BBW Something's Gotta Give - by StrugglingWriter (~BBW, ~XWG)

Discussion in 'Recent Additions' started by StrugglingWriter, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. Oct 24, 2017 #321

    StrugglingWriter

    StrugglingWriter

    StrugglingWriter

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    Hi, Readers! Qemarar has another art installment on post #88. Thanks to him!

    Also, Tad has been great and gracious in posting these back in the thread for us. Thanks, Tad!
     
  2. Oct 27, 2017 #322

    StrugglingWriter

    StrugglingWriter

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    Kelly Elizabeth Kingsley>>I guess you forgot my birthday. I want you to know I’m not mad. I miss you, Daddy, and I love you very, very much!!!

    It took her until just before Sunday brunch to send that message, but by then Kelly meant every word. She’d certainly been overly sensitive in the days since spending her birthday with Molly, but she’d been able to function without mishap. Like Elektra had warned, she’d found it impossible to control her eating on Friday, which happened to be the final day for the lab’s first batch of subjects and the last day of PinkBox for a while. She’d found tears in her eyes more than once as she said goodbye to the guys.

    Nothing another doughnut didn’t cure. Until the next set of tears.

    Nor did her voracious appetite abate through the weekend, even with other concerns demanding Kelly’s attention.

    The Mastiffs’ season was turning ugly. It took an injury to reveal just how much the senior leadership of a solid “scrub” quarterback like Jeff Ellison brings to a team—and to expose all the team’s other weaknesses. The Mastiffs had been expected to compete with the Tide for the division title this year. Instead, Alabama sent them home with their tails between their legs, a 30-point loss hanging around their necks, and the certain prospects of a dismal season ahead.

    Had you thought Wade would be insulated from the disappointment since he wasn’t playing that year, you’d have been wrong. He was absolutely morose.
    It started with a long series of texts Saturday after the loss (Now he texts!) and persisted right into brunch on Sunday morning.

    Dealing with a grumpy boyfriend wasn’t something Kelly had much experience with. She found it particularly taxing in a guy, and it had never taken much of that kind of neediness before Kelly was off to the next guy up in her long line of options.

    But this time was different. He was hurting, so she was hurting. That was something she couldn’t really remember feeling about anyone other than her mother. For the first time in her life, she wanted to be the one to fix a guy.

    She tried jokes, which she wasn’t very good at. Tender affection, which was rebuffed so hard it hurt her feelings. Reasoning with him a bit, which just made him argue. There was always sex, and she figured it would do the trick, but the logistics of arranging a private place was always a problem. And she would have liked to think she had a little more to offer him than that.

    Her mind hearkened back to her conversation with Jeff Ellison’s girlfriend about losing a couple of weeks ago. (And what must they be going through right now?) Inconsolable, she’d said. Maybe Wade was inconsolable. All she knew was anything she tried wasn’t cutting it.

    Because from where she sat, Gail and her mother seemed to loosen him up just fine. When they asked him questions, he answered. They teased him about his size, he jabbed back gently about theirs with a sly little smile. They brought up the disappointing turn in the season and his hopes for playing next year, he acknowledged it and even volunteered a bit about his—*gasp*—feelings. Kelly watched a bit as they did their magic, noting the occasional light touch on the shoulder, the frequent, light laughter, the leaning in, the attentive questions.

    They were absolutely flirting with him! Is that really what it took to make him function like a normal human being?

    Maybe if Mommy’d tried some of that with Daddy…

    Kelly! Shame on you!!

    Of course, they brought something else to the table that she could never bring. Literally to the table: How effective would those touches and laughs and sympathetic coos have been were they not accompanied by tremendous helpings of even more tremendous home-cooked food. And a handful of ice cold beers, to boot.

    Those beers and the huge meal were more than enough to have Wade somnolent in the armchair by the middle of the first half Sunday’s NFL games. After matching him beer-for-beer (which admittedly wasn't much, but that was on top of whatever booze she’d already downed while preparing their meal), Gail had retired already to her room. That left Kelly and Elizabeth alone at the table.

    Kelly noshed on whipped cream and fruit salad with her fingers. Her taste buds and confused tummy continuously begged for more even as her stomach strained against its painful limit. Elizabeth was humming to herself as she slowly but steadily sipped from her glass goblet of wine. Neither offered much in way of conversation until the bleary-eyed Elizabeth gestured vaguely in Wade’s direction.

    “Poor guy. It really hitz him hard, doesn’ it?”

    “He’s not the only one.”

    “Oh, Baby…sometimez men are juss like lil’ boyz. Juss a lil love an’ you can turn em right aroun’!”

    The way you turned around Daddy? Who of all people was she to give out man advice?

    Stop it, Kelly!

    Meanwhile, Elizabeth was draining the rest of her wine. She smacked her lips, sending the roll beneath her chin quivering. There wasn’t a movement Elizabeth made anymore that didn’t call attention to how fat she was getting. Elizabeth closed her eyes for a moment and sat with a lazy little smile, obviously reveling in the rush of intoxication to her head.

    Kelly knew that moment pretty well. Just the same, it didn’t feel good watching that moment in her mother, of all people.

    The moment passed, and Elizabeth opened her eyes and oriented clumsily back toward her daughter. “Well, I guess I’m tha las person who should be tellin’ you how to handle men. Less talk about something elss. You didn’ tell me much abou’ how your birthday went. I hope you got absolutely wasted!

    “Mommy!!!” If only you knew! “Stop it!”

    As if to make the point, Elizabeth splashed the rest of her near-empty wine bottle into her goblet, somehow managing to keep it all (or at least most of it) inside. She laughed a moment at her own drunken clumsiness. Or maybe it was at how she'd just tweaked her daughter’s embarrassment and outrage.

    “Oh, Baby! You really think I don’ know what all goez on?” Not all that goes on. And as far as I’m concerned, you never will. “You forget, I waz Phi Gamma before you were even a gleam in your daddy’z eyez!

    “And trust me, back then I caught a lotta gleamz! A lotta gleamz.”

    She downed half of her half-a-glass in one gulp and held herself a few seconds, this time swaying in a little circle as the alcohol started an assault on her sense of balance. She all-but-slammed the glass back onto the table, as if it had been too heavy to hold any longer. Or maybe that was the weight of her pudgy fingers, her swollen hand, her round puffy forearm.

    “But,” she added after her lengthy pause, “I guess thass not gonna happen anymore.” She was smiling, but wistfully, and she had tears in her eyes, though that could just as well have been from the three beers, the bottle of wine, and whatever cocktails she’d inhaled while making that day’s brunch. Maybe that's what she wanted people to think.

    “I wonder what my sisterz would say if they saw me now?” She slid her arm off the edge of the table. She jiggled all all over as it plopped heavily off the table and onto her gelatinous middle, which even when it spilled out between her massive thighs, spread caddy-corner on the chair as far as her mu-mu would allow, bulged out almost halfway to her knees. She cupped her arm around it the way fat girls do--must do--when they sit, her unadorned fingers barely made it around to the front of her belly, just in Kelly’s view. “I guess I know, though. ‘Ohmigod, look how fat Pageant Girl got!”

    “Mommy, don’t say that about yourself!”

    “Naw, Baby,” she responded. “Iss okay. I know who I am. I’ve been a fat girl for a long time. I juss never imagined I’d get thiss fat!” Her countenance brightened suddenly like she just remembered a tidbit of juicy gossip. “Guess how much I weigh now?”

    It was a question that tickled Kelly’s brain every time Kelly saw her, and now here was her chance. She had to be at least 300 pounds.

    “Mommy, I don’t know.”

    “Go ahead, go ahead! How much you think?”

    “Mommy, I really don’t want to—“

    “Don’ worry about it. Don’ worry about it! OK. You don’ hafta ask. I’ll just tell you!”

    But she didn’t. Instead, she heaved her arm back onto the table and wrapped those pudgy fingers around her glass before downing the rest in one gulp. She absorbed the hit with a silly grin, then laughed.

    “Excep’ I can’t! Cuz Gail’z scale only goez up to 330!”

    “330!”

    “I know, I know! An’ I haven’ even seen that for maybe a month!” She laughed some more, then scooted forward in her chair before pushing herself to her feet—somehow without falling. She reached behind her for her glass before realizing it was empty, then swung back around and gathered herself for the long short trek to the couch. “Yup. I’m pretty much the circus fat lady, now!”

    “Mommy, stop it!”

    “Don’ you, ‘Mommy stop it!’ me, lil girl.” She reached the couch and leaned against the arm, which groaned and strained in response. “I’ll say what I want!” She shuffled her way around to the front of the couch, sliding both hands on it as she did, and let herself fall onto it. With a creak and a pop! the arm separated from the rest of the couch for a moment, then jumped back to its former place against the broad curve of her fleshy hip. Elizabeth was breathing heavily from the booze and the effort. She let her head loll on the back of the couch, closed her eyes and faded out.

