On Thursday, Jenny awoke with a deflated tummy, a conviction that she was going to eat lightly and healthily today, and a tearing hunger for her breakfast. She had some healthy oat cereal, then emptied all the change from her pocketbook on to the kitchen table, keeping only the price of a sandwich - she was going to stay away from the vending machine if it was the last thing she did. By lunchtime her stomach was actually growling, not something she was used to, so she got a sub again, justifying it because she was working late and wouldn't be home until nearly 9. But when she got back to the office, it turned out to be the chief editor's birthday, and he had brought in a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, divided into twenty oblong pieces. She didn't like to refuse what the boss obviously meant as a nice gesture - he was rather formidable. Only seven people worked in Jenny's office (the chief editor / owner, three juniors, a designer, the accountant and the “publicity/press” man) so after they had all had a piece, most of the cake remained, sitting on a table near the Xerox machine. Everyone picked at it to a certain extent as they went to and from the machine, but Jenny somehow managed to eat five more pieces before she got home that night, eight hours later. It was so light and fluffy, it wasn't really filling. She told herself that she would have a light dinner to compensate, but work had so filled her head by the time she got home that she forgot this resolution until after she had eaten a generous amount of lamb couscous. Still, I don't feel all taut and bloated, she thought, rubbing in more lotion, so it's not like it was a real binge. I'll weigh myself in the morning.
Jenny got up early and approached the scales with some trepidation. Dropping the towel she had wrapped around her after her shower, she looked at herself in the mirror first. Her tummy really did look bigger than it had done before… she wasn't imagining it; there was a noticeable change since a week ago. In profile, she had begun to develop a little pot, only sticking out an inch or so, but undeniably sticking out even on an empty stomach. She sucked her stomach muscles in, and it disappeared; as she relaxed, it sprang out again, and she noted that as she did so her ribcage hid itself from view under a layer of fat. She poked her midriff with a finger, and was mildly shocked by how yielding her flesh was. Was it really only a week since all this had begun? She went to fetch a tapemeasure from her sewing box, and looped it around her waist. 26 inches. Well, no wonder her 24-inch shorts had felt tight on Wednesday; she was sure that her waist measurement was more than that when stuffed to bursting. She finally stepped on the scales, and the needle juddered to a halt at 138lb.
Jenny felt strangely calm. Allowing for the possibility that she'd already been a pound or two over 125, that was still a gain of something like 10 or 12 pounds since last Friday. She imagined herself telling Luke this, not to chastise him for overfeeding her, but as if it were a marvelous discovery she had made. She wasn't at all sure she really wanted to tell him, but the idea was oddly exciting. Jenny dressed for work, resisting the idea of trying the shorts on again, but noticing that her skirt, though by no means tight, was not as big in the waistband as it had been. That day she just ate when she felt hungry, since that evening she was bound to overeat anyway, going to dinner with Luke. She got through a package of cookies and two candy bars, and bought a Danish as well as a sub sandwich at lunch. Her stomach failed to grumble.
Jenny came home to change and was suddenly dissatisfied with all her clothes. She really wanted to wear her shorts and cropped T-shirt again, but Luke was taking her to a restaurant and that might be a little casual. In the end she put on her nicest skirt and (raking in the back of the closet) another once-unappreciated gift from Aunt Claire, a stretchy knit top in pale green. She had thought it too clingy and revealing, but now admired the way it hugged her gently rounded tummy and small breasts. Not bad, she thought. But I think I'll buy some fitted T-shirts tomorrow.
The restaurant was pretty and intimate - not crowded, but the food was good and the prices reasonable. Jenny ordered an appetiser for possibly the first time in her life - langoustines - and ate slowly, determined to savour every bite. She and Luke both chose steak after that; the meat was tender and perfectly cooked, the fried potatoes which accompanied it crisp and tasty. Though Jenny ate more slowly than he did, Luke noticed that she finished every bite, and it was Jenny who called for the dessert menu. Luke chose a creamy pannacotta, and Jenny a chocolate torte which surprised her by its size when it arrived. She was already feeling quite full, not exactly having started on an empty stomach.
“Jen…” began Luke. “You know, you don't have to order dessert just to keep me company. I know it's a joke of mine but you mustn't eat it if you're too full.”
“No, no,” Jenny waved this aside, and forked some torte into her mouth. It was astoundingly rich, like a large chocolate truffle. “I'm really hungry this week for some reason. Anyway, I've got an excuse for a few treats when my favorite person's here, and on such a short visit.”
“Am I your favorite person?” asked Luke. He seemed to be serious and there was a certain strain in his face.
