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

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morepushing13

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Another great chapter, by the end I can definitely see her being a very large young lady! Can't wait!
 

StrugglingWriter

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Of course, the next time Kelly ate was that very night—at the Planet Hollywood. And early for breakfast (early for Vegas, anyway) at the Flamingo. And lunch at the . And mid-afternoon, right before their pass expired. Between it all, Kelly finally got the Vegas she desired: leisurely shopping, hardly buying anything in the Passage; strolling up the South Strip (briefly, it turns out, in the 105 degree heat) sipping Drinks by the Yard, popping into the casinos to admire the décor and attractions. That, and plenty of trips back to the villa for sex.

By the time they made it back from the Rio Saturday evening for another romp in bed, Kelly felt liked a stuffed turkey. Over the summer, it had seemed Kelly’s appetite never disappeared. But with no studying, and with Wade to distract her, food was the last thing on her mind by the time Wade was ready for the next smorgasbord. She insisted in her mind, and her tummy, that she’d spend the hours lightly snacking while Wade ate like he was on the clock. (To him, he was.) But inevitably, a bite-size dollop of one thing led to a complimentary need for something else, and an obligatory final re-sampling of the best of them all. By the time Wade was sitting back admiring what he had accomplished, Kelly was wondering how she’d managed to squeeze in another full meal on top of it all. Never to the point of discomfort, but certainly enough to feel burdened by the stretch of her stomach as she wandered her way back into the casinos. But despite her new respect for the Vegas buffet, the experience was hardly the source of excitement it was for Wade, who seemed engrossed in the idea that he was taking Vegas for all he could while still complying with the dictates of his training regimen while on vacation.

“Best conditioning plan ever,” he kept saying. “And did I get my money’s worth, or what?” Wade had realized Friday night that six buffets is a two-day, not a 24-hour endeavor, and he complained loudly about it once he did the math. By Saturday, though, he was pleased at his ability to squeeze in five. After abandoning the idea of value for her buck the last week, Kelly couldn’t help but feel Wade’s attitude seemed a bit quaint.

Kelly was much more focused on a problem that had become much bigger than she realized: finding a swimsuit that could fit so she could take advantage of the massive Paris! pool. 36GG isn’t exactly a top size carried by the average department store, and even if the big girl stores had cup sizes that fit, the chest size was inevitably too big around or the only thing available was a tankini—flattering to be certain, but not anything Kelly felt like she needed. Wherever Kelly and Wade walked, Kelly had one eye pealed for a swimsuit shop. It was probably her sixth shop before she found what she needed late Sunday morning: a white halter top with triangle cups providing much less coverage than Kelly was comfortable with. Had Kelly not been on her second Yard that morning, she’d have probably ruled it out, not even left the dressing room with it on. As it was, she needed a bathing suit, so she consciously did what everyone else around her always did automatically when her weight was up: keep her eyes on her enormous breasts. Simple enough when looking down her cavernous cleavage was all she could ever see anyway! Already got a good look at the rest of me last week, she told herself as she half-looked in the mirror (the upper half). No need to get all hung up on it now!

But two buffets later it was all but impossible not to focus on her midsection. Kelly had asked for the closest buffet to be the closest to the cabana, which of course meant a return to the Paris! Le Village Buffet. Even so, their walk back through the casino and out to the pool seemed to last an eternity. She thanked herself for the third time that day for the last minute purchase of the yellow sundress with the elastic torso, which expanded comfortably to cover a swollen abdomen. The swollen abdomen itself expanded much less comfortably, each breath seemingly too shallow to take in adequate air and each step a jarring stab of what wasn’t quite pain. Back in the cabana she slowly eased into her new two-piece so as not to disturb her filled-to-the-top tummy, then lifted her mamms with her forearms to observe (in the mirror, of course) the mound which, hitherto, had for the first time been pushing each giant orb subtly to the side. She cupped each side of her distended stomach with her crossed hands and wondered—just as she had during her fair share of nauseous inebriated moments in front of a toilet bowl (in a different context)—how anyone could think of this experience as anything but one to regret?
“Man, nothing better than that, ever!” Wade was saying as Kelly walked out of the bathroom, rubbing his own swollen stomach pooch just below his sternum. He looked up at Kelly, who was rolling her eyes. Wow, said his lips as he looked up, but the breath didn’t come to his voice. Kelly was standing there, curled hair pulled back off her smooth shoulders, halter top straining at the weight of her heavy, still-rounded breasts poofed out even farther by the mound of food baby hidden underneath. “Except maybe that,” Wade finally managed to say.

