A Change for the Fatter - by Swordfish

Discussion in 'Recent Additions' started by Swordfish, Aug 26, 2019.

  1. Aug 26, 2019 #1

    Swordfish

    Swordfish

    Swordfish

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    ~BBW, ~~WG. When her Indian mother suggests she should gain extra pounds for her upcoming wedding, Karina is outraged, only to find herself gaining weight anyway as soon as the wedding is over.

    A Change for the Fatter
    by Swordfish

    “You’ll never guess what my mum just asked me,” Karina said as they left her parents at the station car park and headed for the train trip back to London.

    “I saw her whispering in your ear…”

    ‘Oh, it was ridiculous.” The dark eyes of the mixed-raced beauty seemed almost on fire, further tightening her slim features, lending extra lustre to her light brown skin. “She actually asked if I could gain some weight before we got married.”

    Tom stopped dead in his tracks. “WHAT?”

    Karina dragged him along. “We’ve got to keep moving. We’ll miss the train. It’s this Indian thing. A rural tradition. Family pride. If a bride looks chubby and well-fed it’s supposed to tell the in-laws that she’s wealthy and healthy.”

    “But – ”.

    “Tell me about it. I said it was ridiculous. For one thing my mum’s been in England for decades. She’s in hospital administration for God’s sake. And my father’s a doctor. And he’s bloody English. We’re thoroughly Westernised. Why is she bringing up this stupid old thing from her family’s past? Oh God, what’s our carriage?”

    They hustled aboard, conversation dropped in the hurry to claim their reserved seats. The train was crowded. Talk was only resumed after their weekend suitcase was stowed, with the train moving off, rain speckling the windows as it emerged from the station into the open.

    “But what exactly did she say? Was it like a command?”

    “A suggestion more than a command. And to be fair she did say it would probably sound silly. Didn’t stop her saying it, though.” She glared briefly out of the window at the rain and the landscape beyond. Warehouses, railway sidings, a canal. “Look at it. This is Leeds. The north of England. Not deepest India.”

    “How did you – I mean, what did you say?”

    “We were saying our goodbyes. I didn’t want to make a fuss. I think I said something vague, like ‘I’ll bear it in mind’. Well, I’ll bear it in mind by ignoring it completely. I mean, when did I last gain weight? Never!”

    “Absolutely. It’s just not something you do, is it?”

    “And I’m not going to start now. Mothers!” She raised her eyebrows in a gesture of despair.

    “It’s unbelievable.” Meanwhile, Tom’s memory bank retrieved images from seven years ago – their marriage had been a long time coming – when they’d met as university students. The ‘bridge’ photo immediately came to mind: a photo snapped in Cambridge when Karina, Tom, and Clive, collectively known as the Three Musketeers, always together, always intermingled, were larking about one of the river bridges, friendship and youth personified. The slim physique and chiselled features with a slight hollow under her cheekbones; her tousled shoulder-length black hair and dusky skin; her lustrous brown pupils, standing out brilliantly from the whites of her eyes; her winning, slightly wry smile: all these had barely changed.

    Since those years, the threesome had spun off in different directions, pursuing their goals (Karina, Clive) or twiddling their thumbs (Tom), before reforming as just two, Karina and Tom, first living apart, then living together, and finally deciding in their mid 20s to get respectable and tie the knot. Initially, at Cambridge, it was Clive who seemed in the running to win the magnetic Karina’s favours. He was the one who was pin-up handsome; Tom was more ordinary, and shorter. Clive was boisterous; Tom was quiet.

    But it was Tom who persisted, while Clive spun off, determined to chase his ambition in natural sciences and spend a life abroad wearing cargo pants, working on wild life programmes for TV. Meanwhile Tom, who wanted to be a writer but could never think of anything worth writing about, filled in time at a literary agency. Karina, for her part, furthered her music studies, played the violin, never put on weight, often skipped breakfast, went to the gym, and stood on the scales at a steady 118 lbs.

    “Did she go through this rubbish herself? Before she got married?”

    “I don’t know. She’s plumpish now. But that’s just life, I suppose. Well, her life. Not mine.”

    “Certainly not. It’s never going to be yours.” They clutched hands, and Tom moved in for a kiss. “You’re my slim angel.”

    “That’s right.” She looked out of the window again. A field with cows. Neat hedgerows. A gentle river. It still didn’t look like India. “And besides,” she marched on, “the thing only makes sense in India if it’s an arranged marriage, and the bride only turns up on the wedding day. But your parents have known me for years. Having me suddenly turn up at the altar all chubby isn’t going to impress them a bit, is it?” She continued fulminating, on and off, for the next twenty-six minutes.

    ***

    The months before the wedding found them busy and sometimes distracted. Karina’s career as a violinist was at a critical stage, as the new music ensemble she played in – indeed helped form – was just starting to get a reputation in a competitive market. There were eight core players, with add-ons where necessary, and to mark themselves out from rivals they had chosen a distinctive name, The Fire Brigade. Someone unhelpfully pointed out that fire brigades put out fires, while musicians, speaking metaphorically, should ignite them. But by then the name had already gained traction, so they felt they should stick with it.

