Quantcast

BBW Fighting the Virus, Gaining Hope (~BBW, ~MWG)

Dimensions Magazine

Help Support Dimensions Magazine:

Soylentlilac

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2005
Messages
7
Location
,
(~BBW, ~MWG) A young doctor, struggling to deal with the new pandemic, learns from a woman's joy and abandon just when he needs strength and hope. (Written and set during the first wave.)

For S.I.


Fighting the Virus, Gaining Hope
by Soylentlilac
Chapter 1
Jean St Martin fought back tears of despair as he plodded down the cobblestone slope towards the hospital. He knew he’d do a lot of good today as he had in the last few weeks, his first weeks as a fully qualified doctor, but he knew for a fact that it would not be enough to save everyone. He’d been ready for unavoidable tragedies, for hard decisions and deaths on his watch during a hopefully long career. What he hadn’t expected was to debut that career during the first global pandemic in a century. The hospital was struggling to cope with the influx of cases, and so was he, although he’d never admit it to his colleagues.

So Jean allowed himself some measure of grief on this otherwise pleasant commute through the old-fashioned streets of his hometown. He was only human, and would have enough time to compose himself before assuming the role of a perfect, reliable medical machine as best he could during his shift. Jean the person would take a back seat to Dr St Martin. Jean felt the wave of sadness begin to pass and allowed other thoughts to distract him from it, such as how very empty the streets were. The shelter-in-place measures were less than a week old and Jean still wasn’t used to being one of the only people with a good reason to be walking somewhere. Most of the townspeople were living and working in their homes as best they could, only leaving for supplies and brief exercise. Jean wondered how many were able to make the most of the mandated indoor time and how many were focused on mourning their lost lifestyles. He suspected the latter made up the majority.

It was therefore unexpected that as he descended through the hillside neighbourhood he saw what he caught himself later that day characterising as a vision of happiness. In a second story window ahead a woman stood looking out, bathed in morning sun from the east. The light let him see her remarkably clearly, and the first thing to strike him even at a fair distance was her wide smile. He hadn’t seen many of those in a while, but this lady seemed near ecstatic as she warmed herself.

As he approached the next detail to become clear was her profound thinness. Her arms were up above the window and the loose top she’d probably slept in rose above her midriff, which was so narrow Jean initially thought the image was warped by refraction through the window. But no, this young dark-haired woman was borderline emaciated (Jean’s inner doctor had already started listing possible causes and consequences) and right now it didn’t seem to matter because her angular face was absolutely beaming. Jean looked down as he passed her house with the image now burned into his mind, and filed away a generalised hope that the woman was all right and a little gladness that she’d found a bright moment in such dark days.

That moment came to Jean a few times during his shift, but it was little comfort as he dealt with the business end of a widespread and volatile respiratory disease. Some who caught it barely felt it, others hardly felt worse than if they had influenza, but everyone at the worst end of the spectrum was right in front of him. Under layers and layers of protective gear he watched and toiled as the patients wheezed, coughed, struggled, panicked, burned from the inside out, wept, raged, adjusted to respirators, choked down breathing tubes, sometimes recovered, occasionally died, and above all, suffered. Jean did his best to fight the suffering however he could with every tool the hospital had at its disposal; thankfully it was a small enough town that the sheer number of cases was not (yet) overwhelming and resources were not too badly stretched. Jean was spared the kinds of heartbreaking decisions he’d read were becoming common in some countries, especially where there weren’t enough ventilators.

The shift was nevertheless long, and they all would be for the foreseeable future. It passed quickly enough as there was always useful work to do, but Jean was utterly exhausted as he peeled off the layers of plastic and started off home. He was young and fit but the uphill tread back to his street was a slog in his present state. He distracted himself by attempting to purge his thoughts of the worst events of the day, some of which had been literally life and death. His personal strategy for this was to gently scramble himself with a mess of frivolous thoughts: movies he’d seen, impenetrably written passages from medical texts, odd patterns in the cobblestones under his feet, happy memories with his wife. The thin woman in the window did enter his mind, but he had already passed by her house so the thought was left behind.

He dragged himself through his front door and into the arms of his welcoming wife Charlotte. Figuratively so, because after yelling a greeting down the hall he actually went straight to the shower to scrub himself off one last time. Protocols at the hospital were such that he was reasonably confident he wouldn’t bring home any germs from inside, but who knew what had been hanging in the air outside. Clean, comfortable and slightly damp, he headed to the modest living area to kiss Charlotte over her books at the table then collapse in an armchair to gather the strength to help start dinner.

