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Old 11-25-2017, 05:15 PM   #328
StrugglingWriter
 
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Default A big conversation

The other girls took Elektra’s exit as their own cue to dismiss themselves from the table, and a swarm of hugs invaded the room before in short order they were down to three. And while Elizabeth, who throughout the goodbyes had remained in her seat with her hands folded on top of her belly, graciously acknowledging the flurry of compliments offered her way, sipped her wine and hummed an inaudible little tune, Gail pushed herself unsteadily to her feet and started stacking plates to take to the kitchen.

“That waz somethin’ elss kid,” she said. “I’m real proud of you.” She finished emptying a plate onto the master, then turned and embraced her. Kelly was nearly staggered by the surprising weight of Gail’s swollen arms—or perhaps the full weight of Gail herself, as she may have been embracing Kelly as much out of affection as she was a means of keeping her balance, judging by her alcoholic breath and her arrhythmic sway back and forth.

Kelly winced privately at the painful pressure of Gail’s ever-prodigious paunch against what she suddenly realized was a way-too-full stomach.

My God, how much did I eat??

“Didja really say all those nice thingz to Lennox?” Gail asked, vulnerably, almost sounding like a little girl.

“Yes, I did.” Ow.

“Juss like that?”

“Just like that. Word for word.” Please let go!

“Word for word.”

“And didja really mean it?”

“Every bit of it.”

“Awww, thank you, Kellz! Really, you are ab-so-loot-ly the bess!!

Gail held Kelly a little longer before letting go and stepping back, dabbing tears away from her mascara. “Gawd,” she sniffled, “I turned into such a softie!

Gail turned back to clumsily building her stack of plates, and Kelly as usual made a show of helping her before begging off to the restroom, hoping she might relieve some of the pressure she felt on her insides. She couldn’t believe how what she’d thought had been just a little noshing had added up to. She couldn’t remember ever feeling so full!

Kelly finished her business, feeling mildly relieved, and after studiously avoiding looking at her figure as she washed her hands, set her mind on clearing the table for once. Back in the dining room, the table was only half-cleared and Gail was already gone—probably moments away from passing out in her bedroom. Elizabeth was still sitting with her wine and humming a barely audible tune discernible only to her.

It was a familiar sound, stretching back to Kelly’s earliest memories of she and her mother preparing meals together in the kitchen. But it was one Kelly hadn’t heard since leaving college, back when her mother was the mother Kelly remembered.

“Don’t worry, Baby,” Elizabeth smiled dreamily, “I can get to it later.”

Kelly didn’t need to hear that twice. She sat down at the head of the table next to her mother and took a sip of Gail’s untouched water glass, ice long since melted.

Kelly’d been building up to this moment in her mind for a while, but now that it was here, she couldn’t figure out how to get started—or whether she even wanted to.

Thankfully, Elizabeth opened the door for Kelly to get something else off her mind first.

“You’re looking so beautiful, Kelly. You must have loss more weight.”

Because beautiful must mean thin, right?

“Actually, Mom, I’m pretty sure I gained weight.”

“’Pretty sure’? That’s not like you. Usually you can spout off your weight right down to the ounce.”

“I’ve kind of been avoiding the scale…”

“Oh. That bad, is it?”

Kelly nodded solemnly in response.

“It’s just that, well, I was doing so good—“

“Well. You were doing so well.”

“I was doing so well! I started the semester really strong and was starting to see some progress, but then the last week or two I just…I just…I guess I just sort of lost my will power.”

Elizabeth smiled the sweet smile of motherly understanding. She’d always had a very wide smile, and she might have been smiling ear to ear, if the corner of her mouth could have pushed through the roundness of her pudgy cheeks. As it was, that smile still had enough strength to push those pudgy cheeks upward, taking those legendary wide blue eyes that she shared with her daughter and transforming them into happy little half-moon windows.

“Oh, baby, that’s just your way.”

My way?

“What do you mean?”

“Every time you’re on a diet, you give it your all for about two months, and then I guess you just give out for a while before you give it another go. You’ve always done that.”