    Kelly didn’t know if she was more ashamed or sad to see it. She stood under the archway from the dining room to the living room alone now, except for the sound of her wheezy snores, and Wade’s too, along with the dull noise of the crowd and monotone bloviations of sports announcers emanating from the TV.

    “Oh,” Elizabeth added suddenly, seemingly still conscious after all. ‘If you two want some alone time, you can use my room. I won’ be needin’ it for a while.”

    Embarrassment washed over Kelly. She wasn’t sure what embarrassed her more—that her mother was suggesting she have sex with her boyfriend in the next room, or how fast she wanted to make that happen.

    But not as fast as she wanted another helping of fruit salad first.
     
  3. Nov 4, 2017 #323

    StrugglingWriter

    StrugglingWriter

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    Kelly didn’t usually drive sex. She usually wanted to be coaxed and caressed and admired into arousal before finally turning herself over to desire. So it was with some uncertainty that she placed her plate on the TV stand next to Wade and straddled his long legs. She knew girls did this all the time without blinking. She’d done it (once, or maybe twice—three times at most) without thinking. Now Kelly couldn’t do it without thinking—about the pinch of her jeans against her fluffy thighs when she did, without worrying about smooshing Wade with her weight.

    She needn’t have worried. He hardly stirred. Which was hardly inspiring. But she gave it another try by leaning down on him and nuzzling his face with her nose.

    He met that with a very unattractive snort and a startle. But at least this time he woke up.

    “Hey, Kells.” He stifled a yawn and looked her in the eyes. “This is … different.”

    “Shut up.” She kissed him. He kissed her back with the stench of beer.

    The transition out of the chair wasn’t exactly a romance novel. She wished he would just sweep her into his arms and tried not to wonder if she were too heavy for him to do that. (She did anyway and concluded on first blush he probably could, but then when had he ever done anything like that?) Instead she dog-walked backward trying not to crush important parts and wound up pulling him out of the chair, then shushing him and pointing to her mother, who was snoring away in the corner of the couch with her mouth open.
    She pulled him by the hand into her old room and closed the door, expecting things to go like usual. Instead, the still-drowsy Wade flopped onto the bed, his heels hanging off the end of the mattress, his eyes closed and his hands interlaced behind his head like he was waiting.

    Well, I started it.

    She pulled off her shirt. When the full picture of the full girth of her breasts—straining the credulity of unpadded cloth cups to contain them of the tensile strength of a couple of cloth straps holding them up into place, was revealed—usually amounted to the show-stopper. Then there would be the spectacular push of beautiful, round mounds of soft woman forward when she reached behind to uncross the hooks, then the spillage atop her belly button as those perfect orbs transformed under gravity into massive bulging teardrops. It was always her favorite moment, one that inspired pride in her body and awe in her man—whoever it was at the moment—to take control. She twisted around to cast her underwire prison to the ground, her breasts wobbling back and forth around the crest of her aching, overstuffed, still yawning stomach, tensing anxiously in hot anticipation of that momentary uncomfortable pinch of eager hands grabbing her by the boobs and pulling her to him.

    And Wade responded with nothing. Wade still had his eyes closed. Waiting. Or maybe sleeping again. He slept like the dead. Who could tell?

    But hell or high water, she was doing this. And if the visual wasn’t gonna do it, she’d have to find another way.

    That meant untying those hopelessly worn, smelly boots herself. And pulling off the even stinkier socks. (Next time, hold your breath! There was a lesson learned!) She climbed back over his legs and clumsily undid his belt, twisted open his button-fly one by one—all one-handed. The other hand, attached to her forearm, was pressing her dangling breasts to her body so she could see. (Undress yourself last! Another lesson learned!) Pulling them down and off his ankles was another matter—apparently she wasn’t the only one filling out her jeans a little bit! There was no way after that series of tugs he could be anything other than awake, and the wisp of a sardonic smile seemed to emerge from Wade’s face.

    He was playing this to the hilt.

    She stood there panting for a moment—You would think after all those workouts I wouldn’t be so worn out!—before tackling her own tight jeans. It was always a harbinger of diet doom when her thighs bunched and rolled with the jeans on their way down to her knees, a few inches at a time. Even more so when her panties—as stretched and loose as they’d become these past months, twirled into a little roll as she sent them down to the floor along with them. She brushed her hand across the soft flesh of her thighs on her way up, encountering the dimply ripples on the back before rubbing her hands across her pillowy hips, smoothing them like pizza dough as if she could somehow knead them into one with her squishy—but still smooth—waistline. Mindlessly, as before settling into any hard labor, she abandoned preoccupation with her squishy physique by reflexively pulling her thick sandy hair—that mix of blonde and brunette and a little bit of shiny red—back into a ponytail—only to realize her hairbands were in her purse in the other room.

    And speaking of hard labor, Wade’s prodigious package—a secret source of covetous joy that, as she walked around campus with Wade, fueled more of her arm-candy pride than she cared to admit—snuggled full but relaxed in its boxer-trunk wrapping. Kelly had enough experience coaxing alcohol-induced flaccidity, though she’d never had to assume primary responsibility for making it happen. And though she knew of one tried-and-true method, it was something she found generally...well, distasteful was the word that seemed to capture all the right dimensions.

    So she crawled back over his thighs, almost falling back to the floor as the wobbly edge of the ancient mattress buckled in response to her full weight on one knee, almost preventing her from throwing the other one across Wade’s legs. (Again, her quick calculation ascribed blame to the mattress and not her own mass per se.) Mounted successfully she set to unsnapping Wade’s western cut plaid shirt top to bottom, one by one, casting it open and rubbing Wade’s bare near-hairless chest the way she had a dozen times before—just never from this vantage. She brought her hands down to his waist and dipped underneath the elastic waistband to find Wade’s encouraged but complacent penis—felt an exhilarating surge in her stomach as it leapt to life between her hands.

    There was something to this driving thing after all!

    Wade’s hands lifted to return her the favor, her nipples all but reaching out in anticipation to meet their touch. He wriggled himself out of his briefs while Kelly pushed her hands past her fleshy inner thighs, then reached around her wide hips and fleshy cheeks with one hand to help pull them past his ankles. Wade kicked them down to the floor just as Kelly scooted forward and wrapped both hands around his thick erect cock, then walked herself on her knees to position herself just right before pushing him past the slippery tightness of her now-oh-so-sensitive vaginal lips. She shuddered and moaned as his phallus slipped into its home. She swayed in ever-quickening circles, barely aware enough to restrain her enthusiasm enough to protect Wade in this most-vulnerable of all vulnerable positions, while Wade kneaded her mams and flipped his thumbs joltingly—but oh-so-pleasurably—through and across her nipples in concert with his quickly accelerating and gradually deepening pelvic thrusts.

    It had been some time since Kelly had first experienced recognized that singular sensation of the fat girl: the sexual slide inside a cocoon of chub cushioning her hips and ass and thighs, where the only thing anchored to her partner was the hard, unyielding surface of her own pubic bone—and, in Kelly’s case, always those hands, inevitably secured like magnetic massagers to her breasts. Only now was she aware just how secure a position that actually was—her back and hips and bottom and thighs flush against the mattress, pinned and under the control of her much stronger partner—compared to what she felt in those few moments on top. On top, each rhythmic movement rippled and shook her doughy flesh, from the lower curve of her chunky thighs, up to and around her broad hips and plump ass cheeks, into and across her posh rounded abdomen, to each of her sides and up each half of her back, rocking the chub around her meaty upper arms, and jiggling her cheeks and the small layer of fat underneath her chin this before that moment she’d never been aware was even there. It was freedom of movement so unconstrained that she couldn’t tell whether she was excited or frightened or embarrassed—like a timid teenager screaming during her very first roller coaster ride. She held onto Wade’s sides at first, until finally she extended her arms high to absorb the ever-expanding feeling of heat and excitement and pain emanating from her vagina. It overwhelmed her awareness of her jiggle, contracting and spasming again and again as Wade pushed through his beer-induced function to deliver one contraction and spasm after the other until he finally achieved release in one long, warm stream. Kelly’d been just about at her point of exhaustion from her repeated orgasms just as Wade had culminated with his one, and she collapsed forward onto him like Wade’s deflating erection had been the only thing holding her up to begin with. They breathed and heaved together for a while before Kelly began kissing and nuzzling Wade over and over, her only outlet for the deep gratitude and intense longing for even deeper connection, knowing as she did that as much as the yearning for intimacy that poured into a woman from a man’s cum stole just as much of it from the man who had given it. And yet, she couldn’t stop, didn’t care to stop. She clung onto him out of desperate need in callous disregard of his desire, until she became aware that in her efforts she felt increasingly distant from him, cheated of the face-to-face contact she craved at her very most in these moments, and this moment, after this sex, her greatest sex ever, even now never seemed to come back her direction. It was an empty hunger she could never seem to fill, one that always left a bitter and lingering aftertaste to the event, bringing with it the compulsion to never let herself be used this way again—a compulsion that in the days and weeks to come would inevitably fade from memory beneath the interstitial tides of youthful lust, only to encounter it once again, every time.

