Well let me tell you the story and then you can decide.
Still silence… I was awake for about three hours now, but it felt like my lonely spirit was still alone in this house. My sister is usually awake by now, but for a strange reason she was still fast asleep on a Sunday afternoon.
I became more nervous; I slowly started to sweat, looking at the clock- tick tack, tick tack- whilst trying to watch TV. I couldn’t do it. Something was not right.
I told myself I’ll go check up on her in five minutes… the time was growing slower and slower, while the sound was becoming louder and louder.
Only two minutes gone, but already thoughts were flying around my head; “was the day today?”, “what if it’s our last day?”, “what will I tell mum and dad?”, “how could this happen?”
I had endless questions running in and out of my brain without any invites. I could not help it- I could not help myself. I guess I really do love her.
After long five minutes, I bravely stood up and started to walk towards the stair. I felt a shiver run down my spine as my back faced the polished white doors. I stopped sweating and soon started to shake- was this from the wind finding it’s way into my house or was it simply just my nerves?
Three, four and five.
Before I knew it, I was facing a sign saying, ” Antonia’s Bedroom. Please Knock.” But I chose to ignore the sign and simply did not knock- there was something letting me know that she was still asleep. Maybe it was her spirit trying to tell me to let her rest in peace, but whatever it was, it made me disobey one her most valued rules; “Always knock before you come in, even if I cannot be heard in my room,” she would always tell me with her precious little voice.
As I slowly reached out my shaky hand towards the shiny steel handle, my heart started to sound like the drums in a rock song, and once again my head was flooded with mortifying thoughts. I turned the handle. Pushed the door…
It suddenly felt like someone was strangling me and forcing all the air out me, whilst trying to focus my eyes and wake up from the nightmare. No, this was not a nightmare; this was reality! I was still holding onto the tiniest light of hope that I could find and hoping it wouldn’t be what it seemed like…
Very carefully, step by step I started to approach the pale lifeless creature lying on the wooden bright floor. I was standing above her, and slowly reached out my arms to pick up the sack of bones. No movement. “Antonia, its all right, Johnny is here. I’m here to help.”
No breath escaping her body. “Antonia please talk. Please say you’re fine. You have done so well, we can get through this.” A lonely tear rolls slowly down my cheek, and I guess this is the tear that was trapped in my tortured chest, and finally found its way out to let me know that there is no hope for tomorrow, but I still held tightly onto my hope although it seemed like the darkness has taken over the light.
Her heartbeat could not be heard. “Antonia wake up! Please wake up! You can’t do this! Why?” Screaming and shaking her to wake up, I realised it was the end. The doctors were right.
“I could try CPR!” As I put my enormous hands on her little chest I could see the difference. I could feel it too! My sister who was once a normal size, happy and healthy suddenly felt like a small little bird in the palm of my hands.
Push and release, push and release-
“Was that her bone?”
As I stared at her sharp chest, I realised what I have done- I was mortified and slowly my heart beat faster and faster, louder and louder, while the room became tighter and tighter, smaller and smaller- and I soon became even more scared of touching her fragile body, in case I manage to break any more of her precious weakened bones.
To be honest, I never actually realised that my sister was this thin. I never saw her actual size, although I did notice she was getting smaller and smaller by the day. And we did try to help her, by I guess we were just hurting her more by feeding her, it was her choice to starve herself.
It was a summer day. Our vacation holiday. Antonia chose to invite her best friend to come with us to the country side. It was great fun and I could see Antonia enjoying every second of every minute while we were away, although Antonia was very popular for her sense of humour and loved by all her friends because she was a very bubbly teenager. However, when we got back Antonia was going through the pictures that we managed to take on our summer vacation. Great memories. Well… that’s what I thought.
“Does my bum look big in this picture?” She asked me as she evaluated every little detail of her body.
