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Elvis Variation (Version 1) Elvis stands alone in his bathroom. The door is locked. He has 14 bottles of prescription pills lined up on the counter. He’s made all the calculations. He knows the number of pills to take from each bottle, the number that will induce a heart attack. The water is running while he counts the pills. All of a sudden there is a knock on the bathroom door. “Elvis?” Calls his live-in fiancé Ginger Alden. “Are you okay?” “I’m fine, baby. Go back to bed.” “It’s almost afternoon.” “Oh, well I’m going to go to bed soon.” “Okay, I love you,” she says and goes away. Elvis still dies. Fuck. Danielle doesn’t change. Living on Fumes My mom doesn’t like Danielle and I don’t think Danielle’s mom likes anyone, but I still spend the night at Danielle’s house at least once a week. Even though her mom smokes all over the house, Danielle is only allowed to smoke in the basement, so she’s turned it into her bedroom and we hang out there. She smokes with one hand and paints her toenails with the other as we watch episodes of A&E’s Intervention on her laptop. Danielle thinks it would have been so cool if Elvis had been on Intervention, but since the show didn’t exist back then and he wasn’t, our favorite episode is the one with Peter (we usually fast forward though his sections) and Renee. We’ve seen the episode half a dozen times, but we get goose bumps every time. Renee is a bulimic housewife who relies on water pills and laxatives to stay “thin;” Danielle and I are collectively in love with her.

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We know all the words to Renee’s part of the episode and we speak along with her in our most dramatic voices because we can relate to everything she says. “I should be happy, but I’m bulimic,” We say with Renee. “Food is my medication; it helps me feel better…” Danielle says next. Then I finish the line, “…food is my confidant, my friend.” Danielle takes the last drag on her cigarette and puffs, “So fucking true. I mean, yeah it’s about feelings and shit, but it’s also totally about the food.” She lights a new cigarette then gets quiet in preparation for her favorite line. “After I eat, I just feel disgusted,” Renee and Danielle say in unison. “I will have that same voice in my head that says, ‘throw up, just throw it up you’ll feel better. Just throw up, you’ll feel better!” “If only she would throw up,” I sigh as we watch Renee sit on her living room floor eating frozen waffles with butter and syrup. “I totally get Renee, but I don’t understand the frozen waffle thing. Frozen waffles are nasty and not fun to purge.” “For real,” Danielle agrees, “but like you said, she’s not going to throw them up anyway. Poor Renee, she just doesn’t understand how good bulimia works.” We call Renee a chubby bulimic. In Renee’s case, “chubby” is code for fat, but we love her because of this. She’s not all “skinny scary” (as Danielle says) like all the other eating disorder people we watch on Intervention. She’s real, like us. The other thing we like about Renee is how carefully she puts food in her mouth, like each bite is fragile. We love to watch her eat and emulate her behavior. When Renee drives to her favorite chicken place, Danielle decides she wants fried chicken. I have to remind her that she doesn’t have a license; I don’t have a car and her mom is at work, so she’s not getting any fried chicken tonight.

NON-FICTION

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Profile for Katya Cummins

Niche Magazine No. 1  

Niche is an online literary magazine that was designed to be limitless. It aims to provide a place where an array of voices, from experimen...

Niche Magazine No. 1  

Niche is an online literary magazine that was designed to be limitless. It aims to provide a place where an array of voices, from experimen...

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