Elaine thinks
she's dying;
the splash of
red in the


lavatory pan
has spun her
sideways, taken
her out of her


usual comfort
zone, the outer
world crowding
in. Other girls in


the school come
and go, a bell rings,
then silence. She
stares at the lavatory


door, someone has
written a poem
in red ink, another
scribbled underneath


a rude black ink
remark. The white
is discoloured, the
walls like wise to


match. She pulls
off a handful of 
paper, wraps it
around fingers,


stares at her hands,
bites her lower lip.
She crosses herself,
from forehead to


stomach, from
shoulder to shoulder.
How does one die?
she muses darkly,


peeking down at
the pan, redness
spreading, she's
leaking a slow death,


being undone before
her eyes. Is this how
one dies? She should
be in maths, at her


desk, doing algebra
she's not understood,
looking vacant, biting
her pen. She leans


forward, peeks again,
feeling flushed, the
red splash spread.
She feels unwell,


pains kick in, the
walls turn white,
crowding in. An
outer door opens,


someone sings, the
door clicks shut,
the voice sings
in soft melodious


tones. Elaine moans,
pushes her fist into
her mouth, painful
groans. The singer


pauses, nears the door,
puts ear to wood.
What's up? she asks,
staring at the whiteness


of the door. I’m dying,
Elaine says, I’m leaking
blood. The girl who
was singing mutters,


it's just a flood, has
no one said, its a
female thing, so shut
your crying, I’ll go


get the nurse, to sort
you out, you're not
freaking dying. And
off she goes, the door


clicks shut again, nothing
but silence, disappointed
death and bewildered,
pale-faced, aching Elaine.

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You're not eating properly
Eliane's mother said
you've hardly eaten a thing
Elaine who'd been thinking


of the boy John
looked up
through her glasses


at her mother
at the dining table
got to eat
her father interjected


got to eat
my young Plump Hen
her sister said nothing


but grinned
I do eat
Elaine said
but she didn't feel


like eating
it seemed the least
important thing


at that moment
her stomach felt
as if it had fallen
into a slumber


not enough
her mother said
maybe she's fallen in love


her father bantered
Elaine went red
and lowered her head
and began to nibble


at the food on her plate
her mother said


it's some silly
slimming diet
I bet
not very successful


if it is
her younger sister said smiling
John had touched her arm


in passing at school
not by accident
but by design
he meant to touch


to bring her briefly
into his world
his circumference


she still touched
now and then
the area on her arm
he touched (at school)


with her fingers
I won't have you dieting
over some silly fad


her mother went on
but Elaine ceased listening
the words were buzzing flies
she wanted to


flick them away
with a hand
John had talked to her


not at her
or about her
(as others did)
or down to her


but with her
in a duel thing
he and she


kind of exchange
she ate slowly
the food almost
making her gag


getting stuck
in the throat
she held onto


the image of him
in her mind tried
to focus
on his outline


on his features
his words
taking each one


she could remember
and turning it over
in her mind
as if it were


a rare gem
girls your age
what are you now?


14 yes 14years old
ought not to diet
her mother said
breaking into Elaine's head


if I see you not eating again
I'm taking to the doctors
Elaine looked up


and put on
her good daughter face
that I'll do
whatever you want features


and John had placed
a hand by her head
at the school fence


his arm brushing softly
against her hair
and he never said anything
unkind about


her dark hair
or the metal grips
her mother made her wear


and her mother rattled on
but Elaine just returned
her innocent girl




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