I Dreamed of Banquets by Madeline Maple (~SSBBW, ~XWG, feeding, imagery)
A short story about a woman thinking about her body and her past.
A short story about a woman thinking about her body and her past.
What if I met Johnny first? I don't always ask a question like that, but tonight I do. I lay on the bed gently touching the tops of my hips. My hands move cautiously as if exploring alien terrain since my body has changed again, and I don't yet know its contours. The change came quickly this time. After months of starvation I didn't even bother to take it easy. Usually I stop a diet in fits and starts but this time I opened the flood gates, and the food rushed in.
It was a Wednesday night. I was half-watching a Seinfeld rerun, and the air conditioner couldn't keep up with the humidity. The words left my mouth before I could even think them. "Honey, can you order a large cheese pizza?" Johnny's double take was almost imperceptible before he reached for the phone. I have to admit, I love the fact that I need only speak a few words and my husband provides for my every need. That was what...two months ago? I've been on quite a binge since then. Even rivaling my intake from the old days with Max. I can tell that I've already gained much more than I lost, and isn't that always the case? A woman knows when she's heavier than she's ever been. At least I can always tell.
I need to get used to what this new body will do and what it will keep me from doing. This is a queen-sized mattress, right? I'll have to remember to ask Johnny. Could I nearly be filling a king-sized bed? No, I'm not yet that big. I think I'd know that. Regardless of the mattress size, my body doesn't leave much space for my darling husband. Of course Johnny would never complain. I take a moment and listen to the gentle sound of his breathing as his narrow frame curls around my hip. He often smiles in his sleep.
I love the way Johnny loves me. Or to be more precise, I love the way Johnny loves me for me. Although we never talk about it, I know he wouldn't have me diet if it were his choice. But the best thing about Johnny is that he knows it's not his choice. He respects my body and supports me when I try to reclaim a little physical independence. It hasn't yet worked, but at least I feel supported when I try. He even tries to hide his disappointment when I eat less.
Johnny loves me the way I am. He even loves to take care of me, and in a way I love that, too. I can't imagine two people being any closer. We share my most intimate moments as my body makes it difficult for me to care for myself. I adore the way he relishes my sponge baths. His touch is delicate as he slowly moves the soapy sponge between my many heavy folds of fat. When he cleans between my legs he touches me and my skin shivers with delight as waves of fat ripple like ribbons in a headwind.
But I digress. What if I met Johnny before I met Max? Max was the person who taught me that one pizza wasn't enough. He taught me that breakfast had a dessert course, that diet coke was for skinny chicks, that an open bag of chips was an empty bag of chips, and that snack time and mealtime could just blend together. Max taught me these lessons, but would I have learned them on my own? At my own pace? One bite after another.
It was a Friday night. I was riding the train home from work and a tall man with green eyes kept smiling at me. "Do you know how beautiful you are?" I think I fell in love with him before he even finished the sentence. When I met Max I hadn't weighed myself in months but knew I was getting close to 300 pounds. After that first dinner with Max he took me back to his home. I came willingly, entranced by his affection. I remember thinking it odd when he weighed me before we went to bed. I thought it even odder when he fed me while we made love and weighed me again after. But I can't say I didn't like the food, and I know I liked the attention.
I moved in soon after that first night. I remember trying to convince myself that Max didn't want me to work because of his traditional values. But it soon became clear that he had a different job in mind for me. I moved in with him as a wide-eyed, twenty-five year old romantic weighing around 300 pounds. Five years later I moved out having doubled in size only able to walk by clinging to my sister for support. She had to rent a van with no seats in the back to take me away. I was 610 pounds at my last weigh-in with Max, but by then I think I'd robbed him of his fun.
I went along with the feeding in the beginning. I've always had an appetite, and eating his food made me feel happy and content. At times he would push me to eat even larger portions than usual, and I would protest in the mildest of ways. "Please, no more..." But that wasn't real resistance to Max. For him that was just part of the game. Even when I hit 400 pounds I barely blinked an eye. I had only lived with him for two years at that point, and I probably should have been horrified by my new size, but I was so enthralled by his affection that I never protested too much. He adored my gain, and I adored the adoration.
After a few years of living together I had the first real thoughts of resisting Max. These thoughts weren't directed toward the feeding or the gaining, but toward other things he wanted to control. He wouldn't let me drive his car, for example, or go online or visit my sister. The list of things he wouldn't let me do grew longer as I grew fatter. I started saying "no" in a soft voice I spoke only to myself, but my voice became louder and stronger, and I started saying "no" to Max's face.
I was closing in on 500 pounds, and with such a rapid gain and so little physical activity, I was having a lot of trouble doing everyday tasks. Just taking a walk required considerable effort. Getting out of bed unassisted took me five minutes, and I could only walk for 30 seconds at a time before I needed to sit down and catch my breath. I feared the effects of further weight gain as I knew that without exercise I would soon lose my mobility entirely.
