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Old 11-14-2017, 01:19 PM   #326
Tad
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oooh, glad to see Kelly have a plan, and start driving things more on her own!
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Old 11-19-2017, 05:15 PM   #327
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Default Balls of steel!

Half an hour later, Kelly slammed the door of Lierman’s lab behind her and leaned against it with a sigh, just like in so many of the old black-and-white movies she’d watched in the past.

As she had hoped, Caleb was working in his computer at the table in the corner.

“What happened? What did you just do? Are you all right?”

“I don’t want to talk about it. Where are those doughnuts?”

Caleb pointed to the table, where the pink box sat in its obvious glory. Only three of the five were left (Caleb!!), and Kelly dove into one—a glazed cake Crueller—in something like desperation, or frustration, or exhilaration, or something like that. That didn’t stop her from appreciating how crispy it was on the outside, and how moist and clean on the inside. It made her feel cleansed, and free, on the inside. It melted in her mouth fast enough to reach for another one post haste, a chocolate-iced cake as yummy and fresh as the Crueller. Caleb, of course, was watching, but for once it seemed he was putting his smart-ass tongue in check, probably because she wasn’t giving him the answer he wanted.

Kelly invited Caleb to join her for lunch at the dining center. He knew enough about her finances to understand the significance of the request.

“Why? What the hell happened in there?”

**************

“Holy shit, Kelly!” a shit-faced Gail exclaimed. “Juss tell us! What the hell didya say to her?”

It was the aftermath of Sunday brunch almost a week later, and Kelly was sitting at the table recounting the story, Gail with both elbows on the table—her chins resting in her hands in an effort to maintain rapt attention—and her mother snugly wedged between the buffet and the table again across from Kelly, one hand resting on top of her squished-up belly and the other glued to her over-filled goblet of red wine. This week there was a bevy of others as well: Jenn and Crystal, Elektra, Marla and Monet—but no Wade. After another disappointing loss on the road, he’d gone out drinking with his teammates, and that was after he and Kelly had shared a six together shortly after the late-night arrival of the team bus. He’d begged off brunch around 6am with as drunk a text as Kelly had ever received, undoubtedly delivered as he knelt in miserable supplication before his dorm room throne.

Wade’s absence—connected as it was to the misery of another road loss, which Wade was destined to spread to the rest of them—hadn’t phased Kelly at all. She was enjoying being the center of attention, dragging out each statement of her conversation with Lennox like she was presenting a soap opera—or more like she was 14 years old relaying a conversation over the phone to her best friend. The other eight girls had long finished their meals, but from time to time she’d stop to pick over the remains of hers, kind of like she needed a little bite of fuel to power through the next little bit of the story.

The past week had been a diet disaster for Kelly. After leaving the lab she’d torn through a pile of offings at the dining center like she hadn’t done since she and Wade had blown through the buffet of buffets over the summer in Vegas, figuring she had to justify the expense, and anyway, at this point wasn’t she entitled to a release? From there she’d gone straight out to that week’s “inputs” shopping, where for the first time she’d taken Lierman’s intimations to heart and finally used that expense account to pad her own meals for the week. Not that she hadn’t already been doing that in the lab with the extra granola bars and bananas and, of course, PinkBox doughnuts these past couple of weeks. But this time she added bagels, cream cheese, fruit, oatmeal, cereal bars, Ramen noodles, candy—everything a girl needed in her dorm room—especially when she owed so much to her roommates for all the snacks she’d stolen these past weeks. Not that they’d ever complained, or that they ever would think to. But there was a reason Marla and Monet were around the table that Sunday, too.

She’d fully intended to jump back on the wagon on Tuesday, and given a couple of weeks where PinkBox doughnuts had gotten the best of her, in her mind she did. Only looking back had she realized how poor a job she’d actually done. Tuesday morning's moderation ended in a total breakdown Tuesday night at the hands of the Buford College vending machines. And though Wednesday was pretty good, she’d melted down again Thursday night at the vending machines, then piled on at dinner with Wade at the Silver Saddle after—especially since he was actually paying for once. Friday she’d blown it from the get-go with a blueberry bagel binge breakfast and a granola bar parade at the lab, and nothing about that night and the weekend had gotten any better: the bulk of Friday and Saturday she bounced from shop to shop looking for the best deals the best of her meager Thursday paycheck could withstand for new winter shirts and pants. It was time-consuming, exhausting work, and even her fit legs were sore by the end of Saturday. The temptation of cheap easy (yummy!) meals at the drive-thru was too much to resist.

Kelly’d told herself she was getting pants. But mostly it was leggings that she could really afford. She was wearing her best pair now, and though they’d taken up more than she hoped of her check, and though absolutely nothing about them was Phi Gamma, for now she didn’t regret it. She’d worry about that later! She hadn’t allowed herself to wear leggings since before she’d lost all that weight two summers ago, and she’d forgotten how oh-so-comfortable they really were.

Even now as she slipped her last half a meatball past her lips she thought about how much thinner these leggings made her feel—even as her conscience reminded her it was definitely not the case!

“Come on, Kelly! Get to it. I’ve got to get ready for a date.” That was Elektra.

Elizabeth had made profiteroles that morning, and Kelly scooped some of the remains of their soggy pastry and chocolatey melted vanilla ice cream into her mouth with a big grin. She always forgot about profiteroles until her mother whipped them up. They were her absolute favorite!

Elektra drummed her fingers on the table, but her demeanor wasn’t nearly as annoyed as her words suggested. Her face suggested she was having as much fun with this as Kelly was.

“Please, dear,” Elizabeth added. “You’re gonna give me a heart attack!”

“Oh, all right!” Kelly sighed, washing the creamy sweetness out of her mouth by savoring a sip of Chardonnay—which despite the temporary acrid combination of sugar and the dry wine in her mouth left her palate feeling clean and refreshed, the way she’d known it would, especially after following up with a sip of ice water. There wasn’t that much left to tell anyway.

“Well, surely you guessed it,” Kelly shrugged. “I told her how many of you girls had signed up for her class, and that if she didn’t change my grade to an A they were all gonna drop her course at the last minute and she’d be out of a job.”

Silent shock gripped the table. In the meantime, Kelly picked out another bite of pastry from her dessert bowl and popped it into her mouth.

“Holy shit!” Gail breathed before sitting up and tossing off her glass of Chardonnay, shaking her head at the hard finish before leaning back in her chair, the drinking hand flat on the table with the glass poking up from between her fingers. “You blackmailed her!!”

“No way!” Monet breathed.

Gail shook her head.

“Didn’t see that coming! Nope! Not at all! Not from you,” Gail continued, shaking her head. She spread her legs to make room for her belly so she could scoot forward, then reached for the Chardonnay bottle and refilled her glass.

“No way,” Monet added, again.

“Balls of steel!” Elektra noted. She lifted her glass of ice water and clanged it against Monet’s wine glass in approval.

“Balls of steel!” Monet echoed, taking a sip of her red.

Kelly might have smiled, but her mind was stuck at Didn’t see that coming. There it was again! Did no one give her credit?

As it was, it hadn’t occurred to her that what she’d done was actually blackmail. Wasn’t that some kind of crime or something? She hadn’t felt the least bit uncomfortable with what she’d done until just now.

“Well, it was your idea,” she demurred to Gail.

“Oh, no,” Gail asserted with enebriated exaggeration. “No it wazn’. My idea wz for you to help her out with her classes, then maybe she’d help get you admitted again in the Fall, juss like Lierman wz trying to do for you. Thiss iss something completely different!”

Marla, who’d mostly looked confused up to this point, finally piped up. “What do you mean admitted in the Fall?”

Kelly and Gail had already explained Kelly’s problem near the outset of her story and sworn the rest of the girls to secrecy, but apparently it hadn’t registered with Marla. Elizabeth, who looked well on her way to her afternoon nap had the same question pasted on her face. So Gail briefly explained the history again.

“The biggess part I can’ believe,” Gail added after she finished, “iss that you asked her to go back and change your grade. I didn’ know you could eben do that. How did you know?”

Kelly shrugged again. “I didn’t.”

“You didn’!” Gail exclaimed.

“Balls of steel!” Elektra proclaimed and raised her glass again.

“Balls of steel!” echoed Monet, with raised glass, and this time Marla and Gail followed right on her heels, with Kelly and Elizabeth not too far behind, tossing off what they each had left. And though for Kelly this was nothing—she’d been sipping a single glass of wine all the way through lunch—for Elizabeth it was nearly half a glass. She hummed with an mm-mmm! as she swallowed it all down, then finished with a smile and a glazed look that told Kelly it wasn’t long now before Elizabeth would begin her purposeful descent into alcohol-induced oblivion for the afternoon. Were it not for her mother, Kelly likely would otherwise have basked for a while in the warm praise of her peers. But instead, heaviness settled onto her heart, especially as she watched her mother lunge forward to refill her glass. It wasn't easy for her: she had to smush her huge seated belly into the table edge and grasp the bottle of remaining red with her fingertips.

