She was full of life and laughter and light, like Blake’s Tyger, tyger burning bright.’ I would follow her everywhere. I was devoted to her. She was my friend. She was my constant companion. She never betrayed me. She was never duplicitous. She was the kind of girl anyone would want to be friends with. She was the kind of girl my mother would have chosen as daughter. The only problem was that she didn’t exist. She resided in the long, dark halls of my imagination.
She was an my oracle. She made the mundanity of everyday life magical. But real or not it had been I who had invited her in.
My greatest gift became my greatest torment. I was losing myself. She grew more solid every day. I began to feel as though I were the ghost, something insubstantial. A piece of blank paper blown this way and that by a capricious and ruthless wind. For My Perfect Friend had adopted the voice of the anorexia .
She was my invisible sister. She was my keeper. She was my guide it and I would be the keeper of her memory. She intercepted my every move. She was the one who stepped in to stop me devouring that bag of salt and vineger crisps or that open box of luxury Belgian chocolates or that last thick slice of iced birthday cake. She was the one who told me that emptyness was the sweetest feeling of all.
‘You are spoilt and undeserving. I am worthier of life than you are. You are grotesque. I am beautiful. I am as light as air. I am nothingness.’ Once again my body became a burden. ‘ I am pure. You are tainted.’ She whispered insults and profanities in my ear.
At first she was a pale phantom but as the year progressed she grew stronger until she was more substantial than the living. She had been fully ressucitated. I found herself hovering between twinned worlds that had become mutually antagonistic. ‘Don’t let them fool you. They are your enemy. I am your only true friend.’ She was sucking me into some desolate netherworld. She cheered me on as I tightened the belt of her jeans. ‘Just one more notch,’ she would say. ‘You’re not quite there yet. Tighter and tighter. It did not occur to me that she was trying to kill me. She was the rent collector and she had come to collect her due. ‘Just pay me what you owe me.’ Our roles had been reversed and I was now the one feeding off her. My Perfect Friend was unencumbered. She was free.
Sometimes I loved her, mostly I began to hate her. And I discovered that she was a a fair weather friend. For when the storm closed over us she backed away. ‘I’m going now, little girl,’ she whispered. ‘You don’t need me anymore.’
But sometimes when I wake up in the night, afraid and alone, I would do anything to get her back.