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Old 10-29-2015, 04:12 PM   #201
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Is it Monet or Monique?
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Old 11-03-2015, 11:20 AM   #202
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Is it Monet or Monique?
Monet. I started using the name of one friend and switched into another.
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Old 11-04-2015, 07:08 AM   #203
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I think you should be able to edit your old posts now? (not 100% sure on that). If not, you can let me know the post and change and I can fix that for you, if you want.
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Old 11-08-2015, 02:27 PM   #204
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I think you should be able to edit your old posts now? (not 100% sure on that). If not, you can let me know the post and change and I can fix that for you, if you want.
Was able to do it myself. Finally! Awesome.
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Old 11-14-2015, 09:41 PM   #205
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It was after 6:00 when Kelly got home—that is to say, back to Gail’s house. Moving in hadn’t been the easy affair she’d anticipated. There wasn’t a chance that all the bags, file cubes and suitcases Kelly had packed for her former corner suite could fit in The Attic, and she, Marla and Monet had to go through everything together and figure out exactly what she had that the other two didn’t—and for her to figure out what clothes she absolutely had to have. Well, that’s how she put it to them. In actuality, she had unpacked anything she could still manage to squeeze herself into, which was hardly enough to fill one dresser drawer and half her space in the closet. And now she was bringing the rest—practically all of the thousands of dollars of clothes she’d bought just weeks before—back to Gail’s house for storage.

That was the practical reason to come home. In actuality, Kelly was yearning to share the day—its successes (Lierman’s job offer, securing the letter) together with its setbacks (her humiliating return to Phi Gamma and its “Attic”—with her Mommy.

And when Kelly walked into the living room, thousand-dollar bags in tow, there her Mommy was: passed out on the living room couch.

Elizabeth Kingsley’s head and upper back were propped up on pillows, the back cushions of the couch stacked next to the wall to give her enough room to lie down, one leg hanging over the couch with heel on the floor. She was wearing nothing but what had to be one of Gail’s bathrobes—perhaps the self-same one that had swallowed Kelly up the night before. Had to be Gail’s because, for all the space it had left Kelly last night, at Elizabeth’s size it failed to cover Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s arm hung to the ground, her fingers still touching the neck of an empty wine bottle, her bloated upper arm pulling the flap of the robe aside to expose the entirety of Elizabeth’s massive breast, which had slid down her rounded chest to rest against her rounded side. Elizabeth’s prodigious belly rested in one giant, wide, flattened mound extending from the wide pale space of her chest and on top of her huge, dimpled, rippled thighs, which met in the middle despite the space created by her parted legs. Only the hint of a thin pink line told that she was wearing panties. Otherwise her belly completely obscured their presence. Elizabeth was snoring, her mouth hanging open, a half-moon of blubbery chin fat stretching from ear to ear.

Kelly couldn’t remember ever seeing a woman so large. And she couldn’t believe that a woman this large could be her mother. She didn’t know what else to do other than walk over and pull the robe back across her mother’s drooping left breast. She picked up the wine bottle and took it with her into the kitchen.

Which was a wreck, but then Kelly had known it would be.

Wade had arrived at the house long before Kelly had texted him. When Kelly had left for school, Gail had been nursing a Bloody Mary and cooking a massive breakfast. When Wade arrived, he had consumed both at her behest, soon joined by Kelly’s mother. A cozy breakfast and Bloody Mary’s slid directly into a raucous lunch and margaritas. By the time Kelly’s text had finally come, Wade’s head was spinning with alcohol and the attention of the two older ladies. He didn’t even catch the text for an hour and waited a full hour more before daring to drive.

Kelly knew all of this, because Wade had shared the whole thing when he showed up all-but sloppy drunk when he finally arrived at Phi Gamma: “Man, those ladies can really throw them down. I can’ believe I walked outta there!”

For what it was worth it didn’t matter: six-and-a-half feet of Country Man was enough to get Phi Gamma mouths hanging open again, only this time for once the spectacle wasn’t her.

Kelly made herself a sandwich and grabbed a dollop of potato salad before poking her head in on Gail. Her computer was still open to some kind of spreadsheet or other, but Kelly cracked open the door to find her curled up in a mound under her fluffy pink bedspread, snoring away.

Yeah, those girls can really throw them down.

And she wandered back to her room—her mother’s room—to eat her sandwich and to see if she could figure out a way to cobble together an acceptable ensemble for the opening Rush meeting at the house, 6:00 in the morning. As exhausted as she was by her day, the thought brought Kelly a tinge of anticipation as she remembered the hustle, anxiety, and chaos of her own Rush experience. She couldn’t wait to be on the other side.
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Old 11-20-2015, 09:56 PM   #206
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Esteemed readers, artist Qemarar http://qemarar.deviantart.com/
has begun making art based on this story. I've just posted the picture on the first page of the thread. Check it out!
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Old 12-05-2015, 11:59 PM   #207
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Qemarar has his next picture completed. You can see it on Page 1 of the thread.
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Old 12-09-2015, 11:18 AM   #208
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Totally awesome art work and amazingly awesome story. Thanks so much for this!
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Old 12-11-2015, 01:49 PM   #209
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Totally awesome art work and amazingly awesome story. Thanks so much for this!
Thanks, magmaman. I don't know a lot about what goes in to making computerized image construction, but I love the detail in Qemarar's work. I've enjoyed your deviantart images over the years.
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Old 12-20-2015, 06:35 PM   #210
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“So those are your Phi Gamma officers this year. Uh, the main ones. Most of them. You’ll have numerous opportunities to get some executive leadership experience through our committees. It’s an essential part ...”

“This is a disaster,” Monet whispered. It was just after noon, and Kelly, Monet and Marla were standing together at the back of the meeting room, the last of the ring in a half-circle of Phi Gamm’s ringing numerous rows of chairs, only three of which were filled. Their back were against the wall separating the meeting room from the kitchen, which in Kelly’s experience had never been used for anything more than a staging area for parties, and not a place for actually preparing anything.

It hadn’t been empty all day. The first rush meetings had begun at 7:00, and the room had been slammed with nervous young incoming freshman girls (PNCs) eager to be one of the few accepted into perhaps the most prestigious of the big three sororities on campus (along with the Tri-Delts and the Alpha Phis). They had been greeted by an upper classman, Brittney Shore, whom Kelly knew mostly by reputation, who was clicking off a counter as girls came through the door.

Apparently, she’d been enforcing some sort of quota.

“… just anyone. We like to think of ourselves as inclusive-exclusive, which means that …”

Not that it mattered right now. Twenty-minute Rush meetings occurred at each of the 17 chartered sororities every half-hour—thus the name, “Rush.” Hundreds of young women, primped and preened and pressed into their best dresses and squeezed into uncomfortable shoes darted from house to house, where traditionally they would be grilled in this-conversation-isn’t-neraly-as-casual-as-it-would-appear-to-outsiders with the sorority membership. Kelly remembered her Rush as an exciting time of chaos, nerves and (to her) absolute fun as she talked about herself and her hopes with the girls she absolutely just knew would one day be her sisters.

