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"Keys”
by
Alison Parham

 

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Ruth Elliott

2 packs a day

Scene open with woman jumping rope,wearing headphones,music is in the background. She stops jumping rope and gets some water drinks,wipes face etc.

I love gum. My favorite kind is this new Wrigley's brand that has the gum wrapped in really bright shiny green foil. It reminds me of Chrismas-the Hershey kisses that are wrapped in that special occasion foil-thats what this foil looks like…I always buy two packs at this gas station on my way to work. The guy that owns the place started buying extra boxes because he knows how much I like it-he even puts my name on the box and keeps it behind the counter.

I start chewing my gum right after I have my cup of English Breakfast tea. I have the first 4 peies at approximately 8:30am. The pack is divided into 3 sections each row contains 5 sticks of gum. I chew the first four and then wait maybe ten minutes until I add the 5th piece to sort of kick the flavor up a notch. I chew this first set of gum for as long as I can before the sweetness disappears and then I throw it out and dig into the pack for the next 4 pieces-then I repeat the process. I finish the pack around 10am and then comes the hard part. I have to make it until at least 1pm without eating. Sometimes if I’m just desperate I might cave in and have a banana. For lunch I have two tablespoons of hummus, about 10 baby carrots, three crackers and 1 string cheese. After I eat my lunch I start into pack number two.

My co-workers always laugh at me when they see me smacking my gum telling me things like-“girl you are putting the hurt on that gum”. Sometimes they’ll ask me for a peie I tell them I don’t have anymore-they look amazed”did you already finish that whole pack”…I get sort of embarrassed and make a dumb joke-“oh I forgot to brush my teeth this morning “

When they complain about their bodies or talk about the latest diets they’re trying I don’t say a word. I feel sorry for them because they think that dieting and taking a little 20 minute walk will help them lose weight. They’re so naive…I watch them diet for a week and then before you know it they’re drinking fucking diet coke and eating a jumbo size box of red vines for breakfast,talking about what they're going to order for lunch at 10:00 in the morning.

They whine to me-“how do you do it Annie-how do you stay so thin” I shrug it off-its just my body type. What I really want to say is-its really fucking simple ladies so listen up-I do everything possible NOT to eat-gum,carbonated water-there are all kinds of tricks out there to stop yourself from shoving every godamn piece of food in your mouth. I have something that none of you seem to possess and that is a little thing I call self control.

Also-I run. When I run I’m erasing all the calories I had and giving myself permission to eat again. I remember when I first started to run-my body became so angular and my clothes slid down my body now that there was nothing to cling too. I felt such power-ah ha now this is the way I’m supposed to look. People started making comments to me at the gym about how long I ran and how disciplined I was. Are you training for a marathon? After awhile-when I was at my lowest weight people stopped asking me about my running and started giving me funny looks-I felt like I saw this pity or something in their eyes. I stopped talking to a lot of the people and finally I said fuck this-I don’t need people judging me-so I got my own treadmill.

I do get tired…When I know I have a 6 mile run ahead of me and I’m shaky and tired it can be really hard to make it through. But once I start-I can’t stop. I hear the voice-the voice that says if I stop I am “lazy” and “going to get fat”. This is the voice that I hear all day-reminding me not to fuck up the plan…When I first started all this I would binge every now and again-the rebel would come out and tell the food and exercise police-“FUCK YOU”!!! I would shove everything in my mouth I could find in the house-I would tell myself “who cares I”ll just throw it up later or work out extra hard tomorrow so what the heel”. But eventually I got tired of this-waking up the next morning feeling like I had a hangover-my stomach bloated,headache,dehydrated…
I don’t do that anymore…too hard pick up the pieces-plus I’m terrible at making myself throw up. Now I know better I don’t keep anything that would tempt me in the house.

You know I have tried to get help with this before-there was this one time when I was sitting in a class at school and I started getting these heart palpitaiotns- I thought maybe it was my coffee but it kept happening-especially when I wasn’t even doing anything. I was sort of freaked out and I thought for the first time-maybe I should do something about this-you know go see someone-like a doctor…I went to the clinic on campus and I was so freaked out-I sat in the exam room with the doctor and tried really hard to explain my problem without crying. She had little to no expression on her face-she seemed bored. She looked at my chart and said “well you’re still within a healthy weight range…you’re probably just stressed”. I left that office and I knew I was truly on my own. Big mistake you idiot-why…why did you even bother…how many times have I told you-don’t talk to anyone about this shit-EVER

Eventually the heart palpitations subsided and I went about my routine…I continued to lie to everyone-my family,my friends, co-workers and as everyone pulled away you know what I thought-I was right!! Nobody cares-really, I mean when it comes down to it nobody gives a shit what I do…there is freedom in knowing that…now I can just get on with the business of living-yeah-that what this is…this is living.

 

RUTH ELLIOTT  –  has been doing theater since the age of eight where she had her first role as Aunt Polly in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. She went on to study theatre at Cabrilo, College, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and Sanford Meisner training with Ian McRae in Santa Cruz. She is currently working on pieces for a one-woman show.

In Celebration of the Muse
Brianna Barreto
Donna Becker
Deborah Bryant
Ruth Elliott
Susan Freeman
Patricia Grube
Diane Dobrin Grunes
Geneffa Popatia Jonker
Sylvia Patience
Jennifer Pittman
Bernice Rendrick
Dena Taylor
Louise Thornton
Patrice Vecchione
Renee Winter
J. Zimmerman

Rosie King for Tilly Shaw

Barbara Bloom for Joan Safajek

Featured Artist
Alison Parham

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