    But this time when she sat up, Wade’s hips still pressing into the cushion of each of her slippery thighs, she found the blessed distraction of that the other hunger she could never seem to satiate of late, which, with her fit of horniness behind her, seized her awareness with selfish and greedy immediacy. Her mind leaped to the barely touched plate of fruit salad she’d left in the living room, and the promise of more on the dining room table beyond. The time it would take to dismount, clean up, and robe herself before making that trip seemed an intolerable but unavoidable span of time.

    Next time, she told herself as she searched through the mess that was her mother’s room for a towel, she’d avoid all that and make sure she had a plate ready to go beside her.
     
  4. Nov 9, 2017 #324

    StrugglingWriter

    StrugglingWriter

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    “Holy shi--! Um, crap. Damn these are good! Mrs. Lierman would have my head if she knew. Kelly, we should be using these during our doughnut phase.”

    “OK. Not a problem.” Never mind, doughnut phase ended last Friday. They were back to granola bars, fruit and rabbit food.

    Caleb gave her a sour look. “Actually,” he said to Lierman, “she already has been.”

    “Well, good call on that, Kelly. How’d you find them?”

    Kelly jacked her thumb Caleb’s direction because at that moment she was biting into a Lemon Pie, a filled doughnut enveloped in glaze with a dusting of streussel on the top. It filled her mouth like a creamy lemon drop. How could I have ever thought I was just about done with these? It was her third of the meeting. She’d wanted more, and that was even without (most of) that gaping hunger she’d felt the past four days prior.

    Pause. Lierman was taking another bite of a Hazelnut Mocha himself and took a moment to finish it. “I see. My group has been struck by a virulent strain of humility.”

    The topic of discussion today had been problems with the study’s numbers. Though the Psychology Subject Pool took steps to preserve the anonymity of each study in an attempt to assure random distribution between studies, the truth was that students network, and they’d figured out that Lierman’s study, though it fulfilled all the necessary requirements for intro psychology credit in itself, involved a lot of visits, and a lot of work. And there was nothing about a cute lab assistant and free snacks that would overpower that inertia.

    Kelly had been immediately worried about her job. “Does that mean we won’t have jobs anymore?”

    “Oh, Heavens no!” Lierman had assured. “We have tons of money, and it expires in a year. So spend away. It’s subjects we’re low on. If we don’t get more, I can always find you something else to do.”

    It was a good thing, too, because Kelly was feeling the pinch in her wallet again. And in her jeans. She’d seen the writing on the wall this morning when wriggling them on—so much that she skipped the Monday morning weigh-in. Perhaps after everything Molly had done to her, it was water weight.

    Though she knew better.

    The obvious solution to their problem was to forego the psychology pool and pay subjects for participation, though there were logistics about that (some Institutional Review Board or other and a couple of other things) that would mean delaying that plan until next semester. Too bad, too, because a nip in the October air had her thinking ahead to winter clothes. If there was payment for participation, she’d been hoping she might be able to jump in on it soon.

    Lierman had been wrapping up his report on that development about the time he bit into that first Hazelnut. He hemmed and hawed a while until he polished it off (not very long at all) and cleared his throat.

    “And so I have a little bit of an announcement for you. Well, really just for you, Kelly. Caleb’s been in the loop for a good while.”

    What now?

    “I know I just moved in over here, but one of the associate deans over in the Dean of Students office is moving on, and the Dean asked me to take it over and shore that office up a bit. I’ve decided to go ahead and take his offer.”

    Oh, that. Kelly smiled to herself as she realized that, for once, she actually knew something everyone else did!

    “Yeah, I’m pretty excited about it, too,” Lierman continued, apparently reading and misreading Kelly’s good feeling. “Formally, this really won’t change anything about this little study here. But in reality I’ll be even less involved than I already am, what with moving my office over to the Administration Building and my new duties. I’ll be busier than I’ve ever been. So for most practical purposes Caleb will be pretty much running the study on his own.”

    “Oh, no!” Kelly joked.

    “Your worst nightmare,” he replied.

    “I think I’m gonna need a drink.”

    “Naw, I think this is so bad it calls for another doughnut instead.”

    “Hey!” That hit a little too close to the mark.

    “OK, you two lovebirds,” Lierman interjected. “Knock it off.” Knock it off again! “Really Caleb’s been running the thing anyway. Don’t let that go to your head, Caleb.”

    “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

    “OK, then, you two. I really appreciate the good work you do.”

    The two pushed their chairs back at Lierman’s usual cue for ending the meeting.

    “Next batch of subjects starts tomorrow. Caleb, get ready to present that data at our next meeting. Kelly, I think you’ll find it pretty interesting. He’s found some interesting things.”

    “Yes, sir.” Caleb was already out the door, and she was hot on his heels.

    “Oh, and Kelly!” Lierman stood to his feet.

    She reached back and caught the heavy oak door with her foot and pushed her way back into his office.

    “Almost let you get away before I remembered. Here, sit down a second.”

    Lierman reached into his drawer, and for the third time that morning anxiety shot through her. Her mind flashed back to last semester, and creepy Lierman was about to pull another Snickers out of his desk.

    But he didn’t. It was a piece of paper.

    “Here’s a letter I wrote up for Jenn—um, for Ms. Lennox—in support of your re-application to school next Fall. He actually did remember! “Jenn—uh, Ms. Lennox—can be pretty particular about certain things, as you probably figured out. Now, she knows I’m supporting you in this and all, and she’ll know you didn’t actually write this letter. But she’s gonna want you to ask her directly. And, really, she’s right. You really should be making the case for yourself.

    “But deadline’s coming up quick, and you need to get her to sign this. I’m pretty sure she’s in her office down the hall.”

    This time what she felt was more like dread. A Snickers would have been far, far preferable. It felt like the words stuck in her throat, but she managed an “OK” and a “Thanks” before taking the letter. This was one of her worst nightmares.

    She stopped, turned, and took the box with five remaining doughnuts in it before she left. Because this was that bad.

    ***********

    She didn’t know where she was headed, but she knew it wasn’t to Lennox’s office. Not straight away anyway. She didn’t get a chance to decide, because Caleb was waiting for her in the hallway.

    “Well, I see you took my advice...“

    “Leave me alone, Caleb.” She started to push past him, but he grabbed her hand, the one with the doughnut box.

    “Hey, OK. I got it. Wrong time. What did he say?”

    “I don’t want to talk about it.” She’d had a discussion like this with Lennox before. She figured it to be as fruitless and humiliating as the last one.

    “Fine, fine. You don’t want to talk about it, you don’t want to talk about it. But I waited here to talk to you about something, and I think you should stop and let me say it.”

    “Fine. Say it.” Her body language added, “Just don’t expect me to listen.”

    “OK, I will. If you just bring problems or cause problems for your professor, that’s all he’s ever gonna see. Humility is great and all, but if you don’t show him what you’ve been doing right, he’s never gonna see it. He’s going to assume that whatever happens is because he thought of it.”

    “Yeah, OK, thanks.”

    “’Yeah, OK, thanks.’ I’m serious Kelly. And I’m not saying lie. But every now and then you’ve got to force them to give you the credit, and in this case he was sitting there ready to heap on the praise.”

    “OK, Caleb. I got it.” She was thinking about sitting in the stairwell and eating more doughnuts until she figured out how to get through this, but she realized she hadn’t grabbed any napkins. Do I just suck it up and head back to get them? It’s not like he—

    Wait. What did he say?


    “Wait a second. Say that again.”

    “I said he was sitting there ready to give you—and us—for coming up with something he hadn’t thought of himself.”

    “No before that. You said something about the credit.”

    “I said every now and then you have to force them to give you the credit.”

    That was it.

    “Here.” She gave Caleb the box of doughnuts and pushed past him the other direction, toward Lennox’s office.
     
  5. Nov 14, 2017 #325

    StrugglingWriter

    StrugglingWriter

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    Kelly’s moxie for taking on Lennox had ended about the time she knocked on Lennox’s open door. That’s when the pounding of her heart and in her temples started and her stomach started doing flips.

    Like Lierman had said, Lennox was well-prepared for Kelly that morning and the Lierman-produced letter provoked her particular particularity.

    “Kelly, I appreciate how much persistence it’s taken for you to get this far. But this letter is just another example of why I gave you a B in the first place.” The letter lay flat on the desk between them, which was empty but for the pen lying tantalizing next to Lennox’s right hand. “Den—Dr. Lierman created this letter, not you. Just like Gail Hedges created your final exam. You can’t just expect me to rubber-stamp somebody else’s ideas.”

    Lennox pushed the letter back Kelly’s direction, but the move somehow lacked conviction. She seemed to be waiting for Kelly to say something in her defense.

