“Fattening room? They still exist?”
“Yes, they do.”
“This is twenty-first century Mum.”
“It is, and that means it’s modern. You’ll enjoy it.”
“Don’t worry, sweetheart. Everything will be fine.”
I watched bleary-eyed as she picked her handbag, kissed me on the forehead and walked to the door, then turned and smiled at me before she closed it quietly behind her. I groaned. This was my life, or more accurately, the life I was supposed to live. Pushing myself up, I supported my weight with my elbows and held on to the sheets so I wouldn’t fall back on the bed. My head throbbed. I wasn’t sure if the drugs and antidepressants worked. I still felt a little empty. My session with the doctor yesterday, like the many others, didn’t make much progress. I had sat on the same chair and listened to her tell me how well I was recovering and how bright my future was. I believed her. Or maybe it wasn’t her I believed. Maybe it was Chris, my fiancé.
I met Chris after my first suicide attempt. My mum had talked me into attending the Mentally Aware support group, and there he was, with his smooth ebony skin and perfect white teeth, smiling at me. He showed me the scare on his wrist and told me how he played with the razor. I told him the name of the drugs I used to overdose. We laughed and fell in love. I wouldn’t define what he had as beautiful but it felt right when he gave me the ring.
I was waiting for Chris. He promised to be here before ten. It was almost midnight. I sat by the pool. I had cleared my head of all thoughts but staring at the calm water, I couldn’t help wondering if anyone’s life was as peaceful.
Shortly after I agreed to marry Chris, my mum had told me about the things that needed to be done. I knew it would happen. Culture demanded it of me and my family. The bride price and exchange of gifts came and went. Those were the easy part. When my mum mentioned the fattening room, I thought it would be easy as well. From the stories I heard, the bride was required to stay in a room for a few weeks. She would see no one except the young maidens taking care of her and an elderly woman supervising the whole thing. She only had to eat, rest and get plump before the marriage. I never wanted to go but Chris had convinced me.
“This is the beginning of everything new for us. It’ll be over in no time,” he had held my hands and pleaded.
At first, everything was fine. The woman would come every morning and evening carrying records and histories of my people. Sometimes, she would tell me the stories. Other times, she would leave them for me to study. I was happy. For the first time in my life I never thought of how I wanted to die. Then it happened. I was reading one of the stories when she arrived with four other women. She had told me earlier that I had few more days to go. They quietly led me to an inner room I never noticed before. None of them said anything. They avoided my eyes and gestured for me to climb atop a long, narrow table. The four women held me down. Before I could blink, she pulled a small knife and was cutting my most intimate area. To keep me from being promiscuous, they had said.
I heard footsteps before I caught a shadow by the right side of the pool. Chris was finally here. He stopped and stared, first at my face, before his gaze lowered to the ropes and stones I tied to my feet. He shrugged and began to walk towards me.
“Stop,” I said.
“Don’t talk,” he murmured.
He sat and began to untie the ropes and retie our feet together.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m not living this life without you.”
“Shh. You jump, I jump.”
“I won’t have you…”
“I love you.”
He pressed his finger on my lips to keep me from saying another word. I began to fill the remaining stones in the pockets of my shorts. We stood, looked at each other and nodded. Then we flew. The beginning hadn’t looked more new and beautiful.
This piece was written using A New Beginning as a prompt.
Tell me thoughts.