title: spill it's blood
summary: and we'll dance my dance. the dance of the beast / jade wants to be a wintergirl
a/n: obviously, this story is based on Laurie Halse Anderson's "Wintergirls" asdfghj. If you have yet to read that, then you should really go die because your life has no meaning. Kidding! But seriously, that book changed my life. It was one of the most beautiful books I've ever read and Lia's struggle is just so utterly heartbreaking and Jennifer is a crazy mofo bitch I just wanted to strangle her with my bare hands and-
In case you couldn't already tell, I tend to ramble :)
So I used some of Laurie Halse Anderson's writing techniques, with the calorie lists and the strikethroughs. My fiction!Jade is very much like Lia, not in personality, but with her weight struggle. Also- there's no "Cassie" character in the story. There's no death- it's just about the anorexia.
And the summary/title is from Lord of the Flies, another AMAZING book. It's a classic :D by William Golding. We just did a performance of it at my school and after hearing ("And we'll dance. We'll dance MY dance." "Why is everything never good enough for you! Why aren't you happy unless you're thinking of the things to do?" "Because… Because I killed the pig, okay?") about 1985906t0948 times I began thinking about the "beast" and how it could be so many different things if they hadn't happened to be on an island, like drug addictions or eating disorders, etc.
Ah, wtf, SHUT UP LAYLA. Anyway, enjoy!
Jade likes winter best.
Maybe its because of Christmas cheer, and the smell of eggnog and gingerbread cookies. Maybe it's her boyfriend's childish, yet cheerful attitude that's brought in with the cold. It could be the presents, or the plump roast beef and gravy. It could be all of that.
Or maybe it's the way knitted sweaters and puffy ski jackets hide sharp rib bones and pronounced hips that jut against the waistband of her jeans. Maybe it's the fact that amiss all of the cheer and joy and cookies, nobody notices when she slips her dinner into the trash.
"Really good, thanks, Dad." A pause. A disdainful, skeptical glance. He knows. He knows. Should've eaten it in front of him, should have shoveled forkfuls of mashed potatoes in and chewed until the flavor went away, waited until the rooms cleared out and everyone was asleep and nobody could hear her retching and-
(not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse)
Winter fades, along with her excuses. She's getting better, really, she is.
The scale drifts lazily up to a hundred and one, wobbles down to ninety nine, and makes it's final move to ninety seven.
Her mother, perched on the edge of the bathtub, watches Jade.
"I'll try harder." Jade promises, voice devoid of emotion. "Okay?" Her mother keeps her eyes locked on the floor, at the alternating tiles
white rose, white swan
black sheep, black heart
-and nods slowly, knots of unwashed hair falling to her chest. Jade blinks once (maybe if she closes her eyes it will all go away and she'll be a perfect zero with skinny thighs and slim arms and all this fatfatfat will disappear) before leaving.
In her room, she does fifty four crunches, grimacing against the sweet, savory pain in her abdomen.
(an apple + a diet soda + a plain bagel with nothing = 260 calories)
(a grapefruit and a vitamin = 100 calories)
Today's total = 360 calories.
Jade smiles lightly, pausing to brush a strand of sweat soaked hair from her clammy forehead.
360 calories. Almost there. Keep this up and she'll finally be eighty five.
Eighty five with envious glares and admiring stares. Jade briefly wonders how much Tori is (less than ninety seven, surely. how does she look skinnier, though? prettier?), but shakes the thought from her mind and lifts her body up again.
Beck's fingertips ghost over her bellybutton. The skin there is sticky, fine hairs damp because fuck the only (and she means only) thing that makes Jade sweat is sex.
The energy has been sucked from her lips, body drained. Her shoulders slump against Beck's broad chest as he continues tracing patterns on her waxy skin.
He frowns, and she sees in his eyes what she saw in her parents.
He sucks his cheeks in, before burying his face in her neck.
"Jade..." He breathes a lullaby, a mantra, across her flesh. He writes unspoken concerns with permanent Beck-marker on her flat chest and flat (but still not flat enough) stomach. "You're so skinny." Beck's voice is earnest, sincere. Enough to make her want to melt into his arms. But his words keep her inches away from his embrace, always apart, always alone.
