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

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StrugglingWriter

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Kelly lay back on the couch, staring blankly at a TV with the volume turned down, her pants unbuttoned and unzipped. She couldn’t see because her boobs, freed from the wire prison of her bra, obscured her view, but she could feel how her tummy pushed against the elastic band of her panties and oozed out between the open flaps of her pants. That and the heavy pull of her boobs as they drooped halfway to her belly button. She’d forgotten how heavy these things could get, and she didn’t remember them ever hanging down so much, or causing her as much discomfort as they did so.

But mostly she felt stuffed. She slipped her arm underneath the soft flesh of her bosoms and placed her hand on the distended bulge of her tummy. On the table in front of her was a dirty plate, right next to the now-half-gone bin of Filipino spaghetti she’d been munching on the last few hours.

The night hadn’t started this way. Caleb had his own final tonight, so Kelly had called Chip to see if he’d come over to study chemistry. But he hadn’t answered his phone.

So Kelly did something she’d almost never done and pulled out her chemistry to study it alone. She’d started in the kitchen table, as usual, and got about ten minutes before the smell of the spaghetti started cutting through. So she had a plate and put it away in the bare refrigerator before getting back to her chemistry.

But the siren call of spaghetti kept coming, so she’d moved to the living room. Where she lasted another ten minutes before flipping on the TV for a Bachelor fix. But sitting there just made her hungry, too, so during a commercial she’d made the trek back to the kitchen and warmed up another plate.

The Bachelor ended, and the mute button came on, and the binder opened back up, and Kelly was back in the kitchen for spaghetti. This time she just brought it with her—chilled pasta is great for munching, isn’t it?

And here she was now: sitting in a carb coma. She figured she’d covered about six pages of notes in three hours and who knew how many Calories—not calories, she knew from her chemistry, but Calories, also known as kilocalories—in spaghetti. She wondered how low the ratio of knowledge ingested to Calories consumed would be.

Hey, she thought, this math stuff DOES start making sense after a while! And that made her think about another statistic.

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

All 151 pounds of Kelly perked up when Lierman pushed Test 2 across the table to Kelly.

“You may notice the score is different at the top.”

Kelly had in fact noticed. It said 75. All the numbers were growing these days.

“Something didn’t look quite right, so I tallied up the scores again. For some reason,” Lierman noted, “I completely skipped a question. Good for you, eh?”

Kelly chewed absent-mindedly on a carrot stick while looking over the test. She just wasn’t buying that somehow this guy had mis-tallied, or that she had actually passed one of his tests on her own.

“So is this the kind of improvement you’re looking for?” she asked doubtfully, looking down at a globule of ranch dressing that had dripped down and been caught by her rack.

“Absolutely! Except for a little stretch in there when your motivation seemed to sag, I’m seeing nothing but improvement.”

Improvement, she thought, still dabbing at the sauce on her letters, marvelling again how large her breasts had gotten again in such short time. Something surely has impro—No! Could it really be?

She glanced up at Lierman, then back at her cleavage. She brought the napkin back up to her boobs, prepared for another dab. “And as long as I keep improving I’ve got a shot?” she ventured.

As she asked question she made a couple of aggressive dabs at the long-removed stain, knowing her breasts would bounce up and down with each effort. Kelly looked up, her hand still poised.

Lierman was just staring, holding his breath. Then, quickly, he cleared his throat and was his geeky self again. “Oh, I think that it’s very promising,” he said, pushing his glasses up his nose. “Very promising.”

Wow. Kelly dipped another carrot stick and leaned back in her seat. Caleb was right.

She guessed she should have been outraged. Repulsed, even, at this dirty old man into twenty-year-olds with big boobs. But really she felt just fine. So Kelly Kegs had another guy she could manipulate with the size of her boobs. Not like it was the first time.

It was a little disappointing, though. Since losing the weight, since making it at Phi Gamma, people saw Kellen Kingsley as Kellen Kingsley, not some chick attached to giant knockers. She’d felt like one of the girls, not the one all the girls envied for getting all the attention. But now, the only way to hold onto that apparently was to let it go.

OK, then. Letting go was something Kelly knew how to do.

“That sounds great to me! Uh, Dr. Lierman, these carrot sticks are great, but do you have any of those Snickers left?”

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

“Yeaahhh, I sort of see what he’s doing here, but I sure wouldn’t have given you that much partial credit.”

That sealed it for Kelly. Caleb always knew what he was talking about.

“Twenty points. I’m telling you, Kelly,” he said, “the man wants in your pants.”

God, when you put it that way. But could she really argue? She tried. “Twenty points on one test still isn’t enough to pass the class.”

“True. But you don't get the prize until he does.”