    There were hours of practice, rehearsals, some concerts, and planning for a provincial tour. Tom didn’t see much of her in their small rented flat. Nor was he much there himself. The agency he worked for, Wisdom Associates, a name he thought inappropriate, had landed him the unappetising task of trying to winkle a book of memoirs out of the experiences of a woman who suffered from a neurological disorder that meant it was physical hurtful for her to be near anyone with a switched-on cell phone, or any other kind of active device. With his phone safely off, he’d sit in her house, and commit her talk to an ancient cassette recorder. Inbetween, the pair made their plans – registry office ceremony, a reception at the Blind Curate, a neighbourhood pub, a honeymoon break in America.

    On the day itself, Karina wore a clinging white dress, specially bought. After some weeks of rushing about and not eating much, she had lost a couple of pounds, and cut a particularly slim figure, hips barely showing, breasts petite, tummy flat. Clive, fitting in the wedding between important work assignments (he didn’t have any other kind) gave her a string of compliments at the reception. “Stunning as ever, Kari. You never change!”

    “I try not to,” she said.

    “Of course, you know you’ve married the wrong bloke. I’d be a much better match.”

    He was being jocular, but he also meant it.

    “Oh well, Clive, my loss. I have years of regret ahead of me.”

    And with a sweet smile she excused herself. She saw her parents and in-laws knotted together in conversation, and joined them. None of them looked visibly disappointed that she wasn’t carrying any surplus fat, though her mother was good at acting and told her daughter, with proprietary pride, that she was “the picture of happiness”.

    Some of Tom’s work colleagues were there too. One of them, Dave – there is always a Dave – jokingly said that he’d expected Tom’s cell phone woman to be there as well.

    “Impossible,” Tom told him. “With all the live gadgets in this room, she’d be puking away in a corner.” He was glad to be going on his honeymoon break, away from his absurd assignment. He was equally glad that the reception speeches by his best friend Dirk and, not least, his own, were done with. Nothing to do now but to chat, drink, feel happy, and finally have their own sliver of the wedding cake they had ceremoniously cut before.

    “Here,” he said, handing Karina an accidentally thick slice of powerful fruit cake and buttercream icing. She suddenly realised she had skipped lunch and most of breakfast and pounced on it like a long-lost friend. “M’m. This is delicious. Really good.” She said it again: “Really good.”

    ***
     
  2. Aug 26, 2019 #2

    Swordfish

    Swordfish

    Swordfish

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    Their choice of honeymoon destination? America. One week in New York City, then exploring the Hudson River. Big city vibes, plus picturesque little towns and vistas, and the great river rolling along. A luxury Manhattan hotel of course would have been nice, but they compromised with a budget place, with rooms containing a bed, wardrobe and not much else. Karina wasn’t keen on the shared bathroom facilities down the corridor, but they had to face economic facts, and coming from Britain the exchange rate wasn’t in their favour.

    There were no eating facilities in-house, but plenty of restaurants and coffee shops nearby. Each morning began with an imposing breakfast: waffles one day, eggs how they liked them the next. Karina, never in America before, was taken aback by the size of the portions; the size of the sandwiches too: “They’re like a whole meal!” This didn’t stop her from enjoying them. After a few days, in the early hours while she slept, a small collection of fat cells, leftovers from the day’s carbohydrate intake, started settling into their new home on Karina’s body, just below her belly-button.

    For all the bustle of NYC they had a relaxing time as they visited the obvious sights, took in an art exhibit or concert, or lingered in Central Park. Then a rented car, and out and about up the Hudson, where the pace was slower; quaint antique shops, homes of writers and artists, the birthplace of a President neither had heard of, romantic restaurants, and always the wide river. They had plenty of memories to keep them company as they settled into their seats on the plane back, though Tom’s contented look suddenly curdled when his eyes took in the unusual tight fit of Karina’s white jeans as she prepared to fasten her seatbelt.

    He started out being light-hearted. “I was thinking of carrying you over the threshold when we got back, but I might have to revise my plans. It looks like you’ve put on a little weight,” he said. “In the tummy area.” He shook his head. “That’s a no-no!”

    “It certainly is. I do feel a bit constricted. I guess we’ve been eating quite a lot.” She clasped and tightened the seatbelt around her waist. “I’ll soon work it off,” she said. He nodded vigorously. They understood each other.

    ***

    Back home, the normal routine of life returned, but with some variations. Tom was told that the mobile phone phobia project had been dropped, not before time, so the agency gave him a new assignment, reading the manuscript of a history of punctuation. “Start at the beginning,” his boss had said, “and read until you come to a full stop.” Tom had laughed grimly.

    Karina’s days had their usual variety, sometimes spent at home keeping in practice with her violin or learning new music, or venturing out for group rehearsals or pitching in on recording sessions – the usual scattered life of the freelancer. Her plane remark about “working it off” had been more a rhetorical gesture than anything reflecting serious thought. Breakfasts might have shrank back in size – no stack of waffles to work through – though a general loosening of her appetite, formerly so controlled, remained.

    At breakfast she started to have two slices of bread or toast, rather than one, the slices cut rather more thickly than before. At restaurants she expressed interest in the desserts, and found herself buying flapjacks, granola bars, little things she could snack on at home, or take along as an energy boost to outside engagements. They looked healthy, she reasoned, and tasted healthy: they couldn’t do her any harm.

