Featured Artwork: ‘Anxiety’ by aaakeith


Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders

. . .

Catherine comes over the night before 

Thanksgiving with her mother


She was my first best friend

my unofficial older sister

the girl I wanted to be when I grew up


I was six

She was nine


We had just read Peter Pan,

tied quilts and pillowcases to our shoulders

and pretended we could fly


My parents watched me flail about from a few feet away


“She thinks she’s a fairy. She thinks she has wings,”

my mother shook her head lightly


My dad smiled.

“And she does, until you tell her she does not.”


Catherine moved away in middle school

I saw her only once every few months


The last time she came over,

she showed me that 

she could fit her thumb and index finger around her left wrist


I couldn’t fit my thumb and index finger around my left wrist


I had just turned thirteen when

my mom got a call from Catherine’s mother


She had just been checked in to 

in-patient treatment for anorexia



Why would she do that to herself?

I asked


She does not think she is beautiful,

my mom replied


Her mother came over for dinner a week later

Catherine wasn’t getting better


I found myself in the bathroom after the meal

brushing my teeth so hard

I could taste the iron of my blood

but nothing could get rid of the taste of stomach acid in my throat


I swept the floors

wrote “get well soon” cards that I never sent

and made sandwiches without

mayo, turkey, brie, fig jam or bread


I could fit my thumb and index finger around my left wrist


I look over at Catherine now

her arms wrapped around her tiny body

like an infant she is cradling


She looks like a dream

ethereal and wispy

beautiful and evanescent


She looks like a bird

lithe and gossamer


limbs delicate like 

she could drift away

with the next breeze


her face gaunt

a ghostly mask

where once was a beam


the hair I used to braid

cut short and feathery because 

most of it had fallen out already


She looks like she can fly


She already looks like she is flying


floating from table to table

as fleeting and as ephemeral as a first crush

never fully present

never lingering longer than a moment


There’s nothing about her now

that is reminiscent of

the girl I used to love


I think to myself,

this disease has taken from her

so much more than just 35 pounds


Her eyes meet mine


Brown eyes the color of 




beef stew

squaw bread


Brown eyes the color of 

wooden chairs in a hospital room

hair that would rip out in fistfuls

bruises that looked like watercolor art

mascara running from her mother’s eyes


My lips form the question

I have wanted to ask her

since my mom got that call


Who told you that you don’t have wings?

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jessica is a sophomore at csula, studying mathematics and creative writing. she's a student reporter for the university times and a staff writer for outlander zine and mochi magazine. her words have been featured in the los angeles times and overachiever magazine.