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Winner of Echo story comp: week 4

This week’s winner of The Echo‘s ‘Not COVID-19’ short story competition is Prue Clark for her short story The Fridge.

This week I wrote my soapbox on the lack of bigger women in high profile positions in the public domain. I looked at the media’s fascination with Adele’s weight loss and talk about why we need a body positive movement to push diversity – so being the champion of bigger girls isn’t left to one woman alone!

I’ve had some interesting responses with some not understanding why that would be important. One commenter asked why we need body positive women anyway. Many asked why ‘weight’ is a conversation. Sadly, it is because more and more women and young girls suffer from body dysmorphia and eating disorders.

This week’s winner has written a hard hitting piece that takes you inside the mind of a woman who has an eating disorder. It’s disturbing and powerful, and a reminder how obsession with weight is not just part of the dominant narrative, for many it’s an illness. It’s a reminder that yes, we do need to change the narrative around how we see women and what it means to be ‘beautiful’.

Please keep sending those stories through and we’ll have a new $50 winner for you next week too!

The main rule is the story has nothing to do with COVID-19. It can be no more than 800 words in length and there will be a $50 cash prize every week for six weeks!

Email your entries to: [email protected] by 11.59pm every Tuesday for inclusion. Please include your full name, address, and phone number.

More and more women and young girls suffer from body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Photo Pixabay.

This week’s winning story – The Fridge

The Bathroom

Awake.

Eyes snap open. Blinking eyelashes rasp against the pillow.

Hungry.

Wail of a morning train. Is it mourning?

Taste of wine in the mouth. Heavy tongue.

Salty.

Hum of the fridge.

The bloody fridge.

 

‘Why bother with it,’ she thinks.

To appear normal? As a test of strength? For company?

 

She can visualise its’ every detail, like a mother able to visualise every detail of a newborn.

 

Exterior:

Seven alphabet letter magnets salvaged from a garage sale for no apparent reason.

V,A,K,N,F,C,U. Always jumbled on the door, never spelling nor seeking the truth.

A Harvey Norman calendar, never glanced at.

Chipped enamel on the left hand bottom corner, a huge gaping stainless steel scar underneath the cheap white veneer. An accident from when it was last moved.

The dirt-ingrained door seal, slightly peeling away, yet still closing when forced.

Or taped.

 

Interior: Her favourite.

Cold, sterile, hospital white walls. Empty.

Vague vanilla scent.

Stainless steel racks. Three. Empty.

The misted, smoky coloured crisper compartment, emanating a clean plastic smell.

Empty.

Curved condiment shelves.

Empty.

The glaring light demanding answers with every opening of the door.

The icicle clad freezer, hungry for more than cubes of ice and frozen mince.

Lean, of course.

 

Sighing, she shuts the image of the fridge from her mind.

Get up.

Legs swing out of bed. Torso follows like a disjointed eel.

For a moment, hunger envelops all senses.

She forgets who and where she is, her purpose, her pain.

Her stomach is a tyrannical dictator in a never-ending battle with her mind and the ferocious guilt she constantly harbours.

 

Averting her eyes to the ground, she dashes to the haven of the bathroom and its spotless, mirror-less sanctuary. Locks the door. Breathes deeply. Ahhh.

 

Piping hot, cleansing water.

Drinks greedily.

Washes away goose pimples on pale, yellowish, almost grey skin.

Jutting shoulder blades, prominent hipbones.

Long, gaunt neck, thick blue veins acting as constant in-built drips of blood filled nutrition.

Paper flat stomach. Sinewy muscle. Skeletal toes.

Yet fat.

 

Dry off.

The weigh in.

Not good enough.

Too much water consumed in the shower perhaps?

Does skin weigh anything?

 

A laxative, or five, to get through the day.

Cosmetics to disguise the fragility of the eyes, the jaundiced skin hungry for vitamins, yet denied.

Lank hair vigorously brushed and pulled up and away to disguise its’ lifelessness.

 

Concentration on being beautiful disrupted by a surge of overwhelming guilt.

Flashback of the previous night’s glass of wine after work.

The salty cashews on the bar.

Consumed, hungrily.

Disgusting.

She can feel the fat coursing through her blood, depositing itself on her thighs, stomach, and chin.

Fuck.

Reaches for the toilet, Her saviour.

Flips the seat. Kneels down.

Fingers probe the back of the throat, searching.

For what?

 

Will need to take more laxatives as there they float now, one, two, three, four, and yes, five.

