“Less is more!” Paolo had declared. Following which the school heartthrob had dumped her. Since then, Jasmine had wanted only one thing: to become thinner and to be more attractive.
When her family sat down for lunch, Jasmine only pretended to eat. She secretly threw most of her food away. She hoped to lose weight with the help of an Internet forum called the “PorcelainGirls”. Soon after, becomes close friends with the administrator of the site.
Jasmine was besieged with health problems. And the situation soon became critical. Yet, she was still torn. On the one hand she felt compelled to become even thinner - just like the rest of the girls in the forum. On the other hand, as she got to know other people, her perceptions would gradually be changed. And then there was Philipp. Could he win her trust during this trying time? And in the end: which side would gain the upper hand?
Antje Döhring was born in 1969 in Dresden, Germany. After completing her diploma in Journalism and working as a press spokeswoman, she experienced a rich life abroad living for significant periods of time in Saudi Arabia, India, Libya and the United Arab Emirates. Throughout this time, A. Döhring worked in a diverse range of areas: from writing regular newspaper columns as a reporter, to working in a library as well as from importing cheese and wine or working as an employee of the Austrian Foreign Trade Centre to becoming a language teacher. She has two children. “Weniger” (2016) was her first young adult novel. It is now also available in English under the published name "Featherlight".
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As she reached the raised seating area after extensively circling the crowd, she suddenly had an idea. She took out her mobile and started to type a completely harmless message to Paolo: Hey baby, how are you, what are you doing? I want you. She ended the message with three hearts.
Hardly two minutes had passed when the phone beeped with an incoming message that read: Oh, nothing special. Chilling with the guys, and you?
Hmm, that didn’t sound like a club night. But hadn’t he said that he would be here today? Where are you now? she typed, clicked on send and lifted her head as a girl from behind pushed her in the back of her right knee.
And then she saw him. Paolo. Hardly ten meters away from her. He was sitting on a table, the mobile in his hand, obviously reading her message. A girl – on his other arm. Jasmine stopped walking so abruptly that she got a strong push again and staggered forward. She hardly noticed. The blow of the hammer in her heart was stronger. The deafening noise of Friday night in the club gave way to a smooth muffled hum.
This girl had both her arms around Paolo, her head was resting on his shoulder, so that you could only see her red-brown hair. It looked as if she was reading the message on his phone with him. Was she giggling? Wasn’t that the girl ... from 11E? Jasmine couldn’t remember her name. She struggled hard to remember it. As if to cast her away magically just by knowing her name. Paolo put the mobile down in front of him, smiled and buried his head, exactly where the face of that bitch was.
Jasmine noticed Helmi and Mark also sitting on the edge of the table with another girl she didn’t know in between them. But all she could see was the pair of frozen figures closely entwined together. Paralyzed, she stepped aside. The crowds now passed by without her. She noticed how her jaw muscles had cramped. Her legs which were weak anyway due to food deprivation were now trembling violently. Jasmine wanted to get out of here. No, better to sit down first. The shock came so unexpectedly, she felt like lying down immediately. In the middle of the floor. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough space available around her.
Eight meters. Should she go over and throw a drink in his face? In films women who had been cheated on always did so. But there seemed to be an armada of only empty glasses in front of Paolo and this girl. Or maybe she should slap him in the face? Or just run off before he noticed her?
In that instant, Helmi discovered her; he lifted his hand casually and smiled with surprise. His smile faltered a few seconds later as he looked across at Paolo uncertainly, who was otherwise occupied with the girl. Now Tetris Boy who was walking back from the bar with his hands full of drinks, also saw her. He pushed his way forward from one side to the other. His eyes also wandered to Paolo and the girl, who seemed to be growing into a symbiotic creeper. He put the glasses down hard on the table and pushed his way purposely to Jasmine, who tried to stabilisestabilize her quaking knees by pushing herself up against a column. As he stood in front of her, his expression was one of regret, uncertainty and shame. He shrugged his shoulders and turned his palms towards her in a gesture of helplessness and perplexity.
»Man, Jasmine!« he bellowed above the noise that was pulsing through her again.
Her eyes had filled up with tears now. She was embarrassed, she wanted to look cool and dignified so that he would think her to be strong and independent. But it didn’t work out like that.
Tetris Boy’s hand neared her arm cautiously and landed there gently. »How did you come here ...? I mean – are you alone?« He looked around to see any familiar faces.
Jasmine shook her head, lifted it up high and breathed in because she hoped by doing so the tears would stop falling. But they didn’t ...