This Rush had almost none of that, at least at the Phi Gamma house.
Instead, PNCs were being ushered straight to this room and into seats, where, after the inevitable delay, Lindsey Huntington wasted precious minutes introducing herself and the executive council (which, Kelly noted, seemed to be missing several of its key players), then launching into extolment of the superiority of Phi Gamma Psi—without mentioning the other sororities, of course.

That’s what was happening now, while the executive council and the membership all shifted from one foot to the other in pain and fatigue and the PNCs fanned themselves despite the air conditioning, taking consecutive sips from their water bottles as quickly as they properly could and stolidly munching on celery and carrot sticks, each doing her best not to actually munch as she did. Everyone had walked in expecting a party (alcohol-free, of course!) and instead found themselves in class.

“A well-rounded woman isn’t a rounded woman,” Lindsey was saying, in one of several little jokes she’d been trying to make fly all morning. “That’s why at Phi Gamma we really make fitness a key part of our….” And so she droned on. Did she really think a lecture was how to recruit girls to a sorority? Where was the recruitment officer (Brittney Dorsey), anyway?

“This is a disaster,” Kelly echoed Monet, knowing that Lindsey’s last statement wasn’t a personal dig, yet trying to convince herself it wasn’t anyway. It was hard because when she looked around she realized she weighed almost twice as much as most of the people in that room.

**********

Lindsey’s speech this session went long like all the others—not that it mattered that much this time, as few PNCs as there actually were to mingle with. Kelly had taken a few steps toward one PNC whom she regarded as particularly friendly-looking (truly an almost random choice under the circumstances) when Brittney Shore touched Kelly on the shoulder from behind. Brittney was a six-foot tall, athletic brunette, and Kelly tiptoed into their obligatory embrace before they engaged in the momentary enthusiastic, largely unintelligible twitter that preceded the exchange of Cliff’s Notes versions of their respective summers. The first couple of times this ritual had provoked in Kelly a bit of a mini-crisis as she struggled about what she should reveal (failing out, of course, remained strictly off the table).

No one straight out told her, of course, but it didn’t take too long to sort out that everyone seemed to know most of the relevant facts, transforming her crisis from what to share about her summer into what exactly she should acknowledge. The elephant in the room, of course, was that she had become the elephant in the room. For that, Kelly was thankful: no one is supposed to mention the elephant in the room. And since no one else mentioned it, Kelly couldn’t see much reason to state the obvious either. So she’d found herself sticking to the basics and relying on the failsafe strategy of letting the other girls talk about themselves.

“You know,” Brittney said, “I know it’s kind of awkward to bring it up, but I just wanted you to know that what that guy did to you on that facebook page was fucked up, and if anyone ever finds out who did it I’ll do what I can to get him kicked out of school.”

Brittney was Phi Gamma’s Panhellenic Council representative, which gave her added clout in the campus disciplinary process.

“I kind of always saw you as my unofficial Little, so now that Sherry’s gone if you ever need some help with anything, just stop by my door.”

Kelly thanked her and they embraced again before Brittney marched toward Lindsey regarding something or other. Kelly smiled and shook her head in disbelief: Brittney was the sixth girl to come up to her quietly today, four of them upper classmen. And every one of those four had called Kelly her “unofficial Little.”

Even on Kelly, the irony wasn’t lost.
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Old 01-02-2016, 03:25 PM   #211
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qemarar's (qemarar.deviantart.com) third pictorial installment is now up on page 1. Stop by his deviantart page and tell him how great it is!
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Old 01-07-2016, 02:23 PM   #212
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“After spending so much time with you this summer,” Crystal was saying, “we thought, ‘Why not give it another shot?’ So, here we are.”

“Here we are,” echoed Jenn nervously.

And there was a brief awkward silence, the kiss of death for any hopeful PNC.

Crystal Cakes and Jenn Wilson, Kelly’s godsend Home Ec lab partners from the summer, had wandered in to the 3:00 Rush session along with all the other Phi Gamma hopefuls. Ever joined at the hip, they’d simultaneously engaged Kelly in an enthusiastic hug, accompanied by the appropriate excited sorority-hopeful twittering, signifying the pretense they had been lifelong friends. (At least they had that part of it down).

Kelly covered the awkwardness by taking them around the room and introducing them first to her roommates, then a few of her closer pledge mates from the year before (Lauren McElroy and Kerry—uh, some weird Eastern European name Kelly could never remember).

“They were my lab mates this summer for my Home Ec class,” Kelly happened to mention during one of these introductions.

“Oh! What a nice little class to take,” Kerry opined neutrally. In other words, “Oh, that’s not the kind of class a Phi Gamma would waste her time with. If she only knew! “I’ll bet it was an easy A!”

It was. For them. “Not for me,” Kelly managed. “I had to work my tail off!” Not the best expression for her to use, she realized after the words came out of her mouth. Figuratively, that is. “But these two are absolute kitchen maestros!”

“Welll, I don’t know about—“ began Crystal.

“I wouldn’t exactly say maestros…” hedged Jenn at the same time.

“Nonsense!” Kelly blurted, all positivity. Come on, girls. Don’t you know how this process works? Get with the program! “They’re absolute geniuses! If the word ever got out they were catering a party, they’d have the whole block knocking down their door in no time!”

Jenn smiled. Crystal blushed. Kerry snorted and rolled her eyes. “Well I’d be all for that if we could get something light that’s better than this!” Kerry held up her napkin filled with celery sticks, but Kelly knew that subtly she was referring more to the disappointing turnout of PNCs all day long without saying so in front of a couple of them. “Well, nice to meet you both. Let me know when you throw that party!”

Jenn and Crystal stumbled through their nice-to-meet-you-toos, apparently stumped by the idea they might have to throw a party someday soon and whether they should commit.

Meanwhile, Kelly was completely absorbed with something else.

Her own words, in fact. Her own idea.

They’d have the whole block knocking down their door in no time!

************
The deal worked like this: Jenn and Crystal would make hors d’ouevres for Rush in exchange for being accepted as pledges.

“Thass sooooo not kosher,” an already sloppy Gail said when Kelly called her on the way home, about 5:30 that evening. “Theresno way Linzee’s gonna go for that.”

“But Gail, you have NO idea how bad it is. I mean, it’s bad.”

“Did I say you shouldna do it? Bring ‘em on over an’ I’ll haff the place ready for you!”

Kelly had her doubts, but when she, Crystal and Jenn stepped into the house, the house was clean and there was Gail in the kitchen, peppy and alert as ever, still working on clearing the remnants of what had clearly been another afternoon bacchanal with Kelly’s mother, whom Kelly surmised must have been sleeping behind her closed door. It wasn’t long before Gail and the girls were clumped around the table planning out a menu for the next day.

The girls even volunteered to shop and pay for the groceries (Hm…good pledges already!), which was a relief for Kelly because the credit card she’d swiped at McDonald’s on the way home had been declined, and this bill would have overwhelmed the small reserve she had in her bank account. While the girls were gone, Kelly filled her in on her successful pilfering of her expellation letter from the Phi Gamma office and the disappointment that was becoming Phi Gamma’s Lindsey-led Rush. They also strategized on how to get the girls accepted as pledges.

“Collusion is a no-no,” Gail told her. “If the national rep notices it, it could get Phi Gamma in big trouble with the national office.”

