My first conscious memory was slightly opening my eyes, only to be blinded by a glaring beam of light. Everything around me felt quick and fast-paced. Often, I would hear voices that would come and go but I could not distinguish one from another. Sometimes, I would squint and gaze around. My vision still had not cleared, so all I could make out was white. White, everywhere. Normal objects around me blurred into a hazey white. It frightened me and I would drift back to sleep. There was a redundant beeping sound next to where I lie (of which I knew not). It was finally late one night when I first woke up completely. I rubbed my eyes and for the first time, could actually see. I was laying on a thin-matressed bed, in a small white room. There were several counters lined up against the walls, and next to me, I saw intricate machinery. There, was the source of that perpetual beeping. Suddenly, I heard a small breathing sound coming from below. Looking down my bed, I saw Stuart. He was half-sitting on a hard plastic chair, with the upper half of his body lying over my legs. Arms folded, his head lay sleeping soundly nestled atop them. I scanned his handsome face, observantly; his face looked rough with unshaven stubs pertruding out, his hair, shaggier than I remembered, and his skin, softly pale. I could see the outline of rings encircling his eyes, from sleep deprevation. My heart went out to him. I gently wiggled my leg to wake him. He grunted a little, and then fell back asleep. "Stuart," I croaked (having not spoken for some time). "Wake up, my love." I kicked a little to awaken him. After much effort, he blinked open his eyes and looked up at me. Those big, brown eyes grew even wider to see me awake.
"Trixi!" he exclaimed. He lurched off my legs, stretched himself out, and moved right by my side. "Oh my God, Trix. You had me so worried. I had no idea what'de been going on or I would have stopped you. Oh honey! Are you alright? How are you feeling?" He stroked back my hair with his fingers, and studied my eyes, with compassion. "I feel okay. Where am I?" I managed to say.
"The hospital, Trixi." he told me, caringly.
"How long have I been here?" I asked, feeling a bit daft.
"What?! Are you serious? My God. I hardly remember a thing. I can't believe its been that long. What..." I paused. "What happened?"
Stuart clasped my right hand in his hands. "We didn't know at first. We had all been playing hide and seek in the park. John found you, lying in the leaves, unconscience. He immediately peformed CPR but your body wasn't responding. So John carried you back to us, and we rushed you here."
I rubbed my forehead, trying to swallow it all in. "Then what?"
"Then," he began, "you were passed out in the emergency room for 3 hours until a doctor could see you. Ever since, you've been doped up on medication, and fed by needles through the skin."
"But...why did this happen?" I pleaded, helplessly.
Stuart bit his lip, as he sat back in his chair. "You know why." he answered sternly, with a tone I'd seldom heard him use.
Taken aback, I sat up in my bed. "Excuse me?"
"The doctors diagnosed you, Trixi, and they've told us everything. Lack of nutrients, lack of energy, damaged esophagous. You've been purging yourself."
I wanted to hide in a cave and die. The overwhelming humiliation of the truth had finally caught up with me. I was absent for words.
"How could you do this to yourself? I mean, what the hell were you thinking?"
So much for compassion.
"F*cking hell, Stuart! You make it sound like I called this upon myself." I tried defending myself. I jerked my hand away from him.
"You did." He snapped back.
"Look, its not like I was purging consistantly. I only did it on occasion to...you know...stay fit. I didn't think it was something I'd done too often to...I guess, fall ill with."
"That's bullsh*t, Trixi, and you know it." He could see through me like a sheet of celophane. I wanted to cry.
"You have an eating disorder. You HAVE to deal with it. This isn't just a physical illness. Its a psychological disorder too. Somewhere in your thick head, something led you to believe you're not good enough, you're not thin enough, or whatever else. I've talked to your doctor and he's filled me in on all the details. There are so many reasons you could have been doing this to yourself, but he nor I have any clue. The only one who trully knows, is you."
