by Shana Bulhan

PROMPTS: hc_bingo: comfort food or item
WARNINGS: eating disorders, potential self-harm, tiny objects together, pain, food, blacking out, panic, medication

She liked to make jewellery. Something about the slowness of the beads sliding down thread, the painstaking attachment of bead to string, the exasperating search for beads among the mix. She was trying to sort them out, but they were all so tiny and it was like trying to sort the stars. So instead she had some sorted, and most of the beads all conglomerated together in a bin that did not close quite alright, but she made sure to keep it upright. Sometimes the beads glistened like stars, all the colours and sometimes colours within colours. Sometimes she used wire, especially for bracelets and rings, and then it was a matter of clink and clunk, and making sure to maintain the curve. She knew how to do some pretty patterns, and she knew how to use multiple threads to create some complex designs.

These were things she learned when she was younger– ten or twelve or so– Making jewellery with her friends. She missed those days. It had been easier then, yet there were still so many things she had left unfinished. Such as the friendship bracelets– Another painstaking but beautiful hobby. She did not like the phrase, “no pain no gain,” but it seemed to follow her everywhere, like slippery slime on a rainy day. Whether it was trying to tighten the end beads just right with nose pliers and roughing her fingers up against the metal, or a razor cut while trying to shave her legs (when she bothered to do that, anyway), or the scrape of an eyeliner pencil that needed to be sharpened, she learned that “no pain no gain” referred to the little things as well as the big things.

The big things– Like how she went from eating so much to eating so little. It was so drastic, and it had everything to do with medication and not as much to do with her eating disorder. But she romanticized the way she would almost black out every now and then, and the way she would eat only bits and pieces of things. She decided that this was better than eating lots as she had before, even though she felt guilty because she was really passionate about letting people eat however much they needed and wanted to. When she’d been eating a lot, she’d resented anyone who told her not to eat so much. But still, the return to this state of less eating thrilled her, and she hated that it thrilled her even as she loved it. The guilt moved through her body like ribbons and weary thread, and it was as though all the jewellery she made was caught up inside her throat, and she had no room to breathe sometimes.

There was, in some way, comfort in the emptiness, the lack of food, the headaches and warm panic. There was also comfort in the feeling of beads on scarves tied around her waist, or the same beads fallen, caught between her toes. She often longed to throw all the beads out on the floor and walk all over them, again and again, until the imprints would be deep enough on the soles of her feet. There was somehow beauty in the glitter, and it was, again, her way of meditation, of staring upwards, of getting beyond the ceiling. She spun with the finished necklaces flying through her fingers, and it was as if she was in all the grassy fields they always talked about in literature. She did not make jewellery that much, but when she did, it meant more than she realized.