“Well, how many other candidates are there?” she teased. Luke was definitely looking at Jenny in a strange way, a way she almost didn't dare interpret. She got on with finishing the torte, feeling indulgent, and after a coffee, they stood up to go on to a bar. One wall of the restaurant was mirrored, and Jenny got a glimpse of a slim-hipped young woman who looked as if she might be pregnant and just beginning to show, her small but distinct potbelly stretching her knit top - it was her own reflection. She looked at Luke in the mirror also, and something about his stance reminded her of the husband of the pregnant “Celtic Goddess.” Maybe just association of ideas, she told herself. And it was strange, the way the mirror made it look almost as if he was trying to put his arm around her.
They got a cab home from the bar, and stopped first at Jenny's to let her off. Luke got out too, to come and say goodnight. He would be leaving in the morning to catch a flight; the new job was several states away. Standing under the light outside Jenny's building, he cleared his throat as if about to make a speech.
“Jen, you know you're very important to me, right? That I really value our friendship?”
“And I value yours… I know that girlfriends and boyfriends come and go, but you and me, we're true friends.”
“Actually, Jenny…” Jenny's heart missed a beat, or seemed to. “After being away from you all year, apart from that week at Christmas, I've begun to realise what you mean to me, feel that I want more than just friendship with you. And I don't know why, but that's all seemed to come into focus this week; being with you just confirmed it. You look so beautiful tonight! We've been friends so long that I don't know whether I should speak, or just let things stay the way they were… 'cause I couldn't bear to lose you as a friend - Jenny, I'm in love with you, but how do you feel?”
“Oh Luke!” Jenny was almost lost for words. “I've always loved you, since we were four, you should know that.”
“Yeah, well, I love my sister, and she's known me as long as you have but I don't think we'll be dating. Do you just think of me as a brother?”
Jenny laughed. “No.” Luke drew her to him, held her tight and kissed her for a long time. Then he paid the cabdriver, and they went inside.
“I always thought I wasn't your type,” mused Jenny, lying on the couch with her head in Luke's comfortable lap. “You always dated such pretty, curvy girls and here I've always been this little flat-chested mouse.”
“Nah, you have a lovely little body,” said Luke. “Pity you always used to cover it up so much, you couldn't tell what was under there.” He trailed a hand across her still-stuffed middle. Her green top had ridden up a little, exposing a soft strip of bouncy pink flesh.
“This is from the only guy who's ever seen me in my panties?”
“Not recently…” Luke answered wistfully. Jenny was feeling so happy that she felt freed from all restraint.
“Want to refresh your memory?” She scrambled off the couch and began to sway slowly. As gracefully as she could, she unfastened her skirt and let it drop to the floor, wiggled out of her slip revealing her long legs, shimmied with a little more difficulty out of the green top and twirled around for Luke in her bra and panties. No boy had seen her with this little clothing on for years. As Jenny danced, she realised with slight embarrassment that the curve of her distended belly was pushing the top of her bikini briefs down in a shallow parabola. It flashed across her mind that she might be jeopardising the first relationship of her life by letting Luke see her carrying the result of a more sedentary lifestyle plus a week's serial overindulgence - at least 26 extra pounds from her “normal” weight of 112, with added girth from today's massive dinner. But Luke didn't seem to see it that way. He looked absolutely transfixed. He got up, came close and began to stroke her belly rhythmically, his hand moving in small circles. Then he began to run both hands lightly up and down her sides, causing wonderful shivers to possess her. He drew her in close to him and kissed her - she had never been kissed this way… and as she leaned into his warm solidity she felt the hardness of his erection pressing against her hip. She had a very strong desire to see Luke naked too, though she'd seen him without a shirt on often enough. Instinctively she knew that what she wanted was his solid weight pressing upon her, covering her.
“Are you trying to seduce me?” murmured Luke into the side of Jenny's neck, which he was making friends with. “'Cause, my lovely girl, it's working.” Jenny grabbed his hand and began to lead him to her bedroom. He held back a little. “Jenny, I have the idea that… aren't you…”
“A virgin? Yeah. Waiting for the right man.” She pulled at his arm.
“So you're OK with this? You want things to move this fast?” The look on her face told him the answer, and he got a condom from his billfold and they headed into the bedroom. Jenny unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it off, revealing his broad torso and gently curving abdomen. She drew a deep breath; her entire body was tingling with desire for him. Like her shorts a few days ago, his jeans were a little snug, but she carefully unfastened them and slipped them down…
Making love with Luke was beyond anything Jenny could have imagined. He was very gentle with her, not wanting to cause her pain. She couldn't help a little gasp as he eventually slid gently into her, though he had made absolutely sure she was as fully aroused as possible and ready to receive him. The feeling of his weight pressing so firmly on her overstuffed stomach simply added to her pleasure; it too was almost painful, yet similarly satisfying. Afterwards they lay together in each other's arms, warm belly to warm belly.