It was a heaviness Kelly was tired of feeling every week, and this week she was finally going to do something about it. She knew she had to speed things up.

“I asked her to change the grade because that was what I wanted,” Kelly said. “Lennox called it ‘reinstatement.’ All I said was, ‘I want you to change my grade to an A.’ And she said, like, ‘You mean, reinstatement?’ Like she was amazed or something. So I, of course, acted like I’d known all along”—a skill Kelly was long-practiced at—“and looked it up later on Aphrodite.” Aphrodite, of course, was the university’s online registration website, which also contained the student handbook.

“OK. Sure. But is she gonna do it?” Elektra asked in her distinctive South Georgia drawl. Shoo-ur. “Or am I gonna have to drop it and find a different class for my easy A? Just tell me what I’ve gotta do.”

“She said she had to think about it.”

A chorus of groans and grumbles erupted from around the table. Even Jenn and Crystal joined in.

“After all that, that’s all she said?” Monet. “Fuck! You mean you don’t even know how this is gonna turn out? How are you so calm!? I’d be a fucking wreck!” She made the point by tossing off her own (almost-empty) bowl of red like she needed the buffer against anxiety.

“You know, I’m really not. I feel great about it, if you can believe it. Truth is, I don’t think there’s really much for her to think about. Seems to me she’s gonna go for it.”

“I sure hope so,” Elektra shrugged. “In all honesty her class sounds kind of cool. Whoever knew you could take Home Ec in college?”

Elizabeth laughed, sending her chins aquiver. “Sweetie, it wasn’ all that long before I went taschool thass about the only thing we girlz went taschool for!”

“Well if it means you could do all this”—Elektra swept her arm Vanna White-style above the table—“then you can count me in.

“But for now,” she added, patting the table with both hands as she stood to her feet, “I’ve gotta jet.” She was looking at her phone as she said it. “Gail, Mrs. Kingsley, as always, this was truly amazing.”

“Please. Call me Elizabeth.”

Yes. Please do, the daughter thought. These days hearing her last name just made her think about her father.

“Done. Thanks, Elizabeth. Kelly, you’re my hero.

"Balls of steel!”
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Old 11-25-2017, 05:15 PM   #328
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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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Old 11-28-2017, 10:36 PM   #329
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Default Never say never.

It was a thought she wondered why she even had: never had it ever occurred to her that growing that big was ever for her—or really, for any woman—in the realm of possibility. Until just now, when she’d seen it in her mom.

Kelly heard her mother fall her way down onto the couch before following her into the living room. She half expected her to be asleep, but she was propped up attentively (grading on a curve) in the corner of the couch, heavy arms draped along the top and the arm. Kelly pulled the corner of the coffee table away from the couch so she could sit on it, winced inside a bit as she sat on it, wondering if too late that she might be too heavy for it to take her weight. It didn’t make the slightest sound. She found solace in the idea that her focus on her mother’s substantial size had led her to exaggerate her own.

“OK! I’m sorry, Baby. Please go on.”

Please go on! Surely she had to be aware of the thrust of Kelly’s concerns, and yet she received it like some kind of receptionist who’d left her on hold or something. Couldn’t she see?

“OK, Mommy. It’s like this for me. It just hurts me so much to see you like this! Do you understand? I mean, you’re the one who spent my whole life teaching me to keep my weight down, and then you, you turn out like this? So…out of control? And then every time I see you you’re a fall-down drunk!”

“I know, Baby. I know. But iss only for now. An’, I liketa cook. An’ I liketa eat. An’ what difference does it make at thiss point?”

“It does make a difference, Mommy.” Kelly grabbed Elizabeth’s hand, struck as always by its firm softness and the sheer weight of her arm. “It makes a difference to me. It’s like you just…gave up.

“You have a whole new life in front of you. I’m all grown up now. You’re free from Daddy and his business. You don’t have anybody holding you back now! You can do anything you want. You could start a business. It could be a bakery or something like that if you want. Or get back involved with the church again. Or go travelling. You know how much you love to travel!”

Elizabeth was smiling, but she was blinking slowly—or whatever you would call closing your eyes and not opening them right away while (at least nominally) awake. Moreover, she wasn’t responding. Kelly was beginning to wonder if Elizabeth even heard her behind the haze of the alcohol. She made her last push.

“Mommy, why don’t you go with me to see Dr. Lierman? Maybe he could help you find some people at the university you could get involved with. Or maybe he could set you up in a few classes until you figure out what you want to do. OK?

“Mommy, did you hear me?”

“I hear you,” she murmured her bleary gaze finding sharp focus once again.

“I said maybe you could meet with Dr Lierman and he could help you get started. The way he helped me. You said it yourself he seemed like a nice guy.”

“He doez seem likea nice guy.”

“Yeah, he does. He really does. So come on! Let’s go see him together. I just—“

Kelly stopped, because she started to choke up. Elizabeth heard it, and her eyes widened with surprising alertness.

That gave Kelly the hope she needed to bottle her emotion back up.

“I just can’t watch while you…while you…waste the rest of your life like this. OK? OK, Mommy?” Kelly wrung her hands in her lap for a moment as she pleaded. “Please come with me.”

Kelly’s eyes stayed looking at her hands even as they stopped, and for a moment there was nothing but the sound of labored breathing: Kelly’s, out of distress, Elizabeth’s burdened by the weight of too much alcohol. Kelly heard Elizabeth shifting on the couch and looked up to see Elizabeth leaning to the side so she could stretch an arm across the breadth of her seated belly, pinning Kelly’s hands to her lap with a heavy hand.

“Oh, Baby,” was all she said at first, rubbing Kelly’s thumb with her own, as she’d been wont to do in such mother-daughter talks in the past.

“You’re right about eberything, of course. Eberything. ‘Cept one.” She paused and licked her lips, her head dipping a bit, and it was clear that last glass of wine had Elizabeth just as intoxicated as Kelly knew she had to be. “You asked me what I’ve done. Well, thass obvious.

“I’ve done you.”

Kelly shook her head. “Well, yeah, I know you’ve done—“

“Nonono,” Elizabeth interrupted, shaking her own head. “Therez no ‘well, yeah” ‘bout that. You are the bess thing I eber did, and it is NOT a waste! Not a waste. Nothing I eber do will eber come close.”

Elizabeth dragged her hand off of Kelly’s, apparently because the effort of holding it there was becoming too much effort. It flopped down and cupped the bulge where her belly pressed against the edge of the couch. The rest of her belly and her massive boobs filled the entirety of the space from the cushions to the top of the padded arm, where Elizabeth’s own meaty arm kept her propped up for now.

“I love you sooo much, an’ I’m so proud of you. I waz never trapped raising you. That was the greatess freedom I’ve eber known. Maybe you can’ believe it. Maybe you hafta be a mother. But I’m happy, Baby, juss to be here so I can see the amazing young woman you’ve become.”

Elizabeth smiled and laid her head in the soft crook of her arm, looking at her daughter with dreamy eyes.

“But Mommy, you can still do that you know. Right here. But you can’t just—you have to do something more than this. Please come with me.”

“I know, Baby. You’re right. Eberything you’re saying is 100 percen’ right. An’ iss really a good idea, too, going with you to see him. I shhhould do exactly what you’re sayin’.

“I juss don’ think I’m going to.”

And with a smile she closed her eyes and hummed for a few seconds before slipping into sleep.
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:27 AM   #330
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Interesting character development there! Waiting to see where this leads
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Old 12-06-2017, 10:47 PM   #331
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Default A Girl's Gotta

This one looked a lot like Scott Gilroy: tall, wavy black hair, dimpled smile. Just a bit thicker and a lot less ... polished. Normal teeth, normal clothes, normal nails, normal skin, nothing upper-crust about him. The other students in the late shift (there were actually two girls in this round of subjects) had cleared out for the day, but he’d lingered around after. They’d talked for about ten minutes before he sent his contact info to her phone, which arrived with a wave of her Fairy Godmother’s wand—otherwise known as the sound from Cinderella that Kelly had recently downloaded to customize the notification tone on her aging iPhone.

“OK! I’ve got it,” Kelly smiled.

“Great! I’ll send you a text. Maybe we can go out sometime.”

“Yeah-hunh. I’m glad we got a chance to talk. One of the things I love about this job is getting to know so many different people. So you’re back, ummm...”—Kelly checked the schedule—“...next Monday, same time! Look for you then.”

“Sure thing. Later.”

The guy stooped for his backpack and fumbled a little bit opening the door, then looked back with a smile to cover it a little bit. It might have worked had he not closed it a little too hard.

The rattle of the grate in the heavy door had barely stopped when Caleb spoke up from the table in the corner.

“You think he figured out you were blowing him off?”

“I didn’t blow him off. He got my number, for God’s sake.”