    She certainly had plenty to say. Whatever trepidation Kelly’d had about this confrontation with Lennox had evaporated with her words, the outrage she’d been nursing for months boiling up in its place.

    “Mrs. Lennox, I hate to offend, but honestly, what does it matter? I worked hard in your class. That stuff comes easy for other people. It wasn’t easy for me. And that breakfast I made was damn good, and I’ve never been able to say that about anything I ever cooked before. I mean, really. What is it? The principle of the thing? For what? You and I both know that meal was worth an A!”

    “No, Kelly. It wasn’t worth an A!” For once, Lennox’s tried features awoke with energy, actual red color invaded her gray wrinkled cheeks, and her voice actually shook as she spoke. “Your work for that entire course was C-level at best. And that’s generous. Half the time you were more interested in flirting with football players than with learning how to cook. The other half you spent cozying up to my best students, riding on their coattails and eating the fruit of their labor.”

    At eating she briefly pointed a finger at Kelly’s midriff which, when seated, muffin-topped over the snug waistband of her fat jeans despite the XL letter sweater she’d ordered now that Fall had arrived, now more snug than she’d ever imagined it would be.

    Kelly smouldered inside from the insult. She smiled, knowing it was just gonna make this that much easier.

    “Tell me, have you even talked to those two girls since?

    “And then, I don’t know, through some kind of miracle—or, more likely, connections through your sorority—you somehow enlist the help of Gail Hedges, who lovely as she is, spent most of class acting exactly the same way in my class, skating through it regardless because of her enormous talent.”

    Kelly all-but-laughed as she thought about Gail then and Gail now. If Lennox only knew how enormous!

    “Truly what that young woman could accomplish in this field. I even told her so. She laughed and told me she had bigger things planned for her future than cooking.”

    Kelly stifled another laugh herself. Bigger!

    “Never heard from her again,” Lennox continued. “But from there on a steady stream of Phi Gammas rolled through here and treated my class with the exact same disrespect she did—and you did. Each semester, blowing off every assignment just to save it at the end with Gail’s Phi Gamma Slamma breakfast. For God’s sake, even the name! Like my department is some kind of Waffle House or Denny’s or something! So I suspended my finals rule. And I never saw a single Phi Gamma since.

    “Until you.”

    Lennox took a breath and sat back in her chair. (Kelly imagined that her stout little legs at that point didn’t reach the floor, though she stifled the urge to look.) The red color faded from her cheeks, and her tired eyes seemed to already regret the outburst—which, compared to most people, frankly hadn’t been all that loud or intense.

    “So forgive me if I offend,” she said with more composure, her hands flat on the desk in front of her, “but I don’t appreciate being used for a grade because you weren’t responsible. It’s not my fault you got put on probation, and it wasn’t my job to get you off the hook for it. You made a damn fine Phi Gamma Slamma, Kelly. It earned you a B you never would have gotten otherwise. That’s where my part in this ends.”

    She plopped her right hand on the top of the letter, the ire back in her eyes, finality in her voice.

    Kelly sat a moment, not disappointed in the least, satisfied she’d finally said what she wanted to Lennox, interested in what Lennox has said, but hardly moved by it. A fat woman had just called her fat. Was there anything else she could say after that to make Kelly think about what she had to say? Or feel any guilt? Or compassion?

    Nope. Really she was just pausing for effect before saying what she wanted to say.

    “I’m sorry Phi Gamma hurt you,” she said quietly, confidently. “But you said a lot of hurtful things that are just plain wrong, and I’m not gonna let you get away with it.”

    Kelly couldn’t believe it, but mild-mannered Mrs. Lennox narrowed her eyes with that catty, aggressive look only women get when facing off with each other, when they're exchanging of biting, open, honest truths.

    “Gail Hedges is my closest friend in the world. She is the most giving, supportive, practical, successful person I’ve ever met, who has opened her home and her life to not just me, but my family during a truly awful time that has nothing to do with being expelled. So any scheming she did to help me avoid being expelled was because she opened her entire life to her Phi Gamma sister without ever thinking of herself.

    “And I guarantee you, of all those Phi Gammas she sent to your class, that she taught all those Phi Gamma Slammas, she did it because she loved them, too. And that’s a fact.

    “And of all the things this year that made this Phi Gamma FAT—“ Yeah, woman. That's what you just called me.

    She stared Lennox in the eye as she paused for the full effect.

    FAT,” she emphasized again, “it was her enormous talent in the kitchen as much as anything else, which she freely provided me so I could devote every waking moment of my summer to work my way off probation.

    “And then there’s Jenn and Crystal. Maybe you don’t remember their names. But outside of Gail, they’re my closest friends, so much that I sponsored their way into Phi Gamma, which is something they both really wanted.

    “And no, it wasn’t any deal I made with them to do my homework or be my lab partners.” Kelly left out, of course, how it was actually a deal to save Phi Gamma’s rush. “You did that by assigning me to them, remember? I did it because they helped me, and I could help them, and because I already considered them to be my sisters, even if they didn’t feel that way about me.

    “Maybe you don’t know what it means for sisters to help each other out. If so, well, I’m sorry for that.”

    Kelly pushed herself up out of her chair as easily as she could, although with the tightness of her pants and the drag of this new weight it wasn’t nearly as easy as she hoped it looked. Lennox looked like she was about to say something, but Kelly cut her off before she could speak.

    “I didn’t come in here because I wanted you to sign that letter. I gave you that letter because my mentor wanted me to, out of respect for him.” She turned and made her way to the door, put her hand on the latch, then turned around. “I actually have a different solution of my own. And it’s creative, too. The only thing is, in exchange, you’re gonna have to accept the help of my Phi Gamma sisters. I wonder, are you too proud to do it?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Kelly invited Caleb to join her. He knew enough about her finances to understand the significance of the request.

    “Why? What the hell happened in there?”
     
  6. Nov 14, 2017 #326

    Tad

    Tad

    Tad

    mostly harmless

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    The great white north, eh?
    oooh, glad to see Kelly have a plan, and start driving things more on her own!
     
  7. Nov 20, 2017 #327

    StrugglingWriter

    StrugglingWriter

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Why? What the hell happened in there?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “No way!” Monet breathed.

    Gail shook her head.

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

    “No way,” Monet added, again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Kelly shrugged again. “I didn’t.”

    “You didn’!” Gail exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

    “She said she had to think about it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Please. Call me Elizabeth.”

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

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

    "Balls of steel!”
     
  8. Nov 26, 2017 #328

    StrugglingWriter

    StrugglingWriter

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    The other girls took Elektra’s exit as their own cue to dismiss themselves from the table, and a swarm of hugs invaded the room before in short order they were down to three. And while Elizabeth, who throughout the goodbyes had remained in her seat with her hands folded on top of her belly, graciously acknowledging the flurry of compliments offered her way, sipped her wine and hummed an inaudible little tune, Gail pushed herself unsteadily to her feet and started stacking plates to take to the kitchen.

    “That waz somethin’ elss kid,” she said. “I’m real proud of you.” She finished emptying a plate onto the master, then turned and embraced her. Kelly was nearly staggered by the surprising weight of Gail’s swollen arms—or perhaps the full weight of Gail herself, as she may have been embracing Kelly as much out of affection as she was a means of keeping her balance, judging by her alcoholic breath and her arrhythmic sway back and forth.

    Kelly winced privately at the painful pressure of Gail’s ever-prodigious paunch against what she suddenly realized was a way-too-full stomach.

    My God, how much did I eat??

    “Didja really say all those nice thingz to Lennox?” Gail asked, vulnerably, almost sounding like a little girl.

    “Yes, I did.” Ow.

    “Juss like that?”

    “Just like that. Word for word.” Please let go!

    “Word for word.”

    “And didja really mean it?”

    “Every bit of it.”

    “Awww, thank you, Kellz! Really, you are ab-so-loot-ly the bess!!

    Gail held Kelly a little longer before letting go and stepping back, dabbing tears away from her mascara. “Gawd,” she sniffled, “I turned into such a softie!

    Gail turned back to clumsily building her stack of plates, and Kelly as usual made a show of helping her before begging off to the restroom, hoping she might relieve some of the pressure she felt on her insides. She couldn’t believe how what she’d thought had been just a little noshing had added up to. She couldn’t remember ever feeling so full!

    Kelly finished her business, feeling mildly relieved, and after studiously avoiding looking at her figure as she washed her hands, set her mind on clearing the table for once. Back in the dining room, the table was only half-cleared and Gail was already gone—probably moments away from passing out in her bedroom. Elizabeth was still sitting with her wine and humming a barely audible tune discernible only to her.

    It was a familiar sound, stretching back to Kelly’s earliest memories of she and her mother preparing meals together in the kitchen. But it was one Kelly hadn’t heard since leaving college, back when her mother was the mother Kelly remembered.

    “Don’t worry, Baby,” Elizabeth smiled dreamily, “I can get to it later.”

    Kelly didn’t need to hear that twice. She sat down at the head of the table next to her mother and took a sip of Gail’s untouched water glass, ice long since melted.

