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DESTROYING BRIDGES, ERECTING WALLS
by Rhea Psereckis
Sorry? Did you say something? I wasnít really listening. I look tired? Yeah I am a little. Oh, my day went well; we had great weather. I won the 1500m race and my schoolhouse won overall. Proud? God, it was only an athletics carnival; it wasnít big or anything. I already told you, Iím fine, just a little tired, thatís all. Fainted? Who told you that? A teacher? Which teacher? Well, she didnít know anything. I didnít really faint; I felt dizzy and a bit weak so they sat me down for a while. Nothing major. Why? I donít know why. No, I didnít push myself too hard. Yes, Iím fine now. Of course I ate lunch! I had an apple and the salad I prepared this morning. Yes it was enough; it wasnít like I was still hungry afterwards. Why? I did so eat breakfast! I had my usual: half an apple cut up with half a cup of plain yoghurt, like always. I donít know why youíre making such an issue out of this, I just felt dizzy, but they made a big fuss about it. Iím fine now.
The semi-final is on the twelfth; Iím going to be third speaker. I donít know. I havenít really had time to think about being nervous or not. Amy and Meg are debating with me. Theyíre good speakers. They are, I just hate the way they get their mothers to write their speeches for them. They do! Youíd think by now theyíd have learnt to write their own debates. No, Iím not worried about their speeches being more mature than mine, but if they donít write their own speeches, then they arenít going to know their argument as well, so they wonít be as convincing when they read their debate. No, Iím not going to say anything. Theyíre still my friends; besides it will be on their heads if we lose because they donít know their debates well enough. Do I think weíll win? I donít know! Itís not like I can see into the future or anything. Iíd prefer not to think about it. Can I turn on the radio? Iím just sick of talking. Iím tired, Iíve had long day, thatís all.
A repeat of the last debate? Whatís that meant to mean? So, I got a little stressed at the last debate. I had good reason to be stressed. The other team was so threatening! They sat there, making faces at our team and coughing ever-so-loudly just when we were making our most important points and to top it all off, the judge was a relative of one of their speakers! My team wasnít ready either, and I completely screwed up my debate. I did! That whole last part was made up and didnít make any sense what-so-ever and now we are going to come up against the same team in the semi-final. I just got so worked up, that was all. I had to let it all out. Iíll be fine this time, so long as I donít stuff my debate up again.
Stop what? Oh sorry, itís become a habit of mine. Iíve started chewing my cuticles. I donít mean to. I know; I bite my bottom lip too. Nervous of what? I donít chew my cuticles because Iím nervous, itís just one of those things. I do it unconsciously. Iím a little cold; do you mind if I turn the heater on? Oh, a cold wind blew through in the afternoon and it grew quite chilly. Thatís better. Just needed to warm myself up. Yeah, weird huh? My knuckles have started turning black from the cold, and it isnít even winter yet. Iím sure itís nothing serious. Circulation? I havenít really bothered myself about it. Low blood pressure? Why would I have low blood pressure? I told you, I eat perfectly well, that wouldnít be the reason.
Dinner at Kateís was nice; her Mum made my favourite, roast chicken, then apple pie for dessert. It was great. Oh, you rang Kateís Mum did you? How is she? Yes I did! I just wasnít feeling very hungry so I didnít eat much. Oh, it would have been more than a third. A quarter? Whatís the big deal anyway, I wasnít hungry. I just didnít want any. I didnít mean to insult her. I was very grateful that she had gone to all that trouble. I donít know why on earth theyíd be worried, thereís nothing wrong with me. I eat fine, Iím just cautious. I like to know that Iím eating healthy food. Is that a crime? I think Iím old enough now to decide what is good for me. I just have my own way of cooking and preparing food, and I like my way better than any one elseís.
What rumours? How would the primary school kids know what I eat for lunch? Oh come on; why should they admire me? Iím just a Year Ten student. They look up to me? How could they know me anyway? Assemblies? Oh, come on; no student concentrates that hard at assemblies! No, I havenít thrown my lunch out before. Their mothers are worried? Well, itís not my fault if their children throw their lunches out. I know Iíve won all those subject prizes and awards; I didnít ask for those certificates, and thatís no reason for a primary school kid to copy me. Okay, so Iíve thrown my lunch out once or twice; so what. I just wasnít hungry those days. I didnít ask those kids to copy me. Sorry? My God! Itís none of your business what I eat or do at school. So what if youíre my mother, I think Iím old enough to take care of myself and be responsible for my own actions.
