I’m thinkin’ back to one of the times at the bar, I was little, probably eight and still thin, and my momma and daddy were regulars so they didn’t care none that I was in there. I was sittin’ under our table playin’ with a Barbie. Daddy looked at a lady at the bar counter, she was bigger, frizzy blonde hair and the sides of her legs hung off the sides of the barstool she was sittin’ on. Daddy turned to Momma and said to her that that lady shouldn’ta been eatin’ none of those bar fries she had in front of her. They were drippin’ in ketchup and mustard like sweat on a hot summer’s day. He laughed a little, his beer belly hangin’ out of his t-shirt, and some spit gettin’ caught in the tiny hairs of his mustache. I reached up above me to grab a fry off Momma’s plate and she smacked my hand and told me no. She said somethin’ about how none of us needed anymore fries that day. She was full and we should all be full and Daddy said that Suga should listen to her momma. Daddy used to call me Suga, but he don’t anymore. It’s hard to be sweet around here now.
It wasn’t too long after and Momma said she signed me up for tennis. Who plays tennis?
No one ‘round here, but there’s some goody-two-shoes lessons happenin’ down the other city that Momma spent her last penny on for me to go to. She said I could be an athlete which I didn’t really see, but she got my aunt to donate some cute skirts and some white tennis shoes that I wore to school on the first day I had practice after and James, one of the coolest kids there, looked at me a few times durin’ lunch. It couldn’t be all the bad. Momma came to pick me up after school and as I got in her old and rusty Acura Integra, I peeled a banana. She looked over her shoulder and into the back seat and asked me where I got it from. The lunch lady gave it to me, said I’d probably be hungry if I was gonna go play sports. Momma asked if I needed to eat it all. She asked why don’t I just eat half. I looked at it and I guess I ate just half. Later I’d be hungry after sweatin’ on the courts for three hours, so I came home and ate some of Daddy’s Lay’s Ruffles chips he hid in his special closet.
It’s gym day one, and only been ten minutes, but I’m about done with this treadmill ‘cause walkin’ ain’t as easy as it seems it should be. The movin’, one step in fronta the other, on a treadmill at a steady pace, nothin’ to trip on. It shouldn’t be hard, ‘cept I can’t breathe.
I look to my right and there’s a lady who’s got it worse. She ain’t doin’ much, just liftin’ baby dumbbells, but sweatin’ up a storm. She looks like a heifer. Maybe bigger than a heifer. Martin told me in math class senior year I should go on a diet, but I bet he never saw her.
Over to the left I see a grandma tuggin’ a little boy behind her. I’ve heard that grandmas did that sometimes. Bring in little boys. They’d come here to do ay-robics stuff and the chill’n they were watchin’, usually their kids’ kids, would sit and play with dumbbells in the corner. You hoped they wouldn’t hurt themselves, but if they were annoyin’ enough, sometimes you did. She’s holdin’ a hardcover kids book in her other arm. She tells the little boy, Robby, that if he behaves, he’ll get to read his favorite book today and she shows him the book about a momma and a baby. I think it’s called Love Ya Forever. This kid can’t read, I’m sure of it, but he gets excited and hops up and down a little bit. She starts to repeat a few lines from it, by heart, so she musta read it to him like a thousand times. She hums that she’ll love him forever, and like him for always (aren’t those the same thing?) and he’ll always be her baby or somethin’. I never read the book before, but it sounds nice and I think about how I wish my momma would have said stuff like that to me.
I cough. No one looks. Still can’t breathe. Each step just pushes out more air I can’t seem to get back in. And if I take less steps, I either get grabbed by the treadmill and ripped off, or I slow down and burn less calories…
I’m not fat exactly, not fat like an orangutan or avocado, but I’m also not thin. Not thin like those women on commercials, with bodies like Coke bottles – all dipped and smooth, tastin’ somethin’ like cherry. I’m lumpy like expired cottage cheese. But I’m at the nine minutes and forty-five seconds mark and it feels like the numbers on the screen are screamin’ at me. I press the stop button before I pull the emergency string ‘cause that’d be embarrassin’, and I walk to the cleanin’ station, pretendin’ to grab a rag and sanitizer, when really I’m just beggin’ for the fan that’s next to it to wipe away the sweat and kiss my face. The metal blades swoosh swoosh swoosh and that’s the sound I imagine my thighs would make if I was makin’ love right now.
