Lead me (not) into temptation

Monday, September 14, 2020 - 9:10am

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Illustration by Eileen Kelly

Content warning: depression, eating disorders

The classroom is dark. The only light in the room comes from the windows and the projector screen. I am sitting in the front of the room in the corner on the right side, the closest person to the projector screen. Its white light does not shine on me but in front of me. I am staring at the projector screen. There is text on it that I do not read.

Double fudge brownie ice cream.

There is a notebook on my desk; it is closed. The pencil next to the notebook is its only companion. A mechanical pencil. Its lead has not been pushed out by pressing on the eraser even though we are well into the fourth period of the day. The faint voice of my AP Psychology teacher is in the background, but I have no idea what she is saying. I am just staring at the projector screen. Everything is blurry; my eyes are out of focus.

A burger with extra cheese. A side of salty fries.

“Why am I not enough?” I am wondering. “What did I do wrong?” I cannot figure it out. “What could I have done better?” This question eats at me. Moisture begins to surround my eyes, pushing against the edge, trying to spill over. They must not be released; I am sitting at the front of the room. Someone might be looking at me, they will notice, they will think I am crazy for crying in the middle of a class over the structure of an eyeball. I blink to hold them back. The only energy I have left in me is used to keep this moisture in my eyes. I have no idea why I am feeling like this right now. 

A dinner roll. Smooth. Buttery. Soft.

My throat is tight. There is a painful lump stuck in the middle of it. I try not to notice; anyway, it is not the most painful thing I am experiencing right now. But, as my thoughts persist, the pain from my throat intensifies. It becomes hard to ignore. My teacher drones on in the background. 

A slice of pizza. Greasy, with lots of cheese, and garlic flavored crust.

Even worse than my throat is my chest. Where my heart should be, I feel nothing. Well, not nothing — emptiness. Like there is something there, but there is nothing in it. It is beating, but slowly. Keeping me alive, but barely. I start to think about life and living. What does being alive really mean? What are we all doing here? What is our purpose? To get a job? To make a lot of money? To have children, to reproduce and further the human race? To be happy? Happiness is only temporary. I do not have happiness right now, but I will again, I tell myself, which is what I always do to prevent my thoughts from getting to a place I can never come back from. I am not sure that I fully believe it at this moment. 

Or, maybe, a deep-dish pizza instead. With thick crust and sauce with extra tomato-y flavor.

My stomach is empty. It does not hurt as it should; I am used to it. I do this every day. For breakfast, I had one boiled egg. I used to hate boiled eggs, but my palate has changed. I am thankful for it because boiled eggs have protein, which keeps me full for longer. They are not the best breakfast food, though, because my boiled eggs are dry, and they make me thirsty. Thirst means more calories. 

A chocolate chip cookie. Freshly baked, warm, with melted chocolate chunks.

I think about what is sitting in my lunchbox. A ham sandwich, no cheese, on white bread. A bag of slightly wrinkled red grapes. Some goldfish. I already know that they are there for show. I make my lunch every morning and make sure my mom sees the food, so she thinks I am eating like normal. She sees that the contents of the fridge are emptying, and she sees that she still has to buy food at the end of the week. But I cannot bring myself to actually eat anything. I think of my favorite food: macaroni and cheese, the Kraft kind, with less milk, to enhance the cheesiness. But right now, the thought of it does not appetize me. 

A glass of cold milk to wash it down.

I am still staring at the projector screen. The slides in my teacher’s presentation are changing every few minutes, and she is still talking in the background. I am losing valuable information by not listening to her words. It does not matter to me. She puts the slides online, and I can get most of the necessary information from them later, but I know I am just fooling myself. I will not be paying attention later, even if I try.

Crispy, golden chicken nuggets. The ones from McDonald’s.

I think about how I will get rid of my lunch today. I have a few options. I can throw it away. Pros: There would be no trace of it and my mom will think I ate it. Cons: People will see me throw it away and wonder why I did it. I feel guilty about throwing away food when there are others who would kill for it. My mom works hard and pays a lot of money so that my sisters and I can have food on the table. I do not want to eat it, though. I will not. I cannot. 

Oreos. Two hard chocolate cookies with a creamy white frosting sandwiched between them.

Or maybe I can leave it in my lunchbox for a few days. Pros: my mom never looks in my lunchbox, so she will not know it is there. I will not have to worry about it for a while. If she does not see me make my lunch in the morning, I can bring it out and show her that I did, I just packed it away already. Cons: It will start to smell, so I will have to throw it away anyway. If I throw away a lot of food at school, people will think I am weird. If I throw away the food at home, then my mom might find it. I can hide it in the trash bag, but they are white and partially see-through. She will see it no matter what.

A grilled cheese sandwich. Cut in half, cheese melting out of it. Maybe paired with a bowl of tomato soup.

Another option is hiding the food at home. My room would probably be the safest place. Pros: My mom will not see me put it there, no one will. I will not have to worry about disposing of it for a while. Cons: It will start to smell. It would be harder to dispose of a larger amount of food. My mom goes into my room often to put away my laundry, to vacuum or to look through my window and spy on the neighbors. There is a solid chance that if my hiding place is not good enough, then she will find it. 

The bell rings, interrupting my thoughts. I did not notice that an hour had passed and that fourth period is now over. I look up at the clock even though I already know what time it is. It is time for lunch.