(CN: eating disorders, violence)

There was a girl and there was a room. She had been in the room for as long as she could remember, and although she supposed she could get out she also supposed that she didn’t want to. The room was large and full of very entertaining, beautiful things. In one corner was a large thick pile of glossy reading material, in the other was a heavy set wardrobe laden with beautiful clothes. The wardrobe was self selecting so that the girl never had to worry about being respectfully presentable. The girl was visited by many people but primarily by one man.

The man wore many faces and she never knew which one he would be entering with. Sometimes he wore a kind face that would smile at her when she told him about her dreams, a smile that you could give a child asking for something sweet when you know that they won’t be getting it. Sometimes he wore a wrinkled frown, particularly when talking about other girls, nasty girls who did nasty things that were wrong and bad, things that no respectable girl like her would do. Sometimes he wore a face that looked like what one would imagine a thundercloud would, those were the worst days. On these days he would scream words that sounded like knives ripping from his mouth, he would tear up her glossy books and throw her clothes out of the window. On these days he would often add another lock to her door in order to keep her safe.

Some days, he brought visitors, so she never was starved for company. His friends were men and women and they all looked the same, like they were floating through a dream. They wore expensive silks and ecstasy smiles. They sat down with her and told her about the outside, about how some countries and languages and skin tones were better than others, about how people chose their own fates according to their decisions and about how there were sacrifices that one had to make for world peace. When they were together, sometimes they made visits together with the man, when they talked about world peace they would laugh a big cotton candy laugh and their ecstasy smiles would melt into a pool at her feet. The pool would linger there for days, she would step gingerly around it.

The man said that when they gave her advice, she should take it because their advice was called ‘rationality.’ They gave her lots of rationality- they told her that because she was a girl she couldn’t wear certain clothes or act a certain way, they told her whom she should love, they told her how she could sell her time in a respectable way. They would nod at her with empty eyes and say that if she wanted to be successful then these were the rules. Success, they said, was like the smug golden look on your face when sunshine hits it and you breathe it in deeply. She had never seen sunshine herself, so of course, she had to believe it.

As she grew older, the man started to lay out ‘magazines.’ The girls in the magazines looked out at her, doe eyed and expecting. They were mostly pale, very thin. He told her that outside, girls are expected to look a certain way. Empty eyed, he told her it was a rule. He gave her pills that never made her feel hungry and sometimes pills that made her sick. He started to send her films. She did not understand what was happening in the films but when she looked in her mirror she saw a certain worn down numbness that was reflected in the women’s faces in the films that the man had picked out for her.

One day, the maid who came in and cleaned her room (the man said the maid was not respectable at all) left her window open and stole out of the room hurriedly. She ran over to it, breathing heavily on the pane she had never seen beyond, and leant out. She saw thousands of rooms, latticed together like a hive she had seen in her natural history book. It was cold and a breeze shifted on her face. She was hungry for that breeze. In the distance, she saw a flash of green.

That night, the man came into the room as he did every night. He leant over to kiss her forehead. The girl took her fist out from under the bed covers, she held a sharpened piece of mirror glass. It was all over quickly. She walked out of the recently opened door wearing a thick sticky coat of his blood. She found no security outside, they thought that their dolls in the rooms were so placid that there was no need. She made her way outside, wading her way through the sticky walls of her mind as she did, unpacking all that she had been told. The wind wiped her clean and her brain shut down the recent memory of a stabbed jugular, just like it has been programmed to do for us all.

She found the tree, it looked older than the ones in her books. It did not look bad or good or right or wrong, it just was. She lay down under it, buried herself in the earth, and slept.


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