“Do you still mean it, what you said earlier? That I have a lovely body?” asked Jenny.
“You are beautiful. Amazing. Didn't I just prove it?”
“Oh, yes! You don't mind that I've put on some weight, though?”
“No, not at all. Really skinny girls, or those ones that work out so they look all muscular, just don't appeal to me… I always thought you were pretty even when you were thinner,” Luke added hastily. “But you were like a little girl then. You're a woman now; you look softer, more feminine. Still plenty of room for improvement though, I'd say.” He grinned, put the flat of his hand on Jenny's tummy and jiggled the fat there. (It felt wonderful.) “It's fascinating watching you eat, too… like you've found an appetite for life you never had before. You seem more confident too.” I feel more confident, thought Jenny as she dozed off in Luke's arms. Like a different girl, almost…
Luke had to catch his plane early in the morning, and although she knew she wouldn't see him for at least six weeks, Jenny was just walking on air all that Saturday. She ate a huge, calorific breakfast, then called up her mother and gave her the edited highlights of the night before (without reference to her impromptu striptease or what followed). Jenny's mom was happy for her - her little girl had never even had a proper date, let alone a romance - but felt it necessary, as mothers do, to give Jenny a selection of tips for keeping men happy, the most important of which was that she must make an effort with her appearance.
“Luke loves me just as I am,” said Jenny. “He said so.” Usually her mom's advice was good, but she sensed this was going to be a little wide of the mark.
“Well, sweetie, that's lovely, but your father and I couldn't help noticing that you've gained a little weight. Nothing serious, but you probably shouldn't gain any more. I know how little spare time you have, but maybe it would be a good idea to watch what you eat, or join a gym? You don't want to lose your figure.”
It was as if a light had come on! Jenny became absolutely certain at this moment that she didn't care if she DID lose her figure. She might have been thin, but her figure had never done her any good until, without her meaning it to, it started to change. All Jenny's doubts were swept away. Her mother's advice was well-meaning, but it fell on deaf ears. Jenny changed into the trusty - and now definitely rather tight - pink shorts and cropped T-shirt, and headed into town, on the track of some food. No diet for her!
Holding a large paper bag from McDonald's, Jenny sat down on a bench in the park (creating the beginnings of a promising roll around the top of her shorts as she did so). There were two cheeseburgers, a supersized portion of fries, a milkshake and an apple pie in that bag, and she was determined to eat it all. As she munched on the first burger, Jenny saw a girl walking along the path who looked vaguely familiar. She was also eating a burger. She came nearer, and Jenny saw it was the dark-haired, chubby teenager she'd seen about a week ago. She was wearing hipster jeans that day, with a sleeveless blouse. The jeans were getting too tight, straining against her backside and causing her flab to overflow her waistband dramatically; Jenny could see this because the lower buttons of the girl's blouse were undone, allowing her big belly to poke through. Indeed as she got really near, Jenny saw that the blouse would have no hope of meeting over the girl's protruding stomach; it must have been at least two sizes too small. Only one button was fastened, under her large breasts, which were evidently also too big to be contained by the shirt. Jenny wondered about the time when the blouse had fitted the girl; if she was perhaps a size 16 or 18 now, she must have been a 14 or a 12, maybe even near Jenny's size. Now she looked even bigger than she had the previous week. From the serene way in which the girl met the stares of those who thought she was a preposterous sight, bursting out of her clothes that way, a theory suddenly broke in on Jenny; this girl, who evidently enjoyed her size and her ability to shock, and who was now eating a large bar of chocolate as she sashayed along, must be gaining weight deliberately!
This wasn't something she felt she could go up and ask the girl, but it planted a seed in Jenny's mind. Luke had said last night that there was “plenty of room for improvement,” and her mother had gone on about maintaining her appearance to please her boyfriend. Maybe she could “improve” on it indeed! The thought renewed her appetite as mental pictures filled her head of how she would look with a little more fat on her: at 150 pounds… 170… 200. She would send Luke an e-mail about it. Meanwhile, having finished her lunch while wandering in this magical daydream, she set out to buy some new clothes, her well-filled little belly straining against her shorts. She knew she felt satisfyingly full again, but was unaware that her large lunch had contained nearly 2700 calories. Jenny mused on the kind of clothes she wanted; she hadn't bought any since last year at least.