I didn’t always look like this, gross, you know. As a girl they called me Candy. ‘Cause they wanted to lick me. That’s what the cashier at the gas station told me one day. Emmy coughed, so I pretended to too, but I’d be lyin’ if I said I didn’t like it a little.
I set the Arizona Ice Tea on the sweaty counter, next to the line of pink and green lighters, in front of the Mediterranean man we call Zillo, with a stubbled jaw. Emmy already paid, was at the door, pushin’ on the pull bar like she thought she was ready to go, but Zillo winked at me – his long eyelashes swoopin’ like a spider’s legs. My cheeks got real red and I glanced down, callin’ attention to my necklace which brought attention to my bare collarbones which drug eyes down to cleavage – my tits. I was twelve but I had fuckin’ tits- which was okay ‘cause I still had a waist back then.
Zillo made a “tch tch tch” sound at me and I couldn’t tell if that was ‘cause I was good lookin’ or if it was ‘cause he was a little too high. It’s not always easy to tell, ‘specially when you’re twelve I guess.
But that’s how another man Jeremiah said it in the bathroom stall one day too, his big brown hands holdin’ onto my skin like somethin’ that would quench his thirst. He said “Tch tch tch, come over here and give me something to sip on, baby,” so I did. I slipped up against him like I knew what I was doin’ ‘cause he liked it.
I met Jeremiah at Cedar Point where I was a ride host for a summer. It didn’t pay much, I’ll admit, but it got me out of the house and somewhere new. I’d never been to Ohio before. I mostly just stood around all day and sprayed down the handlebars with some sanitizer stuff every now and again but the fair food was delicious. Jeremiah was some years older than me and he took a fancy to a few of the girls there but I think he really liked me best. He’d buy me elephant ears and them Dippin’ Dots and I felt real special. He’d tell me I tasted sweet when he’d lick that sugar off my tongue. Said he knew why they called me Candy.
I knew I’d get a scoldin’ when I came home from the park at the end of the summer- I figured Daddy would smell the scent of a man on my tanned skin. I remember walkin’ through the front door which was hangin’ off its hinges a little, Daddy’d been tellin’ Momma he’d fix it all summer and I guess it never got fixed. My hair was high in a pony tail, my tank top a little too tight but in all the right ways. Zillo’d love to see my cleavage now. I rubbed my wet hands from the condensation they’d been wipin’ from the pop bottle off on my shorts with frayed denim at the ends and I made a holler when I walked inside to let everyone know I was home. I’d seen this house before, but somethin’ about it looked new and I liked that.
Momma walked into the livin’ room first, in her night gown and house shoes. She had her hair in curlers and a signature Marlboro Red hangin’ out of her mouth.
“What the Hell?” she shouted at me as I dropped my duffle bag to the floor. “What did ya eat all summer?”
My head fell to the side. My lips loosened up. What?
She stared at me, her hand with the weddin’ ring all pouted on her hip.
I thought about the things I ate this last week. Some chicken fingers, popcorn, definitely some elephant ears, a few turkey sandwiches, and some ice cream.
“Did ya have to eat the whole thing?” She pointed to my stomach peekin’ out from under my shirt. “What’s that there?”
I guess I looked like Daddy now.
“You better clean that up, missy. You know what happens to fat girls.”
And I knew what happened to fat girls ‘cause Momma made it clear the few years before when she signed me up for that tennis camp.
But now I’m back at the treadmill, wipin’ my sweat off it.
This is day three at the gym and I’m already lookin’ at the glistenin’ goddesses, with sloped shoulders and hilled-asses, like I’ve got no hope. Like they got those bodies overnight. How damn long’s it s’posed to take me to look like that?
The teevee hangin’ on the wall in front of me is showin’ the news. Change the channel. I don’t need to be seein’ all these things about buildins fallin’, crushin’ people in the rubble, lookin’ for survivors in-between slabs of concrete, or things about the president and his big airplane that he flies to the golf course. How does any of this motivate me to move more? How ‘bout instead we put a nice porno up on the screen. Some woman smackin’ against the couch, better yet, make it two women. Two women who wear size four jeans. I don’t care what their tits look like ‘cause those aren’t gonna change for me much at the gym anyway. I bet that’d make me wanna move a little faster though. Who wants to look like this, naked, in bed, when they could look like that? Keep goin’!
