s own ‘body sculpting’ has been going wonderfully of course. He has the inhuman willpower to not eat anything for days if he wants to. Ten pounds, ten-fucking-pounds in two and a half weeks. Dee checked to see if the scale he used was rigged, but the bastard had actually done it. His lips curled into a smug smile when she weighed herself on it in front of him and found that she had gained two pounds in the time Dennis had lost ten. Dee’s brain had filled with a very unladylike rage, so she threw the scale at his head. He ducked in time, and now the wall had a dent in it. Good thing nobody else used this bathroom.
Her stomach is churning in protest at the emetic, and she punches it angrily.
“Fucking work you piece of shit body!”
She pulls her knees up against her chest, and wraps her arms around them. The brace presses into her body uncomfortably. Good.
Tomorrow she’ll go to school with her head high. Tomorrow she’ll do her eyeliner just right and she won’t eat lunch. Tomorrow she’ll tell Ingrid Nelson that she’s lost fifteen pounds so far and doesn’t need to throw up after all. Tomorrow she won’t cry in the bathroom and she won’t hide from Bill Ponderosa and she won’t answer to the name Aluminum Monster. Tomorrow the ever-present revving engine inside her will slow down enough for her to be poised, kind, and calm. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.
Tonight, her stomach rumbles angrily, and Dee blanches. Something very important is about to happen. Her body is going to do what she wants it to for the first time in her life.
When she pukes, it feels like the beginning of an era where anything in the world is possible.
Dee is twenty-one
While lounging on the couch one dull morning, Dee hazily realizes she can’t remember the last time she went to one of her classes. Forgetting things out of apathy isn’t new, but the way time has been blurring together is. She frowns, and calls out to her roommate. “Jane! What day of the week is it?”
The humming sound of a hairdryer shuts off. “It’s Tuesday.” She sounds irritated.
“Right, I knew that.”
Jane peeks her head out of the bathroom, half of her hair still wet. Her petite face rumples in concern, an expression all too commonly aimed at Dee. “Do you need the bathroom? You haven’t been going to your morning class or, um, showering, so I figured –”
“Do I need to use the bathroom?” says Dee, trying to sound playful. It fails; Jane looks unnerved. “Do I need. Jane, come on, look at me. You know, we’re all women here and sometimes it’s ok to not shower for a day. . .a day or two.”
Jane tucks a long orange strand of hair behind her ear, and sighs. “It’s been a week and a half, Dee.”
Dee pushes herself into an upright position. Anger pours slowly into the pit of her stomach as she sits up, like tilting an hourglass. “Has it?” she says. It sounds shrill.
“Yeah it has,” says Jane. She takes a deep breath, exits the bathroom, and plants herself several feet from Dee. “I changed my mind. My hair can air dry this morning. Please shower, Dee.”
Who does her tiny fucking roommate think she is? Dee gets to her feet, and marches over to Jane, who cowers slightly. Good. “Oh shower, you want me to shower?” she says in a mocking tone. “You want me to get clean so you don’t have to smell me anymore?”
Jane presses her arms to her side, and clenches her fists. “You need to shower, because if you don’t, I’m reporting you to campus health services.”
“What?” says Dee, her heart pounding quickly. Sour bile rises in her throat, and she wills herself to resist the urge to gag. “No you won’t. You won’t do that.”
“I will. You smell like sweat and puke, and you barely do anything but sleep. You’re sick, and if you don’t get better I’m turning you in.”
Dee slaps her in the face. Jane cries out pathetically. “Listen here you little bitch. I will shower when I am goddamn good and ready. If it’s today or a month from now, it’s gonna be when I want to do it.” She presses her forehead to Jane’s, wraps her hand tightly around her teeny fucking wrist, and glares directly into her eyes. “If you ever threaten me again, I will put you on a stretcher in pain so bad you’ll wish it was childbirth. Do you understand me?”
Jane nods, tears welling up in her eyes. Dee’s grip loosens on Jane’s wrist enough to signal that she can leave. Jane runs hurriedly away, and grabs her backpack. Her wet hair swinging behind her is the last thing Dee sees before the door slams.
Dee collapses back onto the couch, and looks up at the all-too familiar ceiling.
“It’s just you and me again, buddy,” she says to the ceiling fan. “Thank God. She’s fucking annoying, right?”
Dee is twenty-six
Dee has been feeling off all morning. Not all that unusual due to her entire body being fucked up, but usually that’s due to something that she’s done to upset it. Nothing she has been doing today is any different than any other day. Every time she tries to pinpoint what is happening, coherent thought floats out of her hands like a helium balloon.