“Caleb!” What was it about graduate school that makes a guy so jaded? “He isn’t gonna get it, either. Besides, I think he’s just a guy who likes looking at big boobs.”

“Well he sure hit the motherlode right there,” said Caleb. “Those things blew up like sea monkeys, except instead of water you used pizza. Damn!”

“You’re so crass.”

Caleb just shook his head. “Just callin’ ‘em like I see ‘em.”

“Yeah, well. What I see is that I’m getting fat again.”

“Again?”

“Again. I busted my buns all last summer with a personal trainer and lost forty pounds to get in Phi Gamma.” The thought of last summer made Kelly think of home, and about going home this weekend. “My mom is gonna be so disappointed.”

“What’s your mom got to do with it? You put on a few pounds. She doesn’t have to know why,” said Caleb, misreading the source of Kelly’s concern. “Get your grade, move on and get your fat ass back in the gym later.”

Kelly was still too preoccupied thinking about her mom’s reaction to respond to Caleb’s insult. She leaned over and slurped the last of the Filipino spaghetti from her plate before realizing she’d done it again! Meat sauce was slathered all over the front of her shirt.

“Caleb?” she asked, her mouth still full of spaghetti. “You think if I kept working at this I might actually pass on my own?”

“Kelly, when you’re drowning and someone throws you a lifeline, you take it.”

So cynical.

“But,” he continued, “if you aren’t gonna sleep with him, it can’t hurt to have a Plan B.”

“Either way,” Kelly replied, stacking their plates and walking into the kitchen, dabbing at her boobs with her napkin, “grab your phone. We’re gonna need some pizza.”
 

Imp

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Best right now? How about ever?

OK, so maybe that's too generous, but I like this thing, too.
 

StrugglingWriter

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However, Kelly wasn’t so resigned to her fate that Friday afternoon when her ride dropped her off at her house. Her ride was a vague acquaintance from high school whom Kelly had noticed on a campus ride-share list, and nice as she was, Kelly’s mind kept working anxiously ahead to confronting her mother and how she could somehow get around that.

It didn’t help that she was horribly uncomfortable. The new jeans she had bought just two weeks ago squeezed her thick thighs and gouged her fleshy midsection. The only thing that really covered her up top was one of her letters sweaters, and as time in the stuffy car progressed she became almost unbearably hot. But the tank top she wore underneath was practically obscene and there was no way she was taking that sweater off in front of someone she hardly knew.

The sight of home, though, made all of that angst slip away. Kelly’s home was absolutely beautiful, and absolutely huge. Three stories, with neo-classical lines and beautiful, ornate pillars, paving stone driveway and paths, immaculately manicured lawns with classic landscaping and garden art—it told a tale of quiet money, but big money. It was something the family hadn’t always had, but building a successful real estate empire had its perks, especially when that empire was built on solid, conservative investments. Kelly’s current concerns about money had nothing to do with family resources and everything to do with keeping a family secret.

Which Kelly was still keen to do. She walked around to the back entrance and quietly keyed in. If mother was in the kitchen, as was her wont, she could sneak up the stairs to her room. A quick change to better-fitting clothes, she knew, and thirty pounds might look more like fifteen…

“Kelly?” Sure enough, it came from the kitchen, along with the really wonderful smell of something cooking. Kelly’s mom had been looking out for her.

“It’s me, Mommy!” Kelly called out as she rounded the corner and up the staircase. “I’ll be down in just a second!” She bounded up the stairs with her strong legs, into her room with its master bathroom suite, and into her walk-in closet…

…and almost nothing was there! Kelly wanted to cry. The moment of confrontation with her mother was here! OK, OK…tell the truth, just not all of it. Summer classes were long, study sessions were long, not enough time to work out….This could work, if she just keep her mouth shut about the rest. She stuffed her tears and began her way back down the stairs.

“Kelly--!” exclaimed her mother.

“Mom--!” exclaimed her daughter.

“Omigod!” they both gasped, then started to laugh as Kelly bolted down the rest of the stairs and pressed herself into the arms of her mother’s soft hug.

Elizabeth Kingsley was a large brunette. At one time she had indeed been a pageant beauty and sorority princess, but those days were far behind her. Like her daughter, she had struggled with her weight most of her life, and even as over the years the extra pounds came, she remained diligent impressing upon her only child the importance of keeping in shape to attain all the advantages in life that she now had.

Elizabeth did have her daughter’s advantage—or rather, her daughter had hers. As the pounds crept on, much of it found her way to her breasts, drawing attention away from her widening hips and thickening thighs. By the time her daughter reached high school, she had crossed over from “buxom” and “curvy” into a “well-proportioned” 200 pounds, but as Kelly moved through her senior year her hips expanded with vigor and her ass had turned the corner into “ample” and her body could clearly be called “plump.” By the time the Kingsleys dropped their little girl off at college, she was 250 pounds, and whether she was considered “plus-sized” or “Rubenesque,” there was no overlooking that she had gotten “fat.” And as Kelly’s year at school had progressed, so had Mrs. Kingsley, her ass spreading further and further outward and, finally, the tell-tale dome of her belly sneaking past the great orbs of her breasts.