I turn away and watch a man, around my age in his early twenties, tall and brown like a caramel, with biceps round like a camel’s back, make his way across the front of the gym. He checks himself out in the long, floor to ceilin’ mirror, like no one’s payin’ attention, but I notice.
I’ve got about two minutes left, not much, on the treadmill but that’s enough time to watch somethin’ better than the news unfold over to my right.
Man walks up to the machine that has the balls you pull down where a woman also just walked up to. I can’t hear what they’re sayin’ ‘cause some guy over at the dumbbells is huffin’ and puffin’ and the news is goin’ and I can’t really breathe here on the treadmill either, but it looks like he’s askin’ her to use the machine ‘cause she shrugs and walks over to the thing you use for your abs instead. She’s about to sit down, is adjustin’ the weight on the ab machine, and I kid you not, man walks over to her and asks some other question again. She squints at him. She looks confused, but he puts his hand out like he’s tryin’ to introduce himself. I’m not really sure why he went about it this way, but I know what he’s gettin’ at. He’s tryna get her number. She shakes his hand and her ponytail shakes a little behind her, he smiles, and then rests his elbows back against the wall and plays it more casual. True love starts at the gym. For a certain typa people, anyway. No one’s followin’ me around to ask for my number.
My buzzer beeps and my ten minutes are up.
I’ve been to the gym six times but at the moment, I’m out on Emmy’s back deck drinkin’ a Busch while she picks a tick out of her puppy’s fur. She’s focused so she don’t have much to say but I tell her that I started workin’ out and it’s not doin’ much.
“Maybe it’s the beer.”
I look down at the can in my hand. “Nah.”
“But if I stopped drinkin’ beer, I don’t think I’d lose that much weight anyway. I haven’t lost anythin’ yet.”
Emmy says that she hears it’s not about the weight. She says I might be losin’ fat and gainin’ muscle which means I’d stay about the same weight. That’s why ya gotta measure yourself to see if you’re shrinkin’. She’s still pokin’ at her dog, so she don’t notice me run my hand down my thigh.
“Nah, it’s still fat,” I tell her.
Emmy’s not all that perfect, but she acts like she don’t care usually. Sometimes she’ll slip a “Oof, I’m full. I shouldn’t keep eating,” into the conversation but I don’t think I’ve heard her say much else about her size. She’s what I’d call fluffy. Her weight don’t make her oddly shaped, like me, just a little thicker. She’s short, so that don’t help.
“You’ve been going to the gym how long now?”
“Honey, it’s gonna take you longer than a few days to look like anything. Especially while you’re drinking beer.”
I tried the whole diet thing. A few times, but it’s hard. I’m hungry and food tastes good. I don’t eat too much anymore, but I also like to enjoy myself sometimes. Some cheese sticks, hoagies, or an apple fritter every now and then. They just hit the spot, ya know? So how will I ever lose any weight? I heard there’s health reasons and that keeps people from losin’ weight sometimes and I wonder if that’s me. Sleep. Genetics. Thyroids?
I chug the rest of the can and smack it down on the railin’. Her dog barks and she’s gotta start her tick pickin’ all over again.
It’s day seven at the gym. I’ve been comin’ for about a month so I’d say that ain’t too bad, ‘specially for a butterball like me. My thighs rub all sweaty-like but I’m here, tryin’ to do the thing. Back at the treadmill, ten minutes of burn, need a distraction. That man and lady haven’t been here since I last saw them. Must be havin’ some fun that makes ya sweat and burn calories in other ways, eh?
I look up at the teevee and the news is back on, today it’s about some woman in a coma.
She was hit by a car and now she’s all tied up to tubes and needles in a hospital bed, knocked out. It’s terrible that they’re showin’ her like this on the news. I’d hate for the whole city to see me like this. It ain’t flatterin’ at all. Her legs splayed out, some plastic holdin’ open her nose, her mouth gapin’. She does look kinda thin though, so at least there’s that. If that was me there, layin’ in a hospital bed in a coma, I’d look more like a beached whale but harrier.