Tentatively unlocks bathroom door. The empty house looms before her. Scared to leave the safety of the clean, white walls and familiar porcelain.

Closes door.

 

Hum of fridge, deafening.

Forget the fucking fridge.

Hungry= Fat. Hungry=Fat. Hungry= Fat. Hungry=Fat. Hungry= Fat. Hungry=Fat.

Focus.

Breathe.

Locks bathroom door.

Another laxative for good measure.

200 crunches and squats. 150 push ups.

Need to leave. Opens door. Closes it. Lock. Opens door. Closes it. Lock.

Leans against the cool tiled wall. The stillness and calm of the bathroom caress her. Go.

Unlocks door.

 

Hurriedly dressing in billowing skirts and oversized blouses.

Her disguise.

Beautiful breasts long since diminished in the quest to be thin.

‘Deposits of fat’ she was told.

The image stuck.

They were among the first victims.

Closely followed by curved stomach, soft skin, rosy complexion and voluminous hair.

 

Glass of water.

Fridge. Glaring.

Turn the fucking thing off.

 

Yellow Post-It note, address and number screaming at her.

Echoes of the concerned and pleading, yet frustrated tone of her mother’s voice, resound.

10am, 14 Hurst Street, Red Hill, April 18.

Doctor Bodetti.

‘For us.’

‘Please.’ ‘It’s time you got over this.’ ‘You’re killing us.’

 

What about me?

 

A chance to escape the prison sentence she calls life.

To escape the unbreakable cycle of purging, starvation, depression and guilt.

To make amends with the fridge undergoing a kind of domestic abuse, starved of any purpose and the toilet, a victim of sodomy.

 

Unlocks front door.

Breathes.

Outside.

Health and obesity crouching in wait on every street corner.

Food everywhere.

She can smell all the vapours in the air, mouth-watering displays and advertisements in shop windows.

Eat this.

Fresh bread, pastries, eggs with every turn.

Two for One.

Free before 10am.

Oh God. Think. Breathe. Focus.

I want to be in my bathroom. I want to be in my bathroom.

The toilet, the tiles, the toilet, the tiles, the toilet, the tiles, the toilet, the tiles.

Cashews.

 

Cafes spilling onto the street, people consuming grilled tomatoes, buttery mushrooms, smoked salmon, crusty sourdough, coffee, and bacon.

Why is bacon the first thing vegetarians eat?

The smell makes people crazy, she thinks.

Am I crazy?

 

Discipline. Breathe. Think of the bathroom, the cool tiles.

Cashews are full of fat.

It never leaves.

It grows.

And grows and grows and grows and grows and grows and grows.

Lantana of the soul.

 

Brisk pace.

Bones throb with every step.

Satisfying.

Her clothes flap in the breeze like a protective parachute.

Satisfying.

She taps a melody on her ribs.

Runs her finger down the side of her shirt. Counts them. At least five.

Satisfying.

 

Necks turn. People gape. Heads shake. Mutterings behind cupped hands.

Truth never spoken aloud.

Sympathetic smiles.

Never help.

‘I’m beautiful.’ She says.

‘Jealousy is a terrible thing.’ She says.

 

10am.

14 Hurst Street, Red Hill.

Gold plaque signals the address. Fern leaves cover part of it. She wishes she were in the cover of her bathroom.

CTOR Wally Bodetti.

B.A: blah fucking blah.

 

Help=fat. They will make you eat. Help=fat. They will make you eat. Help=fat.

Musical ribs. Cashews. Non-touching thighs. Cashews. Fridge. Prominent cheekbones. Hungry. Cashews. Skin and muscle. Toilet. Tiles. Turning heads. Cold. Cashews. Scared. Tap ribs. Melodic. Strong. Discipline. Fat. Fridge. Toilet.

FAT. FAT. FAT. FAT.

I hate myself. I am beautiful, right?

YES NO YES NO YES NO YES NO YES NO YES NO YES YES YES.

 

Control. Breathe.

Go.

Brisk pace. Leave.

Discard Post-It note as one discards an afterthought.

Sorry.

Guilt wavers like a spider web in the wind.

Passes.

I don’t need help. I can do this on my own, my way.

Will get rid of the fridge.

 

Home.

Bathroom. Light on. Locks door. Flips toilet seat, kneels.



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One response to “Winner of Echo story comp: week 4”

  1. Very evocative piece. A glimpse into the mental processes of that suffering soul. Such grief for her loved ones. Hope she conquers her demons.

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