Kelly had seen all of this, of course, but none of it had prepared her for the size of her mother now, even after just five weeks since last seeing her. For the first time she could recall, she had to stand a little on her toes and lean over a huge belly to wrap her arms around her neck. Her mom’s arms felt heavy upon her back, and even her mother’s cheek against hers felt soft and fleshy and, oh, so comforting.

“It’s good to be home, Mommy,” she said, almost crying, sinking into her mother’s softness.

“It’s good to have you back home, Baby,” Mrs. Kingsley smiled, rubbing her daughter’s back with her chubby hand.

Kelly stepped back and rubbed a teary eye with the back of her hand, then looked into her mother’s cherubic face with her bright blue eyes and loving smile. “Mommy,” she said, “I’ve had a really hard time this summer. I’m in so much trouble.”

So much for holding back the truth.

“I know, Baby, and I’ve been worried about you. Did you fix that academic probation thing?”
 
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StrugglingWriter

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An early dinner was just about ready for them, and Kelly, who had been so nervous her stomach had been turning all day, realized she was starved. So over a hearty meal of baked ziti, arugula salad with pear and vinegar, green beans with candied pecans, Italian bread with herbs and oil, red wine and homemade profiteroles, Kelly told her mother everything about her summer.

Except about Dr. Lierman. That felt too weird to talk about it with her mother.

Through it all, as they gorged on their amazing meal, Kelly’s mom was empathetic and supportive, exactly the way in her heart that she always knew her mom would be, if only her shame at being kicked out of the house would have ever allowed her to admit it to herself. Kelly couldn’t help but look again and again at her mother leaning back into her chair and at the belly spilling out almost to her knees. Two bottom buttons to her blouse were undone to free up her shirt, allowing a creamy white patch of skin to poke through the triangle. Her mother’s jeans—for years expensively tailored to fit her expansive forms—stretched across her thighs, and the T- underneath her blouse cut into her large puffy arms. It had been a long time since she’d seen her mother thin, but she’d never really seen her as a fat woman before.

Kelly hadn’t known that academic reports went to the parents of all freshmen at the university. Why hadn’t her mother said anything about it? “I didn’t want to alarm your father,” she replied. “And, I just knew you’d work everything out.” In a nutshell, that was Kelly’s mother.

The subject of Kelly’s weight barely came up at all, and that only because Kelly herself felt the need to talk about it. A stuffed Kelly was finishing off a third profiterole when she eased back in her chair and brought up what was on her mind.

“Mommy, I’m sorry I put on so much weight. I didn’t mean to let you down.”

“Sorry?” Mrs. Kingsley replied, polishing off her third glass of wine. “Kelly, do you realize who you’re talking to?”

For a moment Kelly was shocked. This was the first time she could ever remember her mother referring, even indirectly, to her weight. And this was certainly a disconnect from any kind of message she’d heard from her before. She pressed ahead while her mother poured the last half-glass of wine into her goblet.

“Well, sorry because, because of all the money for the personal trainer, and for all the trouble it’s gonna be in Phi Gamma—“

“Baby,” she leaned forward awkwardly, a little drunk, her enormous breasts pushing her plate into the serving bowls with a loud clink, “the money isn’t an object. And besides, I remember a lot of girls putting on weight in Phi Gamma. I don’t ever remember anybody caring two licks about it.”

This was a lot for Kelly to process. She couldn’t ever remember a time when money wasn’t an object in their household, despite how much they had. And the Phi Gamma she knew was the Phi Gamma of eating disorders, the House Mother, and the one girl everyone knew was the token outgoing fat girl. Which, Kelly suddenly realized, she was seriously in danger of becoming. There’s a “little weight,” and then there’s thirty pounds in a month.

“You did what you had to to get in,” her mom was saying, now swirling her wine slowly in its glass. “And now they know what a wonderful, beautiful sweet person you are that a little weight fluctuation“—she had trouble articulating the word—“is going to affect that. You just take care of what you need to now and worry about your weight later.” And down went the wine.

Shades of Caleb! Minus the negativity and cynicism, of course. She found herself beginning to question whether some an over-indulgent impostor had secretly replaced the pageant-queen mother who had obsessively managed her daughter’s weight the last six years. Or perhaps she’d been confused about who exactly had been putting so much stock in the sorority scene.

No matter. For now, Kelly realized, she was stuffed, and her jeans cut tightly and uncomfortably into her bloated seated belly. Which reminded her.

