Girls Horse Club Blog

Starved

Published by • Jul 10th, 2011 • Category: Fiction

by Raven, age 15

I stepped onto the scale and held my breath as the hateful little needle spun around. Maybe it would slow down and stop on the 100. Slow down, stop, go back—

107 pounds. I collapsed to the floor and groaned. I had gained five pounds over the holidays. I had promised myself that I would use restraint, but I hadn’t.

They won’t let me jockey anymore… I’m too fat…

I stood up and blinked tears out of my eyes. Crying might seem silly to some. Hey, it’s just five pounds. Get over it. But they didn’t understand. Nobody did.

My world revolved around jockeying. I had fallen in love with it at the age of six—ten years ago. I had volunteered at a jockey stable and in a few years they were letting me jockey ponies. As I raced more and got better, a man named Mr. Marquette who owned an Arabian line of racers had hired me to jockey for him. Now at sixteen, I was getting taller and heavier. People told me that I looked great…that I was slim…that they wished they looked like me…I wiped the tears out of my eyes angrily. Patronizing liars. I was much heavier than I had been when I first started jockeying.

They couldn’t fire me. They couldn’t! Jockeying was my life. I would die if—

Somebody rapped on the door. “Helena, honey, you’ve got to get out of the bathroom and do the laundry.”

“Okay, Mom,” I called back, forcing my voice to be bright.

Laundry. Chores. Insignificant and meaningless compared to horses.

I turned to the mirror and stared into it. A fat girl who was going to be fired stared back.

* * *

I held my breath as I passed by Mr. Marquette. He was talking with his manager, but any second he would turn and yell at me. Helena! Hey, I meant to tell you—I’m going to have to fire you. Sorry, but you gained too much weight. When you’re not such a fat cow, I’ll take you back. We’ll see if you can clean out stalls better than you jockeyed.

But he didn’t. He kept on talking, and I walked past into the jockeys’ locker room.

Almost every day we came here, outfitted up, practiced racing, exercised the horses, tried out new saddles. I had a race in a month, and I had been working desperately hard to get good for it. What if at the last minute they fired me? Sorry, Helena, but you’ll break the horse’s back. Give us your equipment and get out of our stables.

“Helena!” My friend Amy hailed me from a bench where she was pulling on her boots. She looked as slender as ever. Slender and petite. She was about a foot shorter than me. “Hey, girl, how was your holiday?”

“Great!” I said, smiling. “I hope I didn’t gain a lot of weight!”

This is where she says—Oh, yeah, you’re really putting on the pounds. My gosh, you’re flabby.

“What, are you kidding? Honey, you’re model-thin. I’m worrying about my weight!” She laughed, and tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder. We both knew that she was kidding.

But I hadn’t been.

* * *

Syrup of ipecac. Upheaval emetic. Use only as directed. See a doctor before use. Warning…

Yeah, yeah. Where was the price?

I turned the bottle over and saw the price sticker. $2.99.

My face flushed scarlet. I was going to start throwing up everything I ate to stay slim? I had always been freaked out by girls who did that.

Yeah, well, they just did it to look good. I’m doing it for my career. This isn’t about me. I’m doing the right thing here.

I turned and went to the counter to pay for it.

The lady took it and gave me a sharp frown. I probably looked really guilty. My head was hanging; my cheeks were red-hot.

The woman rang it up and I gave her my money. As she handed the bottle to me, she said carefully, “You look really good, sweetie. Wish I was still that slim.”

I flashed a smile, snatched the bottle, and practically ran out of the building. Once I was out of sight of any passerby, I leaned against a tree and sobbed.

* * *

My mom ladled out a huge spoonful of ice cream into my bowl. “Uh—no, thanks, Mom,” I said quickly. “Give mine to Dad.”

Mom looked up and frowned. “Did I get the wrong kind? I thought you loved strawberry.”

I laughed. “Well, that was before I ate so much for lunch.”

“Yeah, funny, Helena,” my older brother, Travis, said. He looked up at me and cocked an eyebrow. “You had, like, one piece of bread for lunch.”

I had a whole piece of bread? That has so many carbs…

“I had more than that,” I said, trying to laugh it off. I stood up. “I have homework that needs doing. Catch ya later.”

As I went up the stairs I heard Travis muttering to my sister Ashley, “Doesn’t she know she’s skinnier than a wet cat?”

“Yeah, she’s okay,” Ashley replied. “I think that all this jockeying has tired her out.”

Thanks, Ash.

* * *

The next morning, I grabbed a pop-tart on the way out to the car and threw it into the trash as soon as I got into the garage.

My stomach twisted and stabbed. I was hungry—desperately hungry. But what was hunger compared to losing my career?

The scale had said 105. Two pounds lost, but I looked as fat as ever.

I had measured myself too. I was getting taller.

Maybe if I stop eating I’ll stop growing.

* * *

I didn’t do so well in practice. I was so hungry I lost focus. Everybody yelled at me—even I did, mentally. Have you forgotten what you’re starving yourself for? All for this, and now you’re daydreaming? Get back in line, you fat loser!

Practice finally ended. I took my usual mount, a beautiful bay stallion, back to his stall. Then I couldn’t help it. I wrapped my arms around his neck, and cried.

