Starvation Chapter 1

Chapter 1- After

I should have been dead, but that was the kind of thing my family never talked
about. Mom had fallen asleep in the chair by my hospital bed, dried mascara caked
under her eyes. Dad had gone off to get coffee, or so he said, but I think he was tired of
looking anywhere but at me. Collin hadn’t even come. Not that we’d been talking much
since the car accident and his new girlfriend and junior year in general. We’d only been
friends since kindergarten. No big deal.
The hospital wristband cuts at the bones protruding from my wrist. Wes McCoy,
it labels me, but they haven’t put crazy or stupid or fat, so I know the label is not quite
complete.
I slip the hospital wrist band on and off because there is nothing else to do
besides count ceiling tiles, which I’ve already done for one hundred and thirty-three
minutes straight.
An elderly lady with a puff of white hair and crooked glasses shuffles by the
sliding glass door, the bottom of her walker covered in tennis balls. I close my eyes and
wonder how things would be different if I had been a tennis player instead of a wrestler.
#
Earlier that day we had practice with lift and conditioning afterwards. I rushed to
the locker room after US Government, a mere hour early, to change. Checked every row.
Found no one. Threw on a T-shirt, shorts and sweats, even though the school was
cranked up to eighty degrees to overcompensate for the December frost.
My stomach growled. I pulled out a smashed granola bar from my pocket. I
closed my eyes and imagined crispy chicken, green beans drenched in butter, chocolate
ice cream, and cherries, and threw the bar in the bottom of my locker. I downed an
entire bottle of water to make everything stop spinning as much, even though all I
wanted to do was grab the granola bar and shove the entire thing in my mouth.
Ten minutes into practice, I was dripping sweat, my heartbeat erratic, everything
gaining a slight blur. I didn’t take off the sweats, though, needing to lose the water
weight. Needing to move down another weight class to have a better chance at being
more like Jason.
Collin didn’t say anything to me, laughing with Alex during water breaks and
talking with Jackson on the way back. During one and two-foot takedowns, Collin had

me on the mat in less than a second, over and over, while I had to throw myself at him to
get him down once.
I lay on the mat as darkness pressed at the sides of my vision. My head floated in
waves. Collin ran a hand though his dirty-blond hair, rolling his eyes. “You going to get
up, McCoy?”
Instead of kicking his feet out from under him, which in hindsight, maybe I
should have, I stood up. The darkness pulsed, and the floor rose back up to catch me.
When I opened my eyes, the entire wrestling team and two paramedics stared from
above. I was sure this was how I was going to die—on the sweaty wrestling room floor,
shivering so hard my muscles stabbed with pain, my chest exploding, my vision blurry.
#
Dr. Allen opens the sliding glass door. “How are you feeling?”
Mom’s eyes flutter open and she leans forward, reaching for my hand. I pull it
away, letting her hand fall on my thigh.
“Uh, okay I guess.” I slip the hospital band off and back on.
“What’s wrong? Is it serious?” Mom’s grip on me has tightened, her left foot
bouncing.
“Actually, I wanted to talk to you outside first, if that’s alright.”
The fidgeting increases but she follows him. His shoulders are straight, head
high, but he betrays this confidence by adjusting the stethoscope around his neck,
pointing to the chart. They both look at me. Mom’s face sinks, her head shaking back
and forth. He puts his hand on her shoulder, assuring her he is right. She cups her face
with her hands, body shaking with sobs.
I slide the wristband off. Back on. Off. Back on.
Dad steps in, carrying a cup of coffee that he places on the nurse’s stand before
taking Mom in his arms. He looks at Dr. Allen to explain. He looks at me the same
way—as if I had sprouted an extra arm—before burying his face in Mom’s hair.
I slide the wristband off. Back on. Off. Back on.
The sliding door creeps open. Mom and Dad huddle in the corner. Dr. Allen sits
down in a chair, which I know is an attempt to get me to feel more “comfortable” with
“being vulnerable” and “sharing.” I cross my arms.

“When is the last time you ate, Wes?” he asks, eyes landing on the clipboard,
finding his perception of me.
I wonder if this means they think I need surgery or had an allergic reaction,
which I hope for, instead of them knowing the real reason I fainted and the real reason I
can’t be here any longer.