“Mm-hm. And why exactly did you do that again?”

“Shut up, Caleb.”

“Again,” he repeated. “That was like the fourth time today.”

“Stop it. It was not!

“No. I’m serious. Count them. It was four times.”

She went back through the morning in her mind.

“It was two.”

“Count again.”

“I don’t need to. The other two were facebook adds.”

“Oh, please!”

“Caleb, those are totally different!”

“Sure. OK. Right. So two. And why are you getting anyone’s number at all? Shouldn’t someone be telling this to, I don’t know, your boyfriend?”

Couldn’t he just leave be? It wasn’t like she was gonna actually do anything with those numbers.

“Leave me alone, Caleb.”

She turned her attention to her computer, where she was working on integrating webcam footage into her Instagram profile as part of a final project integrating multiple social media platforms for her Digital Basketweaving class. But her mind was running through answers to Caleb’s question, Why?

Because what Caleb couldn’t understand was how sometimes a girl just needs a little attention to feel like she matters, like she’s not as ugly as sometimes she feels. And here was the opportunity right in front of her and she wasn’t gonna fend it off today just for something like appearances.

Because Mr. Big-Time-College-Athlete-Drama-King still hadn’t texted her back from yesterday, and, well, if anything came out of these phone numbers, who was really to blame?

Because the more she considered it, even better she felt about her meeting with Lennox and her prospects for getting what she wanted by the end of the semester. It was a like a whole new future, with entire new possibilities.

Because she was sitting there in those brand new leggings to replace her outgrown jeans which for all their form-fitting comfort didn’t have close to the containment of a quality cut of denim. So now when her hips flared out they spilled over the edge of the chair and rubbed up against the metal bars holding up the small hard worn-leather oval arms of the chair that were all-but covered by her heretofore unrealized-as-chubby forearms. And guys were hitting on her anyway-even with her boobs under full wraps in the baggy XL special-ordered Phi Gamma letter sweater she was wearing to withstand the first chill of fall and the world’s most antiquated heating system.

Because after two weeks of eating everything in sight she needed to clamp down on her diet. And she couldn’t because her stomach was a ravenous hole, which probably meant that at any time her period was about to start—her second period this month.

Because this morning. Monday morning.

203.6.
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Old 12-11-2017, 10:17 PM   #332
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Default Sorry, kid.

Kelly was on the weight bench in the house that afternoon when Jennifer Morrison walked in. Kelly’d seen her in the house a few times since Rules and Regs in her workout gear: neon leggings that heightened the feminine lower curve of her fit chunky thighs--at least until they sought refuge under the blouse of her oversized, also-neon T-shirt, which (mostly) obscured the misplaced bulge of her waistline. The neckline was cut out with a homemade, jagged (though fashionable) edge so that her neckline, chest and substantial cleavage were emphasized, boobs just only contained by a (again) neon-fringed black sports bra and a taut spaghetti-strap tank. It all looked great. Say what you wanted about Jennifer's appearance, but the girl had style.

The actual color of the neon for these outfits varied with the day, meaning she had purchased a number of matching outfits for these occasions, as if she were serious enough about her workouts that she needed (and could afford) an entire wardrobe for them.

And maybe she was.

Kelly meanwhile was still in her letter sweater and leggings, with cut-off sweat shorts stretched across her wide ass for the sake of decency. She had no kind of exercise bra that even close to fit. She did it all each day in whatever increasingly snug underwire bra for as long as she could stand. Not that today that was much of a question: with the red storm on the horizon, cardio was out of the question (maybe running would bring it on, maybe not, but it sure always felt like it would), so who needed a sports bra anyway?

She was all thrown together as it had suddenly occurred to her in her life that she should work out once in a while. Maybe. And so Kelly looked the part of the insecure newbie in her own gym, while Jennifer looked like she owned it. It was the first time she’d ever looked at Jennifer and felt threatened.

“Hey, Kelly!” she waved with her characteristic aggressive friendliness. “I thought I might finally run into you here.” She was pulling her thick hair back into a bun and preparing to jump on the elliptical. “I thought a lot about what you told us and decided it made a lot of sense. So here I am!”

Kelly hadn’t stopped doing leg presses while Jennifer spoke. She let down the weights with a gentle click. “That’s great! Say what you want about me, but at least I practice what I preach.”

“Yeah you do. You’re like a machine.” Jennifer turned on the elliptical and started a slow workout.

Rookie. “Yeah, well, you have to keep at it.” As if to underscore the point, Kelly began another set of leg presses.

“I do! I’m really serious about it,” she said, her voice quivering already with the effort of each weighted stride. “I’m already down three pounds!”

She said it with such optimism and pride! Looking at her, Kelly certainly couldn’t tell any difference.

Is that what people think about me when I say stuff like that?

“You go, girl!” Kelly strained to say it, since for some reason she seemed to be pushing a few pumps more out of this stack than she normally would have attempted. She gassed out after four more reps and this time let the stack down with a crash.

“Whew!”

Jennifer probably heard none of it: she was already perspiring and focused on her workout, oblivious to her surroundings thanks to Dr. Dre’s Beats.

Kelly made that odd duck walk people make when shuffling to their feet with a weight bench between their knees, then made like she was wiping away sweat from her brow. There wasn’t any: she hadn’t been there that long. But it had occurred to her that the two Phi Gamma fat girls were alone in the gym at the same time, and that image wouldn’t be good for either of them.

And, conversation with Jennifer always felt like a power struggle.

Nevertheless Kelly knew not to skip her easy post-weights cool down on the treadmill. She put Jennifer's and her own frumpiness out of her mind and put that image of her future out in front of the treadmill again—though this time it was an image just as easy as her gait. Where everything could return to normal, where she never had to face expulsion from the university, or ostracizing from the girls, or to fight through financial worries, where she could go back to just enjoying being Phi Gamma again. It was all in her reach.

She waved back to a struggling Jennifer on the way out the door and started toward the stairs, then jumped in surprise as someone flagged her down.

“Kelly!”

Kelly’s heart pounded far faster than it had ever beat during her workout, stepping back just in time to not run into Brittney Shore, who was standing at the bottom of the stairs next to the bathroom.

“Oh, hey. Sorry. didn’t mean to startle you. I thought I might find you here.”

You and everyone else, apparently.

“Hey, Brittney! You just ‘bout scared the pee out of me!” For all her efforts at sophistication, sometimes the rural South just spilled right out of Kelly.

“Good thing the bathroom’s right there.”

“Hunh? Oh, yeah. Hey, that’s funny!” Kelly still had to catch her breath. She placed her hand on her bosom in that gesture somehow meant to slow down the heart, which of course it never did. “Speaking of which, that thing you did to Elektra...”

Brittney looked at her quizzically.

“...the tea party, that was first rate funny.”

“Oh, yeah. Rush. What was really funny was how she handled it. She’s a riot.”

“No kidding! And she told me about what you made her do at Rules and Regs, too. Funny!”

Brittney got that quizzical look again. “What did I make her do at Rules and Regs?”

“You know, the Rules and Regs I led that one night, where she gave me such a hard time.”

“Um, I didn’t tell her to do anything at Rules and Regs.”

“Of course you did! You don’t remember?”

“No, really, I didn’t. I didn’t even find out about Rules and Regs until later.”

“Oh.” Yeah, that Elektra. She’s a riot. Stinker!!

“So, hey, uh,” she looked each way down the hall, up the stairs and behind them toward the grand entrance. “Speaking of that....”

She had a serious look on her face and Kelly’s pounding heart dropped into her stomach. Whatever was coming, it wasn’t good.

“We, uh, the Executive Council just finished a meeting, and I’m supposed to give you this.”

Kelly noticed for the first time a sealed envelope embossed with Phi Gamma’s insignia in Brittney’s hand. She handed it over to Kelly then reached her long arm around Kelly’s shoulders.

“You have a really good heart, girl. I mean it. You’ve always been one of my favorites.”

“What is it?”

“It’s—“ She stopped almost as if she’d choked up a bit. Or maybe she was miffed. You couldn’t always tell with Brittney. “You’re just gonna have to read it.”

She squeezed Kelly tight into the crook of her arm, then started her escape up the stairs.

“Sorry, kid.”
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Old 12-15-2017, 08:30 AM   #333
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Default Leaving it to chance.

Monday, October 28

From: The Executive Council, Phi Tau chapter of the Phi Gamma Psi fraternity of women
To: Soror Kellen Elizabeth Kingsley, DOB 10-16-19XX

You are hereby summoned to review by your peers for the solemn purpose of determining responsibility and potential sanctions for conduct unbecoming of the Phi Tau chapter of Phi Gamma Psi women’s fraternity. This review is to occur in the Convocation Room of the Phi Tau women’s fraternity house at

2:00 PM, Wednesday, November 27

four weeks from the date of this notification, in accordance with the bylaws of this fraternity and agreements with the Panhellenic Council, the university, and the Phi Gamma Psi national organization.