"No." She says softly, but her tone edges onto a poisonous hiss. "I'm not."
It's when something wet drops onto her pale shoulder that she realizes he's crying. His body shakes, and at their close proximity, Jade can feel his muscles coiled up tight, stiff. Hesitantly, she wraps her stick thin arms around his frame.
She's never had to be strong for him before.
"God... Jade, I could fucking break you. You're like a piece of... fucking china." She wants to snap at him, but her voice is lodged deep in her throat and his eyes are still bloodshot and puffy.
"I'm fine. I'm healthy." Jade says, eyes darting fervently around the room. Pleaseohplease just don't let me meet his gaze.
"Who are you trying to convince?" He asks, drying his eyes on the hem of his shirt. "Me, or you?"
Her eyes widen momentarily before they flutter close.
A few seconds later, she opens them, trying to burn holes into his skull, but her sharp blue eyes are dull and lifeless and all she can manage is a blank stare.
"Shut up." Jade whispers. Beck says something, but the steady rush of blood behind her temple drowns out his words.
"I love you." He whispers into her cinnamon scented hair. It's a horrible, fake smell that makes her lips twitch in disgust, but Beck loves it so she continues to scrub the shampoo deep into her roots, tries to scrub away the dirt and the grime and the fat.
The air stills, Los Angeles heat curling under Beck's doorframe. She blinks. Once, twice.
"I know." The words come out twisted and rough, jagged at the edges and not at all how she intended.
Beck's fingers pick up movement again, nails raking down her sides and her thighs.
"Shouldn't that be enough?" His voice hitches from the crying he's been doing, and Jade cringes at the tone of desperation that hugs his words.
"It should." She says directly, meeting his chocolate brown eyes."But it's not."
Jade can feel his eyebrows furrow as he smashes his face into her shoulder, cold lips dusting her skin.
"I want to help you." Beck says, after a moment of silence.
They all want to fucking help, don't they? Her mother wanted to help her get skinny, now everytime the hands on the scale dip lower and lower, her mother draws another cigarette from the package and clinks the top off another bottle of beer. Her father wanted to help her stay sane, now everytime he's pressing pills down her throat and holding her jaw tight so she swallows them (one long and white, one short and red, two perfectly circular and blue) another tear leaks out from his eyes and mars his perfect portrait family. Cat wanted to make her happy, now everytime she sees jutting bone or a yellow complexion, she throws her candy into the trash can.
Maybe Cat wants to be a wintergirl, too. Wintergirls with sickly structures and paper thin skin and everything just wrong. They could be a band of angels, Cat and Jade, two lovely, skinny wintergirls with ice thrones and wilted daisy chain crowns. They could be skinniest, better, best.
But Beck doesn't fit in. He shouldn't have to deal with her baggage, the Jade-monster that lurks under her cheekbones and retreats to the very back of her eyesockets, waiting for the next vulnerable moment when it can strike.
When the Jade-monster strikes, it's all work work work and insults and .skinnier.
Her legs still pound from her last visit from the Jade-monster. Five hours straight on a Stair Master, until her vision swam and the air escaped her head and she woke up in a sterile, safe, white room. Except, no, there were wires and tubes pouring food through her veins. Calcium, pottasium, electrolytes, health, fat. She buttered up and swelled like a balloon to one hundred and thirteen. Disgust rippled through the Jade-monster. She was very disappointed. /do you know how long it took me to get you down to ninety two, you fat slug?/ I'm very sorry. Three hundred crunches, ninety minutes on the Stair Master and two laxatives later, Jade felt a little better.
Empty is good. Empty is skinny. Jade will keep spaghetti and bread and sweets from sliding down her throat and expanding her stomach and-
(but she's still so fat).
She pretends to fall asleep, forcing a sort of half snore from her mouth. Beck brushes hair away from her forehead and presses his lips against her temple.
so skinny, he whispers against her skin.
The smell curls up into Jade's nose, twisting her taste buds until she can't concentrate on anything except those lovely, lovely chocolate chip cookies, warm from the oven and sitting on a red plate. She could eat a quarter (25) or a half (50) if she works it off on the treadmill for an hour. She could pick out the chocolate chips and just eat those, but then she'd want more more more, and the plate would vanish below her eyes.