Kelly didn’t even know they had a national office, or what a national rep was. She said so.

“The national rep oversees the elections process and makes sure it comports with the national standards.”

Kelly didn’t know what those were either.

“For someone so into her sorority,” Gail chided, “you sure don’t know much about it. So, things like no alcohol at Rush, no pledges at after parties, no alcohol at the house, and no evidence of hidden selection standards like race or money. They’re really big on putting the best official foot forward.”

Kelly imagined the rep couldn’t be doing that good a job. She’d watched the usual suspects snipping nips of liquor all day. And as for after parties, Kelly knew that as they spoke she was missing the first exclusive party of the year, a couple of which she had attended as a PNC last year. She hadn’t known it was all on the down low.

“Yeah,” Gail replied. “We never really had to worry too much about that kind of thing when I was President. I mean, the people who become chapter reps know how things really work and are mostly just concerned that kind of the thing isn’t out in the open. Ya’ll must have a real stick-in-the-mud looking over your shoulders on this one.”

Maybe, Kelly thought. She thought it more likely the stick-in-the-mud was Lindsey.

Which was the problem for the next day: what was Lindsey going to say?

“You know,” Gail said, “if you can take the heat, you don’t really even have to tell her.”

It was something of a new trend.
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Old 01-18-2016, 05:54 PM   #213
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They—officially, Kerry, unofficially, Kelly, and most definitely not Jenn and Crystal, who were nowhere near day two of Phi Gamma Rush—didn’t.

A bleary-eyed Kelly, up until 2:00 following orders from Gail, Crystal, Jenn, and eventually even her mother, rolled up to the Phi Gamma house in the Escalade about 6:30 after grabbing a quick McMuffin, hash brown and mocha on the way in (to keep from poaching the day’s wares). After an anxious half-hour toting individual plastic party trays into the house, hoping not to be seen, and another half-hour clearing out the kitchen fridge (thankfully not yet full for the semester, but always the only part of the kitchen that was ever actually used on any kind of a regular basis), Kerry joined Kelly to set out on the counter their new snacks, covered with foil—the better to conceal their contents until the final moment.

The door swung open for PNCs early (a violation that hopefully would never be noticed) while Lindsey and a couple of the executive council met together in the great room and the other Phi Gammas still milled together blearily in the hall at various levels of alertness. This time Kerry clicked in the PNCs at the kitchen door, diverting them through the kitchen first before they emerged into the great room through the serving side with plates full of bite-size appetizers.

Tiny cream cheese and olive biscuits. Almond-cashew clusters with honey, marshmallow and raisin. Lemon chess tartlets with kiwi and nutmeg zester. Deviled eggs with sage. Or with salmon. Or with roasted red peppers. Quiche Lorraine dolloped with cheddar avioli sour cream.

And as they walked through, Phi Gammas mixed with PNCs for the natural hobnobbing that yesterday’s Rush had so sorely missed, all with only a fraction less efficiency than yesterday’s routine. As Kelly slipped into her spot near the end of the back-of-the-room arc, she noticed Lindsey shooting her a furrowed brow in her direction—just before pushing into her mouth with her extended little finger her last tiny bite of her tiny quiche Lorraine.

***********

The confrontation Kelly expected with Lindsey never came. By noon, the traffic and mood were more in line with what people had come to expect, and Lindsey appeared to be constantly pulled one way or the next. That was the hour that Mrs. Kingsley arrived with the afternoon’s fare—prosciutto salad with mango and parmesan on thin Melba toast croutons, sweet potato ravioli with lemon sage butter, dates stuffed with minced mushrooms and quinoa and a hint of mint. There was no hiding the who now (especially at her mother’s size), and Lindsey’s eyes rested more than a few times on Kelly and her mother as they and a few of the girls loaded everything into the kitchen.

Kelly figured that nothing she had done had taken anything away from her Lindsey-centric Rush format, which must have been the key. The furrowed-brow look was gone, and she made no move to talk to Kelly about it. At all.
Quite the relief.

It was certainly clear by that time to any and all that Kelly was the cause of the day’s revolution, and from what Kelly could tell the girls were just as worried about Lindsey’s reaction as she had been. Just like the day before, girls walked up to her from time to time to engage her personally. Except this time instead of offering their support concerning the facebook page, they whispered their “thank yous” and their veiled warnings about Lindsey-being-a-good-person-and-all-but-you-don’t-want-to-be-on-her-wrong-side. I’m in the Attic. I need a warning about that?

As if!!

It was in these momentary interactions that Kelly quietly informed each of these allies of the forbidden quid pro quo that had transformed phase one of Rush, and each girl enthusiastically, if surreptitiously, nodded her affirmation that Jen and Crystal would receive her vote when the time came.

That vote came on Saturday night. Jenn and Crystal had each received enough nominations (each girl submitted five on an anonymous list for consideration) for the invitation phase (read: pledge parties at the house) of Rush Thursday and Friday evenings. Those parties, incidentally, were well-stocked with refreshments that Jenn and Crystal had slaved over all day in Gail’s kitchen. (This eventuality had apparently had been tacitly accepted as a given by Lindsey’s Rush organizers, since the only thing they had provided were the soft drinks—that is, the Cokes, Sprites, diet Cokes, juices and various Kool-Aids that also served well as the mixers for the forbidden alcohol that inevitably wound up in the Phi Gamma’s cups.) While there, Jenn and Crystal were bombarded with extensive coaching from Gail about how best to make it through the invitation round.

From what Kelly observed at these parties, Gail’s guidance wasn’t helping much. Jenn and Crystal pretty much stood off to the side, talking mostly between themselves, only occasionally with others, acting more like seventh grade boys at the school dance than girls pledging a sorority.

At the very least, though, they each looked the part: Kelly had spent much of Thursday afternoon at Gail’s upgrading their make-up and fitting them into some of her old and much more fashionable clothes.

It was the kind of thing that had always brought excitement and joy to Kelly, helping out other girls with fashion, which in contrast to just about everything else had always come so easily to her.

But that afternoon Kelly had enjoyment was more muted. It wasn’t just that Jenn and Crystal were challenging subjects, though they were. Though patient and pliable, neither Jenn nor Crystal seemed too thrilled by the endeavor.

It was time-intensive, too. Jenn was about 5’10”, with light features, small brown freckles, and sandy mullet-length wavy hair. Crystal was more like 5’2” with long dark brunette hair (usually tied back in a ponytail), thick black eyebrows and eyelashes, ruddy cheeks, and pockmarked cheeks. Neither was either slender or fat, but neither did either have much curvy definition. Jenn was flat-assed with straight, boxy hips and long legs; small-breasted; with slightly slumped-shoulders and long manly arms. She didn’t look all that heavy, but there was a good bit of bulk settled around her torso. Kelly guessed Jenn was at least thirty pounds and thousands of sit-ups away from breaking out of her boxy look and discovering any kind of hourglass to girl up her figure a bit.