At this meeting evidence will be presented and examined pertaining to the following alleged violations representing conduct unbecoming of the chapter:

• Insubordination in defiance of officers of the Executive Council of Phi Tau
• Consistent violation of standards of appropriate dress, behavior, and appearance
• Public lewdness, facilitated and disseminated by publicly available electronic media
• Regular unbecoming interaction with other student organizations
• The appearance of improper fraternization with staff or agents of the university
• Public intoxication, with the documented inability to care for self or others
• Academic delinquency
• Violation of her solemn and eternal fraternal oath

Guilt has not been predetermined. The time between this notice and the review is to be used to prepare a defense of these charges; however, specific evidence will not be available until thirty minutes prior to the review, in accordance with the bylaws of this organization and its agreements with the Panhellenic Council and the university, as well as in accordance with commonly recognized procedures of administrative law. As this is not a legal hearing, all forms of counsel, including legal counsel, will not be acknowledged by the Executive Council, which is charged with conducting this review. Any attempt to utilize counsel at this meeting will result in termination of the meeting and summary judgment by the Executive Council without the benefit of your defense.

These proceedings may result in a full range of disciplinary actions, including but not limited to: deferred action subject to a probationary period, removal from positions within Phi Gamma, fines, suspension, or expulsion from the Phi Tau chapter of Phi Gamma Psi. All decisions of this panel of your peers and its sister chapters Information gathered as a part of these proceedings may also lead to referral for disciplinary proceedings with the Panhellenic Counsel or ultimately the university, in accordance with provisions specified and periodically reviewed in the charter agreement between the university and the Phi Tau chapter of the Phi Gamma Psi national women’s fraternity.

At any time this review may be avoided by your voluntary and eternal resignation from Phi Gamma Psi, thereby preventing potential referrals to other agencies from the Executive Council to the university or any other entity with a relevant investigating body. This action may not preclude independent actions by any or all of these entities.

Signed for the Executive Council:

Lindsey Huntington

Phi Gamma Psi, Phi Tau President
Executive Council Chair


***********

“The first thing that occurs to me is that she didn’t say anything about ‘fraud’ or ‘misrepresentation.’”

They were sitting around a stack of sandwiches at the kitchen table now—Elizabeth, Gail and Kelly. Kelly had spent most of the last hour on the couch, head on her mother’s wide thigh, crying her eyes out while Elizabeth cooed to her and stroked her hair. Kelly’s eyes were red and swollen, but the tears had stopped, and her make-up was cleaned up, and she was just now finding solace in the first bite of Genoa salami and four-cheese panini Gail had just lifted onto her plate. There were three mugs of beer on the table. Only Kelly had taken more than just a sip.

“That’s good,” Gail continued, rubbing a thick finger to and fro on her lips, holding the letter like playing cards in front of her as she perused it for possibilities. “That means they don’t know yet about your academic expulsion, though I wouldn’t guarantee that for long if they do much digging.”

Kelly sniffled and rubbed the back of her hand under her runny nose before stuffing a large bite of sandwich in her face. Crying makes you hungry!

“I think that hardly makes a difference anymore,” she muffled through her sandwich.

“Hush, puppy! Don’t be such a negative ninny. One step forward, two steps back. I thought you were past this giving up thing. You’ve got, like, a month to beat this.”

But Gail was wrong. She didn’t even know what they had on her. And once she did, she had thirty minutes to beat it.

Kelly said so before lighting into the second half of her panini.

“Nonsense. If you must know, there’s plenty here to go on. And it’s your life. They couldn’t possibly have anything but snippets of information. If you have any idea what it is they’re talking about they couldn’t possibly refute a well-planned explanation.”

The indefatigable Gail Hedges. Did she ever lose confidence? Bite.

Still, Kelly shook her head in negation while she chewed, though she had the good courtesy this time to wash her sandwich down with a gulp of beer before expressing her thoughts.

“But it won’t be about a good explanation. It’s about beating Lindsey Huntington. And she has all the power here. I was screwed the second she signed this letter.”

“No, no, no. Not so. It’s about convincing the Council. Surely they’re not all after you. This Brittney chick sounds like she may be in your corner. I’ll bet there’s a few others who already think this is a bunch of crock.

“And I’ll tell you something else you probably glossed over, too, something maybe you can’t appreciate unless you’ve been the chapter president. See where it says that any decision she makes has to be reviewed by the national board? They don’t take expulsion of a sister lightly, especially the older, crusty ones like the ones who work at the national office. It's an eternal oath, right? I mean, look at some of this stuff. ‘Standards of dress’? Really? ‘Insubordination’? What is this, the military?”

Kelly didn’t know. She wasn’t sure what insubordination meant.

“And come on, ‘public intoxication’? In a sorority? Nooooooo. Say it isn’t so!”
She held her mouth agape in mock disbelief, her empty hand fanning herself furiously a la Victorian England.

Kelly couldn’t help but smile, even after pushing that last bite of panini in her mouth. She looked at the plate and wondered about a second. She took the next panini off the top of the stack, a roast beef and cheddar that positively reeked of excess avioli.

Kelly loved avioli.

“The more I look at this, the more I try to read it the way they’d read it at the national office, the more it just looks like a witch hunt.”

“Thanks,” Kelly muffled in feigned offense.

“Oh, stop it. You know what I mean ... you witch.”

Kelly guffawed at the quick turnaround, barely managing to keep her food in her mouth. Gawd she loved these girls!

We know it’s a witch hunt,” Gail continued. “God knows why she’s after you, but we know she is. All you have to do is make that clear to the national office.”

“Will the national office be there? It doesn’t say they will.”

“They won’t be there, but the meeting will be recorded. I promise you, you embarrass Lindsey Huntington in that meeting, this whole thing will go away. Especially—“

Gail cleared her throat a second and finally took a pull from her beer, savoring it in her mouth like it was her first taste of it since the beginning of Lent—eight months ago.

“Oh, that’s so good!”

“Especially what?”

“Especially … especially ….” Gail had lost her train of thought and took another pull while she tried to track it down. “Well, it could all depend on—what’s her relationship like with the national office?”

“The national office?” From the Kelly of old, that might have been an actual question. Now, it was just a stand in for “Let me think,” which right now amounted to “Give me a second to enjoy more of my roast beef sandwich.” She remembered back during Rush, her first and only awareness that Phi Gamma had a national office at all. Now that she thought about it, Lindsey had looked pretty uptight through it all.

It could mean there was a problem there. Then again, uptight and Lindsey were virtually synonyms.

“It’s hard to say.”

“Well, OK. Whatever the case, she got thrust into that role pretty quickly when Sherry left. That means she probably has little or no relationship with the national rep, or anyone else there. And I’d bet dollars to doughnuts the national office was less than thrilled with Sherry.”

Whatever the animosity between Sherry and Gail was, nothing about time was helping her let that go.

Kelly’s Fairy Godmother waved her wand, and Kelly looked down to check the message.

THEBodie>>> Hey babe wazzup?

Now he asks! But her heart jumped a bit as she read it, and she stifled a little smile. She was supposed to be mad at him, you know. She ignored the message.

“Oh, that was cute,” Elizabeth interjected. “Bippity … boppity … boo! You remember when you were little, right?” Of course I do, Mom. Why do you think I...? “How did you make it do that?”

“I know! It’s really simple, Mom. Give me your phone and I’ll show you how.”

“It’s in my bedroom.” Kelly knew literally dozens of girls whose parents were more technology connected than even their daughters, and here her mother might as well have been connected to the world through two cans tied together with a string. “But maybe you could set it up for me a little later.”

“Well, OK,” Gail said. “It looks like my job’s done here.” She reached over and pulled a panini off the stack for herself, cut it in half and pulled it apart to watch gobs of cheese stretch and stretch until finally it gave up and snapped. Gail lifted the sandwich above her head and let the dangling end of the cheese drop in her mouth, then pulled it all in like a spaghetti noodle before taking a bite. She rolled her eyes in satisfaction, then closed them and chewed a while to savor the flavors. Then she put the sandwich on her plate and raised herself from her chair.

“God I wish I weren’t such a good cook,” she said, cupping her belly with her left hand and picking up her plate with her right. Then she scooted the letter back over to Kelly.

“Chin up, Rise-N-Shine. You’ve got a great chance of beating this.”
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Old 12-26-2017, 10:53 AM   #334
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“That’s it? That’s her great plan?”

Kelly had spent the night at Gail’s. She figured news of the review hearing would get around soon enough, and she wasn’t ready to face Marla and Monet with the puffy remnants of a night of crying lingering on her face. She’d spent the night fiddling with the settings on her mother’s iPhone 5 (which Kelly was fast realizing was becoming incredibly obsolete) and, since they all recognized Kelly couldn’t go back to the lab the next day in the same outfit, trying on a pile of some of Gail’s old winter clothes. Despite the cavernous waistline the jeans hadn’t made it past the top of her thighs. But at least there were a couple of faded old tanks that could pass for now and, more importantly, a couple of 1X sweatshirts that fit about right.