    Kelly’d been building up to this moment in her mind for a while, but now that it was here, she couldn’t figure out how to get started—or whether she even wanted to.

    Thankfully, Elizabeth opened the door for Kelly to get something else off her mind first.

    “You’re looking so beautiful, Kelly. You must have loss more weight.”

    Because beautiful must mean thin, right?

    “Actually, Mom, I’m pretty sure I gained weight.”

    “’Pretty sure’? That’s not like you. Usually you can spout off your weight right down to the ounce.”

    “I’ve kind of been avoiding the scale…”

    “Oh. That bad, is it?”

    Kelly nodded solemnly in response.

    “It’s just that, well, I was doing so good—“

    “Well. You were doing so well.”

    “I was doing so well! I started the semester really strong and was starting to see some progress, but then the last week or two I just…I just…I guess I just sort of lost my will power.”

    Elizabeth smiled the sweet smile of motherly understanding. She’d always had a very wide smile, and she might have been smiling ear to ear, if the corner of her mouth could have pushed through the roundness of her pudgy cheeks. As it was, that smile still had enough strength to push those pudgy cheeks upward, taking those legendary wide blue eyes that she shared with her daughter and transforming them into happy little half-moon windows.

    “Oh, baby, that’s just your way.”

    My way?

    “What do you mean?”

    “Every time you’re on a diet, you give it your all for about two months, and then I guess you just give out for a while before you give it another go. You’ve always done that.”

    “I have?”

    “Yes, you have. Your whole life. Once I got you started you were the most dedicated person I ever saw, but I guess there’s only so much time a girl can sustain an effort like that. I can’t tell you how proud of you I was for keeping the weight off all last year. Don’t let it get you down. The last couple of weeks have just been a little break. You’ll be right back after it before you know it. Trust me.”

    Her mother’s unwavering faith in her always felt so good. It felt even more encouraging realizing it was coming from someone wo actually new more about her than herself. But there was nothing about her meteoric weight gain that was anything like she’d encountered before. And she’d only managed to claw it back eight, maybe ten pounds before running out of steam.

    How much more was she gonna gain before she found the will to hit her stride again?

    “Thanks. Mommy.”

    “Of course, Baby.”

    They sat a while together without talking. Kelly sipped a melted glass of ice water and Elizabeth steadily drank her wine and hummed a barely audible song—something Kelly remembered her doing throughout her childhood, mostly while she prepared family dinner in the kitchen. And it was something she hadn’t heard from her mother do in ages.

    For Kelly, it was the sound of home, and she didn’t want it to end. At the same time, it made what she wanted to say seem that much more urgent. Especially as Elizabeth’s eyes began to glass over from the alcohol.
    Kelly’s window was closing, and she still couldn’t find the nerve to press the trigger!

    Elizabeth broke the silence.

    “That was quite the story you told today. Every one of those girls was hanging on every word you had to say.”

    “You think?” Kelly asked, even though she knew she’d had them eating out of the palm of their hand. All weekend she’d felt nothing but peace and satisfaction about how everything (except her weight loss) seemed to be coming together, and she wouldn’t mind hearing a bit more about it from the person whose opinion mattered most to her.

    “They all seemed very impressed with you. Me, too. Though—“

    Here she paused and took a drag of wine.

    Though?

    “Though some of it didn’ sound much like my lil girl.”

    Kelly hadn’t been expecting this.

    “I mean, didja hafta treat that woman the way you did? I mean, do you think you really had to be that, um, mean?

    “Cuz that doesn’ sound like my sweet lil girl much at all. Not at all.”

    She said it with just the slightest hint of disappointment, but she might as well have been hitting Kelly across the face with a 2X4 it stunned her so much. Kelly couldn’t remember the last time she’d faced anything but unconditional support from her mother—and certainly not when she’d accomplished so much!

    And when Elizabeth had accomplished so little.

    “I did have to treat her that way. I did.”

    “Well,” Elizabeth replied, “the way you talked about her to the girls, it didn’ sound like you gave her much respect. An’ you went after her personally, too. You know you had to hurt her feelings, you know?”

    Hurt her feelings?!

    Elizabeth took a long pull from her glass and pursed it between her lips, as she was accustomed to doing the more blasted she became.

    “I certainly don’t think there was any other way I was gonna make that happen.”

    “Well, sure there was. You could have done what, uh, what—whassiz name again? Your professor?”

    “Dr. Lierman.”

    “Dr. Lierman! Thass it!” She paused a moment. “Lierman. Lierman….”

    “Yes, Lierman. What about him?”

    “Oh, nothing, nothing! I was juss thinking…. Never mind. Never mind! He juss seems like a nice guy, and like he knows what hees talkin’ about, an’ you coulda juss done it the way he said do it. I juss think you didn’ hafta be so mean to her.”

    “Mother, I wasn’t mean. I was strong.”

    “OK, OK, OK.” The wine glass went to her lips, and the last of the wine slipped in, causing the corners of her mouth to lift in a little smile. But it wasn’t OK. She still had more to say. “Iss juss, I think you coulda made a friend, and instead you made an enemy. I thought we raised you to treat people that way.”

    Hadn’t she looked around the table today? I made friends out of the people who count the most!

    “Mother, if Lennox were gonna be my friend, I’d have never been in this mess.”

    “Well, OK. I’m juss worried maybe you burned your bridges.” The word came out of Elizabeth’s mouth like britches. “I mean, iss, juss my opinion. I guess iss juss not what I would’ve done, thass all. I woulda been nicer. If it were me, iss not what I would have done, thass all.”

    Not what you would have done? At once, Kelly found the voice and the words she’d been looking for.

    “Well, Mother, tell me. What have you done?”

    It was Elizabeth’s turn to look surprised.

    “’scuse me?” She lifted her empty wine glass to her lips.

    “Mother, you heard what I said. I want you to put down your wine for two minutes and listen to me!”

    Elizabeth’s puffy brow looked cross for a moment, and Kelly’s heart cringed with a daughter’s fear. And regret. But Elizabeth’s glass went back down to the table in obedience, and her wobbly eyes focused their gaze directly on their clearer mirror image across from her.

    “I’m lissening.”

    “I’m sorry, Mother!”

    Elizabeth pushed a heavy arm, made heavier by the wine, across the table to hold Kelly’s fingers.

    “I know, Baby. I am, too. What’d you want to say?”

    Nothing, now. She wanted to take it all back even before she put it into words. But her mother was waiting.

    “Mommy, I—I--. What are you doing here? I mean, I love you. I’m so happy you’re so close to me where I can see you, especially since—since—“

    “Since what happened.”

    Since you left Daddy.

    “Since,” Kelly said instead, “you found out what he did to you. Did to us.”

    “You’re right Baby. He did it to us.”

    “I know, Mommy. It wasn’t your fault. But he did what he did, and you did what you did, and there’s no changing any of it.” Kelly paused after she said it, wondering if, maybe even hoping that her mother might tell her she’d somehow changed her mind, that somehow there was a way it was possible that she even could change her mind after what Ben Kingsley had done to her.

    But Elizabeth’s face was a closed book. She reached for her wine. So Kelly pressed on.

    “So what now? It happened. And you sit here in this house every day like your life is over, drinking yourself into oblivion, eating so much you’re—well, you’re almost unrecognizable!”

    Kelly paused again, but still Elizabeth gave no indication she wanted to respond, or even that she was affected by the words she was hearing.

    “I mean, do you ever even leave the house?” This time Kelly waited for a response.

    “I leave the houss sometimez.”

    “Almost never!” Kelly didn’t know, though she thought she did.

    “Yes. Almoss never.”

    Kelly felt a surge of sadness that threatened to spill over into her eyes.

    “Mommy, that’s not the Mommy I knew. I just want my Mommy back. Where is she?”

    “Baby, I’m so sorry. I think I’m—I’m gonna hafta move over totha couch, OK Baby?”

    She leaned back a moment and put her head against the wall, looking at the ceiling except for the fact that her eyes were closed. Kelly suddenly worried she might have started too late, that Elizabeth might have passed out right then and there.

    But she opened her eyes and exhaled before twisting her blubbery body to the side, placing one thick arm against the wall and the other pudgy fore arm behind her on the table. With a grunt she pushed with both, apparently to free the massive hip and thigh she’d had wedged under the table, then exhaled again before leaned off the chair, her back dipping from the weight of her massive belly and bulbous breasts, before straining upward until she balanced on her feet. She inhaled almost in surprise and paused for a moment, certainly waiting for her head to stop spinning before she twisted first one hip and then the other on her way out of what Kelly had up to that point regarded as her mother’s constraining position, but as Kelly clearly understood now, was a source of security and support devised of her mother’s conceit.

