I ate just enough to convince them that I was getting better. Unfortunately, I had everyone convinced except for damn Mrs. Hoover, my "counselor". Really, she was like a psychotherapist because everyone thought I was crazy. And that drove me crazy, but not literally, because I was fine. Mrs. Hoover wouldn't allow me to have any extra activity in the hall, or eat meals with anyone. About two weeks into my six-week stay, Mrs. Hoover decided to accompany me while I ate.
Sitting across from me in my "room", Mrs. Hoover sat in a drab, faded navy pantsuit that made her skin looked flush and dry. She adjusted the spectacles on her thin, wiry nose and looked at me. Small tendrils of her gray hair had fallen out of its bun and waved crookedly around her face. The thing I hated most about Mrs. Hoover was the fact that she kept Rivin away from me. She wasn't allowing me visitors because I wasn't making any progress.
"Rivers," Hoover started after about three or four minutes of silence that should have been filled with the sound of me chewing my food. I just wasn't hungry and the cafeteria's sorry excuse for chicken alfredo wasn't looking too appetizing. I looked up at her. I picked up my plastic fork, expecting her to tell me to start eating.
"We're coming up on our three week mark," she pointed out. "You're scheduled to leave three more weeks after that – you're halfway done. But I cannot allow you to leave if you can't convince me you won't endanger yourself again."
"I'm not staying here any longer than I was told." I said forcefully, though I had become as meek as a mouse. Dana, my psychotic roommate had freaked out one day during dinner (I wasn't there) and they sent her away. I had pretty much been in isolation. It was terrible. The only person I saw was Hoover.
"Did you think we were just going to let you go home without giving you any help at all?"
"You've given me plenty of help. I just don't want it."
"You're abusing your body." She stated. She liked to tell me that a lot. "I know in the stereotypical world we live in today, appearance is everything, but Rivers, you don't look your best. Have you seen you skin? It's thin – paper like. Do you like looking like a skeleton? Do you like not having any energy-"
"Save it." I stopped her from going on. "I've heard this all before." Although that was the first time she had ever been so…so blunt with me. Usually she liked to beat around the bush and hint that I was killing myself, and she always said I was pretty, so that day I guess she decided to change her story. But I knew what she was trying to do. That reverse psychology didn't have any effect on me.
"I don't want to resort to drastic measures, but I will if I have to."
"Is that a threat?" I leaned back, away from my tray.
"It is." Hoover said. "I don't want to, but I will if I have to. I want you to appreciate yourself – be satisfied with who you are. I want you to love your body without neglecting it. You can't live like this. Young girls like you die everyday from anorexia. Every day, Rivers. Do you want to be one of those girls?"
"I know when I've pushed myself too far."
"I'm not dead, am I?"
"You will be. Because of your fragile state, you could die from a heart attack. Your bones are brittle – someone could unintentionally break your ribs, puncturing your lungs or your heart. You could starve yourself to death and not even know it until it's too late." She paused for a minute, removing her glasses. "Just tell me why."
"Why do you starve yourself?"
"I'm not starving myself." I said. "I just don't eat every hour like the rest of America these days."
Hoover closed her eyes for a second, obviously dissatisfied with my answer. She was probably frustrated with my stubbornness, too. "Do you do it because thin women are pretty women?"
"I do it because fat women are ugly women." I glared at her. That wasn't true, though. I knew people of all different shapes and sizes – they were all pretty-
"That's not true." She seemed to read my mind. She lifted her wrist up to look at her watch. "I have someone for you to talk to."
"Someone?" I questioned. "Who?"
"You'll see." She said as she stood up. She just left the room without saying anything further. I rolled my eyes, figuring it was going to be some woman who had recently recovered from her anorexia, or a mother who had lost her daughter to the "terrible disease". She had wanted me to talk to a girl before, and I had declined. I said I was tired and stayed in my room (which was pretty much my world at that time). I never expected him to come.
The door to the room opened up. I was sitting on the bed in a pair of loosely fitted jeans and a hoodie. I probably looked like shit because I stopped putting make-up on after the first week and I had just thrown my hair up in a messy ponytail that morning. I didn't want anyone to see me. Especially not him. But when I saw him enter the room, I didn't really care how I looked, because I knew he wouldn't, either.
I walked over, slightly dazed from the fact I hadn't seen anyone for what seemed like years. But once he wrapped his arms around me and I was able to take in that familiar scent of the same shampoo I used to use, everything came back to me, and I started to cry.