But there was no hiding the news from Caleb, who apparently was getting pretty good at gauging Kelly’s mood by gauging her eating habits, which that morning could best be characterized as “What-the-Hell-does-it-matter-now?”-type abandon, including two bananas, a box of chewy chocolate granola bars (though let’s face it, those things just aren’t that big!), and one of Lierman’s giant Snickers bars, which somehow had snuck their way back into their drawer on the back wall of the lab. Truth was, she wanted to tell Caleb, who was starting to become a kind of foil to bounce a lot of her plans off of (because if Caleb approved of it, Kelly considered it a good bet she was on the wrong track). But she played hard-to-get with the information until she parlayed it into another trip to the dining hall. On him.

Money was tight, you know.

It was now mid-afternoon during that short period when the dining hall closed after lunch before reopening for dinner. They were talking surrounded by empty plates and crunching melting ice from those tiny dining hall glasses, long empty. Only a few other conversants like them were left while dining hall staff banged in the kitchen and labored to straighten and clean the huge dining house.

“’I think you’ve got a good shot’ doesn’t sound like the kind of plan I’ve come to expect from Gail, that’s for sure.”

Leave it to Caleb to torpedo her day with negativity. Kelly’d actually been feeling pretty good about it all last night and this morning. Until now.

“I mean, I’d at least expect her to come up with some kind of diversion where you sneak into the office and find your secret file or whatever. Or maybe targeting some of the girls for blackmail—you know how to do that—or buying them off or something.”

Now that you mention it…done it. And done it. And done that, too. And except for when Kelly had blackmailed Lennox, Gail had been the brains behind most of it. Put that way, this plan did seem a little light.

But Caleb had moved past that. He was perusing the letter.

“You guys—er, girls—have a dress code?”

“Sure. Why not?”

“One so important they want to kick you out for violating it?”

“I guess we take our dress code seriously.” As much as Caleb had already mocked Phi Gamma, Kelly wasn’t about to go through the ins and outs of the Code with him now. Besides, it was secret.

“Wow. I want to see this dress code.”

“So pledge Phi Gamma. I could put in a good recommendation. You’d make a great sister.” Kelly smiled, self-satisfied at her use of sarcasm.

Caleb gave her a deadpan gaze for a moment. “When you run into that sweet naïve co-ed I once knew, could you tell her to give me a call?”

“Shut up, Caleb.” Seemed like there was never any winning with him.

Caleb knew he had won. His nose was back into the letter.

“So, this ‘appearance of improper fraternization with staff,’ that has to be talking about Lierman.”

“That’s what I can figure.”

“And they’re emphasizing the ‘appearance,’ so they’re saying they can’t prove it, but it just kind of looks like you were sleeping with him.”

Kelly had looked up fraternization. She hadn’t really captured the full implications of that word until Caleb put it just that way.

“Well that’s a pretty long reach.”

Caleb shrugged.

“Not really. I figured that’s where this thing was headed the whole time.”

“Hey!”

“Not any more, I mean.” His expression told Kelly it was a genuine backtrack, not something he had been saying. “Don’t forget, back then I was completely convinced. I was wrong, but I was convinced.”

“I always longed for you to say those three little words to me. Please, say them again.”

“You know,” Caleb continued, ignoring her, “they could mean me instead of Lierman.”

To that, Kelly just laughed.

“Don’t go underestimating my powers, now,” he joked, lifting one eyebrow in a macabre but impressive gesture. “So they’re saying your mentoring by Lierman looks like an affair. And this ‘public lewdness by … electronic media,’ that’s what? Surely they don’t mean those facebook pages?”

He paused.

“You’re fishing,” Kelly asserted. “You’re just trying to get me to tell you something you think is sexy or wrong that you might not already know!”

“I cannot confirm or deny—“

“Oh, you’re fishing all right! I didn’t send out any naked pictures or anything, if that’s what you’re driving at.” That, of course, wasn’t true: there was the cleavage picture she’d sent out last summer on Lindsey’s phone! Surely she couldn’t use that without getting herself in trouble!

“Well, I can’t help you if I don’t know absolutely everything.” Who said I was even asking for your help? “And clearly there’s something you’re not telling me, because I haven’t heard anything about you being cited for public intoxication.”

“I haven’t.”

“Well sure you have.” He ran his finger under documented inability to care for self in the letter. “That’s a legal term. And they say they have it documented.”

Kelly wondered to herself how it was that people were seeing so many things in this letter that she hadn’t noticed. But now that Caleb had pointed it out, she could see they clearly had something. Anxiety gripped her stomach like someone had grabbed it with his hand. Gail’s “plan” was starting to look a lot more like just hoping for the best.

“Well, whatever they may have, I’ve never been cited for anything. I think I’d remember that.”

“Not if you were intoxicated enough.”

Kelly didn’t like how everything in this discussion was starting to paint her as a bad person. “I guess that’s true,” she mumbled. Of course it was true. It had been true barely last week. Kelly’s stomach sank even lower as she worried there was something more she needed to know about that night.

“OK. So let’s say they knew this was done to you.” Caleb had jumped back to the facebook pages without saying so, but Kelly knew what he was talking about anyway. “You were the victim. Surely they wouldn’t be using that against you, right?”

To that, Kelly shrugged noncommittally.

“You mean they might? Holy shit! Just because you got fat?”

“Hey!!!”

It was the first time anyone had ever used that word for her, other than herself. It didn’t matter that it was Mr. Provocation who said it. She didn’t like how it felt at all.

That really is what people see! And they’re all just lying to me about it when they tell me different too.

“Calm down! Calm down,” Caleb urged, though Kelly could tell he’d enjoyed his little poke at her. That helped her get past it in her head. “I’m not the one saying it—or, rather, not saying it. I’m just having a hard time believing it. Sorority girls really are that nasty!”

Who said it's just sorority girls?

“Maybe some of them,” she speculated, focusing on the problem once more.

“Well, really just one of them. Lindsey.”

Kelly explained to Caleb who Lindsey was, and the class they’d shared together last summer. That had given her a front row seat for observing Kelly's interaction with Lierman, and now she was using that—and plenty else—against her.

Caleb shook his head in disbelief. “Remind me, did I ever remember to ask you why it is you care so much about hanging out with these people?”

There’s only so many times Kelly was willing to say “Shut up, Caleb.” She passed on it this time.

“Well, whatever. This Lindsey sounds like Queen Bitch Numero Uno. What in the world did you ever do to her, anyway?”
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Old 01-03-2018, 07:00 PM   #335
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Default Gawrrsh!

Thursday October 31

“Jinkies, Kelly!” Scott Gilroy exclaimed.

Kelly loved Halloween. Phi Gamma did not.

It was part of the Code: “Halloween is to fatten kids and sluts” was the way Kelly had heard it, straight from Sherry herself. Though she never would have put it that way, she certainly couldn’t disagree: it was pretty clear to Kelly (and anyone with at least one working eye) that Halloween had somehow become an excuse for girls who wouldn’t be caught dead in skimpy clothing (except in Las Vegas, of course) to dress up like prostitutes in children’s-themed costumes. And Halloween had long been a diet-buster for Kelly.

Not that Phi Gamma banned Halloween altogether—quite the opposite. Phi Gamma may have frowned on Halloween, but for Kappa Alpha it was traditionally one of the exclusive Greek events of the year. This year it was on a Thursday, which coincided with fraternity mixer night. And that gave Phi Gamma cover for hosting one of the more exclusive and prestigious Greek events on campus all year. Code for this event dictated costumes that were understated and “classy.” That generally translated into some sort of sexy, form-revealing sheath dress coupled with expensive pumps, matching nylons, costume jewelry and some sort of costume accessory—say a headband with cat ears or a Marilyn Monroe wig.

All of which took the kind of money that, after upsizing her wardrobe essentials last week, Kelly just didn’t have.

It hit her on Tuesday night on the way home from lab. And while the Goodwill swarmed over with (decidedly non-Greek) girls trying to score an inexpensive last-minute Halloween costume, Kelly beelined her way past the crowds sorting through the cheap witch, she-devil and barmaid costumes to the plus-size separates section, where she quietly sorted and browsed and sorted again until the available pickings called out to her with their solution. A late-night trip to Wal-Mart for fabric dye and socks, and Kelly was able to pull it all together for a grand total of $29.34—which incidentally was just about all she had.