Oracle nuzzled my neck gently. He knew that something was wrong. I raised my face and kissed his nose. This was the reason that I had to keep doing this crazy thing. If I was fired, I would lose Oracle forever.

Amy cornered me in the locker room. “Helena, what’s up? Are you feeling okay?”

“I’m fine,” I snapped, slamming my locker door closed so hard that a framed picture of Oracle fell off the top and smashed on the linoleum.

“Right. Because when people are fine, they totally slam doors and break pictures and forget the simplest drills and barely remember to tighten their cinch. Thanks for believing in my mental prowess, girlfriend.”

“Amy,” I said. My voice was low and shaking. “Shut it.”

Amy raised her eyebrows, turned, and stalked away.

I knelt to the floor and picked up the shattered picture of Oracle. My hands were shaking so badly that a shard of glass jabbed deep into my thumb. I ran my trembling, bloody finger across the photo underneath the broken glass.

* * *

“Helena, I don’t care if you’re not hungry. You haven’t had a good meal in who knows how long. You’re going to eat this plate of food.” My mother passed it across the table to me. Everyone was staring. “Now dig in.”

I stared down at the two steaming pieces of pizza. Pasteurized cheese. Canned, processed tomato sauce. Fatty pepperoni high in sodium. Refined flour crust.

Calories, calories, calories…

I picked up a piece and took a huge bite.

* * *

I closed the bathroom door and leaned against it. How could I have been so stupid? Why didn’t I eat half of each piece? Why did I eat the garlic sauce with it?

You cow, you sick, fat cow…

I went to the scale and stepped on. 106 pounds. I had gained three pounds, three rancid pounds, three reasons why I would be fired…

I pulled the emetic from my pocket and snapped off the lid.

* * *

The next morning, I felt sick. The taste of vomit was still in my mouth and I had lied to my mother to avoid breakfast. My stomach felt nauseous and my head ached. I wanted to run back to the house and eat as much as I could.

You whining, fat failure. Are you willing to give up jockeying just so that your stomach can be filled with calories? Maybe you don’t love Oracle after all.

I did love Oracle. It was why I was doing this.

* * *

Mark Douglas private racetrack.

Thousands of people watching.

My heart beating like a thousand shaking drums.

“Riders up!”

I swung onto Oracle. My legs shook so badly I nearly fell. As I took the reins, my hands shook too. My head spun.

I was so hungry.

“Helena.” Amy appeared beside me. “You’re sick, and it’s scaring the crap out of me. Please, get down.”

I shook my head. “I’m fine. Step away or he’s going to run you over.”

“We will talk later, I promise you,” Amy snapped, and stepped away to stand beside Mr. Marquette. He looked worried. Why the heck? I was doing this for his company, after all.

The gates flew up and the gun cracked. Oracle leapt forward and I nearly fell off. I regained my seat and urged him on.

Soon we were in the lead. A big palomino stallion was beside us, his muscles rippling, his head outstretched. He was ahead. I kicked Oracle hard and yelled, “Get up!”

Oracle inched forward. I could feel him straining. Inch by inch—we were winning. I smiled. We would win.

Spots danced in front of my eyes. My stomach jabbed. I slumped forward in the saddle and closed my mouth tight. I felt like throwing up. Not that there was anything in my stomach to throw up.

I slid in the saddle. My hands caught in the reins and jerked Oracle’s mouth savagely. He faltered. I tried to pull myself back but suddenly I had no strength at all.

I was slipping, I would fall, this wasn’t happening, this was a dream—

The track and the bleachers flashed by my eyes and I hit the ground. I heard my helmet crack. My shaking body refused to roll away as Oracle reared up over me. I felt two dull thuds on my head and neck. And then, nothing but pain.

Mmmm, darkness. Finally I could sleep and try to forget my hunger.

My eyes slid closed. Maybe the pain was a good thing; maybe it would starve and shrink my body even more.

I hoped that I was finally thin enough.

14 Nickers »

  1. Wow Raven, this is a very powerful and poignant story. Thanks so much for sharing your talent with GHC readers.

  2. You are so amazing at writing!!!! I hope I can write like you someday!!!!

  3. Wow, you write with real understanding of what anorexic or bulimic kids go through. Not many people do! I love how you combined a horse story with an issue that so many people are going through. Hopefully this will be a heads-up for all of us! Two thumbs up!

  4. Very heart stirring. Makes me feel for the girls who see themselves as fat but they’re not. The number of pounds on the scale doesn’t matter, because that’s not all fat! I weigh 113, but we have to remember that some of those pounds are muscle, too. I wish we could explain to those girls…Keep goin, you rock!!

  5. wow. a really powerful story as Leadmare said…
    reminds me of my cousin who was anorexic. Luckily she isn’t anymore!

  6. You made every word, every detail count. It was bang on! You have a distinct, beautiful writing style.

    ~HorsesForever

  7. You have a real gift for writing! Very nice job :)

  8. AWESOME!!! like MorganzMuzik said, muscle weighs like 10x as much as fat apparently…

  9. Love it, hun :)

  10. @Millie: Yeah I read somewhere that its like 13% of ur body weight.
    Wow, that’s alot :O

  11. awww thank you guys :D <33

  12. Wow, this story is amazing and incredibly descriptively written. I absoulutely declare this the best work of fiction I’ve read in a long time.

  13. So powerfull! An amazing twist on a horse story!

  14. thank you! :D <3