• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 04


We worried about her, the way she contorted her body into shapes when she was stressed. She said it took her mind off the everyday stuff. It needed all her will power and ingenuity to get her body into ever more demanding positions that all the bad things evaporated. One time I found her hanging from a tree branch in the garden – feet first, like a bat. I do remember she used to like climbing into boxes and small spaces as a child. For a whole year she even slept in a box, and if I tried to take it away she would cry and tear it from my hands. But things have got out of hand now. She spends hours in headstands, not yoga-like, more leaning on her face, head turned, eyes staring into space. I once had to discourage a neighbour from coming in because Lara was hanging with her legs over the top of the kitchen door, her back to the wood, arms straight as if reaching to the floor.

I cried when I found her curled up in the vanity unit in the bathroom. This isn’t normal I said looking at all the bottles she’d pushed out of the cupboard to squeeze herself in. She just pulled the door shut on me and said to leave her alone while she crunched out all the days stresses.

The spaces she climbed into got smaller, the positions she wound her body into looked more and more impossible and uncomfortable. It became a challenge she must win. I even began to check the washing machine and the oven – just in case.

I said to her, go see a doctor, get something, find another way to deal with stress. Counselling, talk therapy, they are supposed to be good. I’m not mad, she said. And then I caught her trying to slide into the dishwasher. I yelled at her so loud that she jumped and fell on all the crockery she’d taken out and left on the floor. White mingled with red as the broken china shot into her flesh. Rivers of blood ran down her arms and legs but when I looked at her face Lara was smiling. Look, she said, all the stress is bleeding away. It feels so good!