    Kelly averted her gaze and pushed her chair back, then pushed it back again as she realized she’d underestimated her own girth and the space she would need to slip easily out of her seat. She felt so small compared to her mother that she often forgot that she actually wasn’t. She hoped her mother wouldn’t require the support of her arm and wondered even if her support would even help. But Elizabeth squeezed herself out from the wedge of the dining room table and the wall and waddled her way around Kelly’s chair easily enough on her way to the living room. Kelly watched her mother’s fat form trudge carefully to the entryway, noticing the way Elizabeth’s back still pinched in hourglass fashion to create a waistline—albeit a thick one well-defined by the stretchy cotton mu-mu gripping tightly all around. It brought sharp definition the top of each wide, round ass cheek, wobbling every direction as she shuffled forward.

    I am never, ever, ever gonna allow myself to get that big.
     
  9. Nov 29, 2017 #329

    StrugglingWriter

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

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

    “OK! I’m sorry, Baby. Please go on.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Mommy, did you hear me?”

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

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

    “He doez seem likea nice guy.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “I’ve done you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “I juss don’ think I’m going to.”

    And with a smile she closed her eyes and hummed for a few seconds before slipping into sleep.
     
  10. Nov 29, 2017 #330

    Tad

    Tad

    Tad

    mostly harmless

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    The great white north, eh?
    Interesting character development there! Waiting to see where this leads :)
     
  11. Dec 7, 2017 #331

    StrugglingWriter

    StrugglingWriter

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

    “OK! I’ve got it,” Kelly smiled.

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

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

    “Sure thing. Later.”

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

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

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

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

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

    “Shut up, Caleb.”

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

    “Stop it. It was not!

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

    She went back through the morning in her mind.

    “It was two.”

    “Count again.”

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

    “Oh, please!”

    “Caleb, those are totally different!”

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

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

    “Leave me alone, Caleb.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Because this morning. Monday morning.

    203.6.
     
  12. Dec 12, 2017 #332

    StrugglingWriter

    StrugglingWriter

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

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

    And maybe she was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Whew!”

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

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

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

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

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

    “Kelly!”

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

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

    You and everyone else, apparently.

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

    “Good thing the bathroom’s right there.”

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

    Brittney looked at her quizzically.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “What is it?”

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

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

    “Sorry, kid.”
     
  13. Dec 15, 2017 #333

    StrugglingWriter

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    Monday, October 28

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

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

    2:00 PM, Wednesday, November 27

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Signed for the Executive Council:

    Lindsey Huntington

    Phi Gamma Psi, Phi Tau President
    Executive Council Chair


    ***********

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Kelly loved avioli.

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

    “Thanks,” Kelly muffled in feigned offense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Oh, that’s so good!”

    “Especially what?”

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

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

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

    “It’s hard to say.”

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

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

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

    THEBodie>>> Hey babe wazzup?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Chin up, Rise-N-Shine. You’ve got a great chance of beating this.”
     
  14. Dec 26, 2017 #334

    StrugglingWriter

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    “That’s it? That’s her great plan?”

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

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

    Money was tight, you know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Sure. Why not?”

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

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

    “Wow. I want to see this dress code.”

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

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

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

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

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

    “That’s what I can figure.”

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

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

    “Well that’s a pretty long reach.”

    Caleb shrugged.

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

    “Hey!”

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

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

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

    To that, Kelly just laughed.

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

    He paused.

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

    “I cannot confirm or deny—“

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

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

    “I haven’t.”

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

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

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

    “Not if you were intoxicated enough.”

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

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

    To that, Kelly shrugged noncommittally.

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

    “Hey!!!”

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

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

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

    Who said it's just sorority girls?

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

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

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

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

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

    “Well, whatever. This Lindsey sounds like Queen Bitch Numero Uno. What in the world did you ever do to her, anyway?”
     
  15. Jan 4, 2018 #335

    StrugglingWriter

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    Thursday October 31

    “Jinkies, Kelly!” Scott Gilroy exclaimed.

    Kelly loved Halloween. Phi Gamma did not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Holy shit!” a Manhattan-sipping Gail exclaimed from the bedroom doorway behind Kelly. “Every guy in that place is gonna lose his mind. Who knew Velma Dinkley could look so damn hot?
     
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  16. Jan 8, 2018 #336

    StrugglingWriter

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

    “Zoinks!”

    “Like, wow!”

    “Cut it out you two.”

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

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

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

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

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

    “Uniform!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

    No, not flat. Fat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    You have no idea.

    “Well...I’m not sure about that.”

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

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

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

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

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

    “No, no story,” Kelly lied.

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

    “Thanks, Scott.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    "But just one.”
     
  17. Jan 16, 2018 #337

    StrugglingWriter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Kelly told Elektra the story best she could for now.

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

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

    “Thanks,” Kelly finally said.

    “Yoor so very welcome. What for?”

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

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

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

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

    They laughed.

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

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

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

    “Bombshell Porno Wonder Woman from Hell.”

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

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

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

    Elektra sighed.

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

    **********

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

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

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

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

    “You know they’re kicking me out?”

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

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

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

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

    “Thass bullshit.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Thass eberything I can remember.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Not thiss one. Heez prime choice man.”

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

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

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

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

    Class! Yup. And work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    She knew about her money troubles!

    “Is it that obvious?”

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

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

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

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

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

    How am I gonna pay my dues?
     
  18. Jan 23, 2018 #338

    Imp

    Imp

    Imp

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    Pushing toward the end of the semester...
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  19. Jan 23, 2018 #339

    StrugglingWriter

    StrugglingWriter

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    Monday November 4th

    Lierman’s new office was on the second floor in a huge new renovation of the Simpson Student Center. The student center extended three floors high, featuring a wide center court area and three levels of balcony walkways. The Student Affairs office occupied all three floors of one of the corners of that atria and had been built outward from the corner to consume at least a quarter of the space that heretofore had been tables and sitting areas ostensibly created for studying or relaxing students. In this new age of university opulence, the student center had become a kind of new recreation area, with one corner of the atrium now an entrance to a fitness, physical therapy, and massage complex complete with a three story climbing wall, and the other corner extended outward toward Simpson stadium to accommodate a phalanx of eateries—including in addition to the usual fast food suspects a 16-hour made-to-order omelet station (similar to that available in the dining center) and a full-service Asian fusion restaurant modeled off a high-end national chain.

    Once a concrete barn, representative of many such oppressive campus structures from the 70s, Simpson Student Center was now on three sides an open edifice of flora and light. The fourth corner was the Student Affairs wing, its atrial projection constructed entirely of glass to afford the administration and the denizens compelled to do business there full advantage of this progressive enlightened environment. A glass elevator gilded with sparkling etchings and polished brass dominated the center face of the wing, and matching glass doors on each side at each level welcomed students and employees alike into a spacious landing of opulent black and red décor otherwise suggestive of French provincialism. It was an architectural message preaching, for all those fortunate enough to attend and graduate from the university, the promise of future prosperity—a new future available to all in which equality, fraternity and liberty were promised to all, but for some in greater measure than others.

    The opulence was not yet complete. The new red carpet stretched fully into the bowels of the student affairs complex, and squarely before yet another glass wall with a set of glass brass-trimmed doors was an extravagant carved-wood Victorian era desk with a young, professional secretariette adorning and policing entry with her annoyed half-smile. Behind her though were rows of ordinary utilitarian desks with outdated monitors and even more outdated university employees, each typing away in front of heavy ash doors, gray-carpeted walls (yes, walls), and vast chicken-wired windows illuminated only by buzzy fluorescent lights clustered toward the center of the large room, which cast long faint triple-shadows on the stark exterior of each office.

    Kelly relied on the secretariette—a bony, pale dirty blonde with adenoids and bad skin Kelly’s age, who asked Kelly three times to repeat both her name and Lierman’s—to locate Lierman’s office, then weaved her way through the half-shadows to knock on Lierman’s door. Unusually, Lierman didn’t call out for her to enter—or maybe not unusually: perhaps he had called out, but this door lacked the vents of the doors for both the lab in the psychology building and for Lierman’s former office in the stolid old administration building. Kelly stepped to the side and glanced through the window to see the fluorescently-illuminated Caleb and Lierman in focused conversation, as if they’d been meeting for a while. They had some papers between them that they seemed to be discussing in detail.

    Which was odd, because unlike the day after Halloween, when she had been an hour late (and because the day after Halloween she’d been an hour late), today she was showing up fifteen minutes early, at a quarter to nine, and was looking her best—which today meant she was squeezed—tightly squeezed—into her last fitting pair of jeans instead of leggings, low red boots with block heels (which also seemed a little tight. Hm.), with a button-up silk shirt she’d borrowed from Gail (that draped off of her loosely but fit well enough up top with Kelly’s broad shoulders) and a bolero she’d picked up at Goodwill. That meant Caleb and Lierman had to have been meeting at least fifteen minutes prior to that, which meant it was important enough to them to leave Kelly out of the loop, which didn’t leave Kelly with a secure feeling at all. She couldn’t decide whether to sit down at the monstrous empty metal desk behind her and wait or to brave the acrid wrath of the secretariette by slipping back out the foyer and down for a nerve-calming snack.