Jade's mom stares into her eyes, not breaking to blink. Jade returns the glare, keeping her mouth pressed shut and her jaw wired together.
"Eat it, Jadelyn." Jade's eyes drift down to the plate of cookies (just one, please, just one) and back up.
"I'm not hungry." Her mother's mouth twists up into a sneer, a flash of white teeth poking out behind rosy pink lips.
"That's a lie." She snarls. Jade slides her tongue against the roof of her mouth, back and forth and back and forth and-
of course it's a lie. you haven't eaten in one two three days.
"No. I had pizza at Beck's."
Mrs. West's eyes narrow, glinting when a slab of moonlight falls into the room and across her face.
"Fine. Go to your room." She orders indifferently, returning to the piles of paperwork lying in front of her.
Jade waits a second. Something inside her wants her mother to scream, to tell her she needs to eat, to force food down her mouth, Jade wants to swallow the cookies, wants them to hop off the plate and cram themselves down her throat.
She picks one up between her thumb and index finger. Chocolate bleeds onto her skin, staining it with sugar and calories. Jade brings it up to her lips, parts them, bares her teeth and-
she drops the cookie on the table and flees the room.
The doorbell chimes the arrival of Jade's new therapist. She sits in her bedroom, closes her phone on a text from Beck. The creak of her door alerts her that her father has opened the door, greeted him.
She waits on her bed, curling her toes over her bedsheets. They usually come upstairs. Jade flips the top of her phone up and down, up and down. One minute. Two minutes. Three minutes. Her eyebrows furrow into a 'V', and she pushes up onto her feet, twisting the cold doorknob until her door pops open. She stands in the doorframe, leaning a bit on the balls of her feet before plopping back on her heels and taking a tentative step towards her staircase.
Jade walks her fingers down the banister, like a little person traveling down her stairs. She reaches the landing, and strains her ear to listen to her new therapist and her father.
"-Hasn't been eating. I'm worried that maybe she's slipping-"
"-Deep psychological issues, triggered by her mother?"
"Jade." Her father spots her, pressed against the wall. "Jade, this is Doctor Schwartz." Jade peers at him indifferently, her natural stoic expression settling into place on her features.
"Call me Ben." He grins, winks at her, extending a hand. She licks her lips and pushes her shoulders back.
"No, thanks." Ben Doctor Schwartz bites his lip and cocks his head at her.
"Alright. Mr. West, if you could let me speak to Jadelyn alone?" Mr. West nods and grunts, before leaving the two of them in her family room. She takes a seat on the leather couch, and it squeaks underneath her weight.
"It's Jade." She says, voice empty. "People call me Jade."
"Until you call me Ben, I'll call you Jadelyn." Jade frowns at him, like, who the fuck does he think he is, trying to make deals with her?, then, she settles back further onto the couch.
She glares at him for a second longer, then cracks a half smirk.
"Right. Jade, I'm going to be blunt with you." She watches him shift forward, putting his palms on her coffee table. "If you continue to loose weight, you'll be institutionalized again. Your father has told me some previous… accounts of your time in Merrywood. And I don't want to put you back in there, but if you even drop one pound below one-oh-five, you'll be sent straight to San Francisco. Do you hear me?"
Jade can't help but think that this isn't really therapy- it's more of an intervention.
"Okay." She replies indifferently. A muscle in Ben's jaw pulses as he clenches his teeth together.
"Okay? I'm going to be getting reports on your weight, and I want them accurate. Have a good day, Jade."
institutionalized, crazy people, straight jackets, syringes, mental hospital, clinic.
A spring breeze lifts her hair off her shoulders, and sends it curling over her back. Beck's arm feels too heavy, too hot over her body. The fork lying discarded in front of her has a leaf of iceberg lettuce speared onto it, but she has yet to eat it. Cat carefully, precisely, unfolds the shiny red wrapper of her cherry sucker. She holds the now-bare candy in one palm, glances at it, then outstretches her palm to Jade.
"Do you want it?" She asks innocently, a smile tugging up her painted lips. Jade shakes her head once, and the day is supposed to continue on but-
"C'mon, Jade, just take the candy. Cat was nice enough to offer it." André frowns at her, and she swallows hard against the urges of her begging tastebuds.
