An apple hard and crisp and full of memories. Apples give me indigestion. They remind me of the days when an apple was all I ate for lunch, the days when I agonised to be thin. To be thin was to worry my mother and what better way to attract her attention than to look as though I were fading away. We were fading away. Me and my younger sister, the one less than twenty two months younger, the one with whom I competed in the thinness stakes.
In those days my sister and shared a house together, half a house, with one other friend from school. We shared a tight budget, too, ten dollars a week on groceries. H, our friend and housemate, the one who got fat while we grew thin, shopped on Saturdays at the Victoria market. We wrote the list together and never altered it. Week after week, H bought the same food.
Curried sausages on Monday. We threw in a handful of sultanas for the taste and novelty – the sweet and savoury mixed together. On Tuesdays we cooked a chicken noodle soup packet version of chicken chow mien without the chicken. We ate fish on Wednesdays, whatever could last the three days, whatever was freshest. In those days fish was cheap. On Thursdays we ate homemade hamburgers without the buns and on Fridays we drank.
When we drank we ate ice cream for supper. Ice cream was fattening but if that was all we ate we figured we could get way with it. The boys would pick us up around eight o’clock after our day at university and we would start our drinking, the boys on beer, the girls on port and lemonade. It was not until ten that we realised we were starving. When the boys went off to buy hot chips from the local fish and chip shop we girls went to the milk bar for a two-litre tub of vanilla ice cream. Always vanilla, any other flavour we considered more fattening.
It was a slow and steady process this business of disappearing. In time I gave up milk with my coffee. Black coffee gave the illusion of having a feed even if underneath I was starving. I watched my stomach shrink and felt the weight of any food I ate like an ache.
H served up plates at dinner and my sister and I fought over who might get the smallest serve. H had no choice but to take the biggest, whether she wanted it or not. It was a strange reversal of affairs. When we were younger, when H was still thin, my sister and I fought over who might get the biggest serve. All my siblings fought over the amount but this was before we hit adolescence and realised the power of disappearing.