    It took about a month for both of them, in different ways, to realise that this regime had consequences: that, slowly and quietly, she was gaining more weight. Tom first suspected that her dusky body might be changing in what her thought of as the wrong direction as they went about their business in bed. Foreplay alone told him she felt smoother to the touch, more cushioned around the tummy. After that he began looking more closely whenever he saw her naked – taking off clothing, putting it on, going to and fro in the bathroom.

    Then one morning he found her sitting on the bathroom stool after a shower, towelling down one of her cocked legs, two little rolls of tummy fat spread over the front of her waist, speared with a crease through her belly-button. This was the definite, disconcerting proof: far from shedding her American pounds, she’d been steadily acquiring new ones. He was displeased, and felt he should say something. At the same time, being English, he felt awkward about it. He didn’t want to wag his finger and hurt her feelings if it wasn’t necessary. The problem, he persuaded himself, would probably go away as she’d soon take rearguard action herself. It was just a blip, a post-honeymoon blip.

    Karina herself, aware of feeling increasingly snug in some clothes, equally tried to turn a blind eye. She avoided looking at herself closely in the mirror and also steered clear of the areas where she knew she had gained in New York. ‘Ignorance is bliss’ is the phrase, but ignorance couldn’t be bliss for long, and the bliss period ended when she foolishly thought of fishing out the jeans she’d worn on the flight back from the States.

    This time, they weren’t just a tight fit. She couldn’t clasp the zip at the front. Over the apron of her belly a curve of fat had now built up, fat she could smear a finger through, as if it was soft butter. This is what happens, she told herself, if you eat a little more, stack up on calories, every day. She felt mortified, even disgusted, as she prodded her tummy, tweaking the flesh between her fingers. This was Karina, the perpetually slim Karina?

    She decided that the safest short-term solution was keep quiet, not mention it to Tom, and cut back on snacks. The fat would just fade away. It wasn’t something permanent, only a blip. Another post-honeymoon blip.

    Cutting back was her resolution. Turning it into practice, though, was something else. Sometimes she achieved it, most times she didn’t. Over the next month her tummy’s curve gradually grew more prominent, enough to give her difficulties when she had to try on a clinging black dress needed for a high-profile concert at London’s prestigious Wigmore Hall.

    “What do you think?” she said to Tom after pulling the dress down over her waist, gently, nervously.

    He looked at her carefully, noting the puckered material around the hips and the clear outline of a belly pooch looming out at the front. He could hold back no longer. “I really think you should go on diet. You’ve been steadily gaining weight ever since we got married.”

    She sighed, with frustration. “I know, I know. I thought I could get away with this dress,” she said, turning around in front of a mirror, seeing if the view was any better from the side. It wasn’t. “I just got into a kind of routine, eating a bit more. If we’d gone to Sudan instead of America it wouldn’t have happened.”

    “No-one goes on their honeymoon to Sudan unless they want to end up dead. But don’t worry, love.” He put an arm around her, newly aware of feeling the extra flesh lining her body. “It’s reversible. We can lose this. Cut your intake, exercise more, and hey presto, slimline Karina is back!”

    She attempted a faint smile. “You make it sound so easy…”

    “It is easy, you’ll see!”

    Meanwhile, Karina still had the day’s dress problem to solve. She decided to wear it. There wasn’t another black alternative, not for the Wigmore Hall. She wished there was, especially after her oboist colleague Jenny immediately spotted her looming tummy in the shared dressing room.

    “Do I hear the patter of baby feet?” she cooed, pointing in the bulge’s direction. “You’re not pregnant, are you?”

    How she cursed the dress. “No I’m not,” Karina had to say. “I’ve just gained a bit of weight.”

    “That’s really what I thought. I mean, if you were pregnant you’d have told us. It’s just a few pounds, probably.”

    Karina tried to look nonchalant, but she knew “a few pounds” was understating it. She hated all this. She hated people spotting her gain and telling her about it; she hated having to explain or comment. It didn’t matter so much when Tom noticed, though she disliked the fact that Tom disapproved, that by gaining weight she was disappointing him, just as she was disappointing herself. But outside eyes noticing: that was extra embarrassing.

    And the list of embarrassing feelings and experiences kept growing. Wriggling to get into jeans and dresses that she could previously slip on with ease. Sensing her tummy almost imprisoned under her clothes. The shaming sight of the clothes she’d already outgrown, that sat in the wardrobe, useless.

    Alongside all that, she hated the thought that after all that consternation when her mother suggested she put on weight, here she was doing it on her own. Was this gaining an Indian gene thing, the Indian part of her gene cocktail kicking in? She thought of her mother’s own ample midriff. Was this her future too? The thought made her shiver.

    ***
     
  3. Aug 26, 2019 #3

    Swordfish

    Swordfish

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    The next day, after the Wigmore concert, at breakfast, Tom was talking about the interesting history of semi-colon – he was finding the punctuation book quite absorbing – when he noticed Karina’s empty plate. “Not eating today?”

    “Not as much, anyway. I’ve got to get back in condition. I really shouldn’t have worn that dress.”

    “You’ll get there. Maybe no more flapjacks?”

    She tautened her face, ready to say something important. “Not one. Not one will pass my lips.”