“I have?”

“Yes, you have. Your whole life. Once I got you started you were the most dedicated person I ever saw, but I guess there’s only so much time a girl can sustain an effort like that. I can’t tell you how proud of you I was for keeping the weight off all last year. Don’t let it get you down. The last couple of weeks have just been a little break. You’ll be right back after it before you know it. Trust me.”

Her mother’s unwavering faith in her always felt so good. It felt even more encouraging realizing it was coming from someone wo actually new more about her than herself. But there was nothing about her meteoric weight gain that was anything like she’d encountered before. And she’d only managed to claw it back eight, maybe ten pounds before running out of steam.

How much more was she gonna gain before she found the will to hit her stride again?

“Thanks. Mommy.”

“Of course, Baby.”

They sat a while together without talking. Kelly sipped a melted glass of ice water and Elizabeth steadily drank her wine and hummed a barely audible song—something Kelly remembered her doing throughout her childhood, mostly while she prepared family dinner in the kitchen. And it was something she hadn’t heard from her mother do in ages.

For Kelly, it was the sound of home, and she didn’t want it to end. At the same time, it made what she wanted to say seem that much more urgent. Especially as Elizabeth’s eyes began to glass over from the alcohol.
Kelly’s window was closing, and she still couldn’t find the nerve to press the trigger!

Elizabeth broke the silence.

“That was quite the story you told today. Every one of those girls was hanging on every word you had to say.”

“You think?” Kelly asked, even though she knew she’d had them eating out of the palm of their hand. All weekend she’d felt nothing but peace and satisfaction about how everything (except her weight loss) seemed to be coming together, and she wouldn’t mind hearing a bit more about it from the person whose opinion mattered most to her.

“They all seemed very impressed with you. Me, too. Though—“

Here she paused and took a drag of wine.

Though?

“Though some of it didn’ sound much like my lil girl.”

Kelly hadn’t been expecting this.

“I mean, didja hafta treat that woman the way you did? I mean, do you think you really had to be that, um, mean?

“Cuz that doesn’ sound like my sweet lil girl much at all. Not at all.”

She said it with just the slightest hint of disappointment, but she might as well have been hitting Kelly across the face with a 2X4 it stunned her so much. Kelly couldn’t remember the last time she’d faced anything but unconditional support from her mother—and certainly not when she’d accomplished so much!

And when Elizabeth had accomplished so little.

“I did have to treat her that way. I did.”

“Well,” Elizabeth replied, “the way you talked about her to the girls, it didn’ sound like you gave her much respect. An’ you went after her personally, too. You know you had to hurt her feelings, you know?”

Hurt her feelings?!

Elizabeth took a long pull from her glass and pursed it between her lips, as she was accustomed to doing the more blasted she became.

“I certainly don’t think there was any other way I was gonna make that happen.”

“Well, sure there was. You could have done what, uh, what—whassiz name again? Your professor?”

“Dr. Lierman.”

“Dr. Lierman! Thass it!” She paused a moment. “Lierman. Lierman….”

“Yes, Lierman. What about him?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing! I was juss thinking…. Never mind. Never mind! He juss seems like a nice guy, and like he knows what hees talkin’ about, an’ you coulda juss done it the way he said do it. I juss think you didn’ hafta be so mean to her.”

“Mother, I wasn’t mean. I was strong.”

“OK, OK, OK.” The wine glass went to her lips, and the last of the wine slipped in, causing the corners of her mouth to lift in a little smile. But it wasn’t OK. She still had more to say. “Iss juss, I think you coulda made a friend, and instead you made an enemy. I thought we raised you to treat people that way.”

Hadn’t she looked around the table today? I made friends out of the people who count the most!

“Mother, if Lennox were gonna be my friend, I’d have never been in this mess.”

“Well, OK. I’m juss worried maybe you burned your bridges.” The word came out of Elizabeth’s mouth like britches. “I mean, iss, juss my opinion. I guess iss juss not what I would’ve done, thass all. I woulda been nicer. If it were me, iss not what I would have done, thass all.”

