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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Taste (07/15/10)

TITLE: Failure
By Laury Hubrich


Riley sat in the middle of the bed, her cell up to her ear.

“It’s me, Lucy.”

“I saw Cameron’s wall on Facebook. Lizzy is pure evil.”

“You think?” the rejected girl spit out.

“Did you ask Cam what’s up?”

“He talked to me on Instant Message. Not even enough guts to break up with me on the phone.”

“What’d he say?”

“He said he can’t see me anymore. I asked what I did and he said nothing, he was sorry, and would talk to me later.”

“He’s such a jerk. I never liked him.”

“I know. I should’ve listened to you. Luce, can you come over?”

“I can’t. I’m babysitting tonight. You gonna be okay?”

“I’ll be fine. Talk to you later.”

“Call if you need anything.”

Riley turned up the music and locked her door. She knelt beside the bed and pulled out a bag of junk food. A box of rolled chocolate cakes with whipped icing inside called her name and she succumbed.

She ate one after another, not even noticing the overwhelming sweetness that assaulted her body. Riley was surprised when she found the box empty. She cracked open a bag of chips and munched while she browsed Lizzy and Cameron’s Facebook walls.

Riley picked up her phone. “Lucy?”

“Hey. I just got the kids to bed. Little monsters!”

“Luce, I don’t feel so good.”

“What’s wrong?”

“My stomach’s rolling. I can’t even tell you what I ate except by the wrappers. I’ve never downed that much in a month, let alone one night. No wonder Cameron hates me. I’m a fat pig.”

“You’re not a pig. Listen, take the phone with you to the bathroom, I’ll tell you what I do.”

“Okay. Hold on.” Riley cranked her music up even louder. “Here now.”

“You gotta put your finger down your throat and throw up.”

She gasped. “No way.”

You can’t compete with cheerleader Lizzy unless you do. She purges, too. We all do it.”

“Purge? Vomit, you mean?”

“Yeah, vomit. I know it sounds gross but you get used to it. Put your phone on speaker and it will be almost like I’m beside you.”

“Everyone does this?”

“Duh. What school do you go to? Are you deaf and blind?”

“I’ve never heard anyone talk about it. Guess I’ll try it.”

Riley slipped off her clothes and studied her body in the full length mirror. She set her hands on her tummy bulge. “Pig.” She stood over the toilet and put her finger down her mouth and gagged a bit.

“What now, Lucy? I’m a failure even at throwing up.”

“Shut up and listen. Spin around in circles. It’ll get you really nauseated. When you can’t stand it anymore, take your toothbrush and wiggle it around in your throat. You’ll bust a gut for sure after all that.”

“Okay.” She watched herself in the mirrors as she spun around. When she couldn’t stand it anymore she fell to her knees, her arms wrapped around the toilet. No need for anything extra to get her going, the night’s binge gushed out. She retched and Lucy cheered her on.

“Oh God,” Riley mumbled between breaths and heaving. Finished, she stood at the sink and swished water in her mouth. “Lucy, it tasted better going in than coming out, for sure.

“Yeah, I know. How do you feel?”

“I feel rotten. What now? Any tips for afterwards?”

“Not really. It does get easier or maybe you just get used to it. Dunno. Hey, I gotta go. I hear the rents in the drive. See ya.”

Riley laid down the phone and muttered, “Thanks for nothing, Lucy. You get me into this mess, said you’d stay right here with me, and now where are you when I need you? Why do I listen to you again?”

Riley studied herself in the mirror once again. “God help me, please?” she pleaded then slid to the floor, curled up into a fetal position, naked and vulnerable. She gagged and tried to push down the bile that bubbled up and burned her throat. Gut-wrenching sobs started deep inside her body and worked up and escaped out from her lips. She tried to smother the sounds but it was useless. Tears and saliva dripped from her face onto the rug.

Numbed and dazed, Riley barely felt her mom wrap a large towel around her nakedness and pull her onto her lap. Together they sat on the floor, rocking and weeping.

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Shirley McClay 07/22/10
Wow. Intense. Heartbreaking. GROSS!

Great ending. Powerful.
Yvonne Blake 07/23/10
Wow! It's so sad that this is reality for so many young people.
Beth LaBuff 07/23/10
Wow! The desperation of your MC was tangible and heart-breaking. The despair felt by many over this issue is epidemic. Great work on this story.
AnneRene' Capp07/25/10
This is so well done, eye opening and heart breaking. I hope you pursue getting this published. It needs to be circulating!
Joan Campbell07/26/10
A haunting story of teenage insecurity and peer pressure. It's truly eye-opening.
Christina Banks 07/26/10
You really brought you MC to life and gave an important message at the same time. Reading this reminded me of my own teenage years and the stories of girls who purged. This is really an epidemic in our society. Thank you for bringing attention to it in your writing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/26/10
Oh this is such an outstanding show of courage. It's hard to write the truth about how these things really do happen. I was riveted to the screen for every word. You really spoke the voice well. I loved the mom coming in and holding her in the end.
Lollie Hofer07/28/10
And it truly is that easy to get started. I'm thankful your mc cried out to God and then Momma showed up to comfort her. I felt your mc's pain all the way through. Well done.