Jenny bought, in a size 12, low-cut jeans like those the girl had been wearing, a pair of denim shorts a lot looser than the pink ones, and a few tops, some cut high on the midriff and some in form-fitting lycra. She hesitated, and then selected a kilt-style miniskirt, which fastened like a field hockey skirt, wrapping around then holding with adjustable clasps. It was too big even at the narrowest adjustment, but she tried it on various ways in the dressing room, first as it was meant to be worn, then low-slung under her belly. She took a soft sweater, folded it carefully and then pushed it up under her spandex top. The effect was of an instant 20 pounds or so on her belly. She placed her hands lightly on it and imagined what it would feel like for real. Excitement gripped her and she couldn't wait to e-mail - no, call Luke to see what he thought of her plan. Meanwhile, she headed to a nearby Starbucks and ordered a cream Frappucino and two full-fat muffins. It was expensive, but a girl needed to celebrate a moment of revelation like that. She ate the muffins slowly, then got a sticky cinnamon bun to finish off. Why not? she thought. I've still got room, and they look so good. She wondered if she'd broken 140 yet.
When she got home, the scale showed 142, though she knew some of that must be undigested food. There was quite a little belly there now; all the new weight was still settling in her abdomen, thickening her waist but leaving her long legs and slender arms unchanged. Jenny turned sideways and looked at the new, soft curve she was acquiring. She slapped it experimentally, and it bounced. Through glancing at heavier women as she was shopping that day, Jenny had noticed how some deposited most fat in hips and thighs, some in breasts or buttocks as well, but some chiefly in their tummies and around their waists. She had a feeling that this was her body-type. She dressed again, bounced out of the bathroom, noticing as she did so that the fat on her tummy was beginning to jiggle a little whenever she ran, and into the kitchen, where she made a large pot of spaghetti bolognese for dinner, thinking of Luke as she did so. She swirled a generous amount of olive oil into the pasta, then topped it with the rich meaty sauce and an ample sprinkling of grated cheese. With every succulent bite, she thought of the girl in the park and imagined her own belly swelling until it was just as round and full. It wasn't long before she felt the need to massage herself with lotion, unfastening her shorts to do so, and only then finishing off the last of the spaghetti. The olive oil helped it to slide down easier, and the massage seemed to have created a little more room in there somehow.
When Jenny called up Luke on his cellphone, he sounded very glad to hear her. Jenny told him about her shopping trip. “Great, new sexy clothes to show off how beautiful my Jenny is… just hope I don't get home to find someone else has stolen you away!” Jenny laughed, absently reaching into her unzipped shorts to rub her burgeoning belly again, and then letting her hand venture between her legs.
“What did you have for dinner, Jen?” asked Luke. “What, just spaghetti?” Jenny assured him that she had had a big lunch, and detailed what she had eaten that day. There was silence for a moment, then he chuckled, “Guess those new clothes might soon be getting a little snug.” He didn't know they were in a size 12.
“Maybe I should go on a diet, then,” said Jenny, testing the water. The vehemence of his response surprised and gratified her.
“No, don't you do that! Not on my account. Please don't deprive yourself and waste away; I really wouldn't want to see any less of you.”
“How about if I gained more weight, though, would that still be sexy?” Jenny was a little anxious that Luke would think she was overanxious and harping on the subject, but she needed to know.
“Why wouldn't it? You're not scared I would fall for some stick-insect, are you? It's you I'm in love with… and I told you they're not my type.' Luke paused. “Anyway, you clearly don't mind a little extra padding. I seem to remember you grabbing me in a pretty enthusiastic manner yesterday and I'm no ninety-eight-pound weakling.” Jenny could tell he was grinning in that totally disarming way… “OK, I know us guys are meant to be that much more shallow than women are - only attracted by looks -” (Now he's teasing me, she thought) “- but even if that were so, Jen, who says we're all attracted to the same looks? You've met every girl I've ever gone on a single date with. I think most of them outweighed you by quite a way. Remember Lisa? She was about 180 pounds, I think. Don't think I ever asked a girl out just because she was well-rounded, but objectively speaking, soft and cuddly is definitely more attractive than the waif-thin look. I like the way you look now, but if you were gaining weight, there'd just be more of you to be beautiful. I don't think you need to lose any, but I wouldn't run away or anything if you did… I love you, and after all -” the teasing tone was back “- most people put on a few pounds over the years, y'know, and I'm hoping to be right there to find out!”
Jenny assured him that she wouldn't “deprive herself,” while grinning from ear to ear herself. A sort of mental chorus was singing inside her. He loves me! Seriously! went one part, and He doesn't mind me gaining weight! went the other. In fact, he sounded rather keen on the idea… She murmured endearments into the phone, and could barely bring herself to hang up at the end. She felt full of energy, and… almost hungry again, in fact. That was an idea! She wanted to celebrate this wonderful feeling, this amazing realization that Luke loved her whatever she did and that his ideas of female beauty miraculously seemed to coincide with what she wanted to do anyway.