    She meant it, too. She also reduced her portions when spooning out vegetables, cut back on alcohol, stopped eyeing desserts. She felt virtuous, and a little thinner. She also felt hungry and frayed at the edges. Her eyes lost their sparkle. Life wasn’t as much fun, a feeling that only intensified when the workload of her ensemble increased.

    Looming on the horizon now was an artistic residency at the Heatherwick Contemporary Music Festival, a leading showcase for new music unfortunately set in a former mill town with bracing scenery and a university, but not many general amenities. The group had some testing scores to learn, especially a half-hour onslaught by Carter Drysdale, who wrote music prickly and complex, like the Amazon jungle and barbed wire combined, and had a fondness for giving his pieces Latin titles. This one was called ‘Tempore Pyramides’, Pyramids in Time. Rehearsals were hell and left Karina feeling drained, especially without flapjacks. So she bought some, and told herself it was the equivalent of medicine.

    It proved the thin edge of a wedge. By the time it came for the ten-day trip to Heatherwick, clothes were getting tighter again. Tom realised the diet had been abandoned, but he knew she was under a lot of pressure and buckled his lips. Not fond of contemporary music himself – he remembered hearing a string quartet which sounded like cats screeching – he’d be going up to Heatherwick himself for the last two days. Then they would do what was long overdue: visit her parents, who lived not far away, but didn’t like contemporary music either.

    “You’ll be fine in Heatherwick,” he said at the train station, seeing her off. “Everything will go well.”

    “Enjoy your punctuation book. What are you into now?”

    “The chapter on brackets.” With one of those insights that spring up to surprise us, seemingly out of nowhere, he suddenly realised that Karina’s curving tummy, now back in full force, was shaped like a punctuation bracket itself, curving outward from under the breast, reaching its peak at her waistline, then tapering down to ground zero just above the golden area where all the good things happened in bed. He equally realised that it was a curve that he liked. He was changing his mind about her extra pounds, how they looked on her, how they felt on her. Softness in the female form was good, not bad. This was another surprise.

    Karina’s violin, in its case, was strapped to her back, its customary travelling position, so giving a full hug as they said farewell wasn’t an option. But he stroked her cheeks, kissed her, ran his hands down her arms, coming to rest on the love handles she now carried on either hip. He squeezed them gently. He was going to miss her. “Take care, darling. Enjoy it. Go with the flow. Talk to you soon.”

    Tears were building up in Karina’s eyes. Caressed and squeezed, she felt herself fatter, but also comforted and loved. “Oh, Tom…” She didn’t finish the sentence.

    ***
     
  4. Aug 26, 2019 #4

    Swordfish

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    Karina wasn’t a stranger to Heatherwick. Its resources, or lack of them, were known. But a ten-day stay in bleak November brought home to her as never before how limited the dining facilities were. Chinese buffets: plenty of those. Fast-food chains: plenty of those. But restaurants with finesse? Hardly any. Added to which, there was the cooked buffet breakfast at the Fire Brigade’s budget hotel. On her plate she regularly assembled what British hotels call the “full English breakfast”: a calorie-bursting affair of fried sausages, fried tomatoes, fried eggs, baked beans, fried potatoes, and that northern specialty, black pudding. After three days of watching her wolfing this down, Jenny leaned over solicitously and said, “You do know your tummy is getting bigger?”

    “It’s all Carter Drysdale’s fault. I can’t play his music on an empty stomach.”

    ‘Karina, your stomach is never empty, not these days. I don’t like to see you gaining weight. Has Tom said anything?”

    Karina sighed with irritation. “I know he doesn’t like it, and neither do I. I just feel that right now I need some extra oomph. I’ll go on a diet when the festival’s over.” She didn’t sound as if she meant it, but it was one way to shut the door on a conversation she didn’t want. Tossing her hair back, a movement that generated the opening gambit of a future double chin, she went back to her “full English”.

    Away from the breakfast table, other ensemble members couldn’t help noticing and commenting behind her back. The flashpoint wasn’t a tight dress; she had given them up. It wasn’t her black slacks, with its stretchable waistband. The culprit now was the slacks’ matching black top: sleeveless, loose enough at the bottom to cope with her tummy, but with scant room to handle her growing breasts.

    “She needs to go shopping for a bigger size,” one of them said, eyeing her in a pre-performance rehearsal.

    “Yes,” said another, “and buy a diet book at the same time. She’s definitely chubbing up!”

    Tom arrived towards the end of the festival to grin and bear ‘Tempore Pyramides’and lend Karina his support. He liked music where he understood what was happening, where two and two made four. In Drysdale’s music it made 37 and a half. As soon as he arrived, he sensed that she had grown heavier just within the ten days she’d been away. Her tummy seemed a little more obvious, while for the first time he realised that she was now filling out in her face. The hollows under her cheekbones had gone. The general contours were smoother and softer.

    It hit him as a significant difference, marking the point at which her extra pounds weren’t just visible in localised places but were starting to change her entire look. Before this would have been horrifying; he’d fixed Karina in aspic, always slim, always taut, no give in the body at all. Now, with Karina in front of him, with her visible belly and fuller cheeks, he sensed a new world of beauty opening up, and a world neither of them should be afraid of.

