Graphic designed by Kelly DeBie.
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth fictional post in a continuation. So, for those behind in the lives of Leila, Billy & Keith, I encourage you to read these beginning with #1.
#1 Fictional Friday: Her Billy
#2 Fictional Friday: Our Billy
#3 Fictional Friday: Letting Go of Billy
#4 Fictional Friday: Their Leila
Did Leila make it through rehab? Will Keith and Leila rekindle their young love?
He nuzzled the inside of her neck. Giggling, she jokingly pushed him away. He stumbled toward the restroom. She strained to see his raw skin glowing in the early morning hours.
The sunlight crept through the sheer curtains. Her mind wandered to the crashing waves outside. Breathing deeply she inhaled the salty sea air.
With the sheets wrapped her body she felt the outline of the curves and the small layers of fat that had deposited around her mid section and thighs. She couldn’t recall when she had fatty layers. Good fatty layers.
Returning from rehab last year, Leila had added and maintained a healthy 20 pounds. She felt whole for once in her life.
During her two months of deep, painful rehabilitation from bulimia, she woke up everyday with a single purpose: to get healthy.
As part of the program, she attended daily group therapy sessions. She connected with people from all walks of life – lawyers, mothers, fathers, college students, athletes and of course, doctors.
Bulimia did not discriminate.
Her first few weeks of group sessions, though, she remained tight lipped and usually stared toward the floor during the discussions. “How did I get here?” she thought over and over.
But finally, her breakthrough came when a woman next to her tearfully explained how bulimia destroyed her life. She had lost virtually everything. She made multiple suicide attempts before arriving at this place.
This place, right now was her last chance at life.
Filled with tears, Leila reached for her hand. No words were necessary. Their eyes met with a mutual understanding. This was the moment for Leila. The moment her walls came crumbling down.
She shared with the group her childhood pain and teenage backlash by using bulimia to superficially feel a sense of control.
By opening up during group sessions, her individual therapy sessions were only that much harder. These were the toughest times of self evaluation.
She waited outside her therapist’s room with butterflies in her stomach. Knowing she would have to spill the inside of her guts.
Revealing her deepest, darkest secrets.
The demons that were bottled up for decades were unleashed. Secrets she had told no one. Not even herself.
As she did her entire life, the inner cheerleader voice began: “You’ve got this. Do it for Billy. Do it for Keith. Do it for you.”
Feeling almost faint, she leaned her head against the wall. The door opened. “Come on in, Leila,” her doctor said in that soft psycho-therapist tone. She felt her legs go limp. This was the day she planned to tell her.
With another prod from her doctor, Leila finally unglued herself from the lobby bench. As if she wanted to get it over with, she flopped down and spoke of that dark night…
Her father slithered into her bedroom drunk. Touching her. Mikie heard her screams. A physical fight ensued. Everything changed that night. The drunken stupors and rages escalated.
But then a light came into her life. Sitting outside the music room as a sophomore in high school, she was writing in her journal. She often stayed at school until sundown to avoid returning home.
She felt a tap on her shoulder. Looking up, the sun shone behind the outline of his tall, lean body. His face blurred by the light, he looked almost angelic. Squinting, she quickly closed her journal.
“You’re so focused on that journal,” Keith said. He sat down next to her. They talked for hours. And that was the beginning of her first and only love.
He was “the guy.” She teased him for being the hottest band and choir nerd in the school. Those same mean girls would throw stinging comments out to Leila when she’d walk by holding hands with Keith.
Protective of Leila, Keith would answer back with a clever tit-for-tat response. She felt protected. She felt loved by Keith.
And here she was, nearly 20 years later. She felt safe once again – or so she thought.
He visited her once a month during rehab. Keith also attended a separate support group for family members of those suffering with eating disorders. He, too, had to educate himself about this disorder – as it is a life-long battle for all it touches.
Leila was finally released in spring, which was just in time for her Billy to return for spring break. She felt strong enough now to talk about her struggles with bulimia.
With Keith by her side, she shared bits and pieces about growing up, and the dangerous disorder that came to a head last year.
As she talked to Billy, she could see the pain and concern in his eyes. Stuttering her final words, Keith held her hand.
“I love you no matter what, mom,” Billy said. “You’ve always believed in me. I believe in you.”
They embraced. She felt another weight lift off her shoulders.
Over the months, she continued to attend a local bulimia support group and individual therapy. Keith had accepted a position closer to his new family.
They grew closer on many levels. With a shared loved of their Billy, they rekindled the relationship that blossomed all those years ago.
When the one-year mark release from rehab was reached, and a battery of mental and physical examinations were complete, there was a high possibility she may return to working at the hospital on a supervised basis. Meanwhile, her doctor’s credentials were still stripped.
To lift her spirits, Keith had surprised her with a vacation to Kauai. The small, romantic island was exactly what the love doctor had ordered.
Now, as she lay in the hotel room listening to the waves crash, she slipped on a robe and made her way towards the balcony to watch the sunrise.
Stepping over piles of clothes, she nearly slipped on a loose piece of paper. Picking up the paper, she realized it was a photo. Her mind quickly processing the image, she stood, unmoving once again.
She felt the familiar urge to head to the hotel buffet for a binge. Dropping the photo to the ground, she could not rid herself of the image.
Her stomach turning, she picked up the photo of Keith with his wife and two children and shredded it into pieces.
The sunrise with striking yellow and burnt orange hues illuminated the streaming tears on her cheeks.
Sitting on the hotel balcony watching the magnificent sunrise, she pondered the irony of how God could create such beauty, and yet, she could feel so much pain.
The waves crashed harder. The door slid open. Making no eye contact with Keith, she dropped the pieces of the photo to the ground.
“You were my rock, Keith. How could you?” she asked fleetingly.
“I can explain,” he said.
“All my limitations are self-imposed, and my liberation can only come from true self-love.”
- Max Robinson
Writing Prompt: When was the last time you looked into someone’s gorgeous eyes? Maybe they were sea green and seemed to have all the secrets of the world behind them? What would happen if you had a chance to know this person intimately?
Then you find that person has a dark secret that would bring your perfect but lonely life to its knees.
Want more romantic fiction for the weekend? Please be sure to check out my fellow Fiction Femmes!