Disclaimer: Once again, I'm writing this story just for fun in my spare time. This is #2 in my vignette series (don't ask me why I have this up before #1, I just happened to finish this one first). Stephanie Marks is my character, but all others belong to Saban Entertainment. Email me and tell me what you think!

Close My Eyes
by Snowflake

Stephanie Marks walked into the foyer of her two-level home and slammed the door shut behind her. This has just been a great day, she thought. She had fallen asleep in Spanish, forgotten her monologue for her advanced drama class, and locked her keys in her car. It had taken some serious psychic action to get the keys out. "Oh, but the best part was the fight I got into with Tommy!" Stephanie muttered sarcastically as she stomped up the staircase to her bedroom.

After she threw her backpack down on the floor, she grabbed a stuffed falcon that Tommy Oliver, her boyfriend, had given her a month earlier on their first date. "Tommy, why did you have to say that?" she moaned. "You know how sensitive I can get."

She sighed. Stephanie and Kimberly had been talking in the youth center about how much pressure is put on performers to look good (i.e. gymnasts, vocalists, actors), when Tommy and Rocky had interrupted and said that anyone stupid enough to starve themselves to gain popularity wasn't too smart. Stephanie had immediately taken offense to that and said that wasn't always the case while Kim and Rocky watched in stunned silence. Their argument had ended when Stephanie burst into tears and ran out of the youth center.

Stephanie brushed away a few tears over the recent memory as she turned on her CD player and set it to play track 8, Mariah Carey's 'Close My Eyes.'

I was a wayward child
With the weight of the world
That I held deep inside
Life was a winding road
And I learned many things
Little ones shouldn't know

The tears spilled unheeded down her cheeks. Actually, I did learn things I shouldn't have. I learned how to become anorexic, she reflected bitterly...

Two Years Earlier

"Stephanie, hurry up!" Lauren Anderson yelled to her friend. "You're up next!"

15-year-old Stephanie ran up to her friend. "Sorry, Lore. I was checking my outfit to make sure it looked okay," she explained. She was wearing a violet-colored floor-length velvet dress with a slit up the side. And making sure that I was thin enough to look sexy to the guys watching the talent show, she added silently.

Lauren checked the stage. "Oh, my God. It's your turn! Are you ready?" she asked.

Stephanie grinned as she fought off a bout of dizziness. She had conveniently forgotten to eat breakfast and lunch that day, as well as the rest of the week and the week before. "As I'll ever be."

Stephanie took the stage then as the emcee announced her act. Then her music, Journey's "Open Arms," began and she started to sing.

* * * * *

Tears slipped down Stephanie's cheeks in salty trails as she remembered the warning throb that she had gotten before she had passed out after her performance backstage. That was the last thing she remembered before she had woken up to find herself in the hospital for malnutrition. Or more accurately, she told herself, I was in there for anorexia.

Stephanie lay in the hospital bed on her side, not moving, her slim shoulders shaking with sobs. "I shouldn't be here. There's nothing wrong with me. I was just a little exhausted," she whispered to herself.

A doctor she didn't recognize stepped into the room. But then again, she had been poked and prodded by so many nurses and doctors in the last day or so that she doubted she'd even remember if this one had come in before.

"Hello. I'm Dr. Hansen. You must be Stephanie Marks, correct?" the blonde woman asked.

Stephanie met the woman's gaze warily. What now? she groaned inwardly. She didn't say it out loud, however. To Dr. Hansen she only replied, "Yeah, that's me."

Dr. Hansen sat down in a chair next to her bed. "Stephanie, I was contacted by your doctor when you were brought in yesterday for a reason. You know that, don't you?"

Stephanie braced herself for what she knew was coming. I don't want to hear this, I don't want to know, it's not true, she chanted to herself silently.

Dr. Hansen waited for Stephanie to look at her again before she continued. "Stephanie, I'm a psychiatrist. They got ahold of me because you haven't been eating. Stephanie, you've been diagnosed with an eating disorder...anorexia nervosa."