    The concert passed without a hitch. Drysdale’s piece sparked more applause than expected. So did the composer himself, who rewarded Karina with a big onstage hug at the end. “Steady on, Drysdale,” Tom wanted to call out; “that’s my territory!”

    Afterwards, as the concert finished their residency, came the celebratory meal in an Italian chain restaurant. Karina ate little. Back at the hotel, she and Tom tried to relax by sitting up in bed in nightdress and pyjamas, watching a TV programme about hippopotamuses.

    “I never knew that,” Karina said. The chatty commentator had just revealed that though the curious creatures spent much of their days in the water, they were in fact unable to swim. It always had to be shallow water in a pond or river – water they could sit in, and trundle along walking on the bottom.

    “I believe,” Tom added, “they’re also not very good at punctuation.”

    Karina flashed him a despairing look. “You’ve finished that manuscript, have you?”

    “Aha. It was the best book I’ve ever read.”

    She shot him another look. “If you’re being serious, you’re even weirder than I thought.” But then she sighed.

    He turned the TV sound down on the remote, just as a hippopotamus started defecating. “Come on, what’s up? You seemed a bit out of sorts at dinner.”

    The sigh returned. “Oh, it’s this trip tomorrow. Seeing my parents. They’re going to notice I’ve been gaining weight.”

    “But your mother will be delighted. You just got the timing wrong. After the wedding, not before.”

    “That’s just it. It’ll all be so embarrassing. I don’t want congratulating because I’m getting fatter.”

    “It’s better than being chastised. What about your dad? He won’t make a fuss about it either way, will he?”

    She shrugged. “He’s a foot specialist. He’d probably only be interested if I gained weight in my feet. He’s not the problem. At home he stands in my mother’s shadow, you know that.” She cast a look down at her tummy podge, rising up out of her nightdress. “Oh, I don’t know what to think. I’ve been eating like a pig these past weeks. I seem to be redefining my relationship with food. Or maybe it’s just Heatherwick.”

    “Well, you’ve been stressed. Comfort eating.” He took another look at the fat round her middle, her fuller face, her rounder cheeks. He wished she could see that herself. He switched off the TV. “I think we need to, you know – ”. He left the pause open.

    “Lie down?”

    “You could say that.”

    And so they did.

    ***
     
  5. Aug 26, 2019 #5

    Swordfish

    Swordfish

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    They were late to breakfast the next day. Karina didn’t have the “full English”. In terms of career-building, it had been a successful festival. But everyone was glad to be going back to London, where shops didn’t close at 5.30pm and night life actually went on into the night. With both Karina’s parents at work during the day, they filled in time by walking along the local canal – bracing, bracing – and attending an afternoon concert. Finally they made their way to the train station, Heatherwick’s only impressive building.

    “It’s going to be fine, you’ll see,” Tom said in his most soothing voice as the train lurched out toward Leeds.

    “For my mother, or for me?”

    “For both. The trick is, I think, to mention gaining weight first, if you can. It puts you more in control.”

    “I guess,” she said. The talk drifted to other things. He talked about the punctuation book. She mentioned a curious thing that Jenny had told her the other day, that fingernails were apparently best trimmed when they were wet; but her heart wasn’t really in it. Silence soon reigned.

    The moment of meeting arrived soon after they went through the ticket barriers. There were hugs and kisses, actions somewhat complicated by the violin case on Karina’s back as well as her thick winter coat. Her mother, Priya, quickly spotted her rounder face. “You’re looking so well!” she beamed. “Married life obviously agrees with you!”

    Here, Tom nudged Karina in the back. This was the moment to jump in. But Karina let it pass. “You’re looking well yourself! Hi, dad! How have things been?” And off they trotted to the car park: parents and daughter, in-law and luggage, violin, hopes and fears.

    Once in the house, the divestments began: luggage taken up to the spare room, outer clothes removed, leaving Karina looking overly snug in blue denim jeans, spreading waist barely contained, larger breasts clearly outlined in an equally tight black sweater. They were sitting on the sofa.

    Karina started in, trying to sound nonchalant. ‘You can probably tell I’ve been putting on weight.”

    Priya jumped in with a smile. “You definitely have! I wonder how many pounds! Twenty? Less? More?”

    Karina blushed. “I don’t know. All I know is they’ve been creeping up.”

    “Right from the honeymoon, actually,” chipped in Tom. “But I think it suits her. Don’t you?”

    “I certainly do. Congratulations! You’re looking healthy and wealthy. My old family in India would be proud of you. Doesn’t she look good, Jim?”

    Jim, her husband, the foot doctor, nodded.

    “Well, that’s – nice,’ Karina said weakly. “I’m not really used to be being like this. Sometimes it’s OK, other times I can’t help feeling, well, fat.”

    “You’re not fat!” Priya cried. “You’re just getting a little bit chubby, that’s all, and that’s very good! I knew you’d get there in the end.” To ram home the point and lend support, she patted one of her daughter’s thighs. “I’d better start seeing to dinner. I’m sure you’re both hungry.” And before Karina, inwardly wincing, could say a word, her mother had bustled off to the kitchen, her sacred kingdom.

    “Oh God,” Karina muttered, under her breath.

