Raven's feet moved quickly across the dance room floor, sway right, slide left, step step turn, step, spin. Again and again he rehearsed the moves, every now and then adding something new extra, his water bottle sat forgotten by the stereo, he was sweating profusely. One more time, the song clicked on repeat and he went through it ongoing for most of the day and through on into the night. He had requested not to be disturbed unless for an important phone call, which he wasn't expecting for some time anyway.
He'd already gone three days like this, barely getting any sleep, hardly eating anything if at all, all he could think of was 'it must be perfect, don't mess it up' ingrained deep within his psyche since his younger days rehearsing at 5 years old at the family home in Gary. He rehearsed in a hat and glasses most days, as he didn't want to really see his face, just what his body was doing, catching his own eyes in the reflection would often be too distracting.
After the long bouts of dancing he'd go for a shower and sit for a while on a seat in there, tilt his head back and let the warm water soothe the aching muscles. Sometimes the lack of food would conflict with the extreme heat and he would faint as he exited the shower, some days he would have nose bleeds. The stress was high, be perfect, be perfect.
Raven tonight was about to have one of these showers, but had stopped to take a rare look at himself in the mirror in his room, he sighed heavily, eyes drifting over what he thought he saw. Thin strands of hair wet with sweat clung to his starkly pale skin, the shadows greying in areas showing sign of malnutrition from not eating. He didn't see that, all he saw was words etched all over his body; 'you gained weight boy' 'big nose, you didn't get it from me' 'Michael if you mess up one more time!' 'I made you I can break you' 'smile for the camera'
He pealed off his shirt, slowly undressing for the shower as if in a daze, his eyes glassing over. 'you so black, cant be from me must be from Kate's side' 'why don't you get girls like your brothers!' 'get your ass back here boy!'
He glanced up and met with his own eyes, instant panic set in and his stomach lurched, frantically Raven ran to his bathroom, skidding to his knees by the toilet bowl, dry retching. Nothing could come up and his insides twisted with agony even as his heart raced from the panic attack setting in.
"Fuck" he mumbled devastatingly into the porcelain bowl.
He lent back against the bathroom cabinet to the side, tears streaming down his face. Even just in his trousers and shirtless you could see his frame was dangerously thin, his ribs and hipbones jutted out and he was thankful no one could see him like this. He felt so vulnerable right in that moment.