Jean had met Charlotte in medical school, just as he was finishing up and she was starting out. Her chosen field was oncology and she had a long way to go yet. As students they had fallen rapidly in love and struggled along as a poor couple until Jean’s qualification and new position markedly improved their circumstances. Charlotte was using the lockdown to power through her studies with a minimum of distractions, so Jean nearly always found her buried in textbooks or her laptop at the table. Her shoulder length auburn hair and round spectacles usually hid her fair, friendly face until she found a reason to look up. Once she pried herself away from her cancer textbooks (she called the really thick old editions “grimoires”) she was always happy to see and hold Jean, and run the little household with him as a partnership.

Jean lived for the brief but intimate evenings with Charlotte at the end of each shift. She was everything to him, and was a critical source of emotional support whenever he came home near-broken from his time on the front lines. As grateful as he was, he could see that it was affecting her too, like the psychological equivalent of second-hand smoke. She was steeling herself over time for a long career with cancer patients, but recent stories from his hospital and others had horrified her. Moreover she was justifiably worried for Jean’s physical and mental wellbeing, which was stressful enough in itself. She had always neglected to eat well when studying hard, but her appetite had failed further of late and she was starting to appear what Jane Austen might have called “drawn”. Jean had accepted responsibility for this and resolved to make it up to her, but it was hard to soothe and pamper her properly while he had no energy to spare. This would not be the night; he dozed off in front of the TV and started awake again before heaving himself off to bed.

The next day, like the next weeks, would be more of the same. Jean tried to ward off some of the morning despair by admonishing himself for the previous morning’s breakdown. He might be human but for the sake of the patients he needed to stay strong, and that would take work outside of the hospital as well as in. So he looked up, looked out, put a spring in his step and tried to enjoy the simple stroll to work. It worked, a little.

Looking up and out, it was easy to spot the same young woman in the same spot at her window. The image was almost the same as he remembered: same night clothes, same lighting, same huge smile. The sole difference was that her arms were not raised over her head, but rather crossed over her abdomen. She was holding and even caressing her seemingly concave stomach, still beaming as if the source of her joy were not the morning sunlight but something within her. Perhaps she had received the blessed confirmation of a long-awaited pregnancy, Jean thought. With this likely hypothesis the woman seemed a little less enigmatic, but still a genuine good news story he could smile about as he continued on.

The day proceeded as expected, no easier than the last, but the journey home was more surprising. Having thought of the woman before passing her house this time, he looked up the hillside just in case and happened to see the upper window brightly lit from inside. The woman passed in front of it just as he drew close, showing him an incredibly slim silhouette. He could tell nothing of her clothes, but one thing was very clear: as she passed she was drinking enthusiastically from a wide wineglass. The red liquid inside the clear crystal produced a momentarily odd lighting effect through the window, making the object unmistakable. Dr St Martin immediately felt great concern for the unborn baby, before Jean reminded himself he had no way of knowing whether there was one. Still, the thought was unsettling that this woman might be actively sabotaging her pregnancy - but then why was she so happy in the morning? Good God, was she simply drunk? Jean knew he was leaping to conclusions in the absence of any real information at all, but also that it was absolutely not his place to investigate. Still, he’d be keeping an eye on that window in passing, just in case...something. If nothing else it would help take his mind off work.
 

Soylentlilac

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2005
Messages
7
Location
,
Chapter 2
Jean had seen the woman three times in two days, which proved to have been lucky; over the next week she was present at the right time only on about four mornings. (He was not keeping count well as the hard days blended together.) Each time she appeared she was still apparently blissful and apparently ignorant of any audience. Sometimes she’d have one or both hands gently on her abdomen, sometimes not. It all reinforced that image he’d burned in on the first day, so that he thought of her a little more at work, but there was no new information to be gleaned.

About a week after the first sighting (it was too one-sided to think of as an “encounter”) Jean got his first real glimpse of what was happening. The woman was leaning sideways against the window and using a smartphone with one hand. Her other arm was propped high on the window so her usual top was pulled up again, revealing a midriff which was almost unrecognisable. Again Jean suspected a trick of refraction, but no: her stomach was bulging outwards, far from the flat little thing he’d seen before. It was round and smooth, and he imagined very hard and tight, like a woman showing several months of a pregnancy.

As Jean walked on his doctor brain kicked in again unbidden with a hopelessly uninformed attempt at diagnosis. If she was pregnant it did not explain the sudden bulge, from her starting point that would of course have taken several months to develop. Water retention might explain a larger waistline, but to affect it that much she would be puffy all over. Simple bloating would cause such a localised effect, but that much wind would be very painful and she had still seemed quite cheerful.