I crossed my arms and refused to look at him. How could he betray me like this? All I could tell myself was that it wasn't my fault. That he was wrong, and I was right. "What, so now you're calling me a psycho? Is THAT what you think I am? Psychologically f*cked up?!"
"I never said that! I'm saying that YOU ARE BULLEMIC. And bullemia is the affect from a pyschological problem. Maybe you don't feel loved. Maybe you don't see how much we really care about you." he tried to rationalize.
"Or maybe, I was just trying to maintain my weight! I don't really understand what's wrong with that!" I cried.
"What's wrong with that? What's f*cking wrong with that? Your in a hospital, for Christ's sake! Doesn't that tell you something? This is NOT a healthy life style! Maintain your weight all you want but if it has you passed out two weeks in a hospital, then bloody stop it! Your record shows this isn't the first time either. A couple years ago, you were anorexiac. And now, this!"
I fought back tears and bit my lip even harder.
"Do you even realize the damage you are doing to your body? Have you even seen yourself in a mirror lately? You look like a sack of bones!"
"I look in the mirror every f*cking day! And you know what? I don't see any bones! All I see is fat. You wanna know why I do this to myself? Do you really want to know? Because I don't have control of anything in my life. Not a f*cking thing. This is the one thing that I am in charge of, and no one can take away from me. This is the one thing that makes me feel good and look great. I'm not hurting anybody, and I don't see why its such a problem."
"You're wasting away, Trixi. You think you're not hurting anybody by doing this? Well open up your eyes, little girl. Let's forget about you for a minute. Set aside the fact that your body is deteriorating. What about me? Do you have any idea how much it hurts me to see you do this to yourself? Dammit, Trixi, I love you! I love you so much...and you're killing yourself. If that makes me selfish, than hell, I'm selfish! Don't you understand?"
Bitterness and rage wrapped its curly fingers around my heart and squeezed ever so tightly. But as I looked into Stuart's eyes, I could finally see it. There was a lost child set in his eyes. He wasn't mad at me. He was completely worried sick about me. All his yelling, ranting, and raving weren't sprung from being ashamed or disappointed in me. He loved me. My well-being was at stake and he didn't want to loose me.
"I'm sorry." I whispered. He nodded his head, then sunk me in his arms and began to cry. We could both now think of a million and one words to say, apologies, and corrections, wisdom, and sorrow. But our silence said it all. He just held me in his arms, and we wept. Eventually, we drifted back to sleep.
"Heeeey. How's my little Trixi?" John greeted as he stepped through the door, holding a bouquet of daisies in one hand. My face lit up to see his jocular smile, once again. "Hi honey!" I squeeled with delight. John shut the door behind him, and walked over to the hospital bed. He reached down to hug me, making a point of dodging Stuart who was still fast asleep from the night before. It was the next morning around 8 AM when I had woken up. I spent the early hours watching my boyfriend sleep, something I'd grown accustom to doing. He slept so peacefully and soundly. It seemed like a crime to wake him.
As the first visiting hour began, John was more than eager to visit me. "How are you doing, gorgeous?" He said, cheerfully. "It's so good to see you up and alive. I've missed you." He planted a kiss on my cheek and I smiled. "I feel pretty well. My chest still hurts a little, but I'll be okay."
"Good, good. It's been so boring without you, love. The gigs at the Kaiserkeller feel so long and stale without your pretty little face lighting things up. Paul and George are getting restless. They've missed you too, ya know."
"Oh, thats very sweet," I cooed, stroking Stuart's hair. John noticed, and added, "He's missed you the most. He's spent countless hours at your side, waiting for you to wake up. Hasn't eaten, has hardly slept. Hasn't even had a good shave! Look at the poor boy. He's a mess! In great need of a haircut too."
"I kinda like his hair all long and shaggy," I commented.
"It's alright, I s'pose. I mean, its suits him fine. But I pity him."