Donít! What? I donít like being touched. I know youíre my Mother, but Iím just not a very huggable person Ė you should know that. I just donít like being touched, thatís all. Iím tense because Iím tired; how many times do I have to tell you that! Do you think you could allow me just five minutes of peace? Is it that difficult? I know youíve had a hard day too, I never said you hadnít, which is why I think five minutes of silence might do us both good.
A psychologist? What do you want me to see a psychologist for? Do you think Iím crazy or something? Thereís nothing on my mind; I donít need to talk to anybody, let alone a stranger. There is nothing wrong with me; I donít know what gives you the idea that there is. What! Iím not missing out on inter-schools just to talk. I just wonít go. You canít make me go and see this psychologist person. I have to run in the championships! Cut back my running? Iíve got to train Mum! Itís all I know! Why should I cut back running? You donít have to worry about me; Iím fine. Iíve told you a hundred times already. Just donít stop me from training. You canít, I have to run, because I have to stay fit. Everyone thinks I should slow down? What, has everyone been conspiring behind my back? They just donít want to see me succeed. You canít stop me from doing the one thing Iím good at. You canít.
I am looking at myself! I am happy with the way I look. (Maybe a couple of kilos lighter would be goodÖ) oops. I wasnít meant to say that out loud. Isnít every teenage girl conscious of their weight? Oh, around fifty kilos. Another five kilos would be good. Itís not a big issue. I know what Iím doing Mum, you donít have to worry about me, worry about yourself instead; you know you need to lose weight. Why? Iím just making sure that I donít grow fat. (I just donít want to ever be as fat as youÖ) oh nothing; I didnít say anything. I know itís highly unlikely, but Iím just being careful.
How do you know that? Have you been snooping through my room? How could you know that, unlessÖyouíve been talking to my friends behind my back, havenít you? How dare you! Theyíre my friends. I canít believe you! Talk about a violation of my trust! I violated your trust? How? By lying? What have I lied about? My friends donít know anything anyway. No they donít; they donít even talk to me anymore. I donít know what I did, but they just sort of drifted away, as if they canít stand to be associated with me any longer. Well, since the start of the year Amy has begun to hang around with Jess, and they donít even ask me to sit with them anymore. Iím not going to just go and sit with them; they canít even look me straight in the eye and I know they talk about me behind my back. I donít care; I donít need them anyway. They probably just told you lies to make me look bad. Theyíre jealous, thatís it. I donít need them. I just want to be left alone.
Excuse me? I just pigged out at Lisaís party and I felt sick so I vomited to make myself feel less bloated. Oh Mum it was once, itís not like it killed me. No, Iím not taking laxatives; I donít even know what laxatives do. How do I see myself? What kind of a dumb question is that? I donít really see myself as anything. I didnít know I was meant to think about myself like that. I donít know; Iím just average. My bones do not stick out! Youíre just looking for something that isnít there. Anorexia Nervosa? Donít be ridiculous! I donít have an eating disorder! Where did that come from? Iím just preventing myself from ever being fat. I just like to feel fit and healthy. I am so healthy! Hospital? Are you kidding me? So what, Iím crazy and sick? Well what do you expect me to think! I told you, Iím not anorexic! Why wonít you believe me?
My last period? I donít know; I donít keep track! I sípose four or five months ago, maybe more. Anorexics donít get their period? But Iíve been telling you the truth. I donít want to lie to you. Always cold? Iron deficiency? Always tired? What are you trying to say Mum? The truth? I canít, IÖI just; IÖI donít know. Ok. I fold. Iím forty-one kilos.
There. Are you satisfied now? Donít put me into hospital Mum. Thatís completely unnecessary. I donít need help. Iím not ready for help. (I havenít felt the full effects of it yetÖ) sorry! It wasnít meant to come out like that. Honesty? I have been honest, IíveÖI haveÖOh Mum. I donít think you really want the truth. I donít think you can handle itÖOk! Iím fat! Iím flabby, repulsive, bloated, chunky and revolting! I hate the idea of being fat! I canít stand being fat! Is that it? Is that what you wanted to hear? Are you satisfied?
Donít cry Mum, why are you crying? Die? Donít be stupid! I can stop myself whenever I like; Iím not ready to stop yet. You donít cry yourself to sleep with worry, you donít! Donít lie! Donít make me feel guilty Mum. Donít put the blame on me. Please. Itís not about being happy or not. I canít let myself get fat! Itís not your fault Mum! Itís no oneís fault. There is nothing to be at fault of! Iím sorry, Iím so sorry! Stop crying please!
I canít be the perfect daughter; I canít do it. Donít put me in hospital Mum! I can do it on my own. No, of course not. Of course I donít want to die.