It’s the second wave of Disney’s golden age which is a term I’ve just made up and know isn’t quite right but I know you know what I mean. The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas … The Disney Renaissance. That’s what it is called. I looked it up. But it doesn’t matter. You get the the idea. The 90s. The animated women have tiny, impossible waists. Unless they’re the baddies. I look and look and look at Ariel.
In Grade 7, a well-meaning teachers gushes about how lovely I look. I haven’t eaten lunch in a fortnight. Only apples. And only now and then.
The boy I sit next to in class hits me and pinches me and says I have ‘big boobs’ and when I finally breakdown and tell the teacher she wants to know what I did to provoke him. She tells me he likes me. I am eleven.
He pushes me against the wall and says he’s my husband and he has needs.
At the pop-up sale the assistant looks relieved and says, finally someone who can actually fit into sample sizes. And we giggle over people trying on clothes that are never going to fit them.
I don’t like to take up too much room. Others don’t seem to care or even think about it. Does that make them more or less self-centred? You leave a little space and someone will quickly fill it. Like gas. Expanding to fill the container. On the tram I jam myself into tight corners and disappear under other people’s jackets and hold my breath.
Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.
I haven’t done any permanent damage. I’ve never been on the ward. I haven’t been committed enough. Tried hard enough. I even get that wrong.
He would sleep in and barely work and I wasn’t allowed to talk to him before he’d had that bitter instant coffee he had a particular way of making which didn’t make it taste any better but who was I to say anything? He screamed in my face. Watched me hit myself over and over. Forgot my birthday. Called me crazy and selfish. Questioned everything I said and anyone I saw until I almost stopped saying and seeing. He didn’t let me play Jack Johnson in the house and so I’d wait til I was alone to play his songs and pretend I was in Hawaii.
I accidentally sent the tourists in the wrong direction but I was so happy they thought I was from here that I didn’t say anything.
I was in love with the smart boy but dated the jock. I was almost sixteen.
He threw a screwdriver at my head and punched a hole in the door and hurt my body and my mind and one day I saw his dad try to punch him and he ran right through the fly-screen and we sprinted from the house in the middle of the night down and I wanted to go home and to my own bed but I didn’t and I don’t know why.
I have stomach aches. All the time. They do tests. No permanent damage. I am disappointed.
They tell me he makes a lot of money. For the company. They tell me not to rock the boat. He takes paid leave. He gets a promotion. He speaks over my head, he speaks to the people around me, he never says sorry, he never acknowledges … I sit at my desk and shrink every time I feel him storming the corridors.
“You get fatter and fatter every time I see you,” he said. A theatre director who had been someone once.
A man in his twenties sends a girl in her a teens books and letters. A man in his twenties lies about having sex with a girl in her teens. The girl’s father hears the lies and shouts at the girl. She tries to explain but he doesn’t care. People are talking. Whispering. Saying things about the girl. And he is embarrassed.
I get on the train. It’s almost 10pm. But I leave the house – my house, our house? – and I get on the train and I go because I need to. Have to. Must. And it’s the first time I’ve left but maybe not the first time I should have left. If that makes sense? And I cry. On the train. Because I am sad. And because, for the first time in a long time, I have somewhere to go and someone who will be standing on the platform waiting for me.