whales and fat girls

“Is it just me or do I look like a whale in this dress?”

Karen’s parents put her in the mental hospital.  They do it when she wakes up, convinced that she’s an orca, a killer whale.  It happens when she’s seventeen: on her birthday.

Initially, there were no explanations.  Noting but groans, deep, deep groans and cries.  Lovely Karen Wilkins, red-haired and blue-eyed and cheerleader-cute, with a boom, a foghorn cry ripping out of her white throat, like you wouldn’t believe a lovely young girl could possibly produce.

She just lay in her bed.  There, where the morning light gave her rosy hair a glow like she was an angel — and howled down deep.  Howling like puking — like when half-digested food wants to find a way back up, but it’s a direction against nature, and the body can’t quite figure it out yet.  So you retch and retch, to stomach spasms, the digestive system staging a revolution against itself.  Go Reds!  De-install capitalism, bring down the hegemony of nutrition and anabolisis!

It seemed like she’d forgotten how to speak.  And even like she didn’t know how to yell or cry anymore, and yet her body insisted.  She roared like it was torture to make a sound, and then she rolled out of bed — fell on the floor, banged hard against it.

That was how they found her — her family — and it was why they put her in the nut-house.


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