“Yes, Mother,” she replied dutifully as her mother pushed herself up and out of her chair and over to the wine cabinet for another bottle. “One thing, though: what did you do with all my old clothes? Looks like I’m gonna need those for a while.”

“I threw them out,” she said with her head in the cabinet. She poked her head out and back toward the kitchen table. “Just go into town tomorrow and get a new wardrobe. I told you,” her voice straining a little as she worked the corkscrew, “money isn’t an object.”

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

That Sunday night, Kelly Kegs went to college.

She’d had a fantastic weekend. After an amazing breakfast of blintzes, quiche, fresh fruit and waffles (a la mode!), Kelly and her mother drove into town, where they spent the early afternoon trolling the department stores of the major fashion center mall. It took Kelly a little while to let go her customary apprehension about spending, but with a “You’re-all-grown-up-now-and-I-don’t-have-to-worry-about-training-you-to-be-frugal-anymore,” Kelly’s mother led the way selecting items from places other than the discount racks. Soon, Kelly was zipping from section to section, bringing back stacks of items to try on while her mother sat and waited by the mirrors near the dressing rooms.

For once, this trip into town was all about Kelly. Mrs. Kingsley clearly was enjoying the chance to be Kelly’s mother once again, although from time-to-time she cast an eye at some of the fashions as she passed them. Somewhere along the way Kelly realized that nothing in the store could fit her mother anyway. Just a year ago, she noted to herself, they’d spent an afternoon hunting for department store bargains for each other in this very mall.

Another change was that there were plenty of opportunities for eating as well. They made frequent stops in the coffee shops and snackeries as they crossed the mall from department store to department store. Whenever one woman found something she’d like to indulge in, the other one joined right in: lattes, gelatos, pretzels, cookies. As the afternoon went on, Mrs. Kingsley led the indulgence more and more, not just out of hunger but because clearly she seemed to need a moment every now and then to sit and rest. Mrs. Kingsley had always had grace—it was one of the things that told the lie to how big she always was—and she still had it now, but for the first time it was clear that that bulk was becoming a problem for her. Kelly noticed her choosing place she could get in and out of easily, and getting up out of her chair took an unaccustomed effort.

Kelly had always known that her mother snuck food on the side: in the morning while cooking breakfast, at home while she was alone during the day, or in the car on the way to and from school—even waking up to eat in the middle of the night. It was something Kelly had always resented during those myriads of diets the woman had held her to—and had participated in, at least in front of her daughter. She was floored, though, to see her mom eating so much, so openly, in front of her. For the first time since she was a kid, she felt free to do so, too. It felt like for maybe the first time two inner fat girls were finally sneaking out to meet each other in the open and celebrate.

Yet after all that there was still a meal out, and then an evening together at Frederick’s—just about the only store that reliably carried her cup size. It was the first time they’d shopped in a store like that together, too.

162 pounds of Kelly—all the weight she had lost the summer before—stepped out of the car that Sunday night. Her car, a classic old Beemer, stylish but not too opulent, was filled with suitcases and bags from her marathon shopping session, each bag filled with size 10s (and, for up top, the occasional 12 or even 14). Comfortable for the first time in weeks, Kelly grabbed a couple of shopping bags and strode up to the door, then stopped.

It was cracked open, and the enticing smell of chocolate chip cookies baking wafted outside.
 

StrugglingWriter

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This girl was Phi Gamma president?



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

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

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

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

Kelly liked her on the spot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The same class Kelly was starting tomorrow, she noted.

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

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

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

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

“Trust me, I would know,” Gail added with a glint in her eye. “I’m the one who made the list.”

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

Phi Gamma Psi. It made sense. At least it did once Gail explained what the Greek letters were in English: P-G-S. “Pigs.”

“Whoever thought that one up was either really daft, or really naïve,” Gail said, sipping on the mug of beer she’d just poured for herself. Kelly just assumed that “daft” meant some version of stupid. “It doesn’t take many chubby girls before a label like that sticks, and by the time I came around, Phi Gamma had more than its share.”

All sororities have unofficial rules. Rules that came to define its reputation. For Phi Gamma, those rules had created sweet, genuine, professional young women, a reputation that had stuck to this day.

“Beautiful personalities, not so beautiful bodies. By the time I showed up, that reputation was sending Phi Gamma to the bottom of the social list. Phi Gamma on this campus had to change.”

And change it did. A few natural leaders gained influence in Phi Gamma—Gail didn’t say it, but clearly she and her charisma led the show—and, quietly, began whispering unwritten rules in the ears of new pledges. All of them were designed to undermine the overweight. No comfortable shoes. No baggy shirts. No campus dining. Salads at restaurants. Not that any of this image-building was that overt. The image was “put together,” “professional,” “poised,” and the motto was “preparation for the real world.” By the time Gail was president, Phi Gamma was back on the map.