No, the most straightforward explanation was simply that she had eaten, but that in itself begged questions. The amount had to be enormous, far more than would be comfortable for a woman of her size, and beyond the realm of imagination for what someone of her body type would typically want to eat - except, he considered unhappily, if it was a binge connected to an eating disorder. This didn’t seem to fit either though, based on what he had read about the psychology of binging and purging. The purge was what brought the rush of endorphins and let the disorder victim go about their day. It had to happen as soon as possible after the binge because every moment the food was allowed to sit and digest was a stab of guilt from possible weight gain. By contrast, this woman seemed in no hurry to relieve herself of her morning feast.

So in the end, the working hypothesis was simply that this extremely thin woman was eating like crazy, and enjoying it. That was consistent with the way Jean had sometimes seen her holding her stomach; perhaps he hadn’t noticed earlier bulges because she was standing front-on to sun herself. Why someone so thin would do this, or else why a woman doing this remained so thin, was a mystery. Perhaps, and this was a long shot, she had a metabolic or digestive issue that kept her body from fully utilising the calories she ate, and she had to overeat just to “break even”. This was as far as Jean’s train of thought reached before his feet carried him to the hospital entrance, and then he had more urgent matters to deal with.

The pandemic raged on, stretching the hospital and its staff regularly to the breaking point. Supplies ran low, especially the all-important ventilators. Not only the staff but the whole community pulled together to do whatever it could to ease the burden, from delivering food to those in need to 3D printing essential mechanical parts. People still died and some that didn’t still had harrowing experiences, but everyone knew that their town cared for them. Jean took great comfort in this and passed it on where he could.

As the weeks went by and the isolation-related orders from the government showed no signs of being lifted, Jean was sure the townspeople (including Charlotte) were finding their moments to collect groceries during the day, but his morning commute remained largely solitary. Because the majority of patients had much the same needs his work was becoming more automatic, and therefore a little easier. The woman in the window appeared to have settled into a routine too, because she was at her “post” most every day now.

Jean was able to see at last, over a long period of brief casual observations, what was really occurring with her. The bulge in the woman’s stomach did not subside with time, but only swelled more and more until it was plainly obvious from the front when her arms were lifted, and pushed her nightshirt out when they weren’t. Her capacity for food and/or drink, it seemed, was increasing still further and being used to its utmost.

Whatever was going in was having a rapid effect on the rest of her as well. Above her abdomen the rest of her torso was thickening, no longer a gaunt shadow drowned by the shirt. Her arms developed more width and even a little bit of hang as they moved, and her right-angled shoulders rounded out. From what little he could see of her hips from his low vantage point they did seem to be growing wider, or at least appearing as their own curve instead of blending into the former straight line of her body. If she wasn’t always wearing a loose pair of pyjama pants she might even manage a muffin top.

It fascinated Jean that he could see all this happening in a matter of days and weeks. He had no idea of her height so the total gain could not be well estimated, but it had to be a decent amount of kilos and they certainly stood out on her frame. There was no longer any question of bloating or purging; she had to be consuming many thousands of calories every day and keeping them all down. Neither was it a question of neglect, loss of control or “letting herself go”. She knew exactly what she was doing, she didn’t care who saw the belly she was growing for herself, and she loved every new inch of it.

One question did remain in Jean’s mind: not merely “why” as that was too broad to even approach, but “why now” and not before? What had suddenly triggered this extended hedonistic pursuit, or else what had been holding her back? Perhaps she had separated from a partner who had exerted undue control over her eating habits. Perhaps she was using this period of separation from her family to do something her parents would have harassed her about. Perhaps she had started a new relationship, either long-distance or waiting out the quarantine together in that little house, and the two were embarking on an ambitious project. Or perhaps she simply had a radical change of mind or perspective due to current events, and it didn’t need anyone else’s input or lack thereof driving it.

Jean had no illusions that he’d ever meet this woman properly, let alone be able to ask her about any of this. Although she’d never be a part of his life, she did highlight a very important part of his life through stark contrast: Charlotte. His wife had adjusted to life in isolation like everyone else, but the stresses of their circumstances had not gone away. She slaved away at her books and computer, she worried for her husband every day, and the world in general was not a source of cheer. Her fair skin was now very pale as she had far less reason to be out every day than Jean, and she had grown even thinner as she threw everything into her studies. When Jean thought about the woman in the window, indulging, beaming and blossoming, the juxtaposition with the woman he loved seemingly wilting away was almost too much to bear. Until one day it was too much.
 