But I closed my eyes
Steadied my feet on the ground
Raised my head to the sky
And though time's rolled by
Still I feel like that child
As I look at the moon
Maybe I grew up
A little too soon

Funny how one can learn
To grow numb to the madness
And block it away
I left the worst unsaid
Let it all dissipate
As I try to forget

Stephanie rolled her eyes and groaned. "I can't believe I was stupid enough to believe that guys liked stick-like girls who starved themselves to look like that," she spoke aloud as she lay on her back on the floor of her room and stared at the ceiling.

The violet-colored telephone sitting on her desk rang right then. Stephanie groaned again and pulled herself up to a sitting position, then grabbed the receiver. "Hello?"

"Stephanie?" a male voice inquired, concerned. "Are you okay? You seemed upset earlier today."

It was her teammate, Adam Park, the Green Ranger. "Hey, Adam," she replied as she lay back down.

"Steph, what's wrong? You sound like you've been crying," he noted.

She took a deep breath. "I sound like I've been crying because I have been since I got home about fifteen minutes ago."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

As I closed my eyes
Steadied my feet on the ground
Raised my head to the sky
And the time rolled by
Still I feel like a child
As I look at the moon
Maybe I grew up
A little too soon

Adam's eyes widened as Stephanie told him the secret she had kept locked in her heart for two years. "Please don't tell Tommy, Adam. He'd hate me for not telling him," she pleaded.

Adam paused for a moment. "I won't, but I think you should tell him. He deserves to know. Tommy is your boyfriend. As for hating you, he could never hate you for not telling him. You had your reasons," he advised her.

She closed her eyes. "I want to tell him, but I don't know how," she spoke quietly.

"Do you really mean that?"

Stephanie gasped and her eyes flew wide open. Standing over her was Tommy. "Tell him, Steph. He'll listen," were the last words she heard from Adam before he hung up the phone and the line went dead.

Stephanie replaced the receiver in its cradle and turned to face Tommy. "What are you doing here?" she questioned, her voice quavering slightly. God, I didn't think it would be so hard to tell him this, she thought.

"I came to see if you were all right. The way you just ran out of the youth center...what's wrong? What did I do?" Tommy asked as he sat down next to her and pulled her into his arms. "What do you want to tell me?"

Nearing the edge
Oblivious I almost
Fell right over
A part of me
Will never be quite able
To feel stable
That woman-child falling inside
Was on the verge of fading
Thankfully I
Woke up in time

Stephanie felt her eyes fill with tears for the hundredth time that day. "Remember the conversation that Kim and I were having earlier today in the youth center that you and Rocky joined?" she queried.

Tommy nodded. "Pressure put on performers? Yeah, I remember, but why did you run away?"

"You know all the comments on anorexics and bulimics that you and Rocky made?" Stephanie glanced at him, wondering if he knew where she was going with this, who nodded silently.

Tommy mentally smacked himself as Stephanie looked up at him, scared of what his reaction might be. Oh, no. Please don't tell me that you have one or both of those eating disorders, he pleaded silently.

Stephanie began to play with the rings on her fingers. "This is the hardest thing I've ever had to tell you, Tommy, but...I used to be anorexic."

"Oh, God..." Tommy pulled her into his lap and kissed her forehead gently as she burst into tears. "Why didn't you ever tell me before?"

Guardian angel I
Sail away on an ocean
With you by my side
Orange clouds roll by
They burn into your image
And you're still alive

Stephanie looked up at Tommy. "You're not mad?" she questioned, unable to believe it.

Tommy shook his head. "I could never be mad at you, beautiful. I love you too much," he reassured her.

Stephanie smiled softly at her boyfriend. You are so amazing. How did I get so lucky to find you? she thought as she gazed into his eyes. "I love you, too."

Tommy leaned down and caught her lips in a gentle kiss, which she eagerly returned. As the kiss grew deeper, Stephanie gradually forgot everything that had happened over the past half-hour, except for how much she loved to be kissed by Tommy Oliver. Thanks for giving me the courage to tell him, Adam, she thought.

As I close my eyes
Steady my feet on the ground
Raise my head to the sky
And though time rolls by
Still I feel like a child
As I look at the moon
Maybe I grew up
A little too soon.