    Apparently, though, Lierman had seen Kelly’s face poking through the window and stood, still in conversation, to his feet.

    “Ah, Kelly! Oh, hey! You changed your hair. It looks nice.” he exclaimed as he swung the door inward and open, ushering Kelly through before closing the door solidly behind them. The noise from the atrium and the surrounding desks that Kelly only now was fully aware of snuffed out like they had stepped into some kind of soundproofed room, one with its own buzzing fluorescent lights. “We were just talking about you, trying to figure out your involvement in the study next semester. Don’t worry,” he added as he was sitting down, while Kelly stood by a chair hesitant to do so, “no radical changes or anything, just doing the usual necessary planning. Though”—and his face furled in sudden worry, as if this hadn’t occurred to him until that moment—“if you’re not planning on sticking with us next semester, now is definitely the time to tell me.”

    With all the uncertainty around next semester, Kelly hadn’t even thought about it yet.

    “Um, actually I haven’t even thought about it yet.”

    “Well I—we—hope you will. Stick around, that is. Our study gains immeasurably by your presence. Just let me know, because there’s stuff I have to do to make that happen.

    “OK,” he exclaimed, patting his legs with both hands before scooting in his chair. “Let’s get down to business.”

    Kelly finally sat down in the new cheap office chair—a new cheap skinny office chair with the arms, it turned out. Her hips rubbed the side of each rubbery plastic arm just enough that she had to think about not missing, and of not pushing it away as she sat (a lesson learned the hard way one day in the lab), and that she had to push through ever-so-slightly before plopping a bit onto the new unforgiving cushion. The hydraulic support gave a few inches when she did, as she might have expected. It didn’t spring back up nearly as much as she did expect.

    Just another reminder. She pushed it out of her mind. She had more immediate worries.

    Kelly had been dreading this meeting, certain the first point of business would be a rebuke for her conduct Friday morning. Kelly had woken up at 9:00 with Marla and Monet gone and Elektra snuggled beside her in Kelly’s twin bed. The moment her eyes opened she could feel that she was still at least mildly drunk, scrambling to the shower best she could on wobbly legs in an effort to wash away the evidence of last night’s irresponsibility with water, mouthwash and perfume. She’d bumbled into the lab about 10, after passing a line of subjects in the hall, Caleb bustling around the lab with just enough time to shoot daggers at her from his eyes. Kelly’d had a miserable, nauseated, hungover morning that she couldn’t wait to end, and Caleb had stayed in the lab most of the morning doing half or more of her job. Continuously embarrassed, she kept apologizing to Caleb all day, but he didn’t say a word to her unless he had to as a part of lab business. When they packed up to go that afternoon the only thing Caleb said to her, face like steel, was, “Don’t you dare do this to me again.”

    It was an aggressive side to Caleb that Kelly’d never seen before. It might have scared her if she weren’t so absolutely certain she deserved it.

    So needless to say, between that and another road loss for the Mastiffs that weekend, the only comfort in her weekend was brunch with her mother (and the ritual picnic of leftovers in the Attic that night). She’d thought for sure both the boys were gonna let her have it first moment they saw her this morning. And yet, nothing. All through the meeting she kept her eye on Caleb’s body language for signs that the other shoe was gonna drop, but there was nothing. Except for Kelly’s anxiety, the meeting was routine and over early.

    Until, as Caleb and Kelly were walking out the door...

    “Oh, hey, Kelly!” Lierman called out. “Can you hang back a second?”

    Oh, no! Kelly froze in place, though the rest of her didn’t. Every part of her not plastered into her jeans—that is, from the waist up—jiggled and shook with the motion. Something about wearing silk you could always feel every bit of it: the bobbing and bouncing of her soft tummy, the wave through her love handles and squishy lower back, the undulating little waves through the unbraissiered top of her fleshy boobs, the rotating jiggle of her chubby upper arms and upper back—and always, always the heavy pull of her breasts bouncing up then down, and sometimes, as in this case, up and down again, cutting into the tops of her shoulders. She knew not only could you feel it, you could see it—unless you were thin enough. It’s what made the silk blouse the Phi Gamma staple of status it was.

    All of this went through Kelly’s mind in a flash before she stepped back into the office and let the hydraulically braked door thud shut behind her.

    “Jenny wanted me to give this to you.” He winked. He meant Lennox, of course. “I imagine it’s your recommendation letter.”

    He held out a regular size 10 envelope. Sealed with Kelly’s name on it.

    “You’re doing good work,” he said in his usual dismissal. “Keep it up.”

    Kelly left the office eager to read the letter but yearning desperately to find some place private.

    It was not to be. Caleb was waiting for the elevator outside the glass doors. She tried to make like she didn’t notice him, but there was no place to hide, and besides, he’d already seen her. So she walked up and joined him in the elevator right before the doors closed behind her.

    “Nice hair,” he smirked, meaning, of course, the opposite. He hadn’t commented, maybe hadn’t even noticed, on Friday.

    “It’s temporary. It’s supposed to wash out.” Eventually...

    “So what did he say?”

    “What did you say?”

    “To who?”

    “To whom,” Kelly corrected. Dude, you know better!

    “To whom, Officer Grammar?”

    “Well get it right, then.”

    “To whom?” Caleb sneered.

    “To Lierman, of course.”

    “About what?”

    “Caleb!”

    “No, really. About what?”

    “About Friday!”

    The door opened for the atrium floor and they walked out together.

    “What about Friday?”

    “You know what about Friday! Geez, Caleb!”

    Caleb stopped in his tracks with a confused look on his face until something seemed to dawn on him.

    “You mean that you came to work late and hung over?”

    “Of course!!! What did you tell him?” Why did Caleb always have to be so frustrating?

    “I didn’t tell him anything. Why would I tell him that?”

    “Well, because...”

    Kelly guessed she just assumed he would have told him. After all, everyone else was telling on her. And this was Caleb they were talking about, who never missed a chance to turn the knife.

    “Kelly, I’m not a snitch. What you do is your own business. Just don’t make it mess up mine.”

    “I know. I’m sorry.”

    “You said that. Like a dozen times.”

    “Because I mean it. Thanks for helping me out. I owe you a solid.”

    “What, just one?”

    Kelly fell quiet. He knew he had a point. She and Caleb had known each other a long time no, and the favors Caleb did for her kept mounting up. And it wasn’t like she had much of anything to give back, either.

    “So what’s in the letter?”

    Again, Kelly wondered just how it was Caleb always seemed to know what was going on in her life—until she realized the envelope was still right there in her hand, pressed against the outside of her notebook.

    “I thought my business was mine.”

    “I thought you owed me a solid. Is it a note from Lennox?”

    Solid or not, not letting Caleb know her business just so he had more material to make fun of her with was standard operating procedure for Kelly. But the pressure was still there.

    “I don’t know what it is.” Which technically wasn’t a lie, though she’d avoided answering the question. “The way my life has been going, I’m scared to find out. Look. If you promise not to make fun of me, I’ll show you, OK? But I can’t promise I won’t break down crying or anything.”

    “Sure. OK.”

    “Oh. And I couldn’t eat breakfast this morning I was so nervous, so you’re buying me lunch, too. And not a word about that, either!”

    He said it all by giving her an up-and-down look, even as he reached for his wallet.
     
  20. Jan 30, 2018 #340

    StrugglingWriter

    StrugglingWriter

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    Essentially Lennox had written, “I’ll do it”—though much more formally than that. As much as Kelly had always thought she would, finally seeing it in print was an incredible load off her mind. And her stomach. It was as if it had been tied in a knot before suddenly coming undone. Even her tight pants felt looser while she ate, and it even seemed her food tasted better.

    But it wasn’t all smooth sailing, either. Lennox had laid out a list of conditions, which an excited but nervous Kelly read out loud to Caleb.

    “You presented me with something like Sophie’s Choice with your proposal. I love what I do. It’s important. And I’m not ready to give it up. Neither am I willing to go back to the way it was, with Phi Gammas—and others, but Phi Gammas in particular—making a mockery of my class and therefore of me. I wanted somehow to find a way to make reinstatement of your grade dependent on the behavior for the young ladies you refer to my class—or, in fact, that they would remain in my class at all. I realize that isn’t possible, but I still need guarantees from you.”

    Condition 1: Kelly was to enroll in the next Intro Family and Consumer Sciences class (Home Ec 1102).

    “I suspect that if a B sank you over the summer, a failing grade there would just put you right back where you started.”

    She was implying she’d fail her if Kelly didn’t follow through on the deal.

    “Looks like you’re not the only chick who can play the blackmail game,” said Caleb.

    Kelly just shrugged. That was so far in the future she couldn’t possibly care right now.

    Condition 2: Kelly would supply enrollees not just for the Spring but for the Summer and next Fall as well.

    “I’m sure you can appreciate that if I’m delaying my own schooling to give this one more try, one semester simply won’t be sufficient.”