“No, it looks fine. And please don’t ask me this again as I don’t feel right answering these type of questions about my older sister.” She smiled but also gave me a bit of a dirty look which made me go to my room. As I walked up I didn’t think much about this question and it never occurred to me what it actually meant!
Over the next few days she would always ask me if she looks fat and would often complain about putting on weight, even if it was just a hundred grams that day. As a boy, I didn’t know much and would just tell her to shut up, but over the weeks she became more irritable and I would soon call her fat. She wasn’t, but it just came out.
“Fat?!” she would scream in my face.
I nodded and walked off.
As a ten year old boy, I thought nothing about weight and the way she looked; she was just my sister and we would always make fun of each other, as a result I don’t know why she reacted the way she did…
Months had passed since our warm vacation, and soon the atmosphere in my family was beginning to change. It was getting cold. I was becoming lonely. And so was my sister; there were no more visits from her best friend, in fact they had an argument but I did not quite know why.
Antonia began to skip breakfast, and also slowly started to refuse any chocolate or anything which contained “too much sugar”. She loved these things, but not anymore.
As the years passed, she soon started to eat just one meal a day. Just one carrot a day. That was her meal.
“Was that enough?” I would ask myself.
Being three years younger then her, made me think that she was doing the right things, even when they were clearly wrong! Even mum and dad would always ask her to eat. She refused. I also remember the day we went out for dinner to try and get her to eat something, but she only nibbled on the salad, which was free of charge.
“I’m not eating!” screaming and shaking her head sideways made me realise she could not be persuaded to eat anything she didn’t want to.
I lived my life normal, although no one even cared about me anymore- they only saw her. I began to build rage and jealousy towards her, and just wished she would come back to normal, would become the sister I once had. The sister I loved.
Back from school alone. Poor Antonia was left at home to rest because of her eating disorder while I was growing my knowledge about the outside world and gaining more confidence in passing my exams.
“I’m going to be a doctor when I grow up!” I thought to myself, but I wasn’t aware of the seriousness of my sister’s illness.
Running up the stairs, and as I threw the bag on the bed, I suddenly heard a “BANG!” I was sure it came from my sister’s room. Time to investigate…
She was lying on the floor, while her baggy jumper exaggerated her size- but to me she still looked like a little fish swimming in a lonely lake.
As the time went on, we found her collapsed in her room, or in the living room, outside our door, in the garden and sometimes even in school. It would always be the same routine: check for her heartbeat, lift her onto a bed/sofa/table, call 999, be taken to hospital and finally she would return home after a week, which seemed like a year.
This time when she came back from her prison, she called me over to her room and whispered something to my ear- I still remember it to this day.
“Johnny, I don’t want to die but I want to be thin. I’m not going back into that horrendous place; I saw something which won’t leave my heavy heart. A girl I would always talk to when I’m imprisoned left me on my own now… when we were talking… she… she… she died.”
“You have to eat and get better, remember I’m always here for you. If you need anything let me know. You are already thin; don’t need to be thinner- please Antonia, just eat and you will be better. You won’t die. You’ll survive. I promise.”
“Was she going to change her life?” I thought as I left her room to bring her some normal food for once. It felt as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but deep down there was something trapped in me which was bringing me down and making me feel heavy.
She reached her 17th birthday. Four years of fighting her evil eating disorder. “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you…” We sang her the birthday song, as a smile filled her face and her eyes sparkled like diamonds; I never saw her as happy as she is now since our vacation. Remembering that talk I had with her last year, gave me so much strength and hope that she will win and stay with us for longer. If she has gone this far she can go on for longer.
The next Sunday I was awake for three hours, and she was still asleep. It was a Sunday afternoon and she would be awake by now; but it felt like my lonely spirit was still alone in this house. This was the day. This was the end. A week after her 17th birthday she has been found collapsed in her bedroom by me. And she was dead.
Although it seemed like she was healthy again, we didn’t realise where the food has been going for the past two years. In her stomach and out again into the toilet, or even under her bed.
She starved herself to death…