Max took great pleasure in seeing me struggle, but I honestly expected him to help preserve what was left of my diminishing physical independence. How foolish I was. But then again, I was still working hard to convince myself that he loved me, not just that he loved my weight gain. Instead of helping, he redoubled his efforts to feed me into oblivion. Max demanded that I walk only with his assistance. He claimed that he was thinking of my safety. "But dear, you've become too unsteady on your feet. I can't bear the thought that you might fall." However, I saw it for what it was: another control tactic, this one designed to make me completely dependent on him. I resisted, and Max would begrudgingly allow the occasional unassisted waddle inside the house just to appease me. However, he made a point of always being around to lend an arm, to bring me what I needed, or to help me get out of bed whether I wanted him to or not. I soon lost my resolve to keep active, and as the weight poured on me I needed Max more than ever.
My weight climbed past 500 pounds, and I sank into a deep depression and rarely left the bed. From a reclined position I watched my body change into a new form, one that for the most part resembles a smaller version of how I am now. Most fat people stand, walk, sit and move throughout the day. As a result, gravity tends to distribute their fat in ways that reflect a variety of movement. This isn't true for a bedridden fat person on the extreme end of the supersize spectrum. Their fat gets distributed to suit their immobile lifestyle.
Aside from my brief assisted waddles (usually from bed to toilet and back again), I spent day and night leaning back on a carefully arranged pile of pillows. My relatively invariable position meant that gravity pulled my fat down toward the bed. My rolls of fat increased in size and number, spilling down my sides like an avalanche of flesh frozen mid-fall. The fat rolls were particularly pronounced on my legs where, along with my hips, I carry much of my weight. My knees lost nearly all of their definition and turned outward, thereby spreading my thighs and making room for a belly that hung over by a few inches. When I stood, my body carried with it a trace of the bed on which I spent nearly all of my time so that my expansive rear end looked nearly flat. This effect pushed even more fat to my already fat-laden hips. When I walked it was hard to manage the hanging folds of fat on my legs. I had to sway from side to side and swing one leg around the other or else folds would rub together and hurt my tender skin.
The old saying had never been more true, I was built for comfort not speed, and I have to admit that most of the time I felt comfortable. Max and I would often talk about changes to my body. He documented my "progress" with numerous measurement sessions, photographs, and videos. Together we would look at my body's historical record and compare significant developments. When I look back now this seems like an odd thing to do with Max, but I think I also shared a fascination with what was happening to me. Maybe I just needed evidence to make my new body believable.
When it became clear to Max that I had lost my mobility, everything became a negotiation. If I asked him to bring something to me, he would only comply if I first ate a ridiculous amount of food. I remember once, in exchange for a glass of water I had to eat a dozen scrambled eggs, an entire package of oreos, and a "family sized" box of macaroni and cheese. Of course by this stage I was in no shape to peak over his shoulder in the kitchen to see his cooking methods, so it's safe to assume he fried those eggs in a stick of butter and used heavy cream for the cheese sauce. The eating was endless, and one day I came to the realization that Max had no interest in learning who I was or finding out what I cared about or growing with me emotionally. In fact, it became increasingly apparent that all he wanted was to bury me under hundreds of pounds of fat.
One evening I remember in particular. I heard Max come through the front door as I lay reading on the bed. He came in without a word and made sure I had eaten all the food he left for me after lunchtime. He inspected the empty Cheetos bag, the empty Doritos bag, the empty Ding Dongs box, and the empty muffin basket. "Do you need to go now or can you hold it until dinner?" I told him I could wait. I asked him about his day as he pulled out a bag containing a dozen donuts for my pre-dinner snack. "It was okay," was his only response without even making eye contact. Then he looked right at me and instructed me to eat all the donuts before he returned with dinner. He handed me the bag and left the room. My mouth watered as my body anticipated the donuts, but my heart felt hollow. For the first time in a long time I thought about the future. I imagined a series of emotionless conversations like the one we just had. I imagined my body growing larger and larger, but there was nothing else to imagine. My life had become a meaningless parade of indulgence, and I needed a change. I had to leave Max.
I knew Max would put up a fight, and I used the only weapon I had in my arsenal: refusing to eat. I told him that I no longer loved him and doubted that he ever truly loved me. I explained that I was leaving him, and I demanded to call my sister for help. Of course he said no. When I threatened him with a hunger strike Max laughed and said, "I'll believe that when I see it." His rebuff further steeled my resolve. I mustered every bit of willpower and closed my mouth to his culinary advances.
Max opened with waffles and ice cream, then followed with bacon, burgers, pasta, and a wide variety of my favorite foods. As seconds turned to minutes turned to hours I felt stabbing hunger pains. Several times I almost gave up. My hunger was such that I felt disoriented and nauseated. In short, I felt like hell. Still, I managed to hold my ground. At first Max found my behavior amusing, but when he saw that I was serious, he became confused, then angry, then furious. For a minute I feared he might force food on me (something he had done in the past but only in a playful, almost consensual manner). But Max wasn't a violent person. He wanted to control me with words not brute force, and when he saw that I was no longer a willing subject, he no longer wanted to keep up the fight. After an excruciating 36 hours Max finally relented. I left him later that day and haven't seen him since.
