"Are you all right?" Chris held back her auburn colored hair. Kathleen finished throwing up and sat back on her heels. Chris knelt beside her. "What's going on?"
"I told you, Chris, I just ate something bad. That's all." Kathleen looked at him in the eyes.
"Are you sure? You aren't lying to me?"
"Yes, Chris, you are my best friend. Would I lie to you?"
"I guess not."
"Good then its settled." Kathleen stood up and washed her hands. Then she turned on Chris, stole his hat and ran into the living room. Chris followed. He tackled her on the couch and tried to get his hat. Suddenly, the door bell rang. "I'll get it." Kathleen pushed Chris off of her and ran to the door.
"Dave!" Kathleen sounded surprised. "What are you doing here?"
"What? Can't a guy visit his girlfriend on a Saturday?" Dave entered the house. He played for the school football team and as such commanded a room with his presence.
"I told you that I had plans with Chris today." Just then, Chris entered.
"Hey Dave. Kathleen if you want I can leave." He picked up his coat and walked toward the door.
"Actually that would be best." Dave spoke up; he went to the door and held it open as if he owned the house. Chris nodded to him as he walked out.
"Kathleen, call me." Dave closed the door before he could finish.
"What the fuck is up with you Dave?" Kathleen turned on him. "How dare you! You knew that I'd be busy and you expect me to drop everything.."

Dave slapped her. Hard. She stood in silence, stunned. He took her hand and held it.
"You know that I love you. You know that I don't look at any girl but you." His grip tightened. "And as such, I'd appreciate it if you didn't see Chris anymore." His grip on her arm tightened more. "Do you understand me? You will not see Chris anymore." He tightened his hold on her more. Let go, and left the house.


"One and two and three and four and five and six and seven and eight. No! Again! And one and two and three and for and five and six and seven and eight. No! Ladies, when I say I want plies in en seconde. I want perfect plies in en seconde! Now, line up against the wall. It's time for your physicals."
Mr. Boutiet was a dance teacher. He was a tall, thin man who owned a ballet studio with his wife. Mrs. Boutiet was the "resident physician". She took down their measurements for costumes, their height and weight, took care of them when they were sick, and she phoned their parents should something go wrong.
Kathleen stood in the line and moved up with it. Everyone, it seemed, was getting their height and weight done as well as a few of their measurements. It was Kathleen's turn.
"5 feet 1 inch and. 125 pounds." Mr. Boutiet looked at her.
"Kathleen, that is five more than last time. Is something going on?"
"No, Mr. Boutiet. I just ate more this week it seems."
Mr. Boutiet made Kathleen and a new girl named Sarah stay after class.
"Now, I want you both to listen carefully. Sarah, you are new. So I expect you to pick up on all this as soon as possible. Kathleen, there is no excuse for you. I want you both to work on your weight. We can't have heavy people dancing. Next week we are going to do pas de deux. So I expect better from both of you by then."
Kathleen left the studio and walked home. She stopped by her mother's room. She wasn't there. Not a big surprise. Kathleen moved on to her room. She took off her coat and changed clothes. Her cell phone rang.
"Kathleen, you never called. I got worried."
"Hey Chris. I had class sorry."
"Is something wrong? You sound upset."
"We had our physicals today. It was nothing huge. Mr. Boutiet just mentioned my weight gain that was all."
"What did he say? You look fine."
"Um. hey, my mom's home. I've got to go." Kathleen lied. She never lied to Chris, but she didn't feel like talking about dance with him.
"She is? Wow, that's different. I'll see you Monday?"
"Sure." She hung up and set the phone on the desk by her bed. Then she turned to the mirror. She wasn't heavy. was she?

She dropped her spoon into the bowl. Kathleen was disgusted with herself. How could she, after Mr. Boutiet pointed out her situation, eat? She threw the cereal away, bowl and all. Then she threw away the cereal box itself. Next, the milk found its way into the trashcan. She continued cleaning out the pantry. Her mother wouldn't notice. She wasn't home ever and if she did notice, would probably think that the food had been eaten.
Kathleen looked at the clock, 11:45 pm. She had school tomorrow and if she planned on being ready by 7:30 for Chris to pick her up, she should go to bed. Kathleen had completely forgotten Dave's outrage. He was just probably jealous and would most likely apologize Monday. Kathleen walked to her room and changed for bed. She was just about asleep, when she heard a scream.
"Kathleen Richardson! Get your ass in here now!" It was her mother. Kathleen walked into the kitchen to find her mother holding the almost full carton of milk.
"Is this what I get for caring for you? Is this what I get for going out and trying to care for this family? Answer me!" Kathleen looked at the carton and then remembered. Shit, she had forgotten to take the trash out so there would be no trace of her tirade.
"Care for us? Is that what you call it? You haven't been home all weekend."
"It just so happens that I was at a job interview."
"At midnight? Mom, I'm not a pinhead. They don't hold interviews this late at night. Unless." She stopped and caught herself before she finished the sentence.
"Unless what? Go ahead finish it." There was silence. "No? Then go to your room."