Woman has a fruit basket and some vases with flowers all lined up next to her bed.
What does she need a fruit basket for when she’s in a coma? I laugh. But then I stop. Gotta be careful ‘cause I almost get dragged off the treadmill, but I can’t believe it. I’ve got five minutes left on my timer but I don’t even care. I pull the emergency string and I scramble off the treadmill ‘cause I’ve got weight to lose and it ain’t never gonna happen here.
“She don’t need a fruit basket when she’s in a coma, ‘cause she’s not eatin’. It’s not botherin’ her that she’s not eatin’ either ‘cause she’s asleep. If she’s not eatin’, you know what that means?”
Emmy stares at me like she don’t know who I am, her eyes all wide and empty. “Is this a trick question?” She asks.
I shout at her. “No! It should be an easy answer.”
“I don’t get it. She’ll probably die.”
“But before she dies,” I prompt.
Emmy’s still as empty as can be. She’s got nothin’ goin’ on inside of that head of hers so I’ve gotta help her out. I give her the answer.
“Before she dies she loses weight!”
She almost pushes me off the bench we’re sittin’ on but I hold on tight and keep myself
“Skinny dead. That’s what she’ll be and you’re excited about that why?” Emmy don’t
get it. It’s genius, the most genius thing I’ve ever thought up, and she’s worried about the woman dyin’.
Skinny dead. I imagine a skeleton in a pink, flower crown and tap shoes, jumpin’ around, tap, tap, tappin’ herself in a celebratory circle.
“No. She’ll die eventually, ‘cause we all do, but say she wakes up from the coma and lives for a while first. Think about how much weight she might have lost without doin’ any work.” It’s easy. Takin’ a long, restful nap, in a clean room, with people runnin’ this way and that to take care of you. They shoot up some nutrients in your veins, and you’re alive so there’s no need to worry, but losin’ weight through all this is easy now. You don’t even know you’re doin’ it ‘cause there’s no work. Sounds great for people like me. Maybe then I’d look like one of those girls on those Super Bowl commercials with Jessica Simpson and Victoria’s Secret angels and ladies like them. Ladies that the men look at. I admit, I miss bein’ looked at.
Martin saw me at the store the other day and ya know what he did? He laughed. He said he always knew I’d get pregnant out of wedlock. He thinks I am pregnant.
“So maybe she’ll lose some weight, but it doesn’t sound safe. That poor woman in a coma – who knows what life will be like for her when she wakes up?”
Tony and I’d been together for a few months and I was in love. He was tall, like a little over six feet, and funny, ‘cause he’d made me laugh a lot. I think the thing I liked most about him though was that I’d had a crush on him since kindergarten. I never thought I’d get to lock lips with him.
My favorite date we’d went on had been for ice cream. He knew that chocolate was my favorite so he ordered it for me and we walked around town, window shoppin’ for things we’d never buy while we ate it. That was when I first kissed him, though that was embarrassin’ ‘cause I still had some ice cream on my lip. We passed a market with a basket of fruit sittin’ outside and he asked me where do pears go on vacation. Hell if I know and he said, “Pear-is!” I started laughin’, he started laughin’, I slipped the spoon of ice cream in my mouth, and he leaned in, his breath real hot, and he kissed me so hard he got some chocolate smeared on his lips too.
A few months later, I was restin’ my head on his shoulder, nestled up under his arm and he said he thought we needed to talk. What was I supposed to do other than say okay? He said to me that I was a really sweet girl. I smiled at him, moved in to kiss him but uh, no. He knows that I’d be a great wife but he wasn’t lookin’ for a wife right then. He didn’t really say more and I didn’t say more. I sat in silence for a minute and he apologized, but at least he was honest. I knew he just wanted to be with someone really hot. Someone skinny. That’s the kinda lady you want if you don’t wanna wife.
Zillo don’t notice me walk in. The bell on the door dings and he looks up, but only briefly. Not like how he used to.
It’s been a long time since I’ve stood in front of this counter, but not much has changed. I expected Zillo to still be here. He’s a little shorter, tanner, and balder than he used to be though.
“You want me to do what?” He says in his thick accent. The old florescent lights in the gas station buzz overhead. Zillo’s forehead starts sweatin’ and the beads on his forehead glisten under the lights like diamonds in a showcase.