In contrast, Crystal was all lumps: she had larger-than-average, ill-supported breasts, a flabby mid-section that caterpillared into a spare tire sitting on top of short, wide, bulging hips, a round butt nicely-shaped but too small for the rest of her, and thunder thighs that allowed for only baggy slacks too big for the hips above and the ass behind, or tight jeans that sort of reminded Kelly of hockey pads. She was a problem begging to be solved by leggings, and Kelly spent the better part of half-an-hour overcoming Crystal’s modesty and body shame to convince her that the look was neither obscene, nor off-putting. (Unlike her unmanaged eyebrows, but that was a professional task far beyond Kelly’s mere set of tweezers.)

Other than the leggings, almost nothing that had been bought to flatter Kelly’s top-heavy hourglass could do the job for either of them without quick and serious modifications with pins, needle and thread. This was yet another of Kelly’s fashion strengths, hearkening back to all those years she and her mother had crafted wardrobes out of bare cloth and Goodwill castaways.

The final product was admirable, though not something she was completely happy about. Only Kelly’s magic with make-up brought her a sense of actual accomplishment.

But compared to the monumental task outfitting Jenny had been, outfitting each of these girls was a piece of cake, even despite the limited selection of clothing. It hurt Kelly’s pride to watch the beautiful clothes she’d bought that summer go on somebody else—all the while cognizant that, at her current size, updating her own wardrobe had yet again become a pressing need.
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Old 02-07-2016, 04:37 PM   #214
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But the absolute worst disappointment was how, at her current size, she had found the whole outfitting process physically exhausting.

It didn’t seem to Kelly like it should have required that much exertion. But unpacking and bending, stooping to pin this or cinch that, reaching up and around her boobs and holding things together as she pinned or fluffed—it all left her sweaty and tired. By the time she was finished, her long blonde hair was tied up in a knot, and she’d tied the tails of the button-up casual shirt she’d borrowed from Gail into a knot below her breasts.

It wasn’t just the extra weight. It was how every action meant pushing aside an extra bit of Kelly that wasn’t there before. As she bent up and down, the tiny bulge of her standing tummy merged with the layer of fluff that encased her middle and compressed into a fleshy roll of fat that pressed upward into her diaphragm before slamming into the more prodigious weight of her downward-hanging breasts. With each bend her shorts slid down in the back so that each time after she pushed herself up she had to reach around her wide hips and tug on the waistband to heft her shorts back into place. Each tug meant lifting and pulling the broad, heavy cushion of flesh surrounding her hips and her backside, bouncing and jiggling like she was forcing on a pair of tight jeans that had shrunk in the dryer. Each reach backward meant pushing against the pressure of her doughy upper arms against her soft upper back. And for the first time since all that core strengthening she’d started the summer before college, she felt the familiar ache at the base of her back caused by the sheer weight of her breasts.

It was the kind of effort to move that Kelly had typically exerted on a small scale probably for months. Every bit of her was thicker. Pinch an inch? (Kelly’s mother had always used that term with her. She wasn’t exactly sure why.) That or more! And that was everywhere on her body. When standing—say, before the mirror—a generous inch of padding wasn’t all that noticeable. But in motion, that subtle but ubiquitous layer of padding had to go somewhere, and when it did, it pushed and pulled against her and against her clothes. Inevitably that meant a wardrobe adjustment, which for the occasional rise from her seat or stoop to fetch her purse barely registered in her mind before something else occupied her attention. Only today, when repeated over-and-over, did Kelly recognize the effort it truly involved.

By the end of her few hours helping Jenn and Crystal before they scurried back into the kitchen (with admonitions to be careful not to mess up their make-up), she glistened with perspiration, sweat ran down the middle of her back, her quads and hamstrings were burning with soreness, and she couldn’t quite catch a good breath. Finally alone, she lay on the bed and fanned herself for a few moments as she forced a few deep breaths.

It was all a reminder that with all the weight on her shoulders right now, the biggest one was still her fat. Just how much of a weight became even clearer that evening when she resumed her visits with the House Mother.
First, the issue of clothes once again hit her in the face. The comfy sports bra she’d bought in California fit about as well as a corset—and not as comfortable as one either. That meant hitting the treadmill in a scratchy lacy underwire and Gail’s baggy shirt, which thankfully was long enough to obscure her painted-on shorts and the ridge of muffintop fluff they created.

Oh, well. At least they keep my butt from wobbling.

And unless she also wanted to contend with her boobs whacking her in the face, too, any kind of running was out of the question. Two weeks and twenty pounds ago, she’d thought of a 20-minute morning jog as grueling. Now, ten minutes at a walk left her huffing and puffing. So she replaced the other ten minutes with some light upper body work on the weight machine. She quit there, afraid to push too hard after her strenuous afternoon—and that if she did much of anything with her legs (like the Stairmaster) that her shorts fit so uncomfortably she might just split them down the back.

Kelly remembered thinking once that a month of isolation with the House Mother would be required to soften the all-too-certain public judgment about her rocketing weight. She wondered now if it wouldn’t take that long just to get back in condition where she could even start losing the weight.
More pressing, she wondered to herself as she peered out the door of the exercise room, if she could manage going that whole time without being seen at the all-too-public third floor showers.

Not this early in the evening.

She waited for a couple of girls to climb the stairs and pass the first floor before slipping around the corner and out the back door to the parking lot. Gail’s bathroom would be a lot less public place to get ready for the night’s forbidden, discreet Rush afterparty, where Kelly would spend the night politicking for votes for Jenn and Crystal while they toiled the night away back in Gail’s kitchen. But not before she made a quick detour into Penney’s to charge up a few sets of workout shorts and t-shirts.

Kelly spent only a portion of each evening that week in the kitchen herself. Even if it she did have something of value to contribute (which given the talent in the room, she didn’t), Kelly quickly discovered that between Gail, Elizabeth and the two PNCs, there wasn’t exactly a lot of room to move around. Wine flowed freely, and by the time Kelly could stop by to poke her head in, she would see that Elizabeth in particular was bumping into people and knocking over things. She would greet each clumsy incident with a laugh and the quip, “No more wine for me!”

Not that she ever took that assertion seriously.

Jenn and Crystal remained sober throughout and by the time Kelly finished getting ready were more or less running the whole process. Elizabeth and Gail twittered and giggled over glasses of wine at the dinette, completely sloshed, laughing about just about anything one or the other happened to say, like old friends who never tired of each other’s company. It was common enough to watch Gail get hammered after five, but this week it was all day every day.

At one point before leaving on Friday night Kelly asked Gail if she shouldn’t be paying more attention to her job.

“Wha’ they donna know won’ hurt ‘em,” she sniggered, and Elizabeth joined right in.

Sure. But it wasn’t the pharm company Kelly was worried about getting hurt.

Between that concern and the ache of watching her mother reduced to a bumbling drunk around the kitchen (an ache that felt a lot like her ache over her parents’ divorce, which constantly lurked under the surface), hanging around the kitchen wasn’t exactly a pleasant place to be.
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Old 02-14-2016, 01:06 AM   #215
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Qemarar's fourth pictorial installment is up, bringing a new, um, angle on this story! Check it out, still on the first page, and be sure to stop by his deviantart page and tell him how nice it is!
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Old 02-26-2016, 11:51 AM   #216
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Besides, it was already a busy week even without taking on the Jenn and Crystal project.