One cherry candy (37), she could work it off after she gets home; 15 pushups, 35 crunches. That will burn the candy and an eighth of her lunch. If she works 25 minutes on the StairMaster, then she could burn the candy and a quarter of her lunch, but she just doesn't have the energy so step up and up and up the never ending stairs. Doesn't have the energy to bring her upper body up and down, up and down, up and down.
"No. I don't want it." Jade leers at André, daring him to challenge her.
"What's the big deal?" Beck turns his head to her, worry creasing the oh-so-smooth texture of his face. "It's just a piece of candy. If Jade doesn't want it, don't make her eat it." He says that, but she can tell he's waiting on bated breath for her to take the sucker from Cat's hand and pop it down her throat. Fat chance.
"I just don't want the fucking candy, okay?" Jade locks eyes with everyone at the table- first Beck, then Tori, André, Cat and Robbie. They all stare down at their food. Tori picks up her (gross, calorie filled, grease-dripping, oily) pizza and takes a bite. Jade grabs her salad and her bag, walking towards the main building.
"Don't follow me." She orders, in response to the footsteps echoing after her.
(she leaves her salad in the trashcan, lettuce strewn across the remains of other student's lunches- fossil remains for dinosaurs)
Jade slips the thin, ratty purple bathrobe over her shoulders, tightening the strings until they cut into her stomach. She adjusts the pockets, so the gram weights she's put in there don't bulk up and give her away. Jade follows the steady drip of her bathroom faucet, and crosses the threshold that separates wood paneled floor from white porcelain tiles. Her mother has already taken her usual perch, shoulders slumped over the rug, edge of her butt on the corner of the clawed bathtub. Mrs. West doesn't meet Jade's eyes, keeping her gaze locked on the fluffy blue towels. A cigarette dangles between her lips, a glass ashtray at her side. With some disdain, she motions for Jade to get on the scale.
She does, and mercifully, the little red hand tickticktick's it's way up to one-ten. Her mother measures her carefully, eyes running down the knots at the top of her spine, exposed by Jade having her dark hair piled on top of her head in a bun.
"Take your bathrobe off." She orders. Jade presses her tongue against the roof of her mouth. nonononononononono.
"No." She says, and turns to leave, but Mrs. West grabs her arm fiercely, nails digging into her pale skin. The ice in her mother's eyes chills her from within, frosting her chest. She lets go of Jade's arm only to grab her two wrists and pin them above her head. With her free hand, Mrs. West manages to undo the tight knots Jade's put in her bathrobe. She pushes it down Jade's body and forces her, in her underwear, onto the scale.
Jade cringes as the red mark dips lower, past her magic one-oh-five, and past even one hundred. She meets her mother's eyes, red rimmed and puffy. They shine with tears, and eyeliner begins to pool in ugly, staining circles around her lower lids.
"I'll call Doctor Schwartz." Mrs. West says quietly, voice hitching. She leaves the room and locks the door behind her.
Jade waits until her mother's footsteps fade to bring her fist back and hit the mirror. It shatters onto the floor. Slivers of moonlight streaming through the window catch the reflective glass and illuminate it. The pieces shine onto Jade's face, lighting up her profile. She takes a piece and wraps her already-bloodstained fingers around it. Jade kisses the cuts on her knuckle and presses the edge onto the curve of her stomach. She doesn't break the skin, at least not at first, but when she pushes harder, it splits like satin, exposing a red mass. The white satin was just a coverup - a protective layer- for the rusty blood underneath. Jade carves a squiggle, then five more, until it finally looks how she wants.
She hopes, when they find her, that they'll clear up the blood enough to expose her carefully drawn scars. She hopes that Beck, and Cat, and all the others will understand and get her message. She hopes that dying is easier than living.
Death is kind of a funny thing. It's a half-way state, fuzzy and blurred around the edges. It's like you need glasses, but you don't have them on. And no matter how hard you squint, the words just don't sharpen and click into focus. It's serene, calm. Death, Jade finds, is her own little perfection. Tori and Cat had their beauty, their perfect weight, their lives as perfection. Jade has death. Silent, and worry free.
"-did you hear?"
"-they said it was one word."
"carved across her arm!"