She may have looked amazing to Wade, but Kelly still felt sluggish and unwieldy as they stepped out into the blazing Nevada sun and made their way to the pool. There was nothing close to a waddle in her step, but in her mind her abdomen was so swollen that she felt there should be. Kelly had been accustomed to heads turning and eyes following her for years—even more so, the larger she and her breasts were, and even more so the more her breasts were exposed, as they were now. She was so used to it that she rarely even noticed it, the same way she hardly noticed the attention and consideration that inevitably came with her attractiveness. Typically she’d no more notice that than notice the air that she was breathing. And when she did notice, the experience was almost always positive, filling her with a rush of power and confidence. Even this summer, conscious of the ridiculous pace of her expansion, she was conscious only of the judgment she might receive from the Linsdey Huntingtons of the world—or, more accurately, of Phi Gamma. From everyone else, though, she thrived on the attention, even yearned for it when it wasn’t there. As far as she could recall, that was never.

But today when the looks came—and did they ever come! She saw two men’s mouths actually hang open in mid-conversation. A poolside waiter barely caught himself before spilling a drink on some unsuspecting sunbather. Three girls looked at each other, then rolled their eyes in a demeaning gesture meant only to boost their own egos in response to the newcomer. And this was just what Kelly noticed the instant she stepped out into open sight. Today when the looks came she was immediately distracted from her satisfaction by the competing sensation of guilt, as if the open mouths, the stumbling waiter, the backbiting girls were all focused on her bulging stomach and instantly judging her for what Kelly knew to be true: she had overindulged in unsightly hedonism and gluttony, now on display for all to see. She tried to suck in to hide the bulge, but as full as she was there was nowhere to suck it in to. Despite the blazing sun she felt the heat rush to her cheeks in embarrassment, and for once she wanted to hide.

There was nowhere she could. Instead she leaned closer in to Wade, knowing his pure male sex appeal would boost her status and ease the judgment she felt heaping down upon her. Slowly they picked their way to some lounge chairs just outside the shadow of the hotel, and Kelly carefully lowered herself down. She was conscious of her thighs and lower back spreading out to meet the warm, plastic panels of her chair, believing even as she closed her eyes that everyone was watching and judging as they did.

But, thus rested of the burden of moving herself, she felt a warm wave of content fullness emanating from her taut tummy that eased her feelings of guilt and washed over her body in a joyful tingle. She smiled as she felt Wade’s massive hands spreading already-warmed sunscreen across her sensitive tummy, gently massaging the shallow layer of softened flesh that obscured the tension of still-taut abs underneath.

She felt like the old Sun de Soleil commercial embodied, the hot Nevada sun melting into what she realized by now was skin way too white than she thought it could ever be at the end of summer. Only the occasional need to cool herself down in the pool kept her from dozing off completely—that and the reliable return of the cabana boy inquiring about her need for another Mai Tai. She closed her eyes after her third and said a drunken little prayer. After all, clearly this was Heaven, and Kelly’s mother and Gail were the herald angels who had made it all possible.
 

morepushing13

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glad to see another chapter, wasn't sure that was gonna happen! Hope for more soon!
 

StrugglingWriter

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True to her word (a day late), Kelly didn’t eat again. Well, for the day, at least. She probably hadn’t managed to not eat after five since … since she couldn’t remember since when. By the time she went to bed she had convinced herself she was doing something substantial to prepare herself for the shock her system would feel in just two days, when her crash diet and crashier exercise program kicked in—late, but with a vengeance. When her growling stomach woke her 7:00 the next morning, that resolve was exchanged for an indulgent room service session of eggs Benedict and Belgian waffles. She didn’t know if it was embarrassment about waking early to eat, or flat greed not wanting to share—oh, that boysenberry syrup is so good! There should be more!—but she let Wade stay asleep. And all evidence of breakfast was gone when he finally awoke.

“I’m not that hungry this morning,” she answered Wade, whose first interest was breakfast. Not anymore. So technically she wasn’t lying. “A little trip to Starbucks on the way to the airport should be fine.” Kelly took care of his second interest right away, and she was happy to do it: she was fast realizing that her window of time with Wade was about to end. One plane ride and it was a week-and-a-half break before she returned to school early for Sorority Rush. Even then, Rush being what it is, what kind of time would they get that next week either?

That time window closed even sooner than she’d expected.