»Oh how... crap,« mumbled the boy, he looked visibly embarrassed. »I didn’t know that Paolo would show up with Helena tonight and that they would ...« He left the rest unsaid. It was evident what the two were doing.
Jasmine just wanted to get away from here, far away from here. Away from Paolo, away from this club, away from this night. Preferably away from her life. But she was sandwiched between people, she could not get out on her shaky legs. The tears rolled down unrestrained. My make-up must be smeared, she thought superfluously - – and she was almost as much ashamed of the fact that there were witnesses to her shame. Reluctantly, she shook her hair and tried taking a few deep breaths, but in the stale dance club’s air there wasn’t much fresh oxygen.
She wiped the tears away. Tetris Boy stood beside her with his arm still lying comfortingly on her forearm. She noticed for the first time that his irises were remarkably blue, with a kind of a dark beam that emanated straight from the pupils.
»It’s stupid, the way he behaves, honestly. He should have told you.«
»You really didn’t know?« Jasmine hissed.
»No, I only found out here. But I couldn’t just beat her away from him, if she is his latest. But how could he choose her over you, it’s crazy. He was probably going to tell you tomorrow.«
She sniveled a bit and then spat out: »Ha, but he just messaged me. Just now, three minutes ago. As if nothing was going on. The nasty ass. I hate him.« She showed him her mobile accusingly.
Now she turned around, stumbled across to where Paolo was, elbowing anyone standing in her way aside. He was still buried in this girl named Helena’s face. Before anyone could say anything, Jasmine tapped him on the shoulder. He looked up flabbergasted. With a quick movement she grabbed a glassful of Cola and poured it over the pair then banged the glass back on the table. And with that fled the scene as quickly as she could through the crowded room. She pushed her way to the exit, which she hadn’t expected herself capable of before. On the run, but with a bang. As she stumbled out of the door, sobs shook her again. Strangely, she suddenly felt sorrier for herself because she had to walk alone all the way to the bus along the dark empty streets, than because of what had just happened a moment ago. Reluctantly, she put one foot in front of the other. She had hardly gone fifty meters from the entrance to the club when she heard steps hurrying behind her. She didn’t turn around. Did Paolo want to apologize? She was so angry and disappointed that even if he’d bent down on his knees she would still say no.
»Jasmine,« someone called out to her from behind. That wasn’t Paolo’s voice. She turned her head to the side, the boy caught up with her. It was Tetris Boy who was actually called Philipp, she remembered. She was surprised that she felt relieved rather than devastated that Paolo had not come after her, but his friend had. Everything was confusing today. »I am really sorry …« He panted a bit.
»You don’t have to be sorry. You didn’t cheat on me,« Jasmine replied.
»No, but I can imagine. How you must have felt when you saw them both inside. Did you know that he was here today?«
»Yeah, of course. That’s why I came all the way out here. I wanted to surprise him, to make him happy ... I escaped and lied to my parents for this.« That sounded so miserable that Philipp looked attentively at her face. His eyes still pleaded to be forgiven, but she couldn’t forgive him, because he was not to blame for anything.
»Are you getting the bus?«
»Well, yeah, what else am I going to do? Should I drown myself in the river or something?« she yelled at him. He winced and instantly held his hands up defensively and responded gently, »Jasmine, that’s not necessary. You don’t have to do that. Forget about the guy ...«
»Forget? Are you stupid? I can’t simply forget him. We love each other!« She stopped, because she realized that this probably wasn’t true anymore, maybe it never had been. Jasmine kicked a beer bottle that was lying on the ground. It rolled on the asphalt with a dull hollow sound. She choked out with her still tired, dry throat, »And by the way: the ›guy‹ is coincidentally your best friend!«
Philipp walking in step with Jasmine’s panicky gallop, looked unphased. »Yeah, he’s my friend. But that doesn’t mean that I agree with everything he does. And I definitely don’t agree with what he was just doing with Helena without breaking it off with you first.«
»Aaaah. Why should he then call it off. It’s certainly much funnier when you run everything parallel, isn’t it? Puhh. You guys are all the same,« raged Jasmine.
»Not me.« That came straight from the heart and also with a little wink that she couldn’t help but smile a bit despite her tears.
»Not you. Aha. Well, good to know that you’re different from everyone else.«
»Yes Ma’am, I present before you: Philipp, the boy who is different.« Grinning he clicked his heels as he walked and almost stumbled in the process.
She shook her head. Even though tears were still running down her cheeks, you could say she was amused. They walked along together in companionable silence for a while. »Is it okay if I walk you to the bus?« he finally asked.