Last night, while relaxing in the kitchen with my family and a big glass of wine and getting dinner sorted, my mother poked my thigh and said, Honey, are you sure you don't want to go to the doctor and see if you have a parasite?
Everyone stopped talking (it's sort of a conversation killer), and looked at me. I laughed, half embarrassed and half angry. Why, mother, do you think I have a parasite?
I already knew the answer but I wanted to provoke her.
I think you've lost weight, honey, and besides, didn't you say you drank out of animal troughs in Switzerland?
Yeah, but it was like once, and that was two years ago...
My sister leaned in then too and said, Yeah, I think you're more skinny than ever.
I looked down at myself. I hadn't thought much about it lately.
What do you weigh? My mother continued to pry.
I don't know. I don't own a scale. I think it's unhealthy.
Well, I want you to weigh yourself sometime this week.
Thankfully my father jumped in with, Oh, just leave her alone. She is fine.
And then I said, Yeah, it's not like I was fat and then I all the sudden became skinny. I've always been skinny. I feel fine. If I felt sick, I would go see a doctor.
But having a parasite can lead to all kinds of things, like colitis...
-Mom. Stop it. I don't have a parasite.
But ever since then, I have been conscious of my bones sticking out of my skin, and when I rub the back of my neck I feel my spine. When my friend Sean was massaging me the other day he kept commenting on how he could count my ribs through my shoulder blades, but he said he liked it. And later that night he told me he loved me, but that is an awkward story for another time. My legs and stomach feel normal, but my shoulders do feel fragile and small. Maybe it's because I've been spending all my days inside studying for finals, but I feel like I'm becoming more transparent and unattached to the ground then ever. Half of me seems lost inside another world, not a physical one, but near this one. I don't know.
Maybe it comes from too much reading, I don't know. My mother also said she didn't want to buy me the book on my Christmas list (The Bell Jar) because it was about a woman's descent into madness. Maybe she can sense that sometimes I feel too close to the edge of some precipice, and that it would just be easier if I threw myself off it. What glorious things would I see in the abyss? What beautiful, unworldly things would I see?
Sometimes when I'm feeling extra thin, and half gone, it's these things that I think I see in that other world, in my dreams, the one where there the rest of me is. It's not a parasite that's devouring me, mother and sister and Sean and you random strangers who come up to me and praise me for my slenderness (how sick is that?), it's not a worm or a disease or a mental illness. I can't change it as much as I can change my height. It's because half of me is missing. Half of me is somewhere else, not here. Sometimes I can almost believe that I can see right through my skin. If you held me up to the light, I would glow redly and warmly, and you would be able to vaguely perceive shapes moving about on the other side.