Illustration by Alice Maiden

The lights were off.


She told herself she had turned off the lights because she once read

sensory deprivation heightened the remaining senses.

She told herself it would taste better.

She probably just didn’t want to see her fingertips

shining with grease.


This had happened before.

But not chicken cutlet american cheese mozzarella sticks sanchez sauce



It had happened withziploc bag full of candy

candy for making holiday goody bags!!!


She had figured she would eat the candy eventually

so she might as well eat it now.

She was lucky her roommate didn’t come in.

It would have been strange

to find someone eating alone in the dark.


“This had happened before” makes it seem like this was something. She didn’t think this was anything.


Later, after, she would find lists everywhere.

All these lists she had made.


yogurt – 60

oatmeal – 60

berries – 40

nuts – 40

powder – 60

eggs – 50

grapes – 20

= 330


Lists mostly on her computer,

but also lists in notebooks and on the edge of problem sets.

She wrote small.


There was chocolate pudding in a tub she ate at the end of the week

each week many weeks

because she had cried three times since Monday.

The first spoonful was consolation.

The twentieth was something else.


3,500 calories in a pound.


She drew a small red line in Sharpie on her left wrist,

going over the line again each morning

so it was always bright red.The red line meant “restrain yourself.”

Restrain yourself, she whispered.


She figured she should visit a nutritionist.

He told her about

the Four-Bite Rule.

She should eat four bites, because after the third bite

the marginal satisfaction in a bite goes down.


Later, after, she found a journal entry from before,

from around the time she took that photo of her half-naked body in the mirror

in her grandmother’s bedroom.


She had written,

I can feel the little vibrations of the bus up and down.

A silent fleshy hum, a reminder of discontent and inadequacy.


She thought of her friend in high school who ran

at 6:30am every morning in the summer,

who went to the hospital when peach fuzz covered her body, her periods stopped

and her heartbeat slowed.

She compared herself to her friend.Reading this journal entry later, after, it seemed




One bite, two bites, three bites, four.

She turned on the lights.