“But you said—I mean—“

“How did a chubby girl become sorority president pushing an agenda of thin?” Gail interrupted, a bit of edge to her voice. “I could ask you the same thing. I mean, you don’t look like the kind of girl Sherry would make her Little Sis.”

“Wha--?” Unbelievable! Kelly was so taken aback by this sudden assault she didn’t know what to say.

“Aw, Kelly, I’m sorry.” And she looked it. “I still get a little sensitive about it. All this stupid sorority drama! Five years later, and it still jumps up to grab a hold of me. Forgive me?” Gail leaned forward and held out the last cookie.

Both girls burst out laughing, but not before Kelly took the cookie.

“That’s how I did it,” Gail said.

“Did what?” Kelly replied, munching on her cookie.

“I took care of everyone. You know what they called me? The House Mother.”
 
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Mac5689

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I have to admit that the latest installment has left me a bit confused. I can't explain why however.
 

Leonard

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I have to admit that the latest installment has left me a bit confused. I can't explain why however.
It may be because, before this installment, Gail had only been mentioned briefly in passing. I had to go back and search for her name because I'd forgotten about her. I was also expecting more between Kelly and her mother, so I was a little surprised/confused when suddenly she was meeting Gail.
 

StrugglingWriter

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Hazards of writing and posting what essentially is a rough draft, I suppose. Gail is the owner of the house Kelly is staying in and has been absent all summer. She is also the former Phi Gamma president and former Big Sis to Sherry, who is Kelly's Big Sis and the current Phi Gamma president. I tried to throw in a little stuff about her (Sherry, too) earlier on to set this up, but I actually had to go look up her name myself in writing this bit.
 

Mac5689

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It may be because, before this installment, Gail had only been mentioned briefly in passing. I had to go back and search for her name because I'd forgotten about her. I was also expecting more between Kelly and her mother, so I was a little surprised/confused when suddenly she was meeting Gail.
Hazards of writing and posting what essentially is a rough draft, I suppose. Gail is the owner of the house Kelly is staying in and has been absent all summer. She is also the former Phi Gamma president and former Big Sis to Sherry, who is Kelly's Big Sis and the current Phi Gamma president. I tried to throw in a little stuff about her (Sherry, too) earlier on to set this up, but I actually had to go look up her name myself in writing this bit.

No I remembered Gail, and i remember how she was a former president of Phi Gamma and she was Sherry's Big Sis.

It was after she was talking about how she had taken Professor Lennox’s homemaking class where i got derailed into confusion.
 

StrugglingWriter

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After her blowout weekend, Monday was a harsh reality check for Kelly.

Psychology (a course she had failed last semester) at ten. Three hours of FCS—i.e., “Family and Consumer Sciences” or Home Ec 101—at noon. Math at five, and with the all-important third test on Thursday. It didn’t hit her until she got up that morning that chemistry lab and study time with Chip had abruptly ended—and with no chance of even saying a thank you! Grades had posted Sunday night, and Kelly had gotten the A’s she desperately needed. She called Chip between classes, and it went straight to voice mail. A little bit sad, she left him a thank you and invited him to a celebration dinner at Hungry Jake’s.

More disconcerting, though, was the realization that her new Home Ec class conflicted with her daily study time with Lierman. That was an hour of study time—and of influence—she knew she was likely to need. She put in a call to Caleb, too, and got his voice mail.

Whatever she was missing out of her Lierman meeting, it certainly didn’t include lunch. FCS was billed on the syllabus as two hours of lecture and one of lab, but it was the other way around. “Lab time’s at a premium in the summer, ladies,” announced the plainly plump “Mrs.” Lennox, throwing in a wink at the two football players who were the only male contingent in the class. “Come ready to put what we learn to the test.” And they did they did that very first day, although most of it involved hands-on lessons about food storage and cleanliness while preparing a basic salad. She did, however, learn that salad dressing is something you can prepare—and eat—yourself.

Kelly wasn’t surprised to get a little attention from one of the football players on the way out the door, either. Both of these guys were Black, and she’d always found the stereotype that Black men prefer the fuller form to be true. And was her form full! Kelly’s new clothes hugged every resurgent inch of her body. He gave her one of those head bobs like she was one of his locker room buddies or something, but she knew it was insider language for, “I see that form, and we both know it’s better your way.”

But he seemed nice enough, and it made her feel good to command the attention of someone with such pull on campus. She rode that high all the way through her late lunch and into the second row of her math class, right where she knew Lierman would see her.

And, as it turned out, where Phi Gamma junior officer Lindsey Huntington saw her, too.

