The girl had curly hair. She studied French. Before university the girl had spent a number of her school summers working on camp sites in the Dordogne and Loire Valley. The first summer had been chosen as a way to build on the basic French learnt in secondary school but the work suited her, it was varied and her naturally cheerful personality was appreciated by the campers. The English holidaymakers were grateful that she spoke English, and the French holiday makers, though surprised, delighted in her ability to speak French. She returned the following two years and in her final summer, the summer before university, she fell in love with a French boy who worked on the site. She lost her virginity to him but, though he was her first love, she had seen him have other holiday romances before at the site and had no intention of seeing him again once university had begun. French classes at the former polytechnic were hard, but the fluency she had already gained in the language was a benefit. She was on nodding terms with a number of people in her French classes but she drew her friends from the people she lived close to and saw every day. She made friends easily. The French sun had given her a deep tan and her hair already blonde, had grown lighter. She weighed ten stone exactly, and had done so for the last two years. Though she was the largest of her friend group she did not look overweight, and instead the weight gave her an innate sense of strength, something that fitted well with her practical and outgoing nature. When she undressed the curves of her body were firm and smooth, and suggested a sexuality that was sometimes otherwise hard to see. She had a thin white scar on her stomach from where her appendix had been removed. She began a relationship with a boy in first year which lasted a few months. It ended when she was told that he was sleeping with another girl. A second and third relationship were begun in second year, but both were ended by the boys, though neither gave a particular reason why the relationship was over. The girl was not disheartened by this but she did notice that the three boys she had slept with all were now involved with other girls, and that these girls were thinner and more petite than she. It was an unconscious observation, but one that grew quickly and without notice. French lectures became harder towards the end of the second year, and the girl spent a lot of time studying. When she wasn’t studying she read novels by famous French authors, in the original French, and watched old films starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Simone Signoret. When she returned to university after the final summer break the girl was noticeably thinner. She had spent the summer back at the French campsite and, as she would tell anyone who would listen, she had been in charge of running some of the fitness classes and the weight had dropped off. She was complimented by a lot of people, but despite remaining as cheerful and as outgoing as previously, the strength that had been she such a part of her seemed to have weakened. It was towards the end of the first term that her housemates, all thinner than she, stopped her one morning and asked her whether she was anorexic. She denied it automatically. At the start of second term she told one of her housemates that she had seen a doctor over the Easter break, and that he had referred her to a specialist. She told the housemate that she was trying to eat more, and that she didn’t want anyone to know, outside of the house. As the term passed it became obvious that she was eating more and by the end of the year, during exam period, she was again back to her original weight. During this time she didn’t have sex or start another relationship, but she did notice that all the relationships around her, her housemates, her other friends, seemed to disintegrate as university drew towards a close. When university ended only two couples were still together. At graduation, only one.


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