Cake by Lewis Dunn

‘Shut the door after you.’ Those were the words she managed to force out, muffled by the piece of cake she’d shoved into her mouth. I stood marvelling at the shelves in the fridge, stripped bare, her latest gorge the result of another existential crisis. 

I won’t get much sleep tonight. The inevitable sound of her retching in the bathroom, the toilet flushing, the process repeating until she passes out exhausted, her head in the bowl swearing she’ll never do it again. 

We’d gone back and forth like this for years, periods where things seemed positive, the future bright if only with the slightest hint of caution. I knew it was important to enjoy those moments, make notes of the triggers and try to find solutions that mitigate the problem before she delves back into this unremitting cycle of self-harm. 

I do as she says and shut the door; contemplating sticking a padlock on there the next time we fill it with food, whenever that might be. I tread slowly out of the kitchen, carefully articulating what I’m going to say, scrutinising each word, preparing myself for the deflection tactics, the way she recedes into herself, tears streaming, admitting that the rejection wasn’t the fundamental problem but simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. 

She’ll tell me about her weight as a girl, the barbs from her fat fuck of a grandma, the lascivious looks from her uncle and so forth. She’ll tell me all this perfectly in the knowledge that we grew up in the same household and none of it’s true. But it’s important to let her say it, if only to stop her sticking her fingers down her throat. I promised mum I’d look after her and it’s a promise I intend to keep. 

Published in Issue #20

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