One week ago, Kelly would have been out of her seat and across the room, atwitter with chatter with a fellow Phi Gamma: “Hey, I can’t believe I didn’t see you here before?” “A junior, and you’re taking this class, too? Maybe I should have put it off like you did!” “Isn’t it great we’re sharing a class?” But after last night’s conversation with Gail, she couldn’t help think of Lindsey as anything but an enforcer of the Phi Gamma code. That, and how much she’d see Kelly as having, er, colored outside of the lines, so to speak, the last month or so. As curvaceous and attractive as she’d felt just a couple of hours ago was as frumpy and conspicuous she felt now.

Lierman walking up to the lectern saved her from having to make a plan of action, but his friendly smile her direction wasn’t a comfort under what she knew would be Lindsey’s watchful eye. Kelly left her package of Donettes and her bag of chips in her bag and slumped down in her chair, hoping for the first time in her memory that she were invisible and knowing for the first time in some time how unlikely that really was.

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

When Kelly got home after math, she was still hounded by the thought of Lindsey looking over her shoulder in math class, but her angst quickly disappeared as she detected the unmistakable smells of Italian food emanating from the kitchen. Sure enough she walked into the kitchen to see Gail busily engaged in lining a pan with noodles for lasagna, another one apparently baking in the oven. She was surrounded by half-unpacked groceries, floured cutting boards, bowls of lettuce and vegetables, and—what she was working on the moment Kelly walked in—some very familiar dressing!

Gail looked up from the kitchen island and brushed away a lock of hair, adding a dab of dressing to the dusting of flour already, and temporarily, painting her with premature grey. “The pantry was absolutely bare, and I got ambitious. I made some antipasti…grab a bite or two and help me put things away, will ya?”

Two bites became more like several, and before too many groceries were put away they were feasting at the island on lasagna and salad and the most buttery, savory garlic bread Kelly could ever remember sampling. They chatted away, steering away from sorority talk, Kelly trying to talk about her high school experiences without seeming too provincial, and Gail trying to not talk too much inside baseball about the corporate world. Before long, that meant Gail talking about her boyfriend and her amazing vacation on the West Coast, particularly the incredible culinary experiences in Vegas and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Napa.

“And your boyfriend was on board for all that?”

“You mean,” said Gail, scooping a bite of lasagna onto a piece of garlic bread, “he was OK with his girl stuffing her face for a month?”

She always seems to know exactly what's going on! “Well, yeah. I mean I—“

“Hey,” Gail shrugged, “he got him a foodie.” She stopped a moment to bite into her bread. “It’s not like he didn’t know that up front. And I have to tell you, I think it kind of turned him on.”

Kelly, also chewing, stopped and just looked at her.

“What,” Gail continued, “you can’t tell me that, looking like you do, you’ve never run into that?”

Looking like I do, Kelly thought, isn’t looking like you do, thinking about Gail’s little boobs, though Kelly at least had the presence of mind to hold that thought back.

“I, uh—well, maybe. Today in FCS I—“

The doorbell rang. Oh! Caleb! Where had the time gone? Gail was wiping her mouth, getting ready to go to the door.

“No, it’s for me,” Kelly explained, heading to the door herself. “I was going to tell you until I got distracted by lasagna!” she called back over her shoulder.
Kelly let Caleb in, led him back to the kitchen. “Gail, this is my tutor—“

“Hey, Gail,” Caleb interrupted.

“Hey, Caleb.”
 

StrugglingWriter

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“It really wasn’t that much of a thing,” Caleb was saying over his plate of lasagna. They were all sitting around the kitchen table, books on the table, none of them opened.

Caleb and Gail apparently had a math class together as undergraduates and wound up going on a lot of dates. The story they told wasn’t that interesting, but Kelly had been on the up side of many doomed-from-the-start relationships, and the stony look on Caleb’s face told her all she needed to know: this “not-much-of-a-thing” had a lot more meaning for Caleb than it did Gail.

As it was, the two discussed Gail’s size quite openly. For Gail, this seemed to be shaping up as a strategy for both diffusing the issue and heading off social disapproval. “There was a lot less of me then,” was, after briefly explaining their association, about the only detail she added about the whole affair.

“True enough,” Caleb commented in his typical less-than-sensitive way, but then, Gail didn’t seem to have let that bother her. “You can take the girl out of Phi Gamma, but you can’t take the Phi Gamma out of the girl. Or, more to the point, off the girl.”

“Shut up, Caleb,” Gail retorted. “Phi Gamma’s a different world now.”

“Not from what I’ve seen,” Caleb answered back, a cock of the head in Kelly’s direction.

“Cute, Caleb,” Gail retorted. “Really nice of you. Tell me again why you’re still single?”

