An excerpt from Imaginary Loves
I am loved by someone so well that I never doubt it, Bettany says, as the nurse puts the IV into her arm. Do you know what that’s like?
This is what it’s like, the nurse answers, jabbing unnecessarily, when you refuse to eat.
The nurse’s sister died of anorexia.
She is very angry.
Bettany floats in the gray-white haze of zero blood sugar, way down below weakness and well risen to euphoria. Sooner or later, they will leave the room. She will take out the IV. They will come and put it back. She will wait, take it out; a perfection of passive resistance.
He meets me in the middle, she says.
If you take this out again, the nurse answers, you’re going into restraints.
Bettany considers the blue-black hair of the nurse. Like raven feathers, she says aloud. What is your name?
Sucking up to me isn’t going to help.
I’m not. I want to know your name.
My name doesn’t matter, says the nurse. I’m the nurse.
It matters to me, says Bettany.
No, it doesn’t, says the nurse. What matters to you is getting a grip on reality.
I have one, Bettany says. I am loved. It feeds me.
The nurse finishes taping the IV, cleans up a line of blood dripped down the girl’s emaciated arm. Leave it this time, she says, or restraints. I mean it.
Did I tell you about the letter he sent me?
You can’t eat letters, the nurse says.
Oh, yes, says Bettany, rising to one elbow with quaking effort. Yes you can.