Are You Happy?
*Disclaimer and TW: for readers who have continued to read up till this chapter, please take not that the content relating to Makaira’s apparent eating disorder will continue to progress and you are asked to keep in mind that people’s experiences with eating disorders vary. The thoughts, characteristics, and behaviours which Makaira have are examples of what some people may have, or in fact may not have at all. Once again, if you feel that may be triggered by such content, please do not proceed. Otherwise, please enjoy this story, and do not be afraid to reach out to the people who you think may be having trouble with similar problems as Makaira!
“It’s an obsession with, and at the same time, a fear, of food.”
“How long have you been dealing with it?” Yuuto asks.
“Since I was 8. My grandmother had died that year and my parents became busier and busier simultaneously, so I had to cope with it alone.” she says, then elaborates, “I was really close with her — my grandmother. Since I was small, she would offer to look after me when my parents were away. I was in school when the hospital called saying she had a heart attack and didn’t make it. I didn’t even get to go to the hospital to see her one last time because I knew my parents would punish me if I left in the middle of school.”
“I’m sorry.” Yuuto says apologetically, but he isn't even surprised at how incompetent Makaira's parents sound anymore.
Makaira smiles and acknowledges his concern. “Ever since then, I was even more alone. My parents hired nannies for me but eventually gave up because the nannies would tell them that I was unresponsive for a child my age and acted mature enough to not be taken care of by an adult. As a result, I was left alone for years and I put all my focus onto studying. Meals kind of became unnecessary to me.” she takes a pause and looks down at her feet. “Maybe if someone had noticed what was becoming of me, I wouldn’t be like this now, but nobody ever did. As I got older, my parents would bring me to big events hosted by important businesspeople, and I slowly became more self-conscious and obsessive over my weight and how my body looks because their business partners’ daughters looked so perfect and were always shown off. I wanted my parents to be proud of me like that, too.”
Yuuto nods and waits for Makaira to continue.
“It kind of just spiraled like that. Now, I’m mostly obsessed with my weight. I reduce myself to numbers and the only way I will be satisfied with myself is if I were to fit into those specific numbers I have for myself… I know this sounds stupid but it’s kind of hard to explain.”
Yuuto shakes his head, “No. I can’t empathize what you’re going through, but I get what you’re saying. It must be hard. Is it safe to assume that setting numbers for yourself applies to school as well?”
I’m surprised he’s not questioning anything I’ve said. Usually, I expect people to be confused and question what I mean.
“Have you ever thought about getting therapy again? And do you want to be better?”
“I haven’t really thought about it. I don’t think it helped much before, so I doubt it’d make a difference now. I do want to be better though. I just… Don’t really know how.”
“Well, I’m definitely not an expert, but I might have a few ideas.” Yuuto flashes a warm smile. “Do you like baking?”
Makaira looks at him, a little puzzled, but replies, “I don’t know, I’ve never tried.”
“Well, I actually love baking, and I thought maybe baking would help you find your appetite. If you bake up something that looks nice and delicious. You’d naturally want to eat the dish yourself, or share it with others.” Yuuto explains, “What do you think?”
Makaira nods, understanding where Yuuto is coming from, “I don’t know if it would work, but it won’t hurt to try.” she says, smiling. “When do we start?”
“You know what? We can start tonight. My mom must be exhausted from working all day, so she would appreciate if we helped bake the batch for tomorrow.”
“Wait, but what if I mess them up? I’ve never baked before and I don’t want to give you guys more work to do.”
“Don’t worry, baking’s super easy.” Yuuto reassures her, “And I’ll bake together with you. It’ll be fun.” he says, smiling.
Sure enough, the two return to the café that night and say goodnight to Hasegawa-san as she passes the baking responsibility to the two.
“Don’t burn down the shop!” she says as she exits the café to head home.
“Right, first of all, let’s put some aprons on, because baking can get really messy. Then, we’ll wash our hands.” Yuuto says as they walk into the kitchen.
They decide to work on a batch of croissants and so Yuuto takes out the recipe but before he lets Makaira read it, he asks, “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable or anything, so I want to ask to make sure you aren’t triggered by measurements. Would reading this recipe with measurements of the ingredients be triggering for you?”
Makaira’s heart skips a beat at how cautious Yuuto is and how caring he is in general. She shakes her head and answers, “No, I think I’m ready to let those numbers go.”
Yuuto looks a bit worried and asks if she’s sure. Makaira makes up her mind and admits to herself that she has been ready to let go for a while now. If anything bad happens, she’s no longer alone. She has Yuuto.
For the next 3 hours, the two work on croissants. With a few failures, they finally finish a full batch of croissants with a few to spare.
Yuuto puts his arms on his hips and smiles at their finished product.
“I’d say I’m pretty proud of our work.”
Makaira smiles at Yuuto and nods, “I’m proud as well, Hasegawa-kun. And you know what? I’m actually feeling pretty hungry and I’m craving our croissants.”
Yuuto laughs, “Awesome. I’ll wash some berries and we can have the croissants with them.”
With that, Yuuto and Makaira enjoy their late-night croissants, chatting away lightheartedly, and sharing laughs.
I think I feel happiness.