“Simple math, Beautiful. So many women, so little time. Why settle when—“

I’m. Too sexy for my shirt. Too sexy—

“Sherry!” Kelly answered, and that was enough to stop all conversation around the table. Kelly’s phone wasn’t on speaker, but as usual it came through loud and clear to all anyway.

“Hey, girl! Just checking in with you. It’s been so long! So how were the grades? Everything turn out well?” Absolutely great! All A’s, Kelly explained in roundabout sorority-girl banter, although still staying mum about having dropped her math class.

“That is great! Great to hear!” chirped Sherry’s voice. “But,” she added, “I guess you wound up taking a different math class?”

Uh-oh. How did she find that out? Yes, Kelly explained with a little less cheerful chatter. Needed a little more time to study for those tests, had a tough load together with chemistry, was adjusting to the rigors of summer school…

“Oh, yes, that does sound pretty hard,” Sherry opined half-heartedly. “I guess you didn’t stay on with Caleb. You should have told me that earlier—“

“Nono,” Kelly interrupted, as friendly as she could. “Caleb’s been great, he’s sitting right here, want to talk to him?”

“Oh.” Pause. “No, no need for that. He’s a miracle worker, so keep plugging away with him make sure you do everything he tells you.”

Caleb pointed to himself with a smug look on his face and nodded while mouthing the words “miracle worker” to the ladies at the table. Gail and Kelly both gave him hard but playful slaps.

“Hey,” Sherry continued, “are you still seeing that guy Chip?” Oh no, Kelly replied, now more directly to the point, we were never dating, just friends, lab partner for chemistry…

Chip?” Gail mouthed while Kelly explained.

“Just a guy Kelly used,” Caleb said. “For grades. I think you know the drill.” Gail shot Caleb an evil look, enough to distract Kelly for a moment from her conversation with Sherry.

“I see, I see,” Sherry was saying. “Well, we’ve all been wondering. I mean, it seems like you’ve been avoiding us all summer. When we do see you, you’re with this guy. I just thought maybe that—well, anyway. I guess you’ve been wrapped up in your one class all semester.”

It wasn’t until Sherry’s emphasis on the word “guy,” as if Chip were some foreign entity or well-known social reject, that first clued Kelly in there might be something else going on in this conversation. Kelly’s brow furrowed defensively, and she was about to retort in anger, when, before she knew it, Gail pulled Kelly’s phone away from her face and put her fingers over Kelly’s lips.

“Don’t,” she said, her head shaking back and forth and her eyes clearly communicating that to keep her composure would be in her own best interest. “Poise,” she whispered.

“Kelly? Kelly? Are you there?”

Gail released Kelly’s hand and pulled her other hand away from Kelly’s lips, her eyes still giving a stern warning.

“I’m here,” Kelly replied. “Caleb distracted me for a second. I’ve been working hard on both my classes,” Kelly continued, as Gail started nodding her head, “so that come the fall I’ll be able to do you proud and move back into my old room.”

“That’s very good to hear,” Sherry said, more diplomatically, the chirp gone from her voice. “Just remember you’re Phi Gamma right now, too. Just because you’re my Little Sis doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax.”

Relax? What could she possibly mean? She was busting her ass! “No, of course not,” Kelly said cautiously, closely watching Gail for guidance and careful to match Sherry’s diplomatic tone. “Well, speaking of not relaxing, Caleb’s pointing to our books, and I’ve got a big test this Thursday. I’ll be there this weekend for the party, though. You can count on me!”

“I know I can,” Sherry said, the energy back in her voice. “I miss having you around here so much! Bye, girl.” Just that quickly, Sherry was gone. Kelly put down the phone, and for a moment, no one said much of anything.

“I can’t believe she talked that way about Chip,” Kelly finally offered. “That just wasn’t like Sherry at all.”

“Oh, I thought it was just like Sherry,” Gail offered sourly. “Don’t you get it?”

Kelly just looked at Gail blankly.

“It’s the Phi Gamma code. I take it Chip isn’t Greek?” Kelly and Caleb nodded and shrugged, respectively. “She was checking up on you. Something got back to her about her Little Sis she’s not happy about, and I’ll bet a Boston Crème Pie it isn’t about dropping math class and studying with your lab partner. Something happened.”

“I know what it is,” Kelly said, the disappointment palpable in her voice.

Lindsey.