Kelly spent the days bouncing between meetings at the House—where girls debated constantly about which girls to offer bids and Kelly quietly worked on expanding her list of votes for Jenn and Crystal—and slipping out for various errands satisfying the bureaucratic red tape involved in being quickly hired as Lierman’s “Part-Time Seasonal Employee.”

That, and secretly enrolling at Buford Community College for the fall semester so she could maybe transfer back to the university next Spring.
Not even Gail knew she was attempting that.

Up to now, Kelly’s parents had always made arrangements such as these, and she had more than a little frustration marching on sore legs across two campuses from one building to the next in the sticky summer heat to shuffle this paper or that—only to find out she needed to turn this other paper in first over at that other office back on the other side of two campuses.

I’m taking freaking online classes! she told herself as she huffed and puffed on her sore legs across the admittedly small campus for the third time late Friday afternoon. (In actuality, only two of the three courses were online.) Shouldn’t I be able to ENROLL online? Of course, even if she could, it wasn’t as if she’d be able to do that on her own anyway. Resident Phi Gamma computer geek Monet had already helped her that week by contacting facebook customer service to have Kelly’s fake profile removed, but the second she asked Monet for help with this the jig would be up. At least I’m getting some extra exercise.

So, late Friday night, with all the PNC’s gone from the second round social, the national Phi Gamma rep, who strictly supervised the selection process, stepped up front and center. She handed each Phi Gamm a paddle with “Yes” and “No” on either side and provided an official list of PNCs to consider offering a bid to pledge the sorority. Pros and cons for any girl not unanimously selected were then discussed on a strict format in front of everyone before a final tally was taken. The girls with the highest number of votes were selected until pledge slots were filled. The mood was serious and somber. Talking between the girls was strictly prohibited to avoid collusion.
Jenn’s nomination, the first of the two to come up, went like this:

“Jenn Wilson.” Paddles. “I see we have a number of rejections.” Lindsey was leading the process, with the national rep by her side. “Arguments in their favor?”

No one volunteered any.

“Arguments against?”

One girl stood up: Isla Greene, a tiny blonde with short hair and a shorter temper who was generally regarded as a Phi Gamma social climber. “I’m not really sure she fits in here. I mean, she’s a nice girl and smart and all, and that is the most important thing….” She was looking at the national rep as she said it. “But, frankly, her social skills just really aren’t there. She just, just doesn’t seem to exude that Phi Gamma poise.”

Kayley (not Kaylie) stood up. “And, she’s a sophomore. If she hasn’t learned it now, how much is she really going to? I just can’t imagine her being the kind of girl you could put in the lead something and have other people would want to follow.”

That was a big catchphrase in Phi Gamma, which was supposed to denote assertiveness, people skills, and leadership energy. But really it was code for not being attractive enough.

“So,” Lindsey intoned hollowly, “we have two negatives. No positives? OK. Final vote.”

Paddles went up around the room.

“All right,” Lindsey said, her eyebrows lifted in mild surprise. “Jenn Wilson gets a bid. Next is Crystal Cakes….”

And that was that.
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Old 03-08-2016, 12:27 AM   #217
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tad View Post
I think you should be able to edit your old posts now? (not 100% sure on that). If not, you can let me know the post and change and I can fix that for you, if you want.
I was able to edit them for a while, but I went back to insert qemarar's new picture, and now I can't go back that far to edit.
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Old 03-08-2016, 05:30 AM   #218
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Strange. I'll ask about the change.
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Old 03-23-2016, 12:08 AM   #219
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Here's qemarar's fifth pictoral installment! Unfortunately I couldn't install it where it belongs (post 29 on page 2), but I posted an excerpt.



This girl was Phi Gamma president?

Gail Hedges was a fat girl, but a beautiful one. Her big raven hair, flawless skin, dimples and Irish green eyes told Kelly that she was definitely the girl from the pictures, but pretty much nothing else did. Maybe it was the difference between those Phi Gamma pictures and the girl in front of her, or maybe it was just the idea that Sherry’s big sis was, actually a BIG sis, or maybe it was just the love she had for her mom, but Gail was nowhere as big as Kelly’s mother.

Yet, Kelly couldn’t help but think how fat Gail was. She had chubby cheeks and a wide nose, great wide hips and thighs and round, firm tummy holding up smaller-than-average breasts. It didn’t help that her jeans made creases into her thighs and cut into what was left of her waistline, and that the tank under her unbuttoned blouse looked like it was a size too small.

Unlike Kelly’s weekend with her mother, from the moment they sat down around the kitchen table, weight was practically all she could talk about.

“Well,” she said when Kelly walked into the kitchen, “if Sherry sent you to me for fitness boot camp, she sent you to the wrong place! Hi, I’m Gail. Want a cookie?”

Kelly liked her on the spot.

Kelly found out quite quickly Gail’s whereabouts the last couple of months: California, and Vegas, and all up the West Coast as a pharmaceutical sales rep. In between sales trips, she’d stayed with her long-distance boyfriend, and apparently they’d left no party and no restaurant unturned: “I’ll bet I gained twenty-five pounds, not that anyone’d notice anymore.”

Kelly just nodded and smiled. She was lost in what was her fifth very delectable chocolate chip cookie. Gail had already eaten her half-dozen. Good thing another dozen was baking in the oven.

As they stood around the island counter, Gail kept going about her marvelous summer and especially her marvelous boyfriend. Kelly listened in polite deference, in her mind wondering just how marvelous he could be. Kelly had listened to a lot of girls talk excitedly about their boyfriends in her day, and in her experience, the fattest ones always seemed to be excited mainly because, simply, they had one.

“Here, let me show you a picture.” The cell phone whipped out, and there was a thinner, though quite chubby, Gail standing next to a tall, well-built, well-tanned--well, “Adonis,” was the word that came to mind.

An overweight sorority-president-now-pharmaceutical rep with an absolutely gorgeous turns-out-to-be-young-doctor-she-met-on-a-sales-call boyfriend? Kelly felt bewildered. Gail didn’t even have a big rack! This girl blew everything Kelly thought she knew about people out of the water.

Her cooking blew her out of the water, too. These were the best chocolate chip cookies she’d ever had! Why was it suddenly everyone around her could cook?

“Professor Lennox’s homemaking class, freshman year,” Gail told her.

The same class Kelly was starting tomorrow, she noted.

“Oh? Well take care of yourself. That class was the start of my downfall!” With one hand she was munching on another cookie. With the other she patted her bulging tummy. “I was pretty much the reason Phi Gamma put that class on the banned list.”

“Banned list?” Never heard of that! Kelly thought. Why does everyone else seem to know about these things and I don’t!? “I don’t think Phi Gamma has anything like that,” she offered.

Gail laughed, a loud, endearing and musical sound. “No, of course they don’t! Next you’ll try to tell me they also don’t forbid hoop earrings, ban flip flops outside of the house, provide guidelines for dating “the Phi Gamma way”, push wearing button-up blouses, grade girls on appearance for the plum room assignments or blacklist girls who live on campus for too long!”

Kelly had known about the earrings and the flip flops. She’d had no clue about the last two.