"Don't cry," he said automatically. He always told me that when I started to tear up. He squeezed me tightly. I didn't want him to let go, but he did. "I can't stay long." He told me as he broke away. I just looked up at my brother through watery eyes and sniffed up the snot in my nose. He grinned.
"You look like shit." Rivin told me as he walked past me to sit on my bed.
"Nice view," he commented comically on the opaque windows. I smiled. It felt good to do that. To smile, I mean. I walked over and sat down across from him on my former roommate's bed. Rivin looked great, even though he hadn't exactly changed since almost three weeks ago when I saw him last.
"How are you?" I asked him, eager to hear from a familiar face. You don't know hard it is to have to talk to someone you hate over and over again every day. It's stressful and tiring. It hurts.
"I'm doing good." He said, nodding his head. "People are asking about you."
"What did you tell them?" I was afraid.
"I told people you went away for that…Patti lady. For some photos or something."
"And they believe you?"
"Yeah. If anybody comments on the fact that you're gone for a really long time I say you're just getting some R an' R too, so you'd better come back looking refreshed."
"Doesn't look like I'm coming back at this rate." I mumbled softly, looking away.
"Why's that?" But he knew why. He groaned softly and dropped his head into his hands. "Just stop being so fucking stubborn…"
He wasn't trying to be mean, but I knew he was going to be. I tried to brace myself.
"You're so… You're stupid, Rivers. I don't know how you got yourself into this. Don't you know when enough's enough? Think about it."
"I have." I said. "You just don't understand."
"Damn right. I don't think you even understand."
I rolled my eyes, trying not to let him get to me the way he didn't want to get to me. He wasn't trying to make me sad, or trying to make me cry, but that's what was going to happen. I was just vulnerable when it came to the subject of my weight.
"I know you've always felt pressure to be pretty, but this? It's…disgusting."
"Disgusting?" I looked at him in disbelief.
"Living in a fucking…psycho hospital for people with mental disorders is disgusting. You're better than that, I know you are. I don't know when you became obsessed with being a twig but I wish you'd just stop and think for a fucking minute about what all of this is doing… You're ruining your life."
"I know I am, but I can't help it. I can't help it!" I figured if I'd say it enough, Rivin would realize that everything I did felt seemingly out of my control. I hated to have things feel that way, but they did.
"You're going to miss out on so much shit. If you don't get back to school, you're going to fail half of your classes – you might get held back. We won't even get to fucking graduate together. Everyone's going to forget about you. Kyle already has."
"What do you mean?" My eyes shot up at the mentioning of Kyle's name.
"He's so…he's not waiting around for you. He knows you're sick, he knows why you left – he doesn't want to have to deal with it. I mean, all the more reason for you to forget about him, but…" Rivin faltered for a second and tapped his finger on his lips. "I'll always be here for you, but I hate having to be here for you."
"So go away if I'm such a burden."
"Stop that shit." He rolled his eyes to me. "That stupid lady told me to come because she wasn't getting through to you. She wants to hook you up to some tube that will send food straight into your stomach so you don't kill yourself. Is that how you want to live out the rest of your life? Hooked up to some machine, missing out on everything because you can't get over yourself? You're beautiful, Rivs. You're funny, and smart, and nice – you've got so many things going for you and you're willing to throw it all away just so you can have the chance to be in some stupid magazine that people are going to end up throwing out when the new issue comes? Patti went out of business already. She called two days after you left and said she had to "relocate." So just…stop this game you're playing with yourself so you can come home."
"Patti left?" I looked up at him.
"She didn't get the publishing deal…she's moving to Florida or something like that. I really didn't ask any questions."
I crossed my arms over my chest and looked away. Rivin walked towards the door and I shot my gaze towards him. "Where are you going?"
"I can't stay." He said. "I…" he shook his head and tried to smile. "I'm worried about you Rivs. Just get better so you can come home."
A/N: I really don't know what the hell to do with this story anymore. I hate not to finish it, since this'll be my first incomplete story on fictionpress, but… I hate to give out a half-assed ending (again) to a story I've simply lost interest in.
Maybe I'll try to spit out two more chapters before I close this up, but frankly, I'm out of ideas. I was going to introduce someone for Rivers at the hospital, but I didn't want to prolong this torture. Writing isn't torture, but trying to force out something that isn't there is hard. So, sorry to anyone who's upset by this, but I wanted to try to get this chapter out, maybe one or two more, so I can close this up.
I've started a new story (Too Bad You're Beautiful), which will be very awesome, so I hope I don't lose you wonderful people as readers. Thanks so much for sticking with me – the response is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you!