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Catatonic 01.01 (1388 words)

by salmintea

It was almost dark on a winter day. I sat crossed-legged on my bed in front of my laptop which displayed a website forum. The headline read “You’re not the only one. Group help online.” I fiddled with the piece of paper in my fingers, and hesitation bit at my lip as the mouse lingered over the join button. I ran my fingers through my hair and exhaled.

The blinds were shut, but slivers of light peeked through the vertical panels, leaving streaks of pale gold light on my walls. In the shadowed corner of my room was an unpacked box, the only one left for me to dissemble. I hated it. I strictly remember wishing it wasn’t there, hoping that maybe a move away could erase the memories attached to the items inside of that one beckoning package. I wished I hadn’t brought it with me. But, how could I ever part with it? It was the only thing left I had of my family, of my real parents. The teddy bear Dad gave me when I was three that was missing an eye, the blanket my grandmother had sewn me before I was born, and the cheap bracelet Mom had given me that had a “B” bead on it were all in that box. I couldn’t open it, but I couldn’t throw it away. I needed to do something, anything that meant I wouldn’t have to face -


It was Carolyn. My aunt. She stood in the doorway of my bedroom. Her red hair fell in curls just above her shoulders, and her eyes were filled, naturally, with slight concern. She eyed my stare and noticed the box, and I could tell she was wondering how I was coping with it all. I guess time never really changes anything.

I closed my laptop quickly and cleared my throat, “Dinner?”

She swallowed and smiled gracefully, “Yeah, I made some meatloaf if you want. It’s going to be ready in a minute. Help me set the table?”

"Sure, I’ll be right down.”

Carolyn sent me her warm mama-bear smile and left the room. I waited until I could hear her footsteps reach the bottom stair before rising from my seat. I set the laptop on my desk and plugged it in, placing the paper slip down beside it. Maybe I’d be braver after eating, I thought. What a sentence.

At the table, Carolyn, John - my uncle, Emberly - my twin sister, and I all sat down for dinner. Emberly had just gotten home from dance and she seemed eager to talk about it. I rolled my eyes, picking at the meatloaf with my fork.

“... and Ms. Gardner said to us that if they were as flexible as me they would win the festival! Can you believe that? I mean, I didn’t even think I was that good of a dancer.”

I humphed. Carolyn sent me a look that was very unforgiving.

"That’s great, Embe!” John said, “When’s your first festival?”

"She didn’t mention that yet, actually. I’m guessing sometime in February? I’m not sure. She said that I shouldn’t have any problem getting up to speed though! Even considering I joined halfway through their sector.”

Wow, what an accomplishment. I rolled my eyes.

Uncle John cleared his throat, setting his fork down on his plate. “That reminds me, um, I don't think I'm gonna be here for your festival, Embe.”

“You're leaving?” she asked, all excitement leaving her voice.

“Yeah, and it’s going to be a little longer this time. But that's okay, because when I come home, we can plant flowers and start gardening again.” He tried his best to smile, but I had a strong feeling it wasn't as genuine as he wanted it to be.

“How long?” Emberly asked. Carolyn clutched her arm with one hand, a way to show her motherly support. We all knew Embe connected most with John out of all of us. She was always heartbroken when he had to leave for work.

John, with a look of defeat, muttered, “Three weeks.”

She didn't say anything. Carolyn whispered consoling words in her ear. I looked plainly at John.

He often left for work for long periods of time. It was usually only for a week, or rarely a week and a half. I didn't know what to say. John and I never had a great connection, definitely not like his and Emberly's.

“I'm leaving in a few days.” John finished speaking. He was very quiet, and when Emberly got up to leave, he opened his mouth as if to speak but didn't rise from his chair. He looked like a newborn pup who had just been put on time out for ripping up a pillow.

It was clear that she was John's favourite. Honestly, it made sense. She didn't have as many issues as me. Which was stupid. We both went through the same damn thing, why would I be worse off than her?

“Embe!” Carolyn yelled after her as Emberly stomped down the stairs. She sighed, and clasped a hand on my shoulder. She noticed my plate, which even though didn't have much food on it in the first place, I had barely touched it.

“Maybe you could try that group therapy site, tonight?”

She was always so concerned about me, which was fine, but it could get annoying after a while. She was just trying to be kind. She was a loving person, and she wanted confirmation that I was okay. She couldn't straight out ask me if I was okay. Today wasn't about me. It was about Emberly. It was always about Emberly. But she wanted it to be about me, just a little.

So to console her worryful eyes, I said: “Yeah, I will.”

She gave me a motherly smile before walking away to see if Emberly was okay. I looked to John, who was picking at his food with his fork. I decided now would be a good time to leave, to avoid awkward small talk with John. I scraped off my plate into the garbage, and scurried back upstairs.