I moved in with my sister and went on a drastic diet down to 400 pounds. I talked a lot about changing my lifestyle, and as the weight came off I had visions of being thin, as if I could somehow reverse the inertia of a lifetime of fatness. It probably sounds silly, but at 400 pounds I felt so light on my feet compared to the size I'd been. I was still quite fat, but I was small enough to drive my sister's car, go shopping, even go to the movies. I felt free. The problem is I also felt hungry. Famished, even. During the day I never went more than a few minutes without thinking of food. At night I dreamed of banquets.
My mobility returned, and I was feeling guilty about taking further advantage of my sister's hospitality. I enrolled in a Microsoft Office class at a night school, thinking I would sharpen my administrative skills before I looked for a job so I could earn my own keep. I entered the classroom and saw that all the chairs had armrests too narrow for my hips. I was contemplating what to do when a skinny, handsome man introduced himself. "Hello, my name is John, and I'm the instructor for this course." He excused himself and returned promptly carrying a solid chair without armrests. With a kind smile he gestured for me to take a seat. Throughout the class I noticed that he would sometimes steal glances at my figure, and this continued for the duration of the six week class. I thought it was sweet the way he would flirt with me before and after. It was obvious that he was getting up the nerve to ask me out.
After a few dates I told Johnny about Max and about how much heavier I used to be. He expressed concern and asked what it was like to be so large. I did my best to describe my life at 600 pounds. I told him about the eating and the mobility issues, but it was clear that Johnny wanted to know what my body looked like before. I was wearing a sleeveless dress so I raised my arm and used it to describe how it appeared by the time I left Max. I motioned to my fingers and explained how thick they used to be. I traced well below the arc of my lower arm to demonstrate how full it was before. I padded around my upper arm and told him of how much softer it used to be, and I gestured to where the fat on my upper arm would fold over my elbow. As I imagined my 600 pound body I realized that part of me missed being extremely fat. I almost felt nostalgic at the thought of my larger self, and at the same time, I noticed that Johnny loved hearing about my extreme fatness. It was clear that he would continue to find me attractive if I gained back the weight I'd lost.
Johnny and I started spending more time together. He never asked me to eat or try to control my behavior, but it was fun to see how pleased he looked when I ordered dessert. I found myself cheating on my diet the more time I spent with Johnny. It felt good to make a conscious choice to eat fattening foods, but I was careful to keep portions small and eat a balanced diet. Even though Johnny and I fell in love, and even though I knew he loved me fat, I still couldn't let go of the thought of one day being skinny. Nevertheless, my love for food pushed this thin fantasy further and further to the back of my mind.
I moved in with Johnny, and he loved watching me gain back the weight. I would gain some, then lose some, then gain more than I lost. All the while I couldn't shake the feeling that I was returning to a more normal state. My body grew, and parts of my skin that had hung limp were being restored to a bountiful state as if coming back to life. Once, I lost myself for days in an eating binge, and when I refocused my attention I noticed that my body had made necessary changes: a more pronounced waddle, new rolls of fat under my breasts, and legs held further apart to better support the added pounds. As much as I wanted to forget, my body remembered what it was like to be uncommonly fat.
My billowing thighs grew more cumbersome, and I found myself moving less and asking Johnny to do more. As I reached 500 pounds I worried that he would leave me as my mobility decreased. Some guys may like the idea of being with an extremely fat woman, but in reality it takes a lot of hard work and understanding to stay by her side. Johnny, however, has taken it all in stride. Like he did the moment we met, he anticipates my needs, and to this day we work with a silent understanding of what I can do by myself and what we'll do together. It's not easy, I know. Last summer I passed the 700 pound mark. I must be even bigger now, but it looks like Johnny is here to stay.
I've lived with Johnny for five years now, and that's as long as I was with Max. As I think about all I've been through, I can't help but wonder what my life would be like if I had been with Johnny all along and never met Max. How much would I have gained? What would my eating habits be? Would I still be able to walk? There's a part of me that wants to erase those years with Max. Wipe the slate clean and pretend I was always in control. I know I still have feelings of anger and resentment, but I need to let go of those feelings from the past. I need to focus on what I can control in the present. What I need is to ask a new question, one that I've been afraid to answer until now. The question is this: Am I willing to take responsibility for my own body?
The night is still. I gently shake Johnny's arm. "Do we have any leftover lasagna?" He opens his eyes, gives a slow nod, climbs out of bed, and heads toward the kitchen. He returns quickly and hands me a plate. I raise a fork to my mouth and smile. I've barely begun chewing before I reach for another bite.