    “You can say what you like about your mother,” Jim said, “but she’s definitely enthusiastic. By the way, Tom, how’s your writing? Doing anything creative yet?”

    Now it was Tom’s time to sigh. “Thank you for asking. No.” It was a sore point.

    ***

    The meal was quite something. An Anglo-Indian fusion dish, kedgeree, piled with boiled rice, cream, hard-boiled eggs, curry powder, and flaked fish. “I’ve made more than usual,” her mother admitted, “now that Karina’s got an appetite.”

    She received larger portions than anyone else. “Not so much! Not so much!” Karina kept saying. But she didn’t want to spoil the family reunion by making a fuss, and finally ate her way through to a clean plate. By the end her jeans felt so tight round her waist that she could barely breathe. “Loosen the clasp if you need to,” said her mother, watching her run a hand over a stomach that had never felt so full before. “After all, this is still your home!”

    It wasn’t long before Karina and Tom made their excuses, said goodnight, and retired to the spare room, the room where Karina had once been a thin teenager, where framed pictures of sporting triumphs at school still hung on the walls, relics of another age.

    “God that was so awful!” Karina cried. “Is it going to be like that all weekend? I’ve probably gained three pounds already.”

    “Come here,” Tom said, pulling her into his waiting arms. After wiping off a remnant of kedgeree from the edge of her mouth, he kissed and gently caressed her, feeling the bulk of her bloated stomach, knowing it would eventually lessen, but savouring the moment.

    Watching her eat that evening had been an almost sensuous experience, for he had by now made an important mental equation. Eating equalled calories, which equalled extra weight if not used up, which equalled extra softness for Karina, which equally better and better times in bed. That last night in Heatherwick had spelt it out for him once and for all. A cushioned ride. A body to sink into. He wondered if Karina would ever experience things in the same way. That was his hope; that was his dream.

    “Would it matter if you gained a little more? It wouldn’t matter to me. To me you’re ravishing. Really ravishing.”

    She pulled away from his embrace, looking quizzical. “You say that now, but you didn’t before. You really disapproved, told me I should diet. I don’t understand what’s changed. I’ve hardly got thinner.”

    Slowly, methodically, she was starting to take off her clothes, as if deliberately holding herself open for inspection, both by herself and Tom. Off came the black sweater, pulled up over her breasts by arms now looking a little heavier in their upper reaches. After what seemed an intake of breath, off came the bra, breasts tumbling out, glad to be free.

    Then it was time for the jeans, with her stomach obligingly bulging out further as she leaned forward to yank them down over her rounder thighs, towards the floor. Stepping out of the jeans with a torso twist that generated creases in the fat on her back, off came her panties. Finally her stomach was free from encumbrances, though it still carried one mark of imprisonment: a clear imprint of the jeans’ waistband, etched across her midriff.

    “You really think this is OK?” she said doubtfully, glancing down, checking herself at the same time in the full-length mirror fronting the wardrobe door.

    Tom had no doubts. He was looking at a genuine woman, warm, well-upholstered, ready for anything: sex, maternity, any career crisis; certainly ready for the next meal. “You look more than OK,” he said, as she moved to sit on the edge of the bed, tummy collapsed into two rolls of fat, far deeper than the ones he first saw some eight months ago, filling the space between breasts and thighs. “You look fabulous.”

    “But I look so different. I look at my face and I think, where are my cheekbones? Where’s my sharp profile? Almost gone. Then my tummy sticks out. There’s so many clothes that don’t fit me any more.” She was pleading with her eyes. “Look at those pictures on the wall. Look how slim I was.”

    “Karina, listen.” He sat down beside her, arm round her shoulder. “You were then, what, sixteen? Barely past puberty. Now you’re 26. You’re a grown women. People change as they get older. There’s no virtue in staying the same. You’re not one of the Three Musketeers any more. None of us are. My hairline’s already receding a bit. You carry your weight so well, believe me. I thought your mother was barmy before, wanting you to gain. Now I know her instincts were right. She knew that it would be good for you. You’re beautiful now in a whole new way.”

    Karina by now had moistened up. Tom gave her a tissue. “Beautiful? You really mean it? Even if I’m getting chubby?” She blew her nose gently at that point, an action that brought out her double chin, now always tucked somewhere under her face ready for a cameo appearance.

    “Especially because you’re getting chubby. I don’t want you to diet. I want you to enjoy life, enjoy food. Go with the flow.”

    She managed a teary smile, and kissed him. “Thank you. That helps a bit. I can’t say I feel the same way. Not yet.” She paused, thinking things out in her mind. “But at least, if I’m going to be heavier for a while, I’ve got to buy some bigger clothes. These jeans have been a disaster.” He laughed; she laughed. Possibly, tentatively, with some fragility, they had passed through this crisis. Maybe they were on their way.

    ***
     
  6. Aug 26, 2019 #6

    Swordfish

    Swordfish

    Swordfish

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    Back in London, the high drama of the trip up north started to fade. There were further Fire Brigade concerts and talk of them making a commercial recording. The horizon looked rosy. It helped Karina to relax. It also made things easier that her colleagues seemed to have stopped mentioning her figure, even though the slim Karina pictured in the Brigade’s publicity photos now bore only a faint resemblance to the heavier version who came on stage, sat down, and started to play the violin. She took comfort, too, in a new and unexpected development: Jenny, having acquired a new girlfriend, was now starting to gain weight herself.