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but you have the wrong security gate. Your plane leaves through C Concourse.” That was the TSA agent, who may have been doing his best to hide his “You’re-a-bit-of-an-idiot” look, but clearly was not very talented at it.

Kelly gave Wade her “What’s-going-on-here?” look.

“Don’t look at me,” he protested defensively. “Mine says D concourse. What does yours say?” Wade didn't always catch on quickly to what was happening around him.

Sure enough, their boarding passes were different. Kelly hadn’t even bothered to look at hers, seeing as she hardly knew how to read those things anyway. But a momentary perusal told her this ticket wasn’t taking her home.

“Kelly, what does it say?”

Where is Gail sending me now?

“Do you know,” she asked hesitantly, “where Santa Ana is?”

*******

She was the largest woman Kelly ever remembered meeting. Oh, she’d met fatter women, and taller women, although Kelly guessed this woman must stand all of six-two. (Kelly figured she was a near expert after spending so much time around the 6’5” Wade Bode.)

But even outside of her height, everything about Jenny Larsen screamed “Large!”

Maybe it was the way her shoulders didn’t seem quite broad enough for the rest of her body. Or the way she seemed to slump forward with her shoulders pushed slightly up toward her ears. Or her hips, which on second glance Kelly wouldn’t have described as “fat.” Simply wide. Her eyes, widely spaced. Her nose: wide. Her neck looked thick and strong. The only thing larger was the large red melon that sat upon it. Her arms—fat up top, almost manly in the forearms—seemed somehow too short for the rest of her. Down low she had thick thighs on top of thick knees, and thick calves rested on top of thick ankles.

But most of all Jenny Larsen had a long, wide belly that, although clearly disproportionate to the rest of her body (especially, she noticed, compared to her ass, which seemed all-but-non-existent), seemed right at home, as if somehow the rest of her body were hanging on it and not the other way around. Her boobs disappeared in comparison, although on second glance--if you could even find them flattened behind her baggy T-shirt, hardly any support at all-- they were actually quite large.

“Now that can only be Kelly,” she boomed from across the baggage carousels. Even her voice was big, and sarcasm was draped all over her lips.

Why would you say that? “Are you Jenny?” she asked instead.

Jenny’s reply was a snort, nothing more.

"Dave said I couldn't help but spot you, and he was right," Kelly continued. She wasn’t sure, but she thought perhaps she might have not liked Jenny Larsen, right there on the spot.

“Dave,” of course, was David. David Larsen, Gail’s boyfriend. And Jenny was his younger sister. Kelly could see the resemblance in her face (that is, if Dave were a redhead) and overall build, but not much else.

Clearly she’d missed his charm as well.

“Come on, Rise-n-Shine,” Jenny said Apparently news of Kelly’s week had traveled ahead of her. “Our ride is waiting. And I’ve never been in a limo before.”

Jenny grabbed the handle of Kelly’s Louis Vitton carry-on and set off at a surprisingly quick pace.

“Doesn’t surprise me,” Kelly said out loud, quietly, before scrambling to keep up.
 

StrugglingWriter

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Incomplete edit on last post. Replace the part where Jenny just gives a snort with, "Dave said I couldn't help but spot you, and he was right."
 

StrugglingWriter

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Gail had said Jenny was a bit “rough around the edges.” She’d also said she “has a heart of gold, if you make a little effort to see it.” Kelly had of course called Gail directly, and Gail of course enjoyed how she continued to keep Kelly guessing. “You wanted to join the jet set, well, here you go. Go jet. Besides,” Gail reminded her, “your mom’s still in New York, and Jenny could really use a stompin’ around buddy for a bit.”

From all Kelly could tell, Jenny seemed perfectly happy whether Kelly was there or not. She spent the short trip (but long drive in traffic, despite it being Sunday afternoon) lying back in her seat and looking out the window. Unlike Gail, she appeared to have no interest in the limo bar, and Kelly took her cue from Jenny. The duration of the trip, the only thing Jenny said longer than two or three syllables was, “I can’t believe how comfortable this seat is. Usually car seats are uncomfortable because the padding is all wrong for big people.”

Kelly smiled but said nothing. Jenny looked pretty cramped in her spot, as far as Kelly could tell. She looked around at the familiar sights of the Southern California freeways until they reached their destination.

That destination was the Grand Californian at Downtown Disney. Jenny squealed like a teenager—a sudden sound completely out of place coming from her—as they pulled down Disneyland Drive. “I love this place!” she clapped, like a kid. She glanced back at Kelly and leaned back self-consciously in her chair, like someone straight out of junior high school. The only thing she didn't seem like was an adult.

