Now, I know what some of you might be thinking. Why am I posting the first chapter to a new, multi-chapter story, when I already have one that I'm working on? The only answer I can give is I'm a writer and I have too many ideas constantly going on to only focus on one of them. If I had the skill to do one project at a time, that would be rather useful.
Since I was twelve I've struggled with an unhealthy relationship with both food and my body, and I'm using a lot of experiences with what happened to me to reflect what happened to Alfred in this. I'm still not doing well healthwise, as I mentioned in my author's notes on my other story Not All Villains Wear Capes, and I just went and got some blood drawn. And sadly, I found out that I am anemic. I'm still not processing that information well because, like Alfred, I never thought that what I did to myself and my body would cause harm. I thought that I was invincible to it. This is just proof that I'm not and I've been struggling a lot lately because of it.
Writing about this subject is a good way for me to cope, and much better than me resorting to my more negative coping mechanisms. So, while I work on my other story, I will also write this one.
I love you all! And I appreciate favorites and follows to my stories or to me as an author, but I also really love hearing feedback. Send me a PM or leave a review, if you would like. Again, I really appreciate it!
Alfred always thought of himself as a hero, an invincible force that could be reckoned with, abused, beaten down, and terrorized, but never fully destroyed. He thought that nothing he did would affect him, no one could hurt him.
When he was younger, Alfred told people he wanted to be an astronaut, a marine, a doctor, a professional wrestler, never able to choose one goal. Indecisive and confused he never accepted the idea of settling down and turning a job into a career. Then, as he grew up, his answers started to change. His personality started to change.
No longer hoping to become a wealthy, world-renowned scuba diver or a Revolutionary War reenactor, his goals changed. In honesty, he didn't care what grueling tasks he would have to go through to get paid and stay afloat in a society focused purely on the thickness of your wallet.
As long as Alfred was able to make people happy he would do anything.
Yes, Alfred knew that his own happiness should be taken into consideration, but he couldn't remember the last time he was able to stay with the emotion. Happiness to him didn't connect with pleasant memories or daydreams, but instead the smiles on other's faces and the joy in their voices.
Of course there were things that he did that did not make those around him happy. His weakness, his addiction, his only coping mechanism, was the only thing able to truly break Alfred. He just hadn't realized it before.
What caused Alfred to start restricting and skipping meals was now a mystery. It seemed that his demographics and how he was raised may have lined him up for an unhealthy relationship with food, but perhaps it was something different, a mutation in his DNA that he was born with, only making itself known at the ripe and ready age of twelve.
At first it was small. No more snacking, no more beverages with calories, cutting out "fattening" or "unhealthy" foods. Obsessively reading nutritional labels, going into the pantry every ten minutes just to look at the food before leaving empty-handed and repeating the cycle. Looking back it's hard to tell when that transitioned to not being able to pick up a six pound bowling ball and passing out in the bath late at night. His strength and his happiness withered away along with muscle, leaving bony wrists and bones protruding at painful levels.
On his fourteenth birthday Alfred was admitted into the mental health ward at his local hospital, later to be transferred into an inpatient eating disorder treatment center. Which was funny, to him at least, because the only presents he got for his birthday were a diagnosis of anorexia and a tube up his nose, shooting calories unwillingly into his fragile body.
Now, at sixteen, Alfred's life is going well. He has a boyfriend, decent grades, and a will to live, all three of which are difficult to keep in high school. And no, he doesn't restrict anymore, he's recovered and well and happy and healthy and fake.
But on the days where he doesn't feel like he can persist and wants to give up there is always someone there willing to pick up the pieces of his shattered mind, putting them back together with crazy glue, the only fitting adhesive for the job. Sometimes it's his brother Matthew, who will take him on walks and cook with him. Or his boyfriend, Arthur, who always knows the wrong thing to say in a bad situation but will stay by Alfred's side and continue to ramble about the strangest things until he is calm. And, on few occasions, the strange Finnish nurse, who is required to eat lunch with him at school, will buy him diet cokes, and ensures that the lollipops he provides are only of the sugar-free variety. He even saves the labels so that Alfred can check.
There are good days, there are bad days, and there are days where Alfred is so unaware about his surroundings he doubts the credibility of even recognizing them as days at all. But Alfred is weight restored, eating regular meals, and not exercising excessively, so he's at least doing well enough that has treatment team has disconnected from him and moved on to the next mentally ill adolescent.
And now, with an exhausted Arthur asleep next to him on his couch, Alfred's phone begins to blast an upbeat ringtone across the living room. Moving quickly he hops up to get it, noticing Arthur stirring, but luckily not waking up. Phone in hand he does not recognize the number, but answers anyways.
"Hello?" He whispers into the receiver, hoping that if he keeps quiet that he won't disturb Arthur.
"Hello, is there an Alfred Jones present?" A quiet voice replies, seemingly female.
"Uh, yes, that's me." Mumbling, he starts to feel anxious, and finds difficulty in staying in one spot instead of pacing around the room.
The woman on the other line clears her throat and her voice seems more warm and welcoming when she says, "Good afternoon Mr. Jones, my name is Lilly, I'm the new receptionist for your pediatrician. I wanted to remind you that you have a physical next Friday, nine days from now, scheduled at 4 P.M. Are you still able to attend or do you need to reschedule?"
Alfred swallows, and for a brief moment he hesitates. He could reschedule, and then when it comes up reschedule again, and keep rescheduling until they give up on him. Going to the doctor was not exactly a fun experience for him or those around him, the days leading up to any sort of appointment are stressful and often difficult to get through.
"Yeah, I'll make it. Thank you for reminding me." He doesn't realize what he says until the words have already left his mouth.
"Alright, that's great! I'll see you next Friday Alfred, and I look forward to meeting you!" She seems radiant, and before he can respond, the line has been dropped.
Alfred lowers his phone from his ear and looks at the screen, not sure what he's feeling, or how to identify his thoughts.
"Hey, what was that all about?"
Startled, Alfred jumps, looking straight at the hazy-eyed - but very much awake - Brit. "Oh, uh, it was nothing, just some stupid doctor's appointment coming up."
Almost immediately Arthur tenses, making an unpleased face. Alfred notices and is quick to respond.
"It's nothing big though, you know, just the whole semiannual check out thing."
Nodding, Arthur is still frowning, but brushes the subject off. "How long was I asleep?"
Looking back at his phone screen, Alfred replies, "About two hours, I think. Sorry if I woke you up."
"No, no, it's okay!" Arthur shoots back, standing up and stretching. "It's still rather rude of me to fall asleep at someone else's house after being invited, I suppose I'm not a very good guest."
Alfred laughs and shakes his head. "I don't care, the peace and quiet was nice, and you're really cute when you sleep.
Arthur's face heats up and he sputters, "Do not call me cute!"
"Fine, fine." Alfred shrugs. "You're very hot when you sleep. Attractive. Sexy. Dashing."
A dusting of red began to spread across from Arthur's cheeks to his ears, and he baffles.
After another twenty minutes of playful flirting and bickering, Arthur has to go, and Alfred gives him a drawn out goodbye kiss. When he hears the car pull out of his parking lot he waits a few minutes, peaking through the blinds to ensure that he is, in fact, alone.
He slowly walks to his brother's bathroom, squats down to get into the cabinet under the sink, and pulls out a flat, shiny piece of metal. Taking the scale with him he exits cautiously and hides it in his closet.
Before that doctor's appointment Alfred needs to lose just a few pounds.