September 11, 1981
HE called. I was washing dishes. Not the right Cinderella moment, but up to my elbows in greasy suds is more authentic than a size ten threatening to shatter a glass slipper while the other waits for its prince to get on one knee and slice a toe off with the other.
A summer’s worth of eating tuna, celery and rice had paid off I thought when I heard HIS voice, a feathery tickle I’ve known since we were five. I ate so much tuna; I couldn’t go barefoot without the cat lapping at my toes. And my poor toes? Curled under, raw from being ground into the sidewalk every night. I ran the two miles to my old grade school playground, worked my way up to eleven real pull-ups over the course of the summer before tromping my fat ass home.
Twenty vanquished pounds later, HE calls. I can taste the three years of loserdom melting in my mouth. Romanceless fat best friend years, pining for HIM while HE dated every girl we knew and saved his secrets for me.
“It was me,” he said.
“What was you?” I asked.
Not the conversation I anticipated. That conversation gushed over my new appearance and how stupid he’d been to not notice I was so pretty in addition to being funny, smart and a good listener.
“What I told you about Stevie,” he said. “It wasn’t him, it was me.”
“Oh,” and that was all there was to say.
“We’re still friends?” he asked. “You don’t hate me, do you? I couldn’t stand it if you hated me.”
“Yes,” I agreed.
But we ‘re not friends anymore and I will hate him for a long time, I think.
We three were musketeers. Since kindergarten. Over the summer, they went off to band camp and when they came back, Stevie didn’t hang out with us anymore.
“Is something wrong?” I asked HIM. “Did something happen at camp between you guys?”
“Nah,” HE said. “You know Steve. He’s that way sometimes. Moody. Things’ll get back to normal eventually.”
But they didn’t. Stevie wouldn’t talk to me except to tell me I should ask HIM about IT and that I didn’t know HIM as well as I thought I did.
Eventually he explained that Stevie tried to kiss him one night when they’d gotten drunk off Boone’s Farm. He’d turned Stevie down, of course, and now Stevie was embarrassed and mad.
But it was both of them. Twinsies all along. I smelled like the cat bowl for nothing.
The fat girl inside gloated. Like the other girls who dated him and knew will. I can see it now. The looks they gave us this fall that weren’t really jealous at all.
I almost didn’t go for my nightly run, but I decided to punish my inner fat girl for her smugness and I skipped her breakfast this morning too for good measure.
I wrote this for a contest at Nathan Bransford’s blog. I didn’t make the semi’s or the honorable mention. Nathan listed some of the things he looked for and also traits that disqualified. One of notes concerned story that seemed to have a date stamped on in an attempt to make narrative look like a diary entry. I would say my piece resembles that, but this is how I kept my journals as a teen and into my late twenties. I would write about events from my day as if I were telling a first person story, transcribing them verbatim including whole dialogues with commentary interspersed.
The contest called for 500 words max which doomed me too because I needed about double to flesh it properly. I wanted to do that before posting, but I have done a yoga cleanse this week. Yoga sessions daily and twice on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I am beat. I also had some issues at the paying gig to wade through that distracted a bit. I will be back later today to post the revision.
2 thoughts on “#fridayflash – 1981”
Art imitates life. If memory serves. Well done.
You captured her inner fat girl very nicely 🙂 I just loved your story!