will empty very slowly. Shall we try it?”
    I can tell he really wants to because Rat really loves a good experiment, but I just say, “No, I believe you.”
    He frowns at me, but continues, “If you put in a big piece of bread or a large chunk of meat, it won’t empty at all.”
    “Got it,” I say.
    “Now, here’s the interesting part.” His eyes start sparkling behind his glasses like it’s Christmas. “If I pour water over the top of these mashed potatoes, what happens?”
    I watch as the diluted food drips through the hole at the bottom of the cup.
    “The cup empties,” I say.
    “And?” he asks, waiting for it.
    “So does my stomach,” I say.
    “Right!” He shouts it so loud, I jump. “And then you’ll be hungry again and you will want to eat more.”
    “What’s going on in here?” Dad stomps his tennis shoes on the back step before he comes in the kitchen door. He’s in his mowing-the-lawn Saturday shorts and T-shirt.
    “We were just finishing up an experiment,” I say, grabbing up the paper cup and dumping it into the garbage beside the sink.
    Dad pulls open the freezer door, dislodging a picture of Lindsey doing the splits, holding big green pom-poms over her head. Putting it back on display, he tucks it a bit more securely under one of the watermelon-shaped magnets, then surveys the inside of the freezer with a frown.
    “You want to stay for lunch?” he asks Rat. “I’m going to heat up Ever’s favorite, spaghetti and meatballs.”
    “Sure,” Rat says. “Need any help?”
    “Nope. It’ll be ready in a few minutes.”
    We leave him clattering around, pulling out pans from the cabinet. I know my dad’s trying, fixing favorite foods for Saturday lunch and all, but most of the time he looks at me like he’s scared to talk about food or dieting or how I look. Like I’ll instantly run upstairs to cram chocolate cake in my mouth and gain back all the pounds I’ve lost. Like it’s all so fragile and could disappear with just the wrong look or the wrong words.
    So I think I’m slowly shrinking, but it’s evidently a big secret. Either that, or I’m not really looking any different at all. I’m not sure.
    Charlotte comes in from the backyard carrying a freshly cut bouquet of yellow roses from the yard. Carefully slicing each stem off at the perfect angle, she arranges them symmetrically into a vase, equal spaces apart. Charlotte likes things orderly. Even flowers. The three different bottles of perfume she keeps on the top of her dresser are exactly lined up, even spaces apart, right next to the wooden plaque that reads, God isn’t finished ith me yet. There’s also a pyramid of large pink Velcro rollers on the dresser top, perfectly stacked, that has something to do with her daily hair routine, but I haven’t quite figured that out yet.
    After the roses are arranged, Charlotte pulls out the plates and forks to set the table, chattering all the while about, “ isn’t it nice to have company for lunch.” Lindsey gets off the couch and slowly meanders to the table, talking on her phone the whole time. It’s rare that we’re graced with her presence. Charlotte calls upstairs for Briella, but we don’t wait.
    “Hang up the phone, please,” Dad says, and Lindsey does but I can see she’s still texting from her lap.
    Sitting at a table filled with food is an exercise in torture. Everything looks good. Everything smells delicious. The spaghetti in front of me is in fact my favorite. Big meatballs drenched in marinara sauce. French bread toasted in the oven with butter. I start to feel nervous. It happens every time now when I’m going to need to make a food choice. Choose the right thing and I might actually feel good, satisfied. Make the wrong choice, which usually happens these days, and I’ll be in the bathroom throwing it back up in minutes. I’m supposed to eat the protein first, that’s what the doctor told me, but I want the pasta and the bread. My mouth waters to

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