“Look, it’s no secret. This ain’t a big town or nothin’.”
His big lips bubble like balloons while he tries to keep them shut. Maybe Zillo don’t talk, but everyone in town does and we all know what he’s been doin’ online.
I’d never tried drugs before. Except some Mary Jane a few times when I was younger, and the alcohol I drink if you count that. Alcohol’s enough, if you ask me, so the rest of this is all new to me. I don’t think I trust him, but I’ve seen Zillo around enough that it feels all right.
“Look, I dun’t know what they told you, but-”
I check around me, over my shoulder, make sure no one’s comin’ into the gas station kiosk- “-but this is good money,” I whisper as I slide a stack of a band and a half of birthday moneys I’ve been savin’ for most of my life across the counter. Zillo’s beady eyes fix on the
cash and then rise back to look up at me. Motionless, they stay there, all focused, tryin’ to figure me out.
There we have it. If you ain’t beautiful, havin’ money is the next best thing I guess.
That’ll get people lookin’.
Rumor has it that Zillo and his momma set up some limited liability company they ran online. Anyone can start a business I guess, but this one’s different. They use their business, I heard, to legally buy drugs. By drugs I mean GHB. Did ya know GHB’s actually a chemical our body makes that someone learned how to make up in a lab? Go figure. Take enougha it and it’ll knock you out. So Zillo and his momma order it from the doctors or somethin’, and pass it out through Amazon or some shit. I’m skippin’ the middleman though and goin’ right to the source. Also, I’m not dumb. I ain’t leavin’ no trace behind which is why I got cash. I told the bank lady that I’ve gotta pay a contractor to fix up my bathroom. Like takin’ candy from a baby.
Zillo’s pudgy fingers tap at the counter nervously while the vein in his arm stretches up to basically his skull and pops out in pulses. His sweat starts to smell like olives and I almost gag.
That’s offensive though ‘cause I bet his family really loves their olives, and I need to hold myself together so he likes me enough to admit that the rumors are true and that he’s got the hookup. I inch my hands on the counter a little closer together ‘cause it makes my upper arms push my chest together and really accentuate the cleavage. I lean forward, onto my elbows, and whisper,
The room’s nice. Sunlight reaches through the window at me, tryin’ to grope me or somethin’, like it’s keepin’ me all awake, but I ain’t got time for that. This is it. This is now. I’m lyin’ on the bed, made “properly” with a patchwork quilt of blue, pink, and brown squares with some butterfly decoupage or whatever that shit is called. It’s sweet. And scratchy. The pillow is a little fluffy for my likin’, but I won’t even notice it soon so I guess beggars can’t be choosers and I’m beggin’.
There’s a wooden nightstand next to me, right under the window, with a 2-liter bottle of Tropicana, a little glass jar, and a syringe. The walls are covered in a faded yellow wallpaper with one little paintin’ in a wooden frame, of a farm house, on the other side of the room. It could be worse, although it could be better. Honestly, I’d probably be happier in a hospital, but I don’t have much of a choice.
Zillo had handed over the GHB after he counted all the cash I was handin’ him. Stingy. Like he thought I was gonna rip him off or somethin’, ugh, the nerve. He took my money, slid it in a drawer under the register, and went through a door in the back where I heard some shufflin’, clangin’, and other weird noises. It took about five minutes and I was worried that someone new would walk in, but the bell on the front door stayed silent and Zillo came back out. He had a raggedy box with a busted side full of little glass bottles. I coulda counted them all, made sure he gave me the right amount, but I’m not that type. Besides, it looked like enough to keep me knocked out for quite some time.
I told him about my plan – I knew he might think I was crazy, Emmy did, but I needed someone to believe in this ‘cause I couldn’t do it all on my own. I’d done my research on the internet – there’s a lota information out there, and it’s not secret, even information about drugs and comas – but that didn’t matter. He pointed at the door and yelled at me to get out and that was the end of that.
All I needed was one person to be willin’ to sit with me (for at least a week, but hopefully longer) and pour some more GHB-orange juice down my yapper every few hours to keep me knocked out. Just enough will keep you under but not kill you. Just enough. It isn’t a hard job, but I guess it’d take a lot of time outta someone’s day. I’d need to be watched too, make sure I don’t choke on my own puke. A nurse would be great at it. I’d have settled for just about anyone though. Even Zillo, but Zillo wasn’t interested after he took the cash.