I sat down at my desk and opened the laptop, which still displayed the therapy website. I thought about what Carolyn had said. I knew that I had to use the site eventually. She wouldn't be at ease until I did. So, might as well just rip off the bandaid.

I clicked the join button, and carefully typed in the code on the slip of paper. One final click and I'd be in. I'd be entered into a chat that was already formed, with other people just like me, all ages. I’d never known another person like me, y'know. I thought if one day I did, he'd be a good friend of mine, and that we'd be able to help each other or something. But that was all just a fantasy. I knew that once I clicked enter.

Four faces popped up onto the screen. One was older, one about the same age as me, another had a face that looked sunken, and the last had a voice like she'd smoked 10 packs a day for the last 20 years. But that's what they were, they were all women. They all immediately stopped talking and looked shocked the moment I entered the chat, and I knew they could see my face. They all had wide eyes and gaping mouths, they knew it was weird. They'd probably never even met an anorexic boy in their life.

I shut the laptop screen and put my knees up to my chest. I was breathing heavily, unevenly, and I just stared at the closed computer. A feeling washed over me, a sense of hopelessness I had become so familiar with, it just felt like a warm blanket sheltering me from the outside world. I wanted to throw the computer at the wall. Flames of rage crackled inside my bones and I wanted to know why. Why was it that I was different, and even when I was entering a place full of people like me, I was still different?

I just sat there, hugging my knees, allowing the blanket of desperation and defeat to swallow me whole, until I had enough courage to beat it away again.

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User avatar
132 Reviews

Points: 698
Reviews: 132

Sun Jan 27, 2019 12:01 am
Bullet wrote a review...

Hi! Oliver here to review. I like the title of your piece, it's quite an eye catcher. Let's get into it.

The second paragraph, while great at introducing a mystery (what happened to his parents?), seems a bit info-dumping to me. It's just a lot at once. I feel like it would be better if the information were dispensed throughout, not just in one large paragraph.

The next part that I had a problem with is as follows:

At the table, Carolyn, John - my uncle, Emberly - my twin sister, and I all sat down for dinner.

The hyphens and the way this sentence is set up is a bit awkward and was very clunky to read. I'm sure there's a better way to phrase this.

He looked like a newborn pup who had just been put on time out for ripping up a pillow.

I love this simile, great imagery. Also, the dialogue between the family members seems natural and well paced. I also like that you didn't drop the fact that the main character has anorexia until the very end - it was very nicely placed.

Overall this was very nice and easy to read. The flow was great and the story itself was interesting enough to keep me reading. I also think putting it in first person was a great decision, though I'm curious as to what the main character's name is. I look forward to reading more in the future and will definitely keep my eyes peeled for this. In fact, if you post more, could you tag me? Thanks!

Keep writing,

- o.s.e.k

salmintea says...

I would love to tag you! Thank you so much for the review!
- B

User avatar
562 Reviews

Points: 14535
Reviews: 562

Tue Jan 22, 2019 5:13 am
FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...

Hi, Shikora here with a review.

Let's get to it.

So this is a great start to the story you have planned. The name to your story is very hooking, it drew me in right away, and that was really good, and when I began to read your story, I couldn't take my eyes away from your words. And that is a really good thing, you want that power to get your reader hooked form the very start.

The next thing I liked was the emotion you put into your words when ever the characters were talking, it just gave it a lot more feeling, and it aloud me to come into their world, and it was easier to know how Ben was feeling.
It also aloud me to see the difference between Ben and his twin sister. They really are different, but his sister could be better at hiding ow she really is feeling. There are so many things I want to find out, but I'm going to have to wait for the next chapter.

Now your description is good but I didn't really get to see what the dining room looked like. And they had been cooking right? Well that's when you add the smell too.
There is a thing i do when I write, i know I have to add some description in so I keep these few things in mind, sound, sight, smell and feel. I don't add all of them, but I do at like two here and there. It will help liven up your story a little.
I did get to see your world, but i did kind of had to come up with my background. But you did do a really good job with Ben's room. That was really well written.

Well that's all from me for now. I would love to be tagged so I know when the next chapter will come out. Never stop writing and have a great day/night.

Your friend
Shikora. :D

salmintea says...

Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it, and I have been very icky when it comes to writing detail lately. I do have four more chapters written, but I'm not feeling confident in those chapters so I'm going to be editing them before I type them out on here. I will definitely tag you when the next one is posted.

Thanks for the review!

- B

I'm glad I could help. I think your writing is really good, especially when your doing it in the characters head. I haven't even got to that yet. I'm still writing in third person.

salmintea says...

Thanks! I was a little worried writing it in his head, though I think it will work out alright... I hope (aha).

I think it's going well so far. Keep writing!

Lice on rats on a horse corpse on fire.
— John Oliver