    Condition 3: No one else was ever to hear of this arrangement.

    “I don’t care what you tell Dr. Lierman, but it can’t be the truth. Discovery would mean more than my job. It would probably mean the end of my career. Certainly my reputation on this campus. If word ever got out, I imagine being thrown out of the university would only be the first of your worries.”

    “Smart lady,” Caleb opined. “She knows what you want, and she’s using that to up the ante under pressure. That takes balls.”

    “Balls of steel,” Kelly added.

    “So are you gonna do it?”

    “Sure. Why not? None of it hurts me. But it’s not up to just me.”

    “Sure it is.”

    “Nope. Listen to this.”

    Condition 4:

    “And before I do anything, I want a meeting with Gail Hedges.”

    **********
    “Me?? Why, me, for Heaven’s sake?”

    “I’m sure I don’t know,” Kelly lied over the phone to Gail. “But registration ends soon and you need to do it quick.”

    Quick defined Kelly this afternoon. In complete disregard of no one hearing of this arrangement, Kelly’d hit the texts right away to Elektra and the other Phi Gammas she had numbers for who were waiting for her word to register for Lennox’s class. Elektra assured Kelly she’d contact the rest.

    “Quick is right. I have a Great Lakes swing coming up next week. I’d say the thing to do is invite her to dinner. And I know the perfect thing to make!”

    “Don’t you dare!” Gail was talking, of course, about the Phi Gamma Slamma.

    “Brunch on Sunday. Couldn’t possibly pull anything together before then. Have her come by early and by the time we start I promise I’ll have her turned around about you. And me, apparently.” Of course Gail knew what was behind this. You just couldn’t throw anything past her! “Can you make it happen?”

    “I can. You’d better have her turned around by the time brunch starts or you can count on me being somewhere else.”

    “Can you make it happen.”

    “I’ll try this afternoon. But I have to go lie to Lierman first.”

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

    Kelly’s mind had been moving quickly, too, straining to figure out what to tell Lierman.

    She and Caleb had talked about it at lunch. Caleb’s treat. Again.

    “You know,” Caleb said, “if she’s really gonna get you reinstated for next semester, that’s gonna put a real crimp in my study.”

    Kelly didn’t have a thing against the study or Lierman or Caleb. (Well, OK. Maybe Caleb.) But the best interest of that study was the last thing on her mind right now.

    She wasn’t about to tell that to Caleb right now.

    “How so?”

    “To be legit over there at Phi Gamma you’ll need 12 hours, right?” Kelly nodded. “Good luck getting 12 hours of classes you need that will fit around any kind of decent schedule.”

    Kelly saw his point. But…

    “Well, when Lierman asked me to be part of this lab last semester—”

    “Instead of sleeping with you.”

    “Butthead! He never wanted to sleep with me.”

    “So you say.”

    “When he asked me to do this last semester,” Kelly said louder, trying to head off another interruption, “he said it was a class, right? Some kind of student job? So—”

    “If you enroll in classes next semester,” Caleb pounced, answer at the ready, “then he’ll know you got reinstated. And then you’re right back where you started.”

    “Crap.” Caleb was right. Four classes and a job! How was she gonna do Phi Gamma that way? Why did everything always have to be so complicated?

    “So I guess you’re gonna have to decide if you’re gonna figure out how to stick it out with Lierman next semester, after all he’s done for you, or if you’re gonna screw him over so you can play it safe over at Phi Gamma.”

    “I would never do that.”

    But in her heart, not even Kelly was sure she believed that. Just like the end of the summer, Kelly still wasn’t certain just how far she’d go to get what she wanted. It didn’t stop her from telling Lierman that very thing later.

    “You asked me this morning what my plans were for the future,” she told Lierman, around noon, in his office. Lierman had just sit down behind his desk—a birch wood, utilitarian thing with drawers in almost exact proportion to the metal relic he’d had over at the administration building, but at least a step up—judging by the full bowl of steaming Chef-Boy-ar-Dee ravioli steaming in front of him.

    Kelly hadn’t had that in forever. It smelled so good! Two meals before noon and she still wanted it!

    “I did,” Lierman agreed, blowing on a full fork, “but I didn’t mean to put you on the spot. I just—”

    “No, you didn’t put me on the spot. I just thought I’d clear it up that I’d love to stick on for next semester. And that Mrs. Lennox let me know today that she’s writing a letter for my reapplication to the university next fall.”

    There it was. The lie. Kelly winced as she realized she hadn’t winced at telling it.

    “Outstanding! Uh, did she give you the letter of recommendation? Can I read it?”

    “She, uh, um, said she’ll send it by e-mail. Um, Sir? Why do you need to read her letter?”

    Lierman looked startled for a second and blinked his eyes a few times fast. “Um, of course you’re right. Don’t need to see her letter at all. Can’t imagine why I would even ask for it. Except in my head I guess I was thinking since I’ve been helping you with this...then of course I would review it. Habit, I guess. I don’t need her letter to write you a good recommendation. But it would probably help if I reviewed your application. When do you need it by to send in your application on time?”

    Oh, great! A fake application submission? What’s that gonna lead to?

    “You know, I really hadn’t thought that far ahead yet.”

    At least that wasn’t a lie.

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

    Kelly, of course, had known when she was talking to Gail she had plenty of time to stop by Lennox’s office that afternoon. As much as she knew she needed to, she just didn’t want to. Her solution was to take a picture of Lennox’s letter, then place it back in the envelope after having written on the back of the letter:

    I accept your conditions. I’m actually happy to help. Gail requests you join her at her house for brunch at 11:00am this Sunday.

    She scribbled down Gail’s address and her own phone number for her to text a confirmation (she was sure to specify that Lennox should “text a confirmation”;), then stuffed the envelope under the door. She could see Lennox’s light on through the metal grate, but she didn’t care. She speed-walked down the hall, mindful of the extra jiggle and, suddenly, the pressure of two meals in her tummy, then around the corner, into the stairwell and down a few steps. Double H’s pounded up and down, up and down as she did, then again as she grabbed onto the handrail for a quick stop—again, up and down, up and down, with all the jiggle of tummy, sides back and arms she’d felt that morning at Lierman’s door, magnified by force and speed. Over her own heavy breaths she heard Lennox’s door open and resisted the urge to look, knowing the long pause between open and close of the door meant that Lennox had craned her neck to spot her both ways down the hall.

    Kelly let out a big sigh and slowed down to descend the stairs, aware with each now-careful step another round of up-down, up-down, accompanied by the shimmer of flabby flesh everywhere it wasn’t girdled tightly to her body. She hit the landing and sighed again: clearly this was going to be her body’s new normal, which she was gonna have to live with for a while. Besides, she’d still turned the heads of two guys along the way (and they hadn’t even seen her running). It bothered her more that just hustling down the hall had left her a little winded, which had her wondering if she was really hitting the gym hard enough. Or was this what inevitably comes with being 200 pounds? Whatever. She’d start doubling down on the House Mother regardless. Eventually.

    For now, pending a text from Lennox that she was sure would come at just about any time, Kelly planned on resting on the laurels of her recent victory—certainly not in the war, with her executive council review coming up, but a major battle toward her life goals, if staying Phi Gamma could be called that. Resting on her laurels didn’t quite capture reality: her actual plans were to head to the lab to put in serious hours on her integrated web platform for her personal computing class, and, 200 pounds be damned, to eat all the granola bars, Snickers, nuts and whatever else might be available without reflection. Not that she was planning to eat, but if she did, did one day’s celebration really make a difference?

    She was just entering the psychology building when she heard Fairy Godmother’s wand. She smiled as the most self-satisfying smugness she’d ever felt wiggled up her back, smugly pursing her lips together of their own accord, then shimmered satisfyingly back down again. It wasn’t often Kelly cared much or at all about besting someone, but this time she did. It was kind of intoxicating. She could see how it was a feeling one could get used to.

    Four flights up the stairs at the psychology building had her self-conscious again about her fitness, but she brushed aside the concern and keyed her way into the lab. It had a comfortable warmth in contrast with the bite in the windy November air outside. She booted up her computer and was mindful to sit in her chair without flopping in it this time, the way she had in Lierman's new office that morning.

    It scooted backward enough that she almost slipped down to the floor. She’d been having the problem for weeks, but this time, for the first time, she understood what was happening: unless she flopped the last couple of inches, she could count on the chubby backs of her chubbier thighs crowding the chair out of the way.

    And Kelly actually took that as a good sign. Her mother flopped because she was so heavy, and Kelly’d started to worry that she was getting too heavy to sit down smoothly, too. At least she wasn't that far gone.

    She settled in to work on her project, and as she waited for the apps to open she looked over to confirm Lennox’s text, if only so she could gloat a little bit to herself.

    Nothing could have prepared her for what she found instead.

    Daddy>>>Thanksgiving Dinner Carter Co Country Club Wednesday 11/27 1600
     
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