Jessica Wang

United States

I'm the editor of the magazine "Ice Lolly Review." It is a literary magazine created by the youth and for the youth. You can submit your piece for a chance to be published in an issue. You can find the website here: https://www.icelollyreview.com/

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Criticism and commentary is welcome.

Meals during Quarantine - Revised

December 6, 2020

Meals during Quarantine 

Quarantine Day 1: 
Today’s breakfast is runny fried eggs on a thin slice of toast. A pat of butter lays untouched on my plate. I watch the yolk soak the bread, breaking down the soft starch and staining the plate a doughy yellow.      

I don’t eat yet.                  

Instead, I scroll through social media liking pictures of girls in bikinis, their soft flat stomachs and curves pixelated on my phone. Girls, girls, everywhere. Girls in their pink tank tops and denim shorts. Girls in floppy straw hats, their skin shining from a sun that doesn’t exist, their legs thin and gleaming. I tap the comment icon. Omg you’re so pretty, gorgeous girl, queen :), I wish I could be you. 

I like and unlike the pictures and set my phone down before picking it up and setting it down again. My bread has sunk into the lukewarm sea of sweet, salty yolk, and the crust is falling off the edges. I close my eyes, imagining my body falling into the same sea of liquid gold, bathing in the tepid keratin, hairs stuck together with sticky membrane. I wonder if it would make me shine if I could also don a floppy sun hat and a pink soft tank top with soft, soft flatness.
 
Quarantine Day 7: 

Today’s lunch is a bowl of microwave ravioli. The edges are a bit undercooked and they stick out unattractively from the pile of white creamy sauce. It’s not bad for my first try. The local grocery store is closed so food needs to be made at home.

I skewer the pasta with a fork, twirling the ravioli in the air. The cheesy meat drips from the puncture and slides down the metal utensil. I set it down and open my phone to YouTube and click on a video. An ad pops up. A heavy, blonde, busty woman is sitting with her friend, a brown busty brunette. The blonde moans about her weight to her friend and her friend listens before handing her a bottle of diet suppressant pills. The music swells and the blonde’s weight magically disappears, as if evaporated by these strange pills. She’s thinner, happier, and prettier. The scene changes and both women are on the beach, their bodies clad in tight fit bikinis and their red lips gleaming, shining. The phrase “Get your quarantine body on. Lose weight in two weeks.” flashes across the screen in shiny bold colors and the ad ends and the video resumes. 

All I can think about is the woman’s shininess and her soft flat skin. Omg you’re so pretty. 

My fork falls and clatters on my plate. I don’t pick it up. I’m not hungry anyway.

Quarantine Day 15:

Today’s dinner is a hamburger with a sesame bun, with a ring of lettuce shyly peeking out. The lettuce is freshly picked from my mother's garden and the translucent edges are sloppily assembled around the circumference of the bread. I pick off each sesame seed from the bun and drop them onto the clay plate.  

Plink. Plink. Plink. 

I keep picking until the bun is naked until the soft flesh of the bread is clear of blemishes and the surface shines under the fluorescent kitchen lights. The bread gleams. Shiny soft flat flesh. Gorgeous girl. 

I would like to be gorgeous. 

I pick up my phone and tap the search engine. How many calories are in a sesame seed?  

There are 52 calories in a tablespoon of sesame seeds. I take one and pop it into my mouth. It melts before I even have a chance to swallow. 

Quarantine Day 30: 

Today’s meal is chocolate coated pretzels with rainbow sprinkles. Today’s meal is a pint of my father’s favorite coffee ice cream. Today’s meal is three sausages doused in droopy cheese. It’s two digestive biscuits and a bowl of Kraft macaroni and a bag of candy bars and one cinnamon doughnut and a liter of cola and two runny fried eggs on a thin slice of toast.
I eat and eat until the hollowness is gone, until all the flatness disappears. until my sweater is stained and my lips are swollen and I feel dull and round and not shiny at all. 

I wish I could be you. 

Today’s meal is given a second life, it is reborn as warm, bile, sludge that seeps out of my throat and splatters over my now shiny legs. I flip on the shower nozzle and watch today’s newly reborn meal flow down and down through my shower drain, the remains staining the tub yellow. 

Glug. Glug. Glug. 

I don’t wash myself. Instead I sit in the dirty tub and close my eyes. I dream of floating in egg yolks, soft salty egg yolks that taste shiny. I dream of the liquid chunks flowing out of my mouth and drying on my thighs, staining my legs not the color of shiny gold but the color of vomit and self hatred and pain and restriction. 

I cry clear tears. Tears that do not shine. I cry enough tears to wash away the entire tub and me in it. 

Quarantine Day 65: 

Today’s meal is ten dumplings carefully wrapped by my mother’s hands. The crinkled skin has been pan-fried and seasoned with soy sauce and a pinch of himalyan salt. 

I pick up my notepad and check off a small square on a paper labeled “Steps to Recovery” written in delicate red ink. I set it back down and don’t pick it back up. 

I choose a fat dumpling from my plate and pierce through the steamy shell. I let the sweet, salty meat linger on my tongue and the saltiness salviate my mouth. Warm rich soy sauce drips down my chin and I wipe away the stains with a napkin. 

I’m hungry.
Keratin - Protein that makes up an egg

Author's note: This is based on a true story. During quarantine with all the free time I had, I started nitpicking and focusing on my food. I became obsessed with the idea of building this "quarantine body" which lead to restriction and calorie counting. I wanted to be "shiny," I wanted to be one of the girls on instagram living their best life. This eventually lead to disordered eating which I still am trying to recover from today. 

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2 Comments
  • Stone of Jade

    oh gosh. this is powerful. this is emotional. this is meaningful. i hope it goes far in the competition. it is a really important message that so many need to read. sadly, this is a relatable topic--especially rn. im sorry you went thru something like this. it's really difficult--i had a friend the same way. I'll be praying for you and thank you for writing this <33


    10 months ago
  • Starlitskies

    This is beautifully written! The details and descriptions are vivid and there's strong emotion laced within your words! Hope you're doing well now!
    P.S. - I checked out your website and it seems super cute and nice. Love the ice lolly theme sooo much! I'll be sure to submit my work soon!


    10 months ago