Kelly cut out of language lab early Thursday night to put together her creation. By the time she made it to Gail’s that night, Elizabeth had finished the last round of dye for her socks and her sweater. From there Kelly steeled herself for the most difficult moment of the evening. Not technically. Emotionally—because Elizabeth’s next task was to cut Kelly’s hair. Long neglected, it needed a good cut. But this required cutting more length than Kelly had ever allowed. Tears rolled down her face as first, one after the other, her long dirty blond locks dropped to the floor, and again later, as her blond hair was subsumed by the reddish brunette color her mother washed in for her. She needn’t have cried, of course: the brunette color was supposed to be temporary, and her mother had talent, as well as long practice shaping her daughter’s gorgeous thick hair. But there was always doubt, and when she finally found the courage to study her face in Gail’s bathroom mirror—which stared back at her with chubby cheeks, softened jawline, and thick dark eyebrows framed by the thick lines of her shoulder-length pageboy haircut—only her vibrant blue eyes, chub-resistant chin, and the feminine line of her short, thin lips reminded her of the girl she’d expected to see. She might have completely broken down if she hadn’t known with absolute certainly that even if Kelly Kingsley was almost nowhere to be found, Elizabeth had done a stunningly beautiful job.

Kelly found herself again when she moved to Gail’s full-length mirror and gave herself what she’d been avoiding for weeks; the full-length inspection.

It was the XL turtle-neck cable braided sweater that had put it all together for her. Now she was squeezed in it tightly, the full shape of her round shoulders now completely exposed after the departure of her mid-back-length hair, though still long enough to cover the deep gash caused by the thick over-strained straps of the HH cup bra she’d been compelled to bring back for the occasion. Compelled because nothing about that XL 70s-cut sweater was constructed for such massive boobs. It stretched tightly around them so much that the pink of her bra underneath peeked through between the woven strands of braided cotton, and only the strong underwire construction and perfect (and expensive) shaping kept them from bulging in every direction. The sweater clung every bit as tightly around her high waist. The thick fabric of the sweater brought the illusion of a perfect hourglass contour to her otherwise (irregular and lumpy) figure, so much that she might as well have been modeling results for a surgeon’s body sculpting website.

The dyed-orange sweater ended right where her skirt began, which was right where her hips exploded outward like a bell, a shape fulfilled by the hang of pleats heavy enough to obscure the bumps in Kelly’s upper thighs right and heighten the firm curve where her lower thighs dove back in to meet chubby knees. Below them stretched her dyed-orange socks, highlighting perfect calves and still-skinny ankles before peaking out from underneath the buckle of her black Mary Janes. And though the skirt—really designed to come below the knees, but on Kelly’s hips sitting a full five inches above them—wasn’t red like it ought to be, it had a brown tweed pattern that added substance and sophistication, in just the same manner as the braided texture of the otherwise garish orange sweater above it.

Kelly had been confident about the view from the front. It was the other angles she’d been dreading. She twisted to the side and breathed a sigh of relief. Though she saw all the thickness she’d expected to see, nothing about the outward curve of her lower abdomen suggested anything like a potbelly, and instead of the bulge of love handles, which that would have obscured the line of her hips and messed with the even lay of her skirt, she was happy to see a distinct inner curve to her lower back—a sharp one that joined more or less seamlessly out to merge with her skirted derriere. Would she have liked to see more roundness there? Sure she would. But it was what it was, and there was nothing about a few pounds less or a few pounds more that was ever gonna change that. And, it was a flaw obscured well enough by the heavy pleated skirt to divert all but the most practiced eye (like hers).

As for firmness, Kelly would have loved a girdle—not for slimness, just for control—but that was something far out of the reach of her meager finances, For the purpose she’d borrowed a set of retro “control top” hose from Gail, and they seemed to do the job: no noticeable creases, ridges or bulges. Just a smooth rounded surface that appeared as firm in illusion as her workout abs had ever been in actuality. It might as well have been a model’s torso. Inflated version.

But even pudge around the midriff wasn’t her worst fear. She was pleased to confirm the perfect fit of her bra—which meant no back boobs. And below the hem of her skirt, the back of her knees were smooth and sleek—which meant no thigh cleavage.

Every one of her plus-size lines was so smooth she might as well have been drawn that way. Which was completely appropriate.

“Holy shit!” a Manhattan-sipping Gail exclaimed from the bedroom doorway behind Kelly. “Every guy in that place is gonna lose his mind. Who knew Velma Dinkley could look so damn hot?
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Old 01-07-2018, 05:33 PM   #336
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Default Falling fat.

“Who knew,” Scott continued, “Velma could look so damn hot?

“Zoinks!”

“Like, wow!”

“Cut it out you two.”

Elektra and Jennifer were standing together with Kelly and Scott with their red solo cups, filled, of course, with soft drinks. As far as Kelly could tell, their drinks were completely legit. One thing Kelly had to say about Phi Gamma under Lindsey Huntington: there was a lot less contraband alcohol around the place during officially sanctioned Greek events, frankly something Kelly thought Phi Gamma could benefit from.

Elektra was dressed Phi Gamma, meaning she wore the same black dress she did the night of initiation and looking absolutely just as stunning--adding, of course, some black stockings, a headband with gray mouse ears and some (absolutely risky, not-Phi-Gamma) whiskers and nose painted on her face in black.

“Jesus, Kelly! You look hot!” had been the first thing she’d said to her that evening.

Kelly had given Elektra the up and down lookover over the black rims of the oversized glasses she’d borrowed from her mother. “Right back at ya.”

Elektra had given a flourish in response before leaning over an whispering in Kelly’s ear.

“Uniform!”

Then she walked away, stopping to shoot a just-messing-with-you! wink over her shoulder before crossing the room to mingle with the Phi Gamma leadership types—like Brittney, Isla, Kerrie Lipscomb, some new committee leaders like the Kaylie(ley)s, and of course Lindsey and new Phi Gamma darling, her Lil Sis Elaine Richardson. All decked out in whatever body-hugging dresses suited them best, all accessorized by the merest touch of a Halloween costume.

That was how Kelly and the Phi Gamma leadership types spent the bulk of the evening: away from each other and across the room. On a nippy night like that night, mixers—which at warmer times of the year spilled out onto the house’s broad porch and expansive lawn—were generally confined to the conference room and the adjoining kitchen. An unspoken rule confined a co-ed endeavor to the first floor, which left only one other space to hang out: the cavernous stairwell and chilly atrium, separated by the impossibly snug hallways of turn-of-the-century—last century—architecture. That was where people went to escape the mingle—though mostly just to go to the bathroom.

There was always music in the convocation room at these things, but the only dancing tonight was between Kelly and the leadership types—kind of a slow-motion Gypsy dance in which the players moved around and between but never actually toward each other. Or really even looking in each others' direction. When one party moved around the perimeter the other edged to the opposite space. The other people in the room, particularly the Phi Gammas, weaved back and forth between those extremes, often leaving a no-woman’s-land in the middle, with the easiest traffic path avoiding the room altogether—that is, through the kitchen door and into the hallway out the other side.

Elektra had done a lot of that kind of weaving tonight, touching base briefly with Kelly before winding her way back toward and through the insular cluster of the Leaderships and then briefly touching base again, each time more or less making some variation of the same teasing comment about how good Kelly looked, with the occasional “Jinkies!” or “Zoinks!” thrown in.

Jennifer had spent much of that time, if not so much hitched to Elektra’s side, then certainly magnetically drawn there after some type of delayed timing measure. Wherever she stood, she really didn’t fit in much at all. Jennifer’s unfortunate midriff meant that body sheath dresses were the last thing she could ever pull off. She had a black tea-length long-sleeved wrap with her signature oversized buckled belt disguising her midriff, with stylish black boots, silk scarf headband, eyepatch, and hoop earrings to turn it into a pirate look. Clearly she was hoping to do the same kind of hobnobbing Elektra was pulling off so well.

But, Kelly saw, Jennifer’s efforts seemed to be falling fat.

No, not flat. Fat.

Invariably Jennifer’s time among the Leaderships ended with someone turning away from her after some nominal exchange. From there Jennifer would bounce from the gaggle of her pledge mates that had set up in triangulated counterpoint to Kelly and the Leaderships and Kelly (the ones who at any time hadn’t crossed the divide to socialize with one or the other of them) before finding her way back to Kelly’s side. Until Elektra would pop back in and the whole rhythm would start up again.

There were only two operational pauses in Elektra’s game. The first was for the half hour or so Wade made his appearance before having to report to the bus for that weekend’s road trip. Wade, this time with a deferential nod to Halloween by adding a cowboy hat to his ill-fitting brown jacket and Western boots—had found himself in the central position in the room, with gentle waves of curious fans and admirers lapping up and away, both Wade and the admirers much more muted in their school spirit than they’d been at the Speakeasy some eight weeks prior. It was about the only time during the short affair that Kelly, standing confidently by his side, made more than a glance Lindsey’s direction—the same moment it so happened that Elektra was in casual conversation with her.