Not what you would have done? At once, Kelly found the voice and the words she’d been looking for.

“Well, Mother, tell me. What have you done?”

It was Elizabeth’s turn to look surprised.

“’scuse me?” She lifted her empty wine glass to her lips.

“Mother, you heard what I said. I want you to put down your wine for two minutes and listen to me!”

Elizabeth’s puffy brow looked cross for a moment, and Kelly’s heart cringed with a daughter’s fear. And regret. But Elizabeth’s glass went back down to the table in obedience, and her wobbly eyes focused their gaze directly on their clearer mirror image across from her.

“I’m lissening.”

“I’m sorry, Mother!”

Elizabeth pushed a heavy arm, made heavier by the wine, across the table to hold Kelly’s fingers.

“I know, Baby. I am, too. What’d you want to say?”

Nothing, now. She wanted to take it all back even before she put it into words. But her mother was waiting.

“Mommy, I—I--. What are you doing here? I mean, I love you. I’m so happy you’re so close to me where I can see you, especially since—since—“

“Since what happened.”

Since you left Daddy.

“Since,” Kelly said instead, “you found out what he did to you. Did to us.”

“You’re right Baby. He did it to us.”

“I know, Mommy. It wasn’t your fault. But he did what he did, and you did what you did, and there’s no changing any of it.” Kelly paused after she said it, wondering if, maybe even hoping that her mother might tell her she’d somehow changed her mind, that somehow there was a way it was possible that she even could change her mind after what Ben Kingsley had done to her.

But Elizabeth’s face was a closed book. She reached for her wine. So Kelly pressed on.

“So what now? It happened. And you sit here in this house every day like your life is over, drinking yourself into oblivion, eating so much you’re—well, you’re almost unrecognizable!”

Kelly paused again, but still Elizabeth gave no indication she wanted to respond, or even that she was affected by the words she was hearing.

“I mean, do you ever even leave the house?” This time Kelly waited for a response.

“I leave the houss sometimez.”

“Almost never!” Kelly didn’t know, though she thought she did.

“Yes. Almoss never.”

Kelly felt a surge of sadness that threatened to spill over into her eyes.

“Mommy, that’s not the Mommy I knew. I just want my Mommy back. Where is she?”

“Baby, I’m so sorry. I think I’m—I’m gonna hafta move over totha couch, OK Baby?”

She leaned back a moment and put her head against the wall, looking at the ceiling except for the fact that her eyes were closed. Kelly suddenly worried she might have started too late, that Elizabeth might have passed out right then and there.

But she opened her eyes and exhaled before twisting her blubbery body to the side, placing one thick arm against the wall and the other pudgy fore arm behind her on the table. With a grunt she pushed with both, apparently to free the massive hip and thigh she’d had wedged under the table, then exhaled again before leaned off the chair, her back dipping from the weight of her massive belly and bulbous breasts, before straining upward until she balanced on her feet. She inhaled almost in surprise and paused for a moment, certainly waiting for her head to stop spinning before she twisted first one hip and then the other on her way out of what Kelly had up to that point regarded as her mother’s constraining position, but as Kelly clearly understood now, was a source of security and support devised of her mother’s conceit.

Kelly averted her gaze and pushed her chair back, then pushed it back again as she realized she’d underestimated her own girth and the space she would need to slip easily out of her seat. She felt so small compared to her mother that she often forgot that she actually wasn’t. She hoped her mother wouldn’t require the support of her arm and wondered even if her support would even help. But Elizabeth squeezed herself out from the wedge of the dining room table and the wall and waddled her way around Kelly’s chair easily enough on her way to the living room. Kelly watched her mother’s fat form trudge carefully to the entryway, noticing the way Elizabeth’s back still pinched in hourglass fashion to create a waistline—albeit a thick one well-defined by the stretchy cotton mu-mu gripping tightly all around. It brought sharp definition the top of each wide, round ass cheek, wobbling every direction as she shuffled forward.

I am never, ever, ever gonna allow myself to get that big.
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