national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014


Amber Eastman (August Lah)  • 
Emerson College

Last night I had a dream that I was fat.

More than fat: crouched on the bathroom floor of my old high school, flesh hanging
heavy and pendulous. Gravity ached. Deeper and twist.

I tried to cut it all out before you saw me, drew sharp red lines on my stomach, thighs and arms, pulled them open and explored. Nothing came out even, so I kept digging. Keep digging. Scoop and repeat. 

My pudgy hands trembled. I panted through blubber lips. The floor was a red mess. I tried to mop it up with toilet paper, but it melted into red pulp. I could almost hear your footsteps in the hallway and I still wasn’t —. Deeper, repeat. Ad nauseum. 

Until your footsteps grazed a bone in my arm and your hands and voice pressed against the door. Until you pounded, my heart pounded, making everything worse. Where I wasn’t lumps I was bags of skin streaked red and fumbling hands that tried to shut gaping lips of flesh. I leaned against the door and buried my face in sticky fingers.

I’m telling you this so you know: behind the door there’s a bloody mess of vanity.