The valet had been prepared for their arrival, and in no time they were up in their double queen room—nice, but nothing extravagant. Jenny had brushed off the porter and hauled Kelly’s bag, and the instant they got in the room she dropped it by the door. “Come on, let’s go!” Jenny urged with an inscrutable mix of excitement and irritation that hit Kelly just wrong.

“Give me a few minutes,” Kelly replied, mostly because she felt she was being bullied. “I want to get myself put together.”

“Puh-leez. It’s a kid’s park. Who’s there to impress?”

If Jenny had a personal motto, “Who’s there to impress?” was clearly it. Like today. She wore no make-up, slathering standard sunscreen on her face (and her arms, and her legs) despite Kelly’s offer of Mary Kay spf 30 base. She kept her long, thin, strawberry hair in a ponytail stretched too tight, accentuating the broadness of her already over-broad, densely freckled brow. She wore cut-off camo shorts and a baggy oversized (substantially oversized to be baggy) t-shirt under an even larger tank top. On her feet she had cheap pink flip flops. Her toenails, though neat, were unadorned. No jewelry, no accessories anywhere. Even more, the reticent girl with the loud voice had been usurped by this awkward teenager who suddenly couldn't stop talking. She prattled on and on about how much she loved Disneyland and how Kelly was wasting valuable park time putting herself in order.

As for Kelly, truth was she was stalling. Kelly loved Disneyland, too—or did. Six years ago. The thought of moving from a week of adulthood back to the kiddie vacations of her youth was disappointing. Especially when it was a pity date with a girl Kelly clearly had nothing in common with and who was chattering on like a child. It was a far cry from the jet set friends and the fabulous boyfriend she’d burnt the Strip with in Vegas. A week, she reminded herself, wouldn't have happened if Gail hadn't made it happen. Kelly figured she owed her this one.

When they finally did push through the turnstiles about 4:00, it wasn’t the rides or a parade or the characters Jenny made a beeline for. It was the Carnival Café for a late lunch (very late, Kelly realized to the growling of her stomach). Classic American comfort food: chicken fried steak, green beans, bread. Followed by a long wait at the Sweet Shop for waffle-cone ice cream. Most of their conversation, when there was any, centered around all the different foods Jenny loved (apparently all of them) on Main Street and her detailed plans for sampling each of them during their 3-Day Park Hopping experience.

A three days that Kelly knew would be just interminable. Kelly had always prided herself on being able to talk to anyone, on finding something in common with everyone she met.

Not Jenny Larsen.

Kelly mostly muttered her neutrality with the strategically well-placed “Mm-hm” and carefully savored each bite of her food to minimize the actual time she had to spend in conversation.

Here’s how conversation went. Kelly would ask an innocuous conversation starter—say Where are you from?—only to get a one-word answer: “San Francisco.” What’s your major? “Social Work.” When did you get to LA? “Three days ago.” It was as if she didn’t catch the cue that she was supposed to take these questions and attempt to join in her in common discussion.

Other times, Jenny wouldn’t stop talking, as much as Kelly would privately wish she would. For example, How do you like to spend your time? “Gaming,” was Jenny’s first answer. To Kelly, controlling pixels on a TV screen for hours on end was about the same as staring through a kaleidoscope all day. Boys that played video games had always been off her list. Not that it stopped Jenny from telling her all about her exploits in Black Ops and Halo and Goldeneye and World of Warcraft and all these names Kelly could recall having heard and recall even more hoping she’d never have to learn more. She nodded and paid attention best she could with her best pasted-on sorority smile just hoping the end of Jenny’s descriptions of her online exploits would end with her next breath.

TV shows? Kelly asked as they stood in the interminable Pirates of the Caribbean line. (Jenny insisted that Pirates always has to be her first ride of her Disneyland trip.) “None, really. I follow the news.” Followed by a listing of the various news talk shows she’d watched and liked and all of her best and least favorite hosts—apparently all across the political spectrum. Was there anything that made Kelly run for the remote more than entering a room with some talking head on the screen? No reality shows? American Idol? Dancing with the Stars? DesignStar? (Kelly’s favorite.) “I find them to be vapid and pointless.”

Kelly didn’t even think to be offended. She was secure in who she was and what she liked. Of course they’re pointless. Isn’t that what TV’s for? She didn’t bother to ask what vapid means.

