Friday Fictioneers – The Wrong Shape

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Self Image 180711

PHOTO PROMPT © Liz Young

The Wrong Shape

I watch the slow, steady drip from the bag into the cannula in my arm.

I know what’s in it; saline and glucose in water. Calories. My counsellor told me before the nurse inserted the needle.

I struggle with fear; fear of being fat; fear of food.

(I could, so easily, turn off the dripping calories)

I used to lie about my exercise habit, my non-existent periods, my days without food.

(Turn off the drip)

I don’t want to see my family.

(Turn off the drip)

I watch the slow, steady drip. That’s my life.

I’m frightened. Hold my hand.

83 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – The Wrong Shape

  1. Dear Penny,

    Oh…ooooh…how well I relate to this. The fear of the calories, the helplessness to stop them. Fat is the greatest enemy of all. Health is terrifying for it means having to own up to things I don’t want to deal with. So well done in few words.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    PS Been there, done that. But, happily, no longer. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Sandra,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. The story is loosely based on experiences of a fellow blogger (not an FF aficionado!). She recovered, I’m delighted to say.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Loré
      Thank you for reading and commenting. As I understand it, realising we need help is very hard. But I believe that there are significant numbers of sufferers who don’t (or, more accurately, can’t) accept the help. There are too many cases which end fatally.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Josh
      Thank you for reading and for your nice words about the story. I’m glad your friend recovered. If I may, remember that recovery can be fragile. ‘Pretty’ is good; ‘thin’ really isn’t, I’m afraid.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Michael
      Thank you very much for reading and commenting so kindly. I hope it wasn’t too painful being taken back; it must be very difficult dealing with such tragic stories for real.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lish
      I’m really sorry to hear about your friend’s sister. It’s such a cruel illness, taking sensitivity, conscientiousness and endurance and turning them into weapons against the sufferer.
      Thank you for your helpful comments, especially the comment about the repetition of (Turn off the drip). It’s meant to represent that small inner voice, urging and nagging, that is such a feature of this type of illness. You know that the thought is lethally mistaken, and yet it’s so hard to resist.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Jelli
      Thank you for reading and for your nice comment. The first thing I noticed about the prompt was the cage; the second thing was the yellow and black tape, which reminded me of a tape measure; the third thing was the phoniness of the blood etc – a case of wrong perception of reality.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Liz
      Thank you for reading and commenting. There’s still work to be done raising the profile of mental illness, but thank goodness there’s more understanding now.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  2. A chilling view in another type of prison many of us have in their heads. The pov is powerful, and the repetition of the ‘body-shape-master’ in her head that commands to turn it off is very effective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Gabi
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comments. I’m glad you thought the pov was powerful. First person, present tense carries a great sense of urgency, and I very rarely use it. In this case it’s counter-balanced by the very slow pace of the action, which is measured by the dripping of the glucose.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This was brilliantly done – from what I hear, you have this down pat. I have a friend who will “never recover as she is in the 5% of those who can’t” – which I am torn between believing and also knowing she has made a career out of being the anorexic artist… how CAN she recover if that is her signature?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dale
      Thank you for reading and for your very kind comments. I’m sorry to hear about your friend – I agree 100% with your comment about her likely recovery. When I had psychotherapy, my therapist told me that one of the most powerful tools in recovery is to commit to do whatever it takes to be well. Mind you, I’ve also read that some anorexics claim not to be cured but to be living with the illness in the same way that some people live with cancer, where medical intervention prolongs life considerably without ever clearing the cancer completely. Is that perhaps what she means.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Let us just say that I watch her from a distance, shaking my head in sadness. She seems so very happy and doing what she loves but I fear her body will eventually give up on her. It can’t sustain this forever – even if it has been over 30 years for her.

        Liked by 1 person

    • If she’s genuinely happy (and I would take a deal of convincing of that) then maybe she’s making the right choices. Maybe she needs to tread the dangerous path of extreme caloric restriction in the same way that a mountaineer will manoeuvre over a sheer drop.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, yeah, I know. But some of the things people do to feel happy are bizarre, and sometimes that’s just who they are. I guess then we can take it or leave it – and I guess, too, that you accept the tats and way-out hair as just being her, and loving her as a friend anyway!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. the turn off the drip part brought this to life even more.
    – and your piece reminds me of a documentary I recently saw on a young lady (from Los Gatos, CA) who is on the verge of death from anorexia. We used to live there and she is the same age as my son… and well – my heart still aches – and at one point she had IV’s to revive her – but sadly, she keeps turning off the drip – or help

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Yvette
      That documentary sounds heart-breaking. I hope the poor woman survives.
      I think the girl in my story stands a good chance of survival. As I imagine her situation, she’s been hospitalised after collapsing. She’s now receiving intensive treatment, with daily psychotherapy, and daily medical reviews. The action – such as it is! – takes place in the first few minutes after her first therapy session. Her therapist has started building trust, and the girl has partly understood that she must change. She’s lying in bed, on the edge of consciousness, considering and affirming the things that the therapist discussed with her.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Brenda
      Thank you for reading, and for your very kind comments. I’m glad a sense of struggle came across. I wrote the story in the first person, present tense – something I rarely do – and balanced that with a very slow pace of action – a few drips, a few thoughts. The plan was that the stark contrast would give the sense of conflict.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Francine
      Thank you for reading, and for your insightful comment. I hadn’t really thought of the story in terms of disappearing, but I can see why you say that. “I don’t want to see my family” is quite a nudge in that direction. The intent of that line was actually to hint at one of the underlying causes of this girl’s illness, name abuse. I understand that while it’s far from universal, it’s sufficiently common that it has to be considered as a possibility.
      Wih very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Alice
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you feel you have new insight into anorexia. It’s a complex illness, and it claims lives in the most distressing circumstances.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  5. This was closer to home than I would have liked to read. You describe it so well that I’m glad you did write it. We sometimes need to read about a past issue to realize how far we’ve come. Body image will always be an issue in my insecurity but I feel more confident in where I am today then ever before. Really, really well written, Penny. Have a peaceful weekend …
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Anurag
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I agree that we are all prisoners in various ways. To refer to “our own creation” though, in the context of the story, suggests that the girl has some responsibility for her illness. That wasn’t my intention when writing. She has no responsibility for her illness.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  6. I’d like to think the world is at the beginning phase of being open about these kinds of illnesses. And not only that, but to deal with the social ills that contribute towards them. Body positivity trend and shutting down body shamers amongst celebs is one influential trend. No matter the size, colour or shape of the person, we are still beautiful. What a boring place this would be if we all looked exactly the same?

    Liked by 2 people

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