p i g m e n t

My bathroom is a sanctuary.

 

With its painfully bright, windowless teal walls damaged by the condensation of too-hot showers to now appear as if they are permanently melting,

the grimy tiled floor at least 5 shades faded under a translucent film of dirt,

and that strong wooden door held securely to its frame with the flip of a shiny brass switch.

 

It is here that we are only ever truly alone.

 

The contents of my stomach stare back at me from a porcelain black hole,

ready to be sucked away once again from my ever-deflating existence,

and leave behind nothing but the illusion of perfection.  

 

I am nothing if not perfect.

 

Those three digits pierce through the darkness of my closed eyelids with every blink,

reminding me that I have failed,

that temptation has consumed every ounce of strength I once thought I had

and left me swollen and hollow.

 

I have become a number.

 

I am measurable,

weighable,

sizable,

reducible,

a child stunted in growth, wishing only to shrink smaller and smaller until I slip between the cracks of the Earth.

 

My phone glows dimly on the floor beside my pale frame,

emitting dull vibrations in short waves that shake every organ in my body to attention.

The words that pop up on the screen jump out at me as if they are about to explode:

“REMINDER: IT'S NOT WORTH IT”.

 

I rest my forehead against the cool rim of the toilet seat and try to remember.

 

Remember the last time I enjoyed a meal around the dinner table with my family,

the last time I went out with my friends and laughed so hard I could barely breathe,

the last time I wore a bathing suit without my arms secured in a bone crushing embrace around my waist,

the last time I felt full.

 

Full of life,

of spirit,

of youth,

of love.

 

I can’t remember.

 

I trap as much breath as I can possibly fit inside my lungs as I slowly trace the outline of my protruding bones with the tip of my pinky finger,

releasing the air only once I start feeling a dangerous tranquility beginning to suffocate my thoughts.

 

My mind is a blank canvas,

a canvas that I am tired of covering in digits instead of pigments,

in pale instead of bright,

in poison instead of life.

 

I grip the edge of the sink and force all of my weight through the soles of my feet as I rise to meet myself eye to eye.

The dust of freckles that dance across my nose and shoulder blades suddenly seem like galaxies,

the oval shaped birthmark like a permanent kiss on the swell of the lower left side of my stomach,

the thin layer of fat coating my fragile bones like a mother’s embrace,

keeping me warm,

keeping me alive.

 

My eyes begin to pour out of their sockets,

splashing down to clean spots of grime off the tile,

and despite the endless river of saltwater escaping my body,

I am not draining.

 

I am filling up.