The second was some time toward 9:00 after Wade left, when Scott, always the conquering latecomer, waded through the attentive gaggle of girls hanging next to the hallway door to cross the Great Divide to Kelly’s side. Elektra broke off from Top Clique about the same time and back to Kelly’s side. Now she was leaning just a little too much into Scott’s personal space, leaning in his direction, with as obvious a crush as Kelly could ever remember seeing in a college co-ed.

Phi Gamma may have had strictures against juvenile Halloween, but Kappa Alpha was known across campus for its highly creative (read: not particularly polished and decidedly un-PC) costumes. Scott was dressed in a red old school track suit with paper U-S-A letters pinned to it and a mullet wig. He was telling people he was a transgendered Caitlyn Jenner. Unusually, he was alone. Whoever that girl was at the Speakeasy, she wasn’t part of the picture tonight, and apparently no one had taken her place.

They were standing next to the large service window to the kitchen, where the usual assortment of party vegetables and fat free dips sat next to the assorted two-liters of mostly diet or exercise beverages.

“Why does Phi Gamma always have such miserable food at these things?” Scott noted, holding up a celery stick.

Me, Kelly thought. Or the fear of people like me.

“I suppose you have to ask Lindsey about that,” Kelly demurred.

“Naw, this goes back before Lindsey. It’s like some kind of forced group diet or something.”

You have no idea.

“Well...I’m not sure about that.”

“So Scott,” Elektra butted in. “I’m glad you finally decided to bless us peons with your presence.”

“Well, yeah, I thought it was the least I could do before heading off to the Smash. That’s where us legends are made.” He paused and looked Kelly in the eye, one eyebrow lifted. “Oh! You know.”

The Halloween Smash—so-called because of the wall-to-wall bodies. Every year, students and wannabe students and anyone in this town (and even other towns) who might have wanted to be a student once flooded downtown for a massive street party. Every club threw its doors wide open for counterculture music to flood the street, while restaurants set up beer and food stations on the sidewalks. It was a night of debauchery, voyeurism, and the occasional frotteurism fueled by contraband liquor and worse—enough that by 1am the streets were guaranteed to be plastered with beer (before and after consumption) and littered with more than a few inebriates slumped against light poles and doorposts. And though Phi Gamma played down Halloween in its Code capacity, what the girls typically did on their own time was a whole other matter. It was Kelly’s exploits during the Smash last year that, so near after her birthday binge, had cemented Kelly’s reputation as a wild partier.

And that she’d spent the better part of the rest of the year trying—with various and questionable degrees of success—to live down.

“I think I detect a story!” Jennifer smiled.

“No, no story,” Kelly lied.

“You forget. We know you,” Elektra interjected. “We know better.”

“Thanks, Scott.”

“Any time, Kells! Excuse me, though,” he said, pushing away the sarcasm and slipping into that smooth polite manner he was known for, “I need to check in with a few people before I head out. Hey,” he added, just as he was stepping away, “I wasn’t kidding about the food. Me and a couple of the guys—like Judd Appelt, I’m pretty sure you know him—are gonna head out for a bite and a few beers before heading over to the Smash. Would you like to go with us?”

He was flashing those gorgeous teeth and that killer smile, all dimples and blue eyes, and Kelly felt that physical weakness in her knees she often seemed to feel around Scott Gilroy.

“Thanks,” Kelly managed, unable to look Scott in the eye, “but I can’t afford to do any drinking tonight. I thought I’d just hang out here with a few of the girls and call it a night. I have a lot of work to catch up on and an early day tomorrow.”

Elektra, out of Scott’s direct line of sight, tightened her lips together, widened her eyes, and craned her head Kelly’s direction, in the universal “What the Hell are you doing?” gesture. Kelly gave the least perceptible shrug. The last thing she needed right now was public exposure at something as publicly bohemian as the Smash. And besides, she was completely broke.

“What? On Halloween? Nonsense! Unheard of! Not if I have anything to say about it. Come on. Scooby Snacks and a beer and a break from the Phi Gamma scene. We’ll have you back in no time. Bring your friends along, too. Come on. A bite and a beer.”

Elektra was biting her bottom lip as if trying to keep her mouth shut, one knee bouncing in anticipation. Scott Gilroy was at a party unhitched. Clearly she thought this could be her chance.

And Kelly really couldn’t afford to pass up a free meal. Her stomach was in knots, which had everything to do with hunger and (probably) nothing to do with Scott Gilroy.

“OK, sure!” Kelly smiled, glancing Elektra’s way a brief moment. Both the corners of Elektra's mouth and her eyebrows shot up in an instant Joker-grin. Kelly figured she owed her, and best she could tell, “a break from the Phi Gamma” scene meant Scott planned on steering clear of Lindsey and the other leadership types. “A few Scooby Snacks and a quick beer sound great.

"But just one.”
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Old 01-16-2018, 12:42 PM   #337
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Default Betcha can't...

No surprise to anyone, Kelly didn’t stop at just one.

“Don’ worry,” Elektra managed. “Russell’ll getus home.”

Scott, Kelly and Elektra and what turned out to be about 20 of their closest Kappa Alpha friends (along with several of Elektra’s pledge mates) had wandered behind Elektra’s lead not to the Rio Grande Brewhouse, where Scott had planned, but to Luigi’s—since Scott had taken more than an hour to hobnob his way out of the Phi Gamma house, long enough to slam up the Brewhouse with partiers looking for an early buzz before Halloween Smash.

Luigi’s had been no less slammed, but during her short time in Carter County, Elektra had made quick in-roads to the townie scene. It wasn’t twenty minutes before she parlayed her Luigi’s friends from standing room only at the bar to commandeering a reserved table, and then another, and then another. In the meantime, Kelly and Elektra and most of the Phi Gammas had indulged in plenty of Phi Gamma tea, and that was before the table started piling high with empty pizza trays and even more empty beer mugs. It was a raucous time, music pounding in from the street, and Elektra had shined as their hostess and concierge—which Kelly imagined was Elektra’s goal all along. And it worked, kind of: the two of them had hung together with Scott and Judd to the end, and yet to Elektra’s clear disappointment Scott hadn’t proffered her so much as a walk or a ride home—not to hers, and certainly not to his.

So now the two of them were propped up against the brick wall next to the door of Luigi’s, the legendary downtown Italian restaurant that owner and operator Russell put on the map by serving pepperoni and artichoke pizza long before exotic pizza had become commonplace. It was 1:45am, and the streets had thinned out of just about everyone except those intoxicated people still struggling to figure out how to get their inebriated or incapacitated friends home safely. Neither Kelly nor Elektra were that far gone. But they were drunk enough and tired enough that leaning against cold, dirty brick and sitting on an even colder, dirtier don’t-look-too-close-type sidewalk, their naked-but-for-stockings legs stretched out in front of them, might as well have felt like reclining at home on Elektra’s couch.

“I know he will,” Kelly answered. The girls sat with the backs of their heads against the wall talking straight ahead into the night. “Heez always been a nice guy.”

“You sneaky bitch!” Yee-ew snakey bee-itch. “I didn’ know you knew Russell. You know Russell?”

“Yeahhh. It’s funny, akshually. He’s akshually the one who got me home from the Smash last year.”

In style, in fact. Last year Kelly had left her Code Costume behind and opted for a stunning Kingsley-made Wonder Woman costume (thank God for the unseasonably warm Smash last year!). Elizabeth had left the “girls” prominently on display. So when Kelly and her friends found themselves dancing in front of one of the four live music stages, which happened to be right next door to Luigi’s, Russell had found her and brought Kelly and her friends in on special invitation.

Kelly imagined, Russell—a belly heavy, acne-scarred man in his 40s—had done the same with Elektra at some point earlier this semester. But he’d never been anything but a gentleman.

By the time city codes forced the closing of Luigi’s door, after slaving all night, Russell had been more than eager to get his own party on, and Kelly, half of her pledge mates, her Big Sis Sherry, and a handful of others who had gravitated upward into leadership this year (including Lindsey Huntington)—drank shots with Russell until his minions finally got the place shut down. And faced with the problem of getting a dozen or more blasted co-eds—most of whom were under-aged—home from his establishment without incident, at Kelly’s prodding he’d pulled some strings for a stretch party Hummer to do the job. Russell and the Phi Gammas drank and danced their way around town for another two hours, and Kelly and Russell spent still more time in one-on-one conversation until the sun came up. A year later, Phi Gammas still got special treatment at Luigi’s, Code be damned.

Kelly told Elektra the story best she could for now.

“You know,” she added sadly as she concluded her account, “thiss year I don’ think he even recognized me. B’cause I got so fat.”

Elektra didn’t say anything in response to that. Kelly’s tongue was a little thick, but Kelly was starting to gather that Elektra was a lot worse for the wear than she seemed at first blush. Kelly rolled her head to the side to see if Elektra was even still awake. She was. She just wasn’t saying anything.

“Thanks,” Kelly finally said.

“Yoor so very welcome. What for?”