It had been about a week and the box was still in the trunk of my car. I was prayin’ to God that no cops pulled me over ‘cause I didn’t have the time or any more money to explain to them what’s in there if they found it, and I couldn’t do nothin’ with it yet. If I tried on my own, I’d either sleep for a couple of hours and wake up ‘n eat, or I’d kill myself in an overdose. I was desperate but not stupid.
So I was at the gym again that next week since Emmy kept tellin’ me it’d take time and time was all I had ‘til I figured out what to do with the box in my car. Tryin’ out some real light dumbbells when I saw that heifer on the bench to the right of me. There’s a big mirror on the wall in front of the weights. So you can see yourself cry hard and it’ll make you want to work out some more I imagine, but it also lets you see all the hot guys, muscled up and sweaty, liftin’ heavy ones there with you. It’s intimidatin’. That day though, I saw Heifer in the mirror too, and she wasn’t a hot guy muscled up. She had some small weights again, I don’t know how heavy on accounta the fact I wasn’t wearin’ no glasses and the numbers on the weights are little, but they were light and she was definitely bigger than me. Now I told you, I’m not fat like a hippopotamus or the slimy parts of a roast beef, but I’m also definitely not thin and I know it. This lady was fat though, and the drops of sweat that rolled down her pale and shiny skin screamed it, even if she ain’t want it to.
I wasn’t liftin’ for long. Just a few minutes, pullin’ the weight up to my chest and droppin’ it back down to my thigh. I tried to grunt at the same time as Muscle Man to the left of me did so it was less noticeable. It was okay when he did it, but not me. Huffin’ in line with Muscle Man, I look back over at Heifer and in a second, she glances over and sees me starin’ at her. She flat out asked me what I’m lookin’ for and I don’t know. I don’t have an answer, not one she wants to hear anyway, so I shrug. She told me I should think twice next time, and I did. I thought twice about it but kept watchin’ and that’s when I got the idea.
“Great ideas come from the gym,” I say to Heifer. The sunlight grabs down at her now, rubbin’ away at her pasty white skin. I think I see the red freckles grow. She’s holdin’ a vile of the GHB as she sits next to me. For someone so stinkin’ rude at the gym, tryin’ to be all intimidatin’, she’s lookin’ real motherly now, gently removin’ the cap and settin’ it down softly on the table. She’s grabbin’ for the orange juice, about to mix ‘em together.
She nods her head. She don’t like the gym much either, obviously, so when I told her I had a better idea, she was all ears. I said we could lose weight without doin’ any work, but we’d need to invest some time into it, help each other out.
Now I’m layin’ down on the bed in her place, my hands crossed down by my stomach, mouth open wide. Heifer ain’t even lookin’ at me.
Mixin’ the juice and GHB like it’s a potion, she says to me, “And you’ll do this for me when you’re done, right?”
And I will, I think. But who’s to say that when I wake up thin and beautiful I won’t wanna go out to the club first thing, finally find me a man? Maybe call Momma. Assumin’ this works, the world needs to see me. I can’t stay locked in here for a few more weeks, but I didn’t think about that when I first proposed this to her. I’m not tellin’ her that now. Besides, maybe I won’t wanna go out just yet.
She smiles, a little snaggletooth smile. She’s not cute, and if we’re bein’ honest, I don’t think losin’ weight is really gonna help her, but between you and me, I won’t tell her that either.
I smile back.
She’s finishin’ the swishin’ she’s doin’, and she’s about to feed it to me, about to say ready, when she says, “You know, I think we’re onto something.”
Me. I. I’m onto somethin’. This wasn’t her idea.
“I mean, if we wake up thin, we could market this.”
I look at her. She told me her name was Jennifer at the gym, but this don’t make me wanna call her it anymore than I do. Let’s get on with the show, please.
“Think about it,” she puts the bottle back down on the table. She likes to talk with her hands, big circular swoops and she almost smacks me in the face. “A place people can pay for these kinds of services. You walk in the door, speak to a receptionist, and make a down payment. Nurse ladies come out and escort you to a bed. It’s your space for the next few weeks and they monitor your injections.”