“Trust me, I would know,” Gail added with a glint in her eye. “I’m the one who made the list.”
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Old 04-01-2016, 08:07 AM   #220
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Kelly met Monday morning with exuberance and optimism. There was always excitement in the air the first day of the semester. Everything was new: new faces, new classes, new friends, new expectations for the coming year. And everything that was old was friendly and familiar: college friends greeting each other for the first time since finals ended, (especially for those who hadn’t been on campus since the Spring), the sounds and smells of the dining hall (although Kelly decided to skip that morning), even the beginning-of-semester hassle of parking, with people waiting at the end of the row hoping against hope for a spot. In the campuses of the Deep South, stodgy old brick buildings that had stood for over a century somehow appeared bright and new in the summer sunshine, helped by the ubiquitous landscaping of innumerable shades of pansies that campus gardeners had worked on installing all summer.

In the Deep South, the end of summer also meant boiling in the humid August heat—particularly in the midst of one of the hottest streaks across the South in recent memory. It manifest itself inevitably as sticky moisture at the base of the back, sometimes visible and sometimes not, something so familiar that hardly anyone gave notice.

Kelly walked with exuberant strides across the brick courtyard on the way to Lierman’s administration building office. She felt the excitement all around her, sure. How could she not. But what she really was aware of was the anonymity all this hustle and bustle around her provided. She was bustling around just like the rest of them, and absolutely none of them knew she didn’t belong there.

And, for the first time in recent memory, she didn’t feel like she stuck out because of her weight.

Because, after all, this was the South, and she had plenty of company.

The truth was, Kelly had long ago become accustomed to sticking out because of her body. Massive boobs at an early age will do that to you, especially after early years defined by her invisibility. They’re an asset that can make you or destroy you.

Kelly had felt the social pressure early and, as she did often, had gone immediately to her mother for help with her discomfort. “Why can’t I just get enough to be like everybody else?”

Even when she’d been a relatively thin woman, Elizabeth, of course, had herself been large-breasted woman. Never as dramatically as her daughter, whose (now exaggerated) hourglass figure actually most closely resembled that of her mother’s (now deceased) older sister. So, based on her own experience, Elizabeth might have provided a balance between tales of caution and counting her blessings.

But she hadn’t.

“Oh, Baby,” she’d replied, “it’s because you’re not like anybody else. God just figured He should bring a little more attention to your precious heart.”

Which of course was just pure silliness. But chunky 13-year-old Kelly Kegs had gotten the message anyway and had set about using the sudden attention to create for others the sense of belonging she had always felt missing—except at home.

So, yes, as Kelly bounced through campus she was aware how her heavy bosom bounced with her (despite the new bras she’d charged up Sunday afternoon on her father’s credit cards), the rippling of flesh around her dimply thighs (now freed by the size 14 khaki shorts she’d somehow spotted during her Belk run the day before), and the pressure of those same shorts against her padded hips, even as they hung loose around the button and gapped in the back across the moistened cleft of her lower back.

She even was aware how she felt a little winded and sweaty after her walk in from the employee parking lot, despite maintaining faithful sessions with the House Mother over the weekend.

And she was aware, as always, of the heads that turned her way every few seconds. She greeted them every now and then with a friendly smile, smiling her way through the front entrance of the building and up the stairs to the second floor, waving every now and then at someone she thought she recognized and never thought to make certain before she did. None of it made her feel self-conscious. She just felt like Kelly.

An enormously successful week behind her. The excitement of a new semester around her. The confirmation of her attractiveness with almost every step, including as she turned the hallway corner and walked into Lierman’s office at 9:00 sharp. Probably all of it played some part in her refreshed attitude that morning.

But mostly, she smiled to herself, it likely had a lot more to do with the weekend she’d just spent pounding pelvises with Wade Bode.

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

“And that’s really all there is to it, really. Not much to it at all,” Lierman shrugged. They’d walked together over from the Administration Building to the fourth floor of the Psychology Building, where Lierman’s lab space was located for the semester.

Kelly shrugged back. Lierman was right: there wasn’t a lot to it. A lot of sitting, making phone calls, keeping a few attendance logs, stocking the lab, and receiving research subjects as they came in at various times of the day.

One word kept reverberating through her head: boring. And boring was her dietary kiss of death.

The one saving grace was that at least it wasn’t crucial to pay attention like she had to in class. She could shop the internet, flip through magazines, text, talk on the phone—hell, even do crafts for her Little Sister(s) or a few exercises if she needed to. Anything other than just sitting and noshing.

Even if, just a little planning and she could make the lab a tightly controlled low-calorie, health food zone.

“Oh!” Lierman exclaimed. “One thing I forgot: it’s your job to shop for the snacks.”

“S-s-snacks?” Oh no.

“Well, yes! Crucial thing there—can’t go forgetting that!”

“Why would snacks be such a crucial thing for a math learning study?”

Lierman cocked his head at her quizzically, a sort of, you-mean-you-don’t-know? kind of half-smile on his face.

“Yes, yes, of course,” he laughed nervously. “It is a math study—but at its heart really it’s a metabolic learning study. And that makes the snacks pretty crucial.”

Well, that would be fine. Plenty of wiggle room to make that work: he hadn’t said what kind of snacks.

“You’ll have a pretty specific list of things to have available each day. Oh!” he added. “You’ll be in charge of putting those out every day, too. Geez, Lierman, anything else you forgot to tell her?”

Kelly’s optimism was fading exponentially.

“I don’t think so,” Lierman ploughed on. “I think my research assistant takes care of the rest. He’s the one who really knows the ins and outs of this thing, anyway. He was supposed to be here already. Kind of important you should meet him.”

On cue, the door opened behind Kelly, who was sitting with her back to the desk facing Lierman, who half-sat on the shelves at the back wall of the lab.

“And here he is!” He stood and strode forward just as Kelly span around in her chair. “Kelly, let me introduce you to—“

“Hey, Caleb,” Kelly interrupted.

“Hey, Kelly.”
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Old 04-15-2016, 06:06 PM   #221
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“Oh, yeah,” Lierman had said. “You two know each other.” Kelly was, of course, the reason Lierman knew Caleb at all. Like most professors, Lierman had felt obliged to repeat to Kelly everything he’d already told her about the job (again forgetting the part about the snacks) before nervously leaving them “to get better acquainted” with the procedures.

“Well, no doubt Vegas was good to you.” The heavy door had barely rattled shut behind Lierman.

“Shut up, Caleb. Of course it had to be you,” Kelly said.

But if she'd said what she really felt, it would have been, I’m so glad it’s you! Not because she craved these kinds of jabs at her weight, or just about everything else for that matter, but because after so many weeks of chaos, it was nice to know a predictable (if famously ascerbic) face was standing between her and the eccentric Lierman.

I wandered around … finally found … the somebody who….

“Hunh?”

“Nothing. So let me get this right. I put in all that work, achieve success against longshot odds—and I mean, LONGSHOT…”

“You’re such a jerk.”

Caleb smiled, having finally confirmed he had needled her sufficiently. “You then go and blow it all up by failing a COOKING CLASS?”

“I didn’t fail. Lennox wouldn’t give me an A.” How does he know all this anyway?

