Honourable mention in the 3rd Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.
That was the worst year, when you fractured your spine and I quit smoking and my thesis, in which order I can’t remember. And then the eating started again—a muffin once in a while, and then maybe two and a latte or two lattes or five lattes and a scone a cookie pita and hummus a carton of ice cream eaten furtively in the park with a plastic spoon from the to-go section at the new Sobey’s on Roncey where nobody knows me, because who would buy from a corporate franchise when they could support local independent business?
Nobody, observing in the progress of time the blossoming of thighs breasts hips cheeks, says “Hey, you’ve put on a lot of weight—how’d you do that?” as, when the same flesh hardens and retreats, they say “Hey, you look great, you’ve lost weight, how’d you do that?”
If they did, if they had, I would say—have said—to them: let me tell you about my secret life in food; I am a wild muffin party.
On my half-hour two-hour three-hour five-hour runs I design posters in my head for eating disorder groups, featuring lots of young skinny girls and one “average” thirty-something woman and the caption—Can you identify the bulimic?—and of course the answer would be obvious, because why otherwise include the fat girl?
How can I make love to you with turgid churning belly? I’ll sleep on the sofa tonight.
When we split for a time, back in our twenties, people said such a shame, such an elegant couple. You said, “Why are you always thinner when we’re apart?”
After the accident, you were wrenchingly grateful that I had rushed home (although it took fully a week to pack up and sell what I could and get a flight out): “I wasn’t sure you would,” you said—and justifiably so, when I’d got so clever at staying away.
There had been no question, of course, from the moment I picked up the message on Clare’s orange i-book after a night out in London revisiting old haunts—I think we must have gone for a run in Regent’s Park, and then perhaps dinner at the Thai Cottage in Soho. I think I even remarked to Clare that this lack of hesitation clearly showed my commitment to the relationship. And then eating bowl after bowl of puffed millet cereal with rice milk while composing a slew of differently nuanced but substantively similar e-mails.
I was relieved to find you relatively unbroken—no need for sponge baths or awkward toilet manoeuvres—just a brace and a few months of rest. Later, however, you confessed that you’d been shocked at first to see me: “You were so thin,” you said.
It took a long time and several sizes for you to grasp the weight of it: “You seemed so normal,” you said, and I nodded.