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A Loathed Enemy
As she walked up the stairs, I shuddered at the sight of her. Her arms were thin and pale. Her complexion was sallow and she had dark circles under her eyes. Shadows filled the void in her indented cheeks. She smiled weakly at me. I tried really hard to keep from crying but soon salty tears began to drip down my face. I wrapped my arms around her. Her body was so thin, she smelled stale and was very cold. I held her bony elbow as I helped her up the stairs to my room.
Years of memories were photographed and hung on my wall. The wonderful days when we would play dress up and be world famous models were gone. This wasn't a game anymore; my best friend was dying. We sat down on the floor and faced each other. She asked for a blanket because she was cold. She took my hand as she told me she was always cold. I asked her if she could finally accept the fact that she was anorexic; she nodded her head and looked down. She knew. My mind raced through the things I should say or what would comfort her; I did not know what to say. I told her I did not know much about anorexia, but I loved her and would do all I could to help. She said all I needed to do was be there for her.
The rest of the day we talked in my room, but ultimately I realized I could not cure her problem, it was up to her. I learned that her diet was pinto beans and lettuce, people would stare at her at school and religion and whisper about her when she walked by. After she left, my life went on pretty much the same as always.
One night, when my parents were at a meeting, my brother and I sat at
home watching Tuesday night television. The phone rang.
"Bethy, it's me," she was crying.
"I am at the hospital. The doctor said I would have died if I did not come
in. They don't know if I will make it until Christmas."
My hands shook and my knees weakened. I collapsed into a chair. "Bethy,
I need you," she choked through the sobs.
It turns out she was at the Methodist Hospital Eating Disorder Ward. Ironically this ward was right next to the maternity ward. Everyday, when I came straight from school to visit her, I would walk by crying babies and happy mothers. Then I would walk into the Eating Disorder Ward. Thin, pale, and lifeless bodies wandered around aimlessly, not quite knowing whether they wanted to live or die, all they knew was that they were horribly overweight. I did all I could to try to cheer her up. I brought magazines. Only to find out Teen and YM overemphasized issues of weight and body image. I brought pictures of us together when we were younger, but then took them back after she made comments about how fat she was back then. I could not believe this, where had my best friend gone? My talkative, loud, brave, wild friend was now shy, depressed, angry and waiting to die.
One time when I was in her room, we walked by the mirror. She looked at
her reflection. "God, look at me, I look horrible." I looked at her, "Yes you do." With that, she laid her head and my shoulder and cried. Every night I would pray that she would gain back the weight and go home, but it took months. Even when she did come home, things were not the same. She would exercise every day, eat only certain things, and always watch her diet. She still was quiet and shy, reserved and depressed, nothing like what she was years ago. Every day I wish this had never happened, that I was still the timid one and she was the outgoing one who would always push me to let my feelings out. But I am thankful. Thankful that she survived, thankful I still have her as a friend. But mostly hopeful, hopeful that this will help people realize that what's on the outside does not matter, people love you for what's inside.
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