Soylentlilac

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2005
Messages
7
Location
,
Chapter 3
Dinner for Charlotte and Jean was generally a utilitarian affair; they cooked together to save time, wolfed it down mostly in silence because the textbooks were dull and the hospital was the wrong kind of exciting, and then they’d spend an hour or two in each other’s company or else she’d read some more and he’d go to sleep. Jean had had enough of seeing her eat seemingly without being nourished, so he set out to turn things around.

One early evening Jean scrubbed and changed at the hospital facilities and took a detour on his walk (the first time in ages that he hadn’t passed by the woman’s window) to a local supermarket with late hours. Some particular shelves were empty but not all of them, and the staff there were happy to help a health worker find some good food. He made the rest of the trip home laden with enough groceries for weeks, including some treats on top of the usual staples. After his shower at home, he shoved it all in the fridge with no word of explanation. He got some odd looks from Charlotte as they prepared a very nice but still unambitious meal, but she was grateful for a load or two of groceries she wouldn’t have to do, and that was that for the night.

The next day at the hospital (the woman was at the window, and her belly was preventing her from pulling up her pyjama pants properly…) Jean paced himself as best he could so that he wouldn’t be totally exhausted by quitting time. He finished up less exhausted than usual, and called it a win. He strolled home at the usual time, washed up and then took charge of selecting ingredients for dinner: chicken, pasta, cheese and an assortment of ingredients from a recipe he’d looked up while dressing. Charlotte helped, but was surprised by the scale of the endeavour; when they’d finished there was enough fettucine Alfredo to fill a medium tray even after dinner was served. It was creamy but not too creamy, and very satisfying. Afterwards the leftovers did go into a medium tray and into the fridge with alfoil. While Charlotte watched TV feeling uncommonly full, Jean casually handed her a sweet almond pastry for dessert, and then dove back into the fridge for other ingredients. By the time he was done, there were half a dozen well stacked sandwiches packed in a large plastic container, stowed back in the fridge above the Alfredo. Jean’s intention was that Charlotte would always have something good to eat if she simply opened the fridge; he could personally help her be generous to herself for breakfast and dinner, but for lunch and snacks in between he was out to make it as easy as possible for her, and he’d spend the extra time in the kitchen to keep that going.

Over the next month, the pandemic stepped down very slightly from the crisis point as social distancing measures finally took effect and new cases per week began to decrease across the town. There was still plenty to do at the hospital, but it wasn’t battle stations all day anymore, and Jean felt a very small shifting of the weight he’d been under.

With this largely psychological boost, Jean became more enthusiastic about nourishing Charlotte and cooked extra several times a week. The fridge always had lasagne, sweet banana bread, a savoury pie or something similarly tasty ready to eat in minutes. Dinner became a little more extravagant, with homemade cakes or biscuits for dessert after a substantial main course. Charlotte had never refused food but rather resorted to empty snacks whenever time was short or study was pressing; with the suddenly abundant home cooking available at a moment’s notice she was happy to partake and Jean saw the trays and containers empty quickly while he was at work. Charlotte did not change nearly as quickly or as obviously as the woman in the window had, but she was happier, healthier-looking, and still slim but progressively less “drawn”. She was not only grateful to Jean for the effort he put in but glad he had found a pursuit outside of his job; it could only be good for both their mental health.

The woman in the window stayed the course and continued to expand with every week that passed. No longer content with taking time out at the window after a big breakfast, Jean now often spotted her there with a morsel in hand, like a baked good or piece of fruit, carrying right on eating. Once he even saw her drinking the last dregs of something thick from a blender jug. This was something of a threshold crossed: she wasn’t just eating whatever she wanted, she was apparently mixing concoctions to help take in as many calories as possible. She had new nightclothes on, probably after outgrowing the old ones, and her larger shirt billowed out over her even wider hips, larger breasts and a bulbous belly that now wobbled slightly when she moved. She finished drinking and looked straight down at Jean, for the first time he had ever noticed. He realised this was because he had stopped to stare at her, mildly shocked at the measures she was taking to fatten herself. Startled and at a loss, he smiled weakly and waved. After a brief but very awkward pause she broke out into her usual smile, made the “cheers” motion with her jug, and went back to draining it. He walked on, thinking that he’d never known anyone with this attitude: See me make myself fatter and fatter, even celebrate it with me. The sheer confidence of it could not fail to be exciting.