So, with more emotion than she realized she had, Kelly explained it all to Gail. Her up-and-down weight history, her relationship with her mother and with food, her lack of motivation for school, and her summer with a personal trainer to prepare for Rush week and her desired berth into Phi Gamma. Her stratospheric rise through the Phi Gamma ranks and a privileged place in the house and on the leadership counsel. Her daily commitment to exercising on the House Mother and to Phi Gamma life at the expense of her grades. Her difficulty adjusting to the academic life this summer, her pig out sessions with Caleb, and with Chip, and in class, and now even with her mom, who, it turns out, was never really the source of the pressure Kelly felt to succeed in Phi Gamma. The forty pounds she'd put back on the last five weeks. Her plan to do whatever it takes to work her way off probation and back into the house, back onto the House Mother, back onto the counsel, and now back into Sherry’s good graces. Her trouble with Pre-Algebra, moving to the long-term summer class, and her discovery tonight that the distasteful Lindsey Huntington was part of the class. The only thing she left out was her lunches with Lierman, and Caleb, quiet and clearly feeling awkward through the whole story, didn’t say anything about it either.

Through it all, Gail listened with support and compassion, at one point reaching out to hold Kelly’s hand. But she shook her head when she heard Kelly talk about her plan for Phi Gamma redemption.

“Kelly,” she said, “I love Sherry, and she’s a great girl in a lot of ways, but I know her. If you wait until fall, at the rate you're gaining, there’s no way she’ll ever let you back in that house. And the only House Mother you’re likely to have much access to is me.”

Kelly started to cry even harder as she understood Gail's offer. The two women leaned over and gave each other a squishy embrace, quietly laughing and crying together in that singular way that only two women can. Kelly felt good knowing that Gail would be here for her, and as she thought about the Fall she suddenly felt a desire to stay right here in Gail’s house.

“You have a great heart, Kelly,” said Gail as they both leaned back in their chairs, carefully wiping their eyes with the backs of their hands and the tips of their fingers, the better to preserve the mascara. “You have a place here as long as you want it.”

“Oh, thank you!” Kelly exclaimed. “You’re the greatest.”

“But don’t give up hope yet,” said Gail. “I have a plan.”

Everyone always did.
 

Mac5689

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Ok, I just have to ask (since it was one of the reasons i got confused) Why is that one exercise equipment at Phi Gamma and Gail both called "House Mother"?
 

StrugglingWriter

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Ah, yes. The confusion makes sense.

Women's dorms in the past, and also sororities, used to have chaperones. These chaperones were older women who enforced curfews, visitation rules, etc., etc. In my story, sororities have gotten rid of these people and the girls in sororites just all live on their own. For all I know, sororities still have chaperones that live on site, but in this fictional world they're a fixture of the past. If anyone reading wants to give me good info on this, I'd love to have him or her PM me.

When Phi Gamma got rid of the room for the chaperone, they converted that room into a fitness room. In my story, they used to call the chaperone the "House Mother." Now they call the elliptical machine the House Mother because it's housed in the same room.

The connection to Gail is tangential. Gail helped bring a fitness mentality to Phi Gamma, even though she herself got heavier as she was part of Phi Gamma. She is a maternal type, and she gained social cache in Phi Gamma by looking after the girls in the fraternity the way she is starting to look after Kelly. (I tried to communicate this by Gail soothing Kelly's feelings with a cookie. Too obscure a connection I guess, but I am more and more mindful that this story is dragging on and on and am attempting to economize.) In any case, they called her the House Mother because in lots of ways she took over the maternal role of a house mother. So, Gail replaced the house mother functionally and the elliptical replaced the house mother, er, geographically, so to speak.

Thanks for your active involvement in the story! I appreciate hearing about areas that aren't clear to people who don't know my intent.
 

Mac5689

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Ah, yes. The confusion makes sense.

Women's dorms in the past, and also sororities, used to have chaperones. These chaperones were older women who enforced curfews, visitation rules, etc., etc. In my story, sororities have gotten rid of these people and the girls in sororites just all live on their own. For all I know, sororities still have chaperones that live on site, but in this fictional world they're a fixture of the past. If anyone reading wants to give me good info on this, I'd love to have him or her PM me.

When Phi Gamma got rid of the room for the chaperone, they converted that room into a fitness room. In my story, they used to call the chaperone the "House Mother." Now they call the elliptical machine the House Mother because it's housed in the same room.

The connection to Gail is tangential. Gail helped bring a fitness mentality to Phi Gamma, even though she herself got heavier as she was part of Phi Gamma. She is a maternal type, and she gained social cache in Phi Gamma by looking after the girls in the fraternity the way she is starting to look after Kelly. (I tried to communicate this by Gail soothing Kelly's feelings with a cookie. Too obscure a connection I guess, but I am more and more mindful that this story is dragging on and on and am attempting to economize.) In any case, they called her the House Mother because in lots of ways she took over the maternal role of a house mother. So, Gail replaced the house mother functionally and the elliptical replaced the house mother, er, geographically, so to speak.

Thanks for your active involvement in the story! I appreciate hearing about areas that aren't clear to people who don't know my intent.
Ah, now i got it.

You probably communicated it good, I just didn't make the connection for some reason. It happens some times.
 

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