She decides to not go to work. Paddy’s is really slow on Tuesdays, and she doesn’t feel like seeing the Gang while she’s feeling this weird. The boys probably won’t even notice if she skips a day. Hell, they might not even notice if she went missing forever.
Somehow this last train of thought has landed her in her car going forty miles an hour in a residential area. Her heart is beating like a drum as the car revs underneath her, clipping curbs and narrowly missing other cars. It’s ok if the car crashes; they never last long anyway. Dee is a survivor and will walk out of the wreckage with her head held high. She’ll bandage her own wounds; she always does.
Thoughts race at a steady clip in her mind and then blend together, buzzing like bees. She can feel them migrate from her head to her chest to her toes, a wicked stinging energy. Dee is hot, and the heat is radiating into the seams of her car. When she finally hits a cul-de-sac, she slams on the brakes, jams the car into park, and breathes painful, heavy breaths. Her hair is in her mouth; her eyes are wild in the side mirror of her car. Everything outside of her brain is so, so quiet.
Dee hits the button for the radio with her palm, but only static greets her. She turns it up until the ugly noise reverberates throughout the vehicle, throughout her sense of self. It’s still too quiet; it’s not enough. She screams as loud as she can and beats on her steering wheel until it lets out a startling honk. Suddenly, she realizes that she must look fucking insane.
She puts her car in drive, and wills herself to follow the speed limit all the way home. By the time she gets there, a deep exhaustion has set in, dragging her whole body down. After throwing her keys onto the kitchen counter, Dee passes out on her couch in her day clothes. When she wakes up, the strange feeling is gone as if it had never happened at all.
Dee is thirty-five
Dennis shows up at her apartment unannounced the night after she learns she’s been conned. He’s wide-eyed and breathing heavily through his mouth when she answers the door. It’s creepy as shit, but Dennis usually is.
“What do you want, dick?” she says. Dennis blinks several times in rapid succession, and then seems to come to himself. He holds up a bottle of vodka.
“I want to drink with you,” he says. His voice is hoarse, as if he’s been screaming. She peeks out into the hallway.
“What’s the catch?”
He shakes his head. “There isn’t one.”
She shouldn’t let him inside after how much of a dick he’s been. However, he looks fucking pathetic on her doorstep. In fact, he looks like he might sit against the door and cry if she doesn’t let him inside.
“Fine, come in.”
He plops down on her couch, and stares at the floor. Then he unscrews the bottle of vodka, and drinks straight from it in big gulps, wincing at the burn of the alcohol. Dee sits down next to him.
“Jeez, what got into you?”
Dennis finally stops drinking, and passes her the bottle. He doesn’t answer. She takes it from him, and drinks from the bottle too. It’s what they’ve always done when Dennis gets like this.
It doesn’t take long for them to get drunk. He ends up sprawled over her lap, staring up at the ceiling with his mouth open as if his head is too full to say much of anything.
“You’re heavier than the last time you got drunk with me,” she says, breaking the silence.
“All muscle,” says Dennis. His words slur; he is a lot drunker than she is.
Dennis glares at her. “Why do you have to be such a bitch all the time?”
“Why do you have to be such an asshole?”
He sighs. “Pass me the vodka.”
She picks up the bottle, and eyes it drunkenly. “It’s all gone. I have more in the cabinet though.”
“No. I don’t wanna move,” says Dennis. “It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s fine.” He shakes his head and closes his eyes, as if the words are more aimed at himself than at Dee.
“Dennis, why are you here?”
He squints up at the ceiling as if trying to remember, and then his face hardens. “I had feelings tonight. It sucked. I want you to take them back.”
Dennis sits up, looking more pissed off now. “I gave you alcohol to appease you. We had fun together. I treated you nicely. So take these goddamn feelings back. They suck and I don’t want them.”
Of course he has stupid fucking ulterior motives. “Oh my god. I can’t just give and take emotions from you!”
He stands up, seething now. “You said! ‘Dennis, take some of mine.’ That’s what you said. Then you finally did it. You lost all your feelings and then I started having them. Take them back!”
“You are delusional!” shouts Dee. She stands up too, and grabs the vodka bottle in case Dennis lunges at her.
“You are a goddamn liar and. . .and a harpy. . .and a whore!” His hands are bunched in his own hair, and he looks deranged.
She chases him towards the door, bottle swung over her arm menacingly. “Get the hell out of my apartment! Get out!”
When he’s finally outside, she slams the door in his face. Dee drops the bottle to the floor and collapses on the couch, exhausted.
Like she wouldn’t fucking punish him with her feelings if she could.