twenty three beads on each side. forty six in total. red beads; red is a primary color. a bracelet, my bracelet, tightly surrounding my wrist. i am not hungry. i already ate. i do not feel well. i will eat later. i tell myself what to believe, tell everyone the familiar lies that are supposed to disguise my hunger. the number changes as i feel the release, running miles around my subtle disbelief that maybe i am already enough. following the rules i have applied to my life. collar bones are beautiful, my legs are fat, the feeling after not eating for a day makes you stronger - imagine the feeling after going on longer, running on empty, pretending like you are not wasting away. count the calories. calories in, energy out. burn more than you eat. one hundred is a big number, do not break one hundred, you must weigh ninety five when you graduate next fall, i remind myself over and over, the memories from back when i was only ten. you need to eat. they remind me of why i am so weak, so cold, so drained of life, so on the edge, to tired, so consumed with sickness. i have a red beaded bracelet with forty six beads that fits around my bony left wrist and subtly reminds me that all my thoughts are disordered, and i eat weird and that everyone is right. that the mirror is lying and that i am making myself sick, dying to be something i have always been. it reminds me of the fear of becoming fat, but it twists it around, making me feel like i already am and that i have to take control before i lose it all. it is not all about beautiful. it has never been only about beautiful. it has been about control, when i became a vegetarian five years ago. it has been about being accepted, feeling like skinny is all i have. it is about fear, of self and of growing and of getting older. it is about the voices from my childhood that replayed over and over, never letting me forget, giving me something to hold onto when i felt like i had nothing left, that turned into lies i find hard to turn away from. it is about feeling, about dealing with everything, about living life with a sense of belonging, even if i only fit into the statistics. it is about a story, my story, of how my life began: three months too early, one pound and six ounces, and how i survived, even though the doctors doubted. my life story about where i am today, how i got here. a story i am willing to tell four hundred times more, because maybe someone is listening and maybe they will see that i know what it feels like to desperately try to change the reflection, and i know the hold it has, but i know freedom exists on the outside. i have a little red beaded bracelet as a reminder of who i once was, of the anorexic sickness that i lived, but that was never really me, that was never all i was. there is more to the story, my story. there is always so much more than the skin and bones, or the red beaded bracelet cutting off her circulation.