“The irony! Of all things, FOOD is the last thing I’d have thought you—“

“THAT’S ENOUGH, CALEB!” Kelly yelled, slamming her fist on the table as she stood to her feet. Kelly’s wheeled chair zinged across the room and slammed into the empty bookshelves. Caleb stood frozen with his mouth and eyes wide open.

They stood there for several seconds, Kelly’s chest expanding out and in from her quickened breaths. She felt her hot and flushed from her sudden anger, but another warm sensation rose from around her ears and into her cheeks—the shame and embarrassment she felt for what she had just done.
Kelly, as far as anyone could remember, had never raised her voice in anger at anyone.

She started to sit back in her chair, realized it was gone, turned around to fetch it, noted the nick in the cabinets the chair had left before she rolled it back to the desk and sat down heavily with her hands over her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured, her heart pounding. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you, Caleb.” She had never felt like more of a failure than she did in that moment. Dieting woes didn’t even come close.

“No, no,” Caleb mused, his lips now pursed together and his eyebrows raised in emphasis. “I kept poking at you and you had every right to swat me back.”

What I have the right to do and what I should do aren’t the same thing. Another of her mother’s statements reverberating through her brain. Kelly was taking deep breaths and blowing them out like she was weight-lifting, and as a result her breathing and heart-rate were resolving quickly. The embarrassment and shame were completely different, but she pushed it aside to raise her head and say what she needed to say.

“Just because I bow off my diet while you help me pass a math class doesn’t give you the right to just make fun of me.”

“Agreed,” Caleb nodded. “I crossed the line.”

“I did what I had to so I could get back something important that I lost.”

“Mm-hm.”

“I may have gained a lot of weight, but I’m proud of what I did.”

“You should be.”

“But it’s behind me now, and I’m gonna lose it all, just like I did before.”

“Good!”

“And even if I didn’t—but I will—even if I didn’t, you don’t get to make fun of me just because I may like eating a little more than I should.”

He opened his mouth. He paused. “You’re absolutely right.”

There was an awkward pause for a few moments. Kelly started feeling a bit self-conscious. She hadn’t been planning on saying all that.

“All that said,” Caleb finally interjected, “I’d hazard a guess right now you’re more than a bit hungry.”

Kelly rolled her eyes, which she never does. This guy is impossible! Her stomach felt like an empty chasm, the morning bagel she’d pilfered from Monet’s stock long past doing its job after an hour of empty prattle from Lierman.

“Starving!”

Caleb opened the door and Kelly weaved her way out of the chair and around the table. “I hope the dining hall’s still serving breakfast.”

*********
They weren’t, but that wasn’t the problem.

“Ugh! That’s so annoying,” Kelly grumped, finishing the last of her Snack Shack veggie wrap. She’d swiped her ID card for lunch, only to discover, of course, that it didn’t work. They’d walked over to the Snack Shack instead, where, since Kelly was ID-less and, as it happened, cashless, Caleb sprung for Kelly’s lunch.

For all the mean things the guy could say, time and again she saw the guy step up to help. About that moment she was wishing she could get him to buy her another wrap, but she figured that was pushing it.

And besides, the carbs in that tortilla were a lot more than she should have been eating anyway.

“So you say students and employees have completely different plans?” Caleb had handed her a couple of lab keys and a packet of papers outlining the study procedures and finished his rundown about how her duties would dovetail with his. Now he was explaining what he thought had happened to Kelly’s meal plan.

“Absolutely. When they cancelled your registration they cancelled everything: classes, rec center privileges, football tickets, meal plans—all of it. If you want an employee plan, you have to buy it completely separate.”

“So all the money my dad paid, it was just wasted?”

“I doubt it,” Caleb shook his head. “I’m sure they cut a check and sent it back to him.”

To him. That made sense. Getting her father to pay attention to her school bills was difficult under even the best of circumstances. No telling how hard it would be now. Well, six on one hand, a half-dozen the other. There was always the credit card.

Kelly felt her resolve to not ask Caleb to spring for something else start to wan, and that meant she needed action and distraction.

“So where do I go to get one of these employee plans?” OK, so her mind was still on food. But at least she wasn’t eating.
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Old 04-25-2016, 06:06 AM   #222
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I snorted at this bit on the first page: “Did you go inside my drawers?” I have a dirty mind, lol.
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Old 04-26-2016, 08:56 AM   #223
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeezablysoft View Post
I snorted at this bit on the first page: “Did you go inside my drawers?” I have a dirty mind, lol.
It's been so long, I had NO idea what you were talking about and had to go back to find it. I guess you're a new reader, so thanks! There's actually a good bit of leading like that in the language I'm using from time to time. When the edit happens after the story's finished (around the turn of the century), changing the language for more of that will be one priority.
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Old 05-04-2016, 05:34 PM   #224
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qemarar's next picture installment is posted, page 2, post 41. Take a look and visit his deviantart page and tell him you think it's as great as I do!

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Old 05-21-2016, 04:51 PM   #225
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“Here. Try this one.”

It was her third and last credit card (other than department store cards), and the third office Kelly had visited before she could pay—attempt to pay—her meal plan bill.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” said the frizzy-haired older woman with the thin face and the fat arms behind the service window, compassion caked along with the foundation on her wrinkling face. “It’s declined, too.”

Kelly took the card back and murmured her thanks. No money! No money! Her father had left her with no money! Her brain struggled to wrap itself around the concept. It was never a thing she had faced before, and never anything she had every thought her father would let happen.

The reality of the divorce hit her with renewed freshness, except this time it felt like she had been divorced, too.

An idea hit her. “Well, what about my paycheck. I mean, can I make payments out of that or something?”

The compassion oozed back onto the frizzy-haired older woman’s face. “Well, yes, our employees can take automatic deductions out of their paychecks. But you should know that since you’re just starting your first paycheck won’t be for about three weeks.”

Three weeks!

“And, let’s seeeee … …. So you’re a part-time seasonal employee at minimum wage, and you’re talking about a $2500 plan here, so….”

$2500! It really costs that much? The woman’s math slipped right past Kelly, but she caught the implication all the same.

She murmured her thanks again and strode quickly out to the foyer with her teeth grit and her head down.

Grrrr! Why does everything always have to be so complicated?

That was her first thought.

Her second thought: How am I gonna eat the next THREE WEEKS?

It was the third thought that stuck with her all the way out of the building: Screw this diet! I want a pizza!

***********

Somehow Kelly avoided that pizza.

Actually, it wasn’t all that hard. Her personal trainer had once told her that hunger was her friend, a personal message from her body that she was doing it right. Of course, that was in the context of a regularly-monitored and—more salient at this moment—steadily available healthy diet.

And truthfully, how was she gonna pay for a pizza anyway?

Kelly shoved aside her frustration. So she didn’t have money for a while. Somehow it’ll work out.

But she didn’t have to be Bear Grylls to realize it was a problem of survival.

As she walked, Kelly pulled her phone out of her little Balencia fashion leather backpack (as close as her fashion sense would ever allow her to get to a book bag and last year’s Phi Gamma must-have) and had Siri call her mom. By this time it was noon, but even so she wasn’t too surprised to hear it go to voicemail. She was reluctant at this point to call Gail. Only now did Kelly fully realize the details of her mother’s predicament, that Gail was putting her up while her finances were frozen, and Kelly felt guilty, after all Gail had done for her, to beg for money now. Not unless she absolutely had to.

