ll Glory and Gore- Lorde ll
I cough, once, twice, three times. I'm tempted to question whether or not my lungs and esophagus are going to make their way out of my mouth judging by the deepness of my cough, the way it burns the back of my already sore throat. They don't, thankfully, no, not today, but God does my throat hurt. It's sore, red and raw, my voice sounding like a croaking frog.
And it's all thanks to the late night purging I'd been up to for the last week straight. If puking up blood wasn't serious enough, then here was my voice, sounding like I'm dying.
I feel like I am.
"Sore throat again, I hear?" My mother comments as she strides into the dressing room, where I currently am sitting as my hairdresser fixes my tresses into something presentable, something that doesn't show how dry, brittle, and straw-like it is due to, what else, but lack of nutrition.
I nod numbly, not willing to talk and admit to it. She'd hear me do plenty of talking for the next half hour anyways, so why bother? She's heard my voice like this before, so many times, but she knows as well as I do, that it only gets like this when my self esteem is bad. And how it was.
A Healdsburg gossip column had dubbed me as 'old news' and said that I was 'certainly putting on the pounds thanks to my fall baking goodies'. Truth be told, this was the beginning of my downwards spiral, to be quite honest. To most normal, non-disordered people, this would mean absolutely nothing, blink and get over it, but to me, it meant everything. Because if I was truly, 'old news', then who was I? What I mean by this is- If people listened to this, they'd stop watching me, my ratings would go down, I'd lose everything and who am I really without my cooking show? I'm nothing. Without that, I'm just a girl with an eating disorder who's too afraid to get help.
"You do know what you could stop doing to get rid of those dear?" She says, the end of her sentence raising up in a question, into a tone I consider borderline mocking. I ignore her, rolling my already made up eyes and instead grabbing my phone, scrolling, scrolling endlessly as she drones on and I block her out until my hair is fixed in semi-healthy looking waves, and I'm called to set.
"If you'll excuse me," I throw off the black cape from around my shoulders, "I have a show to do." My voice sounds terrible as I say this to her, and I know it's going to sound terrible during the show. But nonetheless I stomp off, out of my dressing room, walking onto set.
The show must go on.
"And that's all for today!" I grin a wide-toothed smile at camera number 1 directly in front of me, waving goodbye quickly, hurriedly. I couldn't wait to get my as.s off this stage and to the bathroom. Even though my show today was healthy cooking for the season (mainly as a big eff-you to the gossip column), I still needed to get all of it out. The healthy vegetables and fruits and good fats laced with vitamins that my body craved needed to be out of my system. My fingers longing for the feeling of my throat, and my knees aching for the marble floor.
"See you all next time!" I smile just as the camera clicks off immediately, the director and producer of my show, who were standing on the sidelines as always, calling cut as I wiped my forehead instinctively out of relief, my hands already untying my apron and slamming it down on the counter as I rushed off of set.
"Valencia!" My producer calls for me and I turn around, looking at him impatiently. What did he want? Normally I loved him, Allan, he was great, but god, did he really have to talk to me right now? I had things to do!
"Yes?" I raise an eyebrow.
"We were just wondering if we could go over some ideas for next week's show. Meet us in the board room in fifteen minutes."
"You couldn't have given me a heads up on a surprise meeting?" I snapped. I was irritable, I always was when I was eager to purge. Especially when someone like this little twerp got in the way of it.
"Sorry Valencia," He says simply before I push past him and head off towards my dressing room. My mother is in there, filing her nails and sitting in my chair.
She glances up at me, "Great show dear."
"Thanks," I mumble as I grab my bag and turn for the door.
"Why so quick to leave? Don't you want to spend some time with your mom?" She pouts as I turn to look at her.
"Actually, I'm quick to leave because I can't stand being alone in a room with you, mom. Have a good day." I reply as I exit, leaving the studio as the crew begins to fix the set. Next stop, employees only bathroom.
After purging, fixing my hair and makeup as such, I head to the boardroom, on time, where Allan is sitting at the head of the long mahogany table. I take a seat at the opposite end, preparing for something along the lines of a budget cut and therefore I'll have to create cheaper meals or something of the likes.
Instead the lecture I get goes a little something like this:
"The studio and the audience, thinks there's something off about you. You don't portray a healthy image. You're too thin, Valencia."
I raise my eyebrows at this, my eyes bulging out of my head. "Too thin?" I mock.
Too thin? Was I really too thin? Did he and the rest of the world not see the fat that sucked onto my thighs, or the double chin popping up underneath my head, or even the arm flab that showed itself whenever I dared wave to my viewers.
How could I possibly be too thin?
"Yes." He nods. "You don't look… healthy, Valencia. So, we're asking you to gain some weight, to look healthier. You haven't been looking your best- dark circles, limp hair, dry skin. You need to regain some of that beauty you've always had. So, we want you to eat some more, get some vegetables in your system. Enjoy yourself."
"How much do you want me to gain?" I find myself asking, my jaw still feeling the need to drop with every word he says. It took me how long to lose the weight I lost. And now he wanted me to gain it back? Was he insane?
How did he even notice anything, either? The lightbulb suddenly goes off and I realize that he probably knows as well. Thanks, mom.
"Ten to fifteen."
"Or else, the network is going to cancel your show. You have two months, two months Valencia to get better. Or else the show is gone."
I nod, numbly and I pick myself up, leaving without saying a word because once again, all I was doing was asking myself who was I really without this show? I can't lose it. It's my baby. It's the reason I get up in the morning. It's my /life/. If I don't have the show… I have nothing… and no one.
Once outside the building, I curl up in a little ball, pushing my head into my hands and shaking it furiously. What was I going to do? I had two months. Two months to change my life. Two months to get rid of all of the progress I had made. Two months to stop an addiction that I knew, deep down, was eating me alive.
I begin to cry. To sob. To feel my shoulders heave up and down and my nose sniffle as I gasp for breath.
I look up, sighing slightly. How great. Someone here to see me in a miserable state. Watch it be a fan or something, I think, trying my hardest to not roll my eyes. But instead I find Etienne, the model I had 'befriended', for lack of a better word, in one conversation. He was still shooting here and by the looks of it, would be from here on out.
"Yeah?" I ask, using the back of my hand to wipe away a few of the many tears flowing down my chipmunk cheeks, some black mascara smearing.
"Are you… okay?" He drops down to my level, sitting beside me and watching me intently.
"Fine," I say, glancing at the cigarette he had lit and in his hand. "Mind if I have a drag? I can really use it right now." I was never a big smoker. But desperate times called for desperate measures. He nods gladly and I take the Marlboro from him, pressing it to my lips and letting a stream of smoke trickle out of my mouth.
"So… if you are fine, then why are you outside of the studio bawling?"
I was tempted to keep it all in, exactly as I always had, letting myself decide I'd figure things out when I had to, pushing it off, putting it off. But here I was, finally having to deal with a problem, my problem. And so, I decided to address it. To let it spill.
"I have two months to get healthy," The tears drown out as I try and swallow the lump in my throat. "And I don't think I can do it."
"Healthy? What are you talking about, Valencia?"
It was now or never. And in that moment, I chose the now. Because if I didn't let it out then to a person I was hardly close with, I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to get it out and I'd truly be stuck with it forever.
I let the stories and the beginning of my disorder rush from my mouth, followed with a lot of tears, some head shaking in my own stupidity, and some mumbled words and thoughts. But finally when it was all over, up to current speed, Etienne just looked at me and reached out, pulling me into an embrace and a confirmation that he would be the one willing to save me.