I kissed Stuart's forehead and cuddled him closer. "I love him."
"I know. We all love him."
"How has Astrid been doing? Is she alright?" I wanted to know.
"I guess she's fine. She's been acting kinda funny lately. Don't know how to explain it. As if..." he paused.
"As if what?" I insisted.
"Nothing," he murmured, shrugging it off.
"No, tell me!"
"Well...she just acts different, is all I'm saying. Like she has something on her mind all the time. She often seems distant or preoccupied. She's probably just worried about you. What esle could it be?"
"Beats me. Have you talked to her about it?"
"Not especially. I think I asked her once and she changed the subject. She's always been a weird girl, anyway!"
I gave him a look. "Hey, watch it! That's me best mate you're talking about."
"Ah, don't deny it. You're all mad, the lot of ya! The arty crowd, ya know? All them exis folks are daft, if you ask me."
"Well I didn't ask you," I pointed out. "When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you!"
"And when I want your virtue, I'LL give it to you!"
I smacked his arm, playfully and he piped up, "Oh wait, I already did!"
"Shut up! Bastard. That was months ago."
"Months, years, whose keeping track? The point is, I nailed you. Yeah, and you were begging for more! Don't pretend you didn't like it."
"Begging for more, my ass!" I snapped.
He sneered. "Be it as it may, what did you...ya know...think of that particular night? We never really talked about it afterwards."
I made sure Stuart was still asleep and quickly replied, "John, it was magical. But as far as the world knows, it never happened. Yes, you and I will have it forever. But that night...it'll be something we take to the graves."
"Are you threatening me?!" He teased, in a baffled tone.
A smile spread across my face. "No, no threat. I'm just saying..."
"I know, I know. You have the hots for me but you want to stay faithful to Stuart. Yeah, I get it. This happens ALL the time."
Now, he was just pulling my chain. I giggled cutely and hit him again.
"You're gonna bruise me, woman!" He declared.
"As if you didn't have it coming," I said, sassily.
There was a knock on the door. "Who is it?" I asked alloud.
"It's your partners in crime. Can we come in?" That was none other than Paul and George. I sat up in bed, and summoned them in. The two lads stumbled in, George, having carried a bouquet of white roses. John noted the new posies and exclaimed, "Way to out-do me, you jackass!" He pointed to his set of daisies sitting, blannly on the nightstand. I laughed and comforted him by saying, "Daisies are my favorite anyway."
George looked down at the expensive arrangement of roses and I quickly added, "Though I've always found roses to be quite beautiful too." He smiled, then gave me a quick smack on the lips.
The boys chatted for a while, and updated me as to what had been going on lately. It was nice to hear their voices again and made me feel so much better. Through all the conversations, Stuart woke up.
I brushed back his hair with my fingers and kissed his lips. "Good morning, sweetheart." He still looked half-asleep with his eyelids partially closed, sporting a lop-sided grin. It was adorable. "Did you sleep well?"
He nodded, then cuddled against me and relaxxed. Suddenly, another knock on the door. "Come in!" I called out.
Astrid entered with a solemn look on her face. Her expression did not change to see me awake. She quietly walked in and sat on the edge of me bed. "Hi." She said, softly. I smiled at her, warmly. "Hello Astrid." We looked at eachother for a moment and I motioned for her to move closer. As she did, I grabbed her in a tight hug. I could hear her silently weep in my ear as she held me close. John exchanged glances with the other guys. "Why don't we give them a minute? Come on." Paul suggested. John, Paul, George, and Stuart assorted themselves and walked out, leaving me and Astrid alone. She sat up next to me, staring blankly with statue tears dampening her crystal eyes. "Are you okay?" I asked her.
She shook her head. "No."
I bit my lip and slightly shrugged. "What is it?"
There was a long silence that followed my querie. Astrid was watching her small, delicate hands as she played with her fingers. She finally looked up to meet my eyes. "I think I may be pregnant."