    Not every day went smoothly. When Karina noticed that when she washed dishes in the kitchen sink she now had to reach an inch or so further because of her tummy getting in the way she didn’t know for a split second whether to be amused or annoyed. She settled for being annoyed. She still disliked finding clothes that didn’t fit or clothes that put enough flesh on show for her to feel very awkward, at least for that day.

    On most days, though, as Tom liked to say, she “went with the flow”, and happily ate through the cakes he sometimes bought her – love cakes, he called them – knowing full well what would happen to the calories they contained. Apart from solidifying her tummy, many of them landed on her noticeably thicker upper arms, which gave her a new chunky look and pushed her former slimline frame further and deeper into the past. Though the comparison had never struck him before, Tom began to realise that in build and general appearance she was beginning to look more like her mother. Definitely a family resemblance.

    Over the next weeks and months resistance to the change in her figure grew less and less. Why fight the inevitable, she now thought, when accepting that she’d grown heavier made life so much easier. No more terrible moments in store changing rooms when she found she needed bras, slacks, blouses, everything except shoes, in larger sizes. No feeling guilty if she wanted to indulge in chocolate-covered flapjacks or other treats; since she’d already gained weight, how could a few extra pounds matter? As long as she was happy and healthy, even if heavier, what was there to worry about?

    “Look at me here,” she said one day, going through the wedding photos with Tom. “I look so bony. There’s nothing to me. And I thought I looked so good. Really sharp.”

    “Soft is much better than sharp, darling.”

    “Just as well, with my waistline. So what are we going to do for our anniversary? I think we should have a party.”

    Tom agreed. The Fire Brigade was doing well, life was kind, possibly except for his job at the literary agency, reading other people’s material. “But where should we have it?” he said, looking round at their cramped flat, the small kitchen, the piles of books and other paraphernalia on the floor.

    “Maybe not here. We could rent the same room at the Blind Curate. But there must be food.”

    “Catered?”

    “Catered. I have time to eat, Tom, but not to cook.”

    Twenty or so were invited, mostly veterans of the wedding, including the third Musketeer, Clive, who was pleased to say that he could just fit it in following a fieldtrip to Madagascar.

    “This is a case of déja vu,” said Tom’s friend Dirk, surveying the faces lining the room. Only, in one case, it wasn’t. “Karina’s piling on the pounds, old man,” he whispered in Tom’s ear. “She’s looking very wifely.”

    “Well, she is a wife, so that’s alright, isn’t it?”

    “If you say so. Yes, of course,” Dirk corrected himself, feeling he should support his best friend.

    Karina was wearing a sleeveless blue dress, bought a month back, already a little tighter than it was. It immediately showed off her heavier arms, and didn’t do much to hide her tummy. She moved round the room with an easy grace, welcoming friends with a kiss and a hug, and usually telling those not seen for a while that they’d obviously notice she looked different. “Don’t get married if you want to stay slim!” she’d say, passing round a plate of sausage rolls. After that, not many people ate them.

    The one who was flabbergasted the most was Clive. Karina saw him come in, looking, she thought, more pleased with himself than ever, eyes roving over the room, searching for the bride and groom.

    Suddenly Karina was at his side, pointing at a bulge in one of his trouser pockets. “Is that a Patagonian tree frog in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?”

    “Karina, you – took me by surprise! You’ve – changed!” He wasn’t used to being flustered. “You’ve gained a lot of weight.” They exchanged kisses.

    “I know, I’m sorry, I’m only human. You’ve not changed, I see, except for that tree frog.”

    Clive followed her eyes down towards his trouser pocket, crammed with a handkerchief and cell phone. “There’s no such thing as a Patagonian tree frog. Patagonia doesn’t have many trees.” He looked again at her prominent tummy, her meaty arms and rounder face. “You really have filled out. It makes you look much more Indian.”

    “Well I am Indian, half-Indian. And it’s still me inside, Clive, remember that. You remember Karina? She’s still here!”

    “You’re not thinking of dieting, then?”

    “Not planning to, no. At the moment I’m letting things ride. Actually. I quite like being rounder. More womanly, you know? Have you seen Tom yet?”

    He said he hadn’t.

    “Well, seek him out. Have a drink, mingle. We’ll catch up later. I want to know all about your foreign trips. The only place I’ve been to is Heatherwick.”

    “Yes,” he said, “I’ll talk to Tom”. He seemed rather relieved, and made a beeline for the other Musketeer, who was in a corner talking enthusiastically about semi-colons with his friend Dave, when to use them and when not.

    To Dave the semi-colon talk came as a revelation, but Clive barged straight in, niceties ignored. “Tom, Tom, what on earth’s been happening? Karina must have put on 30 lbs. She’s always been slim. Now she’s fat. What have you done to her?”

    “Clive, steady on. I haven’t done anything to her. It kind of happened. And she’s not fat. She’s just got a bit chubby.”

    “Chubby-plus, I’d say,” chipped in Dave.

    He conceded the point. “I didn’t like it at first, I admit. Nor did she. But now we’re both comfortable with it. And now I really think it’s a change for the better.”

