He stood by the door, blankly staring at his neighbours, who were best friends of his parents’. He had done just as he was asked – zip it up and go back. 

‘Where were you?’ asked his mom as he cam into the house. ‘I was just outside, mom’, he lied, first time he could think of. 

His parents had invited them for dinner that evening. He could feel the inertia of their smiling attention on him from the far end of the table. The smiles on their faces were oppressive. He opened his mouth, thought for a moment but closed it again. He did not risk a glance towards them. He’d break, he thought. 

Even the smallest bites didn’t go down his stomach. He had to close his eyes and push down the bites with sips of water. Afterwards, he thew up all he had had. That night he felt a rush of pain between his legs. He ran into the washroom and emptied his bladder. It was as if life had been leached out of him. 

But the pain didn’t stop. It never did. 


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