Anticipation

Anticipation

A Chapter by TLK

Previous Version
This is a previous version of Anticipation.



We were so used to seeing the hunger-management of anorexia that we forgot to ask any other questions. Such as, is it truly anorexia when you enjoy eating at regular times, no matter how unusual the spaces between those times are? Does anorexia deepen and lengthen your voice, like rope spooling into a well? Why blink so slowly, and with such care?

She presented an unusual problem: for there was no faulting her appetite when it arrived. There was no need to cajole her to add more calories, to replace diet with regular, to go for extra toppings. She would slowly munch through her cooled vegetables, the congealed gravy, relishing last the hard dry brittle meats that had aged on her plate. Her desserts would lose their pudding sheen and become the flat yellow of nicotined cream. With a ruminatory speed she would tackle it all, hungry to the last curdling drop. Cutlery scythed through the air with all the tenacity of a blimp.

Watching this from some removes, I was a slowly orbiting planet, hurtling round the sun at a Plutonian distance. Dawn did not burst across my horizon. It crept up on me, and the thaw was long. I started to realise that she was indeed eating regularly; just not any definition of 'regularly' that was easily conceivable. It took a long gestation of thought, painfully delivered. Finally, a friend of mine was discussing some news article about measurements of the growing gap between continents, the incipient creep that pushed us away from Europe and our forefathers and our cultured memories, the speaker aware that I was at best quarter-listening but needing to fill the plasticine silences that my kneading mind made. "Say that again," I demanded. They faltered. "Say that again!" I shouted, and once they had stammered it out "again!" and even "again!". That friend brought the forceps that ripped my idea out. It was a bitter Eureka moment, because I knew my realisation had been too slow. And my convincing others would be too slow. And our working on a cure would be too slow.

Like separating continents, she was moving away from us at a speed so miniscule that it only became important when huge landmasses (carried helpless on the turtle legs of the tectonic plates) were the victims. Indeed, her eating patterns were regular. The increments by which they separated were measurable fractions adding on each time. She was hungry on her schedule -- a normal schedule, if only you were prepared to live at her pace.

I talked to her. It took recording my voice and slowing it down, recording her low rumbles and speeding them up. She was similar to many anorexics I have treated. She desired nothing more than control. To control herself so utterly that she could feel proud no matter how maddeningly random the stimuli from her environment. Here was the difference: she was not interesting in attaining the quick beauty of the lollipop stick, the immediate approval of other food forgoers. She took a long-term view, spanning aeons of personal growth. Her happiness was due to the extreme delay of gratification. "Anticipation," she rumbled, "I enjoy the anticipation." Such a beautiful statement.

My last day working at the clinic is the one that will forever stick in my memory. Burning with realisation, I tried to explain the causes of her 'anorexia'. I used the word anticipation many times, always like this: anticipation. I urged it onto my listeners like so many helpings of milkshake. Each blink, I said, each blink is sweeter because she waits. Each breath, I said, so terrifying to us to behold, so drawn out and impossible, to her they are like the pump finally working at the end of a desperate drought. Each taste of food!, and here I became hot to the touch with my contemplation of the impossible and such things are called madness.

I dream of her. I dream of myself in relation to her. I realise that she has reached a certain kind of beauty. She will live on, and on, as she is more like a tree. She is more like the green tide of nature. She will wave her boughs and continue to burst forth over the world as in-between her long pauses we scurry about under her sightless care. I am burning with a fever, an unbearable fever, and I will burn bright and burn out before she even has a chance to think of me again. By the time I die, I have calculated that she will be: breathing once an hour, eating once a week, laughing once a year. She will know the future as time-lapse photography. Her rumbles will emanate from her belly and dissipate into the world like the sigh of an earthquake.

And I will be living in the moments between her blinking. I will be living in that same anticipation.




© 2013 TLK





Featured Review

Your almost dreamy style juxtaposed with the harsh reality of a stay at a clinic is quite startling and effective. 'breathing once an hour, eating once a week, laughing once a year'...that is a gut wrenching line. You've captured that utterly frustrating/desperate/sad world with finesse and poignancy.
Really good stuff,TLK.
Although not what I would usually call "my type of story" I find I enjoy your work.
Check out a book called Disgrace by JM Coetzee. I think you'll enjoy it.
Once again-well done.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

TLK

5 Years Ago

It's on an unusual wavelength, isn't it? I'm glad someone else has received it.



Reviews

Your almost dreamy style juxtaposed with the harsh reality of a stay at a clinic is quite startling and effective. 'breathing once an hour, eating once a week, laughing once a year'...that is a gut wrenching line. You've captured that utterly frustrating/desperate/sad world with finesse and poignancy.
Really good stuff,TLK.
Although not what I would usually call "my type of story" I find I enjoy your work.
Check out a book called Disgrace by JM Coetzee. I think you'll enjoy it.
Once again-well done.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

TLK

5 Years Ago

It's on an unusual wavelength, isn't it? I'm glad someone else has received it.
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Sam
you have managed to tell of this girl and describe her 'madness' while also causing the reader, (by your writing style) to sort of fall into that madness the deeper they get into the piece...I say that because by the end instead of feeling sorry for this girl you (or I) am left with being in awe of her, in awe of her ability to find in the everyday things a level of anticipation making them secrets worth savoring

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

TLK

5 Years Ago

Mission accomplished.
Anticipation operates on a scale...a minute's delay...an hour...a year...

And pleasure, of course, is on the same scale intensifying with the length of its gratification...

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 5 Years Ago


TLK

5 Years Ago

All rules can be stretched too far.
i think you have the acute and lofty vision of an eagle

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 5 Years Ago


TLK

5 Years Ago

My thick, bottle-glass spectacle indicate that perception within the physical and mental realms is t.. read more
I think this piece depicts perfectly the notion that even though we think we can analyze and understand the afflictions of groups of others, we can’t really because each individual is different in the way they undergo that affliction. The narrator has to slowly orbit this anorexic, kind of get into her world and shoes, before understanding that she desires not only control but the bliss of anticipation. Interesting of all, to me, is that the anorexic has infected the narrator with his own kind of affliction, until he is "living in the moments between her blinking."

I enjoyed the content of this piece, and I like your writing style.


This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 5 Years Ago


TLK

5 Years Ago

Thank you for taking the time to have thoughts about this story. And also for saying ridiculously n.. read more

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Added on September 10, 2012
Last Updated on April 10, 2013
Tags: anorexia, time, continents, anticipation, madness, fever


Author

TLK
TLK

Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom



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