One day, she discovered that she could tuck small amounts of food in her cheeks and spit it out later in the toilet bowl. She would often study late at night and into the early hours of the morning.
She would sleep for a few hours, then she'd get up to recap. She would never look at herself in the mirror - she knew how fat and ugly she looked from her mother's words.
She concentrated on her plate She would have very small helpings.
If no one was watching, she would toss some of her food to the dog under the table. The daughter did little more than work out ways of avoiding meals or making time for learning.
The daughter perceived her mother's loathing in the way she pronounced the word boy.
The tone of her mother's voice was as hateful as when she told the daughter she was fat and ugly. She took a few steps back-wards, side-stepping the sack-cloth mat in the pool of light where the cat lay curled in a tight ring. From then on, the daughter started to play with her food. Each day of the week, she would get up before everyone else and make the coffee.
She now lives in Melbourne with her husband and their three children, combining the pleasures and torments of motherhood with those of writing and teaching.
She is the author of Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over. Over the last few weeks, it had, in fact, become harder each time for her to stick a needle in the rough husk the daughter's skin had become. The oily fluid would remain trapped between scales and bone, forming a cracking and oozing bubble on the surface.
The daughter did well at school, yet neither mother nor father praised her.
Nothing was dearer to the daughter by now that neither self-mortification nor distinction would bring love.