She says people. I wanna correct her, I think she means women, but she’s still goin’. “What if we head this project? We could become millionaires. This is genius!”
She says this like it was her idea. I’m the brains behind this and I’m thinkin’ about kickin’ her out right now. I’m thinkin’ about how Emmy might have had a change of heart, can come do this instead, but then Heifer starts to tap my arm, feels like poundin’, one, two, five times.
“I’m imaging a row of beds, people put under, working on their weight loss plans, in some sort of hospital auditorium. Monitors set up in the rows, nurses assigned to each person. It’s great!”
I role over so I’m starin’ Heifer in the face again but notice that she’s back to holdin’ the mixture in her hands so I open my mouth wide.
“Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful plan?”
I nod my head. Her snaggletooth glares at me as she grins to herself, like she’s hopeful for the future.
She goes to pour the drink in my mouth. I told her even though I was conscious for this round and could drink it myself, it might be good to have her practice while I’m awake so we both know she knows how to do it right before I’m out and can’t save myself. It’d suck havin’ her pour it down my throat and then I drown when I’m already out ‘cause we didn’t practice. She presses the mouth of the bottle against my own mouth and it tastes like the answer to a prayer.
Suck this, Emmy and Zillo.
I take that back. I’ll suck it. Momma, I found a savior.
I don’t know how long it’ll take to knock me out, but as I finish swallowin’, I’m thinkin’ about the way I think the first man to smile at me after all this will look. Not like Linus, with his unibrow, tellin’ me at graduation how he heard Keto worked for people like me. Or like Matthew with the juttin’ hipbones who asked me on a date and stood me up, laughin’ about it all over school the next week. Nah, this man, he’s got a chiseled jaw, big eyes and swoopin’ hair. Some nice, thick lips. He’ll gimme a nod, raise his chin a little, and come to shake my hand. I’ll have to catch my breath, all flustered, probably pattin’ my chest. Gotta fan myself off, ya know?
He’ll gimme a one over, look me up and down, and it’ll be love at first sight. Finally, someone will want me.
Heifer sits next to me and I’m thinkin’ about that first kiss with this man.
It’s dark, with nothin’ but some moonlight sinkin’ through the window in the room. I have no idea where I am, I have no idea where I am, what is goin’ on. I start screamin’ and then the door opens, I see her, and I scream louder.
Heifer tries to hush me, says I look great, skinny, beautiful. I haven’t seen a mirror yet, so I haven’t seen myself, but I look down at the pudgy skin still hangin’ on my bones and I can’t believe her.
The coma didn’t work. I’m still fat.
She says the men won’t be able to keep their eyes off me. Neither will the women. She says she can’t wait to lose weight like me, and we’ll open a hospital.
Weeks of starvin’ myself and I’m still a sacka lard. I also feel like throwin’ up.
Heifer says I never thought I’d get to be skinny.
I wonder if Emmy has noticed I’m missin’.
I read that article “How to Get Skinny Fast” in Women’s Health this month and it didn’t
I wonder if I’ll be able to walk now after not usin’ my legs or brain for a while, and what about what’ll happen to me now that I haven’t eaten food for so long.
It’d be nice if some guys finally hit on me. If they stopped calling me a walrus.
I’m not even hungry.
Maybe I’ll find some friends too. It’s been nice having you around the last few weeks, even if it was just in silence.
Sugar don’t spoil, ya know.
I lay in bed still, Heifer talkin’ my ear off, still hopin’ she’ll be skinny. Her freckles and hair got redder while I was out and now it looks like she’s on fire.
The flames make me thinka Daddy and Momma and Zillo and Jeremiah and the man at the gym who wouldn’t let that poor girl just do her workout, and the lady at the bar who wasn’t s’posed to eat more of her fries and what she’s up to these days, and Tony who I still wish coulda loved me. I thinka the Coke-bottle women on the teevee, the ones I’ll never meet, and all of the little boys that the grandmas drag to the gym and who they’ll turn out to be. How some of them will date those teevee women and the rest will want to.
Heifer reaches for me, grabs for my wrist or somethin’, but I’m already fallin’, fallin’, fallin’ deep into distractions where all the other women are and don’t even know it. You’re skinny she says. I’m big I think, but big and small might be the same thing. You’re beautiful.