Another few weeks later, news from all over the region was very positive. New local cases had slowed to a trickle, all related to out-of-town travel. Health authorities still urged caution but politicians were desperate to restart the economy. Jean suspected the reality would be somewhere in the middle, a careful creep back to normalcy. A few types of businesses would shortly be allowed to reopen, such as open air cafes and restaurants where maintaining a decent distance would be easier.

The cases in the hospital still related to the pandemic were mostly old cases, the semi-unlucky few who had survived the worst of it but were taking weeks to recover. The pandemic unit would be sad to see any uptick but it was ready. Jean knew the townspeople would take the necessary calculated risks to reclaim some part of their old lives, so best to do it in a controlled manner.

Jean took a rare early afternoon mark to visit the local cemetery. Among the fresh graves he recognised too many of his own patients from the early days of the outbreak. He would always wrestle with the responsibility he bore as their doctor versus the hospital’s helplessness against such a volume of cases, and he would never forget these poor brave souls. Hopefully the town - and the world - wouldn’t either.
 

Soylentlilac

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2005
Messages
7
Location
,
Chapter 4
Three days later the government did authorise selected businesses to reopen, with strictly limited numbers inside and outside. Jean had lucked out and had the whole day off, so that morning he and Charlotte had their first outing together in months to find a seat and enjoy some barista coffee with cake. It was a curious dance as each establishment courted a small crowd of customers, forming unofficial widely spaced queues of people impatient to get in but unnaturally wary of each other, even while happy to be out and about.

Jean kept his work clothes at the hospital so he had always commuted in his own casual wear, but Charlotte had not dressed to be seen in a while. She wore a loose white polka dot dress, because the blouse and skirt she had expected to wear were unable to close around her. She really had been eating well thanks to Jean, and although the uncooperative wardrobe had been a rude shock she looked healthier and happier than Jean might ever have seen. Fat on his wife’s form was no longer any kind of negative because he knew what it meant: she was taking care of herself, she wasn’t too stressed to eat and he was doing his bit to make her happy. He turned to her on the street, gently took her now rounder face in his hands and kissed her with a smile.

He turned back towards their destination (a boulangerie two blocks downhill) and stopped dead in his tracks. Sitting alone at a table outside a café was the woman from the window. The table held a large iced chocolate, a full bread bowl and about half of a pizza bianca; the remains of the other half were currently in her mouth.

The woman had to have ordered new clothes online. She was in a black dress made to rest lightly on a voluptuous woman, which she now very much was. Her breasts surged out beneath the satinesque fabric, and themselves rested on a belly now wide and full enough to support them both. Her thighs were together and yet spread all the way across the wooden chair; it occurred to Jean that he’d never even seen them before. A double chin was present and exaggerated by the extreme movements her jaw had to make to chew the enormous mouthful. Her eyes were closed, the better to savour the kind of meal she might not have had in years.

After a moment Jean caught himself, feigned having lost his bearings and caught up to Charlotte who had kept walking. As they were about to pass the beautiful young gourmand she looked up for a moment, caught Jean’s eye, and gave the best smile she could with half a slice of pizza behind it. He barely had time to smile back before they had passed her. His mind suddenly lit up with the questions he had been asking himself about her all those mornings, and in that moment he knew he would never ask her any of them. He no longer needed to.

Whatever drove the woman’s appetite, she had taught him so much by example. In the middle of despair, the simple things in life can still bring joy, even ecstasy. If you are doing what you truly want, it shouldn’t matter what others think, but even if it does you can pursue it anyway. Food can nourish the spirit as well as the body, and a well-nourished body is nothing to be ashamed of. Was he reading too much into the philosophy of a woman who stayed home and got fat? Probably, but it had helped him through the hardest months of his life thus far, and done his wife a world of good as well. Thinking of which, Jean wondered whether Charlotte would like pizza bianca for dinner, and where he could pick up a decent pizza base.

The End
 

Seamless333

Active Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2014
Messages
25
Location
Scotland
I thoroughly enjoyed this and while I’d love so see Charlotte’s expansion from there, I get it’s not in the spirit of the story. Thank you!
 

Soylentlilac

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2005
Messages
7
Location
,
I thoroughly enjoyed this and while I’d love so see Charlotte’s expansion from there, I get it’s not in the spirit of the story. Thank you!
I’m really glad you liked it Seamless.

You’re right, it was not my intention to continue on, but that means someone else is free to flag their work as an unofficial continuation of mine if they’re not content to merely imagine Jean and Charlotte’s filling future.
 
Top