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Luncheon
by
Sally Domingue


Anne Marie decided she wasn't a prisoner really, except in her own mind, and if it was simply her mind, then everything was under control. She slumped farther into the hard, metal food court chair. Her two closest friends, Mona and Natalie, sat with her at the circular table munching on fries and finishing a large box of chicken nuggets the split.

"Sure you don't want one? Last chance," Mona offered, but Anne declined.

They were about to shop for new nightclub outfits for the rave that Friday. Anne never ate in public because she said it was awkward to try to hold a conversation with one's mouth full, except she knew she wouldn't even eat in her own company. Or she tried not to. The trouble, she decided, with anorexics like herself was that they didn't have enough motivation for discipline. Anne felt for sure if she had a boyfriend she's be ten pounds less, maybe fifteen.

Mona and Natalie's specific conversation evaded her, but she watched their mouths - their consuming mouths. Mona was infuriating. She weighed less than Anne and was even a little taller, but Anne blamed her falling short to her damaged metabolism. She secretly hoped Mona would have lots of kids and lose her impossible stick frame.

Natalie was by no means fat, but she weighed the most of the group. She had a lovely baby face with on dimple on her left cheek when she smiled hard. Oh, and how Anne coveted those pouty lips!

With an unconscious scowl, Anne took a gulp of her Diet DrPepper.

"What's wrong with you?" Natalie asks. Stupid bitch has been starving herself all day. As soon as she gets home she's binge. Anne shrugs.

Natalie nibbles on the last chicken nugget tasting each grain of flaky, oily crust as it rolls on her raw tongue. Next time she'd taste it, the pleasure would be gone and an acid tinge would linger.

Give it 3 more minutes. She chatted with Mona, who she didn't really hate, and since Anne was sulking, there wasn't much of a choice.

Natalie had been sick long before Anne began acting strange. She felt rather guilty for subconsciously influencing Anne, but not enough to say anything. Besides, these things weren't talked about, especially around the unaffected Mona. It was Anne's fault for being receptive to Natalie's negativity, but there would be real blame to be placed if Mona changed because they talked about it. So she kept quiet.

Natalie excused herself to the bathroom. Thank God she didn't have to wait long for the bathroom to empty. There were two stalls and the only occupant besides herself was an elderly woman with her grandchild in tow. Neither washed their hands. Natalie couldn't squat in the tiny stall or she'd push the door open with her butt. She opted for standing. Sticking her index finger down her throat, gagging several times but with no hope. A cold sweat started on the back of her neck. Calm down. She swept the room for a longer object to use instead of her finger. There was a clear-cased pen without a cap lying next to the trashcan. She picked it up and washed it off hurriedly. Someone would walk in any second and she's have to wait, the food would digest a little more, and she be a little fatter. Using the pen for her trigger, Natalie gagged before producing. She braced herself on the cool plastic surface of the sink once she finished. Her hands were shaking as they always did, but she washed her mouth anyhow with them. Better. Empty.

Mona drummed her fingers lightly on the table. Natalie had been gone for nearly seven minutes now. Anne was going to notice. Damn, that girl better hurry up. Mona, the sick veteran, had never allowed herself to become bulimic. She wouldn't risk her precious metabolism even when she had that big binge a month ago during Christmas break.

"Ready?" Mona asked quickly when Natalie returned with her face slightly flushed.

"Yeah," Anne took the last swallow of her Diet DrPepper.

Visit the author's site at: http://i.am/TheChildEmpress

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