She knows, the moment she wakes, tastes dream food on her lips, remembers a sleeping feast, a table piled high, a dream so real that just for a second,she wonders if somehow she has eaten, more than eaten, gorged, at some point between 200 leg lifts, last weigh in and half a cup of sugar-free hot chocolate.
She rolls back the duvet, cold biting into flesh, checks thighs, hip bones, counts ribs, can see no evidence, no proof that her body has betrayed her.
4am, first weigh in, standing naked in the bathroom, best of 3, a half articulated prayer to the gods of scales, needs to see good numbers, reward, payback.
The scales are implacable, impervious to any prayer, deaf to her needs, her real hunger.
The numbers stare back….blue digital display, a truth that cannot be argued with and so she trails back to bed, already bargaining in her head, looking for a logic when her own body has moved beyond the realms of reality.
But…like an itch, once noted that cannot be ignored, the dream has woken the kraken of hunger, reminded her, yet again, that the body will have its way, will survive.
It’s Friday and she knows that this will be a lost weekend.
There are plans to be made.
Arrangements to be un-arranged
Things to be done.
And while she says this, maybe out loud, maybe not, she is already bargaining, negotiating, the calorie counter in her head, always ready, ever ready has begun to kick in.
The space, time left is enough for something else to happen, some rescue, some ambush of her desire, it may still be alright.
She emails….tells X that she is seeing Y, Y that she is laid low with a stomach bug ( she rationalizes that this, if nothing else is almost true), informs A,B and C that she is out-of-town until Sunday and then sits back, appalled by the ease of her lying, the weekend, empty, clear.
A lost weekend.
More plans, rehearsed, familiar in their balletic routine and rituals.
Cash point, lost weekends must be paid for in cash….no paper trail, no bank statement to choke her with shame, recriminations, 1, 2 weeks down the line.
And besides, cash, she has learnt, sets a limit, an end point, imposes some control.
Into the car, lost weekends cannot be provisioned too near home, the fear of her and the trolley of shame, bumping along beside her, laden with foods of colours that no food should be, meeting a friend,neighbour, even a colleague, is paralysing.
The very thought makes her limbs twist with shame, she is the girl who never eats, who sits at meals, an apple sliced into tiny, tiny pieces, while she watches the others eat. She is the one that people no longer offer cake to, no longer ask if she wants anything from the drive through.
She is the girl who never eats,whose body is a silent reproach to those who cannot, will not share her iron control.
And so, the supermarket, this one 5 miles from home, safe enough, but near enough to home that the drive will not last forever, will not cause her self-control to snap, car pulled over, face buried in the first, still warm bakery bag.
There is a routine, a rhythm, a ritual to a lost weekend shop.
Pharmacy aisle ….
Sugar free chewing gum
Coke zero, 2 litre bottles times many
The food shop
Today, the fruit and vegetable aisles ignored, no careful weighing out of 4oz bags of grapes, bananas chosen based only on size, miniaturised, apples defined as less than medium.
She knows from experience that it is better to pick the ice cream first, fear of defrosting, of spillage sets a time limit, a sense of urgency, keeps her moving, heading towards the check-out.
In her head, the litany of a list
2 tubs of ice cream
Chicken tikka masala
Chocolate cheese cake
And then a pause….finds herself in the biscuit aisle, knows from hard experience that biscuits have too many sharp edges, too many corners, will stick,catch, hold up the smooth movement.
Instead,cakes, chocolate fudge cake, ripples of icing, she can already imagine her finger nails disturbing the perfect layers of sugar, butter, cake.
Her mouth puckers, waters, she grabs the box before the other shoppers can see the naked hunger, over powering desire.
Check out, she is nervous, bounces from one foot to the other, jingles car keys, smiles too much.
She starts a complicated story to the bored checkout girl
A family shop, bring and share supper, birthday celebration, a story for someone who has already forgotten the thin woman and her half filled trolley.
The drive home is a blur, it’s always a blur on lost weekends – mind, mouth, stomach already lost, full of anticipation, already calculating the guilt, the self loathing and everything that will come with it.
She parks the car neatly on the drive, grabs the carrier bags, doesn’t look inside and once the front door is opened, the shopping dumped in the kitchen, she goes back and carefully locks the front door.
[ to be continued]