Her next thought was to text her father: “Daddy: credit cards declined at school and no cash even for lunch or dinner. Please give me a call! Luv ya XOXOXOXO.” Normally her concern was that her father would forget her texts amidst the jumble of his busy schedule. The pit in her stomach (other than her hunger) reflected her fear that this was about his anger.

Lierman? Inconceivable. She dreaded the idea of telling him. Her options for help began hitting her rapid-fire. Marla? Monet? Britney Shore? Probably when she got back to the House, but for three weeks? What could she possibly tell them without having to divulge the entire story? Or embarrassing herself to death? Not the truth. And it wasn’t as if weren’t already living enough of a lie.

If only Sherry were still around. She’d help for sure! But she wasn’t. And wherever she was she hadn’t answered her calls for months.

Caleb? Starving grad student? Their relationship had been all about his getting money from her, not the other way around. Even if he could, the ridicule she’d probably get would be unbearable. Wade. Wade! Her heart warmed at the thought. The guy could barely afford a date at the buffet, forget bankrolling three meals a day! Chip? And what would Wade think about that?

No one she could think of would work. She was on her own.

Kelly stopped to put her phone in her bag and took note of the packet of papers from Caleb that she had stuffed in before chasing down her meal plan. Snacks. Surely they won’t be completely off limits.

Well, that was something. Not much, but a start.

Kelly supposed she had been on her way back to the House but she had stopped just around the corner from the Psych Building. She was gonna need more details about buying those snacks, and, besides, she had to put in four hours today anyway! She ducked into the Psych, skipped the elevator for the stairs, keyed into the lab (Good! It works.), and set herself up at the table to read the materials Caleb had given her.

She skipped past the rationale and procedures of the study and quickly found the part covering snacks. “The nature of available Calories, called Controlled Inputs, is a fundamental part of the study … not necessary to track quantity consumed … glycemic impact … subjects will at different times have access, at their discretion, only to the Controlled Inputs, which will vary based on the phase and condition of the study…

Yeah, yeah. She flipped the page and saw a list of her relevant administrative duties: snack placement, access, type (varying by condition), replacement—

Replacement. “The following chart specifies the exact items for purchase. These items and only these items may be purchased. As she scanned, Kelly picked up on some of those items, including brand names on granola bars, peanuts, almonds, raisins, M&Ms and, she was surprised to find, a few fresh items such as bananas and even doughnuts. Kelly had never been an enthusiastic fan of doughnuts, and she was comforted by the idea that until she figured this thing out, a granola bar or a morning banana here and there would be in the offing. But the thought of doughnuts seized her attention, made her mouth water and her stomach rumble in audible desperation.

“Shush, you!” she said out loud. “You’d think you were never gonna eat again!” Although, thinking about it, it really felt that way. So this is what they mean by “food insecurity.”

Only at the bottom did she find what she needed: “Administrative Assistant will attain groceries utilizing a University-approved debit card and present upon purchase documentation of the study’s tax-free exemption. Receipts will be regularly submitted for…”

Debit card. Which she didn’t have. And some kind of tax documentation. When exactly was she supposed to receive that?

Perhaps I already have!

She scooted back so she could slip open the pencil drawer: office supplies. The file cabinet had, well, files, and the drawer above it was empty. She rolled her chair backward, a little surprised to find it moving slower than she was accustomed to, and stood to check the lone stack of papers visible on the shelves above the cabinets. Just a few loose sheets of blank paper there. She turned her attention to the line of drawers just above the floor cabinets. No documentation there, but in the third drawer she found something entirely different.

It looked to be Lierman’s missing stash of Snickers bars.

Without much thought, Kelly grabbed one and pushed the drawer shut. She carried it back to her desk like a nervous father holding his newborn child for the first time and laid it down on the desk, then fetched her chair and sat back down. Her mouth stated watering again. Her stomach rumbled. Her hands were shaking. She tried to think about what she needed to be doing, but her mind kept turning back to how good she knew it would taste and how absolutely satisfying—right? Wasn’t that what the ads said?—it would be. There was a problem she should be working on, something to do with her job and something to do with the next few weeks, but all she could see in her head was creamy caramel spilling out from under a layer of fresh peanuts blanketed on all sides by delicious chocolate—

She snatched up the Snickers and pried it from its wrapper with her teeth and stuffed a third of it into her mouth. Her eyes rolled back into her head and a wave of relief washed over her, even as she labored to conquer the massive mound of chewy, sugary goodness that filled her mouth. Guilt started to well up in her but she refused to allow it: it was her first candy in days after three long months of gluttony, and years of dieting told her that she knew not to judge herself too harshly for one brief deviation from her plans. Moderation was the key, and one bite of a Snickers at a time of stress was nothing to obsess over.

She set the Snickers down on the table beside her as she finished her bite, noting how remarkably quickly her head had cleared. The shift was quick enough to leave her a bit disconcerted, suddenly aware of how clouded her mind had been by a sudden obsession. Hm. I wonder if it’s just about my time of the month. She could get that way at those times.

Regardless she felt much better about the next three weeks. Of course she could manage! She texted Caleb: Finished reading the paperwork. When do I go shopping? So that got things going with breakfast every day. She started going back down her list of friends. Wade would certainly take her out a time or two, and the buffet always has a pretty good selection of salads. The beginning of the semester meant plenty of sorority functions, all catered with low Calorie foods (that frankly most girls picked at conspicuously before driving through Taco Bell on the way to whatever party would follow). Why even tonight there was Rush selection, a University function with University-catered snacks that Kelly could take advantage of. What would be wrong with telling Marla and Monet some of the truth? Like she wasn’t gonna tell them about the divorce (well, she’d been hoping to put it off for a while). Why wouldn’t that cause an inconvenient crimp in her finances? So Mommy was probably eating on Gail’s dime for a while. It was already pretty clear there wasn’t any cutting back in that department. Of course she would head over for a meal or two (and a doggy bag of leftovers) with them! It’s not like her cancelled credit cards would be some sort of shock. Why wouldn’t they reach out for a while?

Kelly was starting to feel a little silly for making all of this out to be some kind of crisis. She turned her attention back to her training packet, flipping it to page one.

And about two minutes later she felt her mind drifting away while her eyes drifted back over to her Snickers. She got through about a page, digesting maybe half of it, before giving in and grabbing it. She took a nibble and held it in her hand as she read, making it all the way to the shopping chart (about four pages) before she finally polished it off. She stretched her hands high in the air and yawned.

Her phone dinged. Caleb: First thing tomorrow. We start seeing subjects Wednesday. See you at 9 tomorrow.

That gave her another day to get familiar with the packet. She slipped it into the pencil drawer and stood to her feet.

Her eyes drifted back to the drawer on the back wall. She’d already eaten her contingency plan for tonight’s dinner. Better grab another. She did.

Then she thought ahead to the rest of her day. She was bound to be hungry this afternoon after the workout she was gonna need today.

Better make it two.
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