The school bell rang loudly in the parking lot.
"Shit, we are late. Go ahead Chris; I'll meet you for lunch." Kathleen took out her books from the car and reached for her dance bag. Suddenly, someone grabbed her.
"What the fuck are you doing with him?" It was Dave. She spun around.
"I'm not going to stop seeing my best friend Dave. You know I'm not doing anything with him."
"That isn't the point. You are my girl. No one else's. Not Chris's."
"And if I don't comply with your demands?"
"Don't try me Kathleen." He gripped her by the shoulders. "You don't know what I could do to you." He held her against his car and refused to let her pass. "Do I scare you?"
"Then you will do what I say." Dave hit the car and shoved her into it. She slid down the side, tears in her eyes. She sat there for a few minutes, then, composing herself, got up and picked up her books. She walked into school and didn't bother to get a pass. She walked past the girls' room and past her 1st period class. She continued to walk until she came to Chris's class, Physics. She looked into the classroom and got the attention of Jenna, an acquaintance from Spanish. Jenna motioned to Chris who looked at the door. Seeing Kathleen, he asked the teacher for a bathroom pass and joined her in the hallway.
"What is wrong babe?" He enclosed Kathleen in a big hug and moved her away from the door.
Kathleen pushed away from him. "I can't see you anymore." She looked down.
Stunned, Chris replied, "What? Kathleen, what are you talking about? Why are you crying? Why are your arms red?"
"No, I can't. Chris please. Dave."
"Dave? He doesn't want you to see me anymore? What is going on? Why won't you talk to me?" Chris's voice rose. He reached for Kathleen, but she turned from him.
"Chris, I." She choked back tears. Her world was falling apart. Her boyfriend was angry and it was her fault. She was about to lose her best friend and she hadn't eaten a full meal in three days. She looked at the wall and noticed that there were spots there that hadn't been there before. The spots were black and seemed to move with each turn of her head.
"Kathleen. Are you all right?" Kathleen didn't answer. She looked at those dots on the wall. They grew bigger than smaller and bigger again. Now on the left side, it was one big black spot and the right side's spots were also fusing together. She turned her head. They were everywhere. She couldn't see.

Kathleen woke up in her bed. Chris was by her side, holding her hand.

"You passed out. The school nurse wanted to send you to a hospital. But I told her that you hadn't gotten enough sleep last night. Now, you will tell me what is going on or I will take you to the hospital." Chris's face was stern. He wasn't going to back down.
"Chris. I've been under a lot of pressure. I just need some rest." She looked around nervously.
"I called your mother."
"Why did you do that?"
"Because, Kathleen, I'm concerned about you. There is no food in your kitchen and you have bruises on your arms. I also called Dr. Harris. He is on his way over."
Kathleen cringed. Her mother and her doctor on their way over. Shit.
"Can I have some water?" She needed to get out of there. She'd caused enough pain. She had to stop it before her mother hurt too. She'd hurt Dave and now she was hurting Chris. It had to stop.
"Sure." Chris left the room and went into the kitchen. Kathleen watched him leave the room and got out of bed. She looked at her desk and at the floor. Where was it? Where did she put it? Ah. There on top of the bookshelf. Kathleen took what she had found and slipped into the bathroom. She didn't have much time.
"Kathleen. do you want ice?" Chris called from the kitchen.
"Um. yes." Kathleen called from the bathroom. She closed the door and turned the lock. It didn't work. Damn it, her mother was supposed to get that fixed. She leaned against the door so she didn't have to look in the mirror. She looked down at what she held. A pair of scissors. She didn't know if it would work. But she didn't have much of a choice. This had to be done now. Not later, she'd lose the nerve.
Her hand shook as she opened the blade. She slid it down her wrist. From the hand down to the elbow. That way, she'd be sure not to fail.
"Kathleen.. Kathleen where are you?" Chris was back with the water. He didn't find Kathleen in her room. "Kathleen?" Chris looked around the bedroom. Where was she? She wasn't in the hall, or in the living room. Maybe she had gone to the bathroom. He went and knocked. No answer, but the light was on. He knocked again. "Kathleen? Are you in there?" He opened the door. It turned, but did not open. His concern grew. "Kathleen, open the door." He shoved it. It opened slightly. Had she passed out again? He shoved his way inside trying to get in so he could her to bed. One final shove and the door opened all the way.

He was too late.