    “A change for the fatter, more like,” snarled Clive. “Have I got to get used to this?”

    “If you want to stay friends, yes. You like large animals, don’t you? Out in the wilds?”

    “I like all animals, you know that. Except naked mole rats.”

    “Well there you go. You’re all set. Karina” – he said decisively – “is not a naked mole rat.”

    Clive started to make mollifying sounds. “No, of course not. It just took me by surprise, that’s all. Never expected it. Maybe it’s a gene thing, an Indian thing.”

    “Metabolism thing?” That was from Dave.

    “Food thing too, don’t forget that,” said Tom.

    “No, no, yes, food as well. I guess it’s just – life.” Clive the volcano was quieting down.

    Tom put a hand on his shoulder. “That’s exactly what it is, Clive. Life. Let me get you a drink. Red or white?”

    “Red,” he said, a bit lamely. As Tom left to tend bar, Clive looked down awkwardly at his hands. It would be good, he realised, to have them occupied, holding a glass.

    Everyone eventually settled down, enjoying each other’s company, recalling memories from the accumulating years. Jenny, sporting some modest tummy fat of her own, arrived later than most, not with her new girlfriend, but with a surprise guest, Carter Drysdale. The ensemble had been in touch with him over featuring ‘Tempore Pyramides’, the Heatherwick festival’s unexpected hit, in their debut recording. For a composer whose music was so aloof and impenetrable, he seemed remarkably open and friendly as a social creature – rather too friendly, Tom thought, as he saw him hug Karina again with a passion that suggested someone actively seeking acceptable ways to press the flesh. At the same time, he couldn’t blame him.

    “He’s not someone with his head in the clouds, is he?” Tom murmured into her ear after Drysdale had moved on to the delights of the bar. “The next thing you know, he’ll be wanting the recipe for those sausage rolls.”

    Karina threw him one of her looks. “You’re not getting bored, are you?”

    “Not exactly, but I‘m beginning to think I’d like to be somewhere else…`’

    “You soon will be. We’ve only got the room until 10. Talk about exclamation points with someone. The time will soon go.”

    He kissed her lightly on the cheek. “Alright,” he said, scanning the room for a victim.

    ***
     
  7. Aug 26, 2019 #7

    Swordfish

    Swordfish

    Swordfish

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    By the time they made it back to the apartment, clutching a few anniversary cards and gifts, Karina was happily tipsy. Once she’d kicked off her shoes she sat at the kitchen table and renewed acquaintance with the contents of a parcel that had been delivered the previous day, sent by her mother. It was a large, round chocolate cake.

    “The chocolate cake!” she cried. “I want to eat it now.”

    “No, later. Tomorrow.”

    “Now!”

    “Later!”

    “Now.”

    Anxious to move on, Tom indicated what he wanted to do by starting to take off Karina’s clothes.

    “Give me some help here,” he said. Woozily, she did so, helping to pull her dress up and over her arms, releasing the bra that cut into her flesh, vaguely trying to pull down her panties, until she stood there naked, quivering slightly.

    “And what now?”

    “You know what now.”

    “The chocolate cake?”

    “Later. First there’s something even better.” He led her into the bedroom and guided her onto the bed.

    “Later,” she echoed. “That was a good party, wasn’t it?” Tom by now was undressing himself. “Is it time for sex?”

    Tom nodded.

    “Oh goodie. Let’s have sex.”

    Tom removed her wristwatch. Then he removed his own. Then he looked down at her softened body spread out before her: the heavy breasts, the chunky arms, her rounded cheeks, the little double chin, the ample tummy, the meat on her thighs. Suddenly a thought struck him, as if a light bulb had been switched on. Finally, after all these years twiddling his thumbs at the agency, he knew he’d had an experience worth writing about.

    “I’ve had an idea,” he said, as she shifted herself into a comfortable position. “Do you mind if I wrote a story about you, about us, and the weight thing? I mean, it’s all kind of beautiful.”

    “That would be fine.” She smiled up at him.

    “I mean I’d change the names. I’d be discreet. I could call it” – he searched around briefly – ‘A Change for the Fatter’. It would have great punctuation.”

    The smile grew broader, the cheeks chubbier. “That would be fine too. Now for God’s sake stop talking.”

    “Yes, yes,” he said, sinking happily into her body, into her flesh.

    THE END

    Copyright 2019, Swordfish
     
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  8. Aug 26, 2019 #8

    DaveTheBrave

    DaveTheBrave

    DaveTheBrave

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    Beautiful! Sophisticated but to the point. I like the relatability of the story, as well as the way you tied it together in the end.
     
  9. Aug 26, 2019 #9

    Tad

    Tad

    Tad

    mostly harmless

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    The great white north, eh?
    This may sound awfully nerdy, but I loved the structure of this story do much. The story itself was sweet too, but how this was put together was a delight.
     
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  10. Sep 3, 2019 #10

    TheOwl

    TheOwl

    TheOwl

    Not so wise

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    I have always looked forward to a new story by Swordfish to read and this one certainly did not disappoint.
     
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  11. Sep 30, 2019 #11

    slurpeekell12

    slurpeekell12

    slurpeekell12

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    Well done. I enjoyed this story.
     

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