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Let Her Eat Cake by Iris Liu

I had my first bite of cake on my thirteenth birthday. It was lemon flavored, I hated lemons, but it was still the single best thing that has ever entered my mouth. I was fat growing up, really fat, so the rush of joy one feels when sugar rushes into the bloodstream was always forbidden to me. My mother told me that I was undeserving of any pleasure of that kind.

I still distinctly remember the moment that blob of sweet softness made contact with the papillae on my tongue, dancing between my ravenous teeth, melting into my body and filling up a tiny space in that vast emptiness that is my soul. There was an explosion inside of me, with bright colors bursting from my stomach through every orifice on my body, like those cartoon characters on TV that detonated when their happiness overflowed. The cake looked so fragile I thought it would disappear into powder as soon as its first layer of frosting crashed into my coarse lips. But when the particles collided, it didn’t immediately break. Instead, I was the one who was left shattered to pieces.

It was the most torn I have ever felt. It was when I realized that I’ve been kept from discovering the single true pathway to happiness for the past thirteen years of my life. It was when I realized just how miserable and pathetic my existence has been. It was when I realized that my mother hates me. She must hate me. She must hate me with a burning passion to deprive me from something so heavenly for so long. It could’ve been my cure. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so defeated and broken and sick if I have been embraced by euphoria of this kind earlier.

So I cried. No, I howled. Right there in that orange birthday sweater that I finally fit in, in that tiny worn-down chair that finally stopped creaking when I sit on it. That stupid chair that I skipped meals until I fainted for, that I exercised until I threw up for, that I wept for, prayed for, begged for. Just to sit in it without my fat dripping down its sides. But when those tender things hit my lips, nothing in the world mattered anymore. The chair, the ugly sweater, mother, they were of the past. I was a changed person, and all I could ever think of from that point on was CAKE.

Whether it was the best or worst day of my life, I still haven’t decided.

Ever since then, every millisecond of that experience was relived again and again in my head until that sensation became so familiar that it almost grew to be a part of my identity, my existence. How strange is it that a feeling I’ve grown to become so familiar with was never physically felt again.

I was intoxicated. I needed more.

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