“For not lying and saying I’m not fat. I hate that.”

“Well,” way-ull, “yoor not that fat. I think mos' of us would juss say a lil plus-size.”

“I do akshually like that better. Plus-size.”

“Or nonono! Not plus-size. Fink of yerself as A-Plus-size!”

They laughed.

“Well, akshually, I’m a, a double H plus.”

“Dubble H!! Oh-my-fucking-Gawd! Thass un-fucking un-belieb-able! Dubble H….” She lifted heavy alcohol laden her hands near her chest like she was somehow trying to relate to how big that would be on her before her arms flopped heavily back to the ground. Slouched the way they were, Kelly’s breasts, even underwire-strapped as they still were, were as much near her waist as they were to her chest.

“I guess they hadtauv been big then, too,” Elektra continued. “Like Lynda Carter big, prolly. Eben when yoo were skinny. Gawd, I wonder what they’d look like if you dressed up like Wuh…Won-der Woman now!”

“Bombshell Porno Wonder Woman from Hell.”

“Bommshell Porno Amazzon Kween from Hell!” Elektra laughed, remembering the reference to Kelly’ Rules and Regs lecture. “Sooo damn hot! You know, sometimez I can barely stop myself! I juss wanna reach out ‘n touch ‘em!”

Something gelled for a moment in Kelly’s head, where it seemed she suddenly remembered a blasted Elektra might have said the same thing on her birthday, too. And, Kelly wasn’t quite sure, but she thought maybe she remembered Elektra doing a little bit more than just saying it.

“Elektra, I want you to tell me what happened that night. My birthday. You said I didn’t wanna know how I got to your house. Well, I think I’m ready to know.”

Elektra sighed.

“No, I’m pretty sure yoor not.” Ah-m pretty shoo-er yoor not. “But I guess at thiss point you prolly need to.”

**********

Elektra told Kelly she remembered waking up that morning about sunrise snuggled next to Kelly. At some point Kelly had ralphed, but luckily had turned away from Elektra to do it. But that hadn’t kept Kelly from throwing up on herself. More than that, with all the fluid Kelly’d drunk that night, she’d peed herself. Elektra had done her drunken best to rouse Kelly but to no avail. And of course there wasn’t a chance of the slender Elektra carrying anyone anywhere, and certainly not Kelly.

So Elektra had done the only thing she could think of. She called her Big Sis, Brittney, for help.

Kelly groaned as if hearing that caused her actual physical pain.

“I know. I waz wasted. An’ I didn’ know it would turn out like this.”

“You know they’re kicking me out?”

“Brittney tole me. She said she didn’ tell anybody else, but eberybody knows. I’m real sorry.” Ahm ree-ull sore-ee.

“Don’ be. It’s not your fault. It’s just the Code.”

“Yeah. The Code. That Code iss sooooo fucked.”

“Yeah. It’s fucked. And yet, Phi Gamma, Luigi’s, no matter where you go, there it is.”

“Thass bullshit.”

“Elektra, the letter they sent me says I got a ticket?”

It had taken a while for Brittney to find them, even with Elektra on the phone with her. It took even more time to all-but-drag Kelly down the hill. By that time the morning commute into campus had started, and Brittney’s car parked on the side of the road had snarled traffic on College Ave, and a steady stream of students were on their way down the sidewalk to early classes. Brittney and Elektra (who was probably more of a hindrance than a help) had tried three times to stuff the finally awake but incoherent Kelly into the backseat of Brittney’s Corolla when two municipal cops pulled up behind them. The two cops had hoisted Kelly into the car, and, after confirming Brittney’s sobriety with a brief but very public test, had escorted the girls to Elektra’s apartment, where again it took the two cops to carry Kelly inside.

They dropped Kelly straight on the floor of the shower and left. Brittney and Elektra rinsed Kelly off first in her clothes, then stripping her of her clothes, throwing them in the washer, and soaping her down again.

“You didn’ wonder why”—wahh—“yoor clothes were all folded up nekksta you?”

Kelly hadn’t. She mostly just remembered trying to overcome the terror of having to live one more day as depressed as she had felt.

“So thass it?” Elektra hadn’t said anything about any kind of groping. Or, God forbid, making out! Kelly’d heard plenty of girls talked about doing that when they were blasted. She hoped that wasn’t her.

“Thass eberything I can remember.”

Maybe I’m just remembering being lathered up in the shower.

“Well, I guess you got your big chance”—Kelly cupped her hands in front of her the way Elektra had, (just much lower down)—"when you rubbed me down in the shower. Was it everything you thought it’d be?”

“I wishh I knew!” Elektra snorted. Ah wee-ish ahh noo! “Trooff iss, honess to God I barely remember any athiss. I think Brittney did mos’ of the heavy lifting.”

Heavy lifting! Kelly laughed, both from the inadvertent pun, and out of relief.

“Too bad, I guess,” she answered when she caught her breath.

“Yeahhh. Too bad.” Elektra sighed. “Maybe I cn get lucky another time. Whateber you do, don’ tell Scott tho, okay?”

“Scott? I don’t know. It’d prolly just turn him on.”

“Prolly juss make ‘im jealous, you mean!” She held her hands up to her chest again. “I dunno. Ya think it’d work if I gotta big boob job? Maybe notta dubble H, but maybe a dubble D?”

“Juss so you can date a boy? Therez alwayz another boy.”

“Pffffft! I don’ wanna date ‘im!” Elektra exclaimed. “I juss wanna bed ‘im.”

“Well then there’s definitely alwayz another boy!”

“Not thiss one. Heez prime choice man.”

“Not my choice. He’s cute”—he was definitely that—"but he’s all yours.”

“Now we’re juss talkin’ ‘bout nothin’,” Elektra groaned, slowly inching up the wall until she managed to get her feet under her. She leaned against the wall, weaving nonetheless as she fished in her purse for her phone. That part she managed with surprising dexterity. Unlocking it and navigating turned out to be considerably more difficult. “I’m not sure I’m eben gonna make it home! Maybe we shoul’ juss Uber it from here. My treat. Cn I flop in the Attic?”

“Sure, ifya don’t mind the floor.” Kelly pushed herself to her feet with more of a struggle than she’d have thought, first turning to her knees, then pushing her way up one leg at a time as she pushed against the wall. Her head spun as she found her full height, and her heart pounded in her chest. Was she drunk, tired, or just that out of shape? She really had no idea how much it took to get her drunk these days!

“Belieb me, the floor’s gonna be the bess way to keep me outta the toilet. I think I’m gonna miss class tomorrow.”

Class! Yup. And work.

“Oh, man. It’s late. Hey! Set your alarm on your phone for me. I dunno if I’m gonna be able to get up tomorrow on my own” Kelly had a sudden thought as their Uber, who must have been waiting around downtown to get here that fast, pulled up. Kelly’s heart rate ticked up another level with excitement “Hey, you know, I really can’t miss work tomorrow, not after what happened a coupla weeks ago. You have any Molly? Maybe just a half a—”

“Nunh-unh! No way!” Elektra laughed. “Not after wha’ happened lass time! Stop makin’ me your dealer, ‘kay?”

Kelly laughed, but that was just to cover a sudden deep disappointment—and a flash of anger. Elektra didn’t know her well enough to talk to her that way! It’s not like I’m some kind of junkie!!

Elektra shuffled to the car and talked through the passenger’s side window to the driver, an old guy, maybe 40, who was more than surprised just how short a trip this would be. Elektra slipped into the car and slid across the seat effortlessly, inebriation and all. Kelly lowered herself into the car and kind of flopped down the last few inches. She winced as she realized just how much the little car dipped and creaked and shook as she did, when it hadn’t budged an inch for Elektra.

You could never escape it. She tried to put it out of her mind. She reminded Elektra she still hadn’t told her if she’d gotten a ticket that night.

“Oh, yeahhhh!” Oh yay-uhhh! “I forgot. Yeah, thoze cops gave you a ticket. They apologized but said after all that time they had to. I know yoor havin’ money troublez, so I juss paid it for ya.”

She knew about her money troubles!

“Is it that obvious?”

“I don’ fink so. But yoor mom is roomin’ with a woman haff her age. Yoor daddy won’ answer your tekk—your tekkstes—um, yoor messidges. Yoor skippin’ Phi Gamma stuff iffit coss money…I guess I juss know what havin’ no money looks like.

“Ya know, ya coulda juss asked and I’m shoor me’n the girlz coulda helped ya out.”

They offloaded at the house more or less without incident, but the way Elektra held onto Kelly’s arm it was pretty clear the same wouldn’t be said about the path to the porch and the journey up the stairs.

“Thiss house!” Elektra exclaimed. “An’ yoor ontha third floor!”

Kelly didn’t speak, and hadn’t spoken since Elektra laid out the reality of her money problems because something had just hit her, and now she couldn’t get it out of her head.

How am I gonna pay my dues?
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