Where Kelly did become offended was after the ride, at the frozen lemonade stand. “I know we haven’t done anything but eat since we got here,” Jenny said off-hand, “but this is almost the best part of the show for girls like us. Except the fireworks show.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Girls like us? Rage welled up inside of Kelly. Rage never welled up inside of Kelly. Honey, there is nothing you and I have in common! she fumed. She wanted to say it right in Jenny’s face, got all screwed up to do it. But just as she looked her in the eye and opened her mouth, Kelly's rage melted. Jenny was chattering on, oblivious, thinking aloud whether she wanted to catch the Tom Sawyer show tonight and save the fireworks show for tomorrow or jump right into it. Clueless, but open, and unassuming, and clearly expecting everyone would think she had the best of intentions, because she certainly did toward them. However you might feel about her, there was at least no hating Jenny Larsen.

Instead, Kelly covered the moment with an excuse about going to the bathroom, not waiting for Jenny to come along, the words Girls like us! ringing through her mind. It rang even louder as she again felt that tug across her hips as she pulled up her new jeans, just five days old, never washed, never worn until today. She thanked Walt Disney there were no full length mirrors as she walked away from the sink, uncertain whether the pink in her chubby cheeks was from exposure to the sun or from being as humiliated as Jenny had suddenly made her feel.
 

StrugglingWriter

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Kelly felt that way all through the castle fireworks show, dismissing Jenny’s offer of a late Downtown Disney dinner and wishing her a curt, completely disingenuous wish goodnight before hiding in her bedroom. All she wanted was to be alone in her room with her hurt feelings, away from Jenny Larsen. And that she was, for hours on end, as she stewed in anger, humiliation, and … guilt. Kelly couldn’t remember harboring this kind of grudge against anyone, and she certainly never lost sleep over one.

And yet here she was, tossing and turning.

She never really figured out why Jenny’s comment hurt her so much, but by the time 2am rolled around she reached two conclusions: first, she was ashamed for treating anyone the way she had treated Jenny that evening. If Kelly had learned anything these past couple of months, it was to trust Gail. And if Gail felt Jenny would be a good friend (“a heart of gold,” she’d said), how could Kelly argue with her?

Two, it was obvious her weight gain was clearly getting to her more deeply than she realized. She and Jenny were nowhere near the same size—not even in the same ballpark (or theme park, as it were). But the mere suggestion they were had unraveled her on the spot, and it was time to take control again. She drifted off to sleep visualizing a nice workout in the Californian’s gym followed by a refreshing breakfast from the light portion of the room service menu to start her day right. Maybe she could even get Jenny to share them with her.

Kelly never had the chance. She woke up later than she planned. Though revived, her enthusiasm was much lower than she anticipated, and she couldn’t quite bring herself to head to the workout room in nothing but her bathing suit, which was about the only thing she had suitable to work out in. When she walked into the living room, Jenny wasn’t there. And fourth, she’d penned a note to meet her downstairs in the Fire Room when she was ready. The note was on top of a covered dish with eggs, bacon and biscuits and gravy, which Jenny had made sure to note she’d left behind for her. Courtesy and the habit of hunger each demanded she have her share, and that share disappointed only her conscience. Oh, well. There’s always lunch.

In the Fire Room she found Jenny stuffed into a tamarack chair near the hearth, donned in her customary baggy t-shirt and cargo shorts, her freckled faced painted with a silly but endearing grin. At first, Kelly thought she must be interested in the Storyteller himself: he was young, energetic, kind of geeky, the kind of guy Kelly imagined Jenny could be interested in. But she quickly realized Jenny was raptly following the story itself. Well, not the story. The kids gathered around the Storyteller, and their reaction to every twist and turn of the geeky guy’s yarn. It took several minutes for the Storyteller to finish, and it was only then that Jenny noticed Kelly standing there.

Jenny smiled nervously, as if she’d been caught. “I love watching them. They’re so lucky. They’re so happy. It makes me happy.” She was blushing: a bright red, fiery glow. Kelly couldn’t have imagined her face could look any redder.

Kelly smiled. Most of the kids had looked a little bored to her.

But she didn’t say so. “It seems like you like kids a lot. Is that why you went into social work?”

Jenny paused, looked uncomfortable. “You know, Gail said that you’d be a great listener. I haven’t really found that to be true.” Ow. Blunt, as always. “But Gail must have seen something or she wouldn’t have said that.” And with that, on the couch in the Fire Room, Jenny began to tell Kelly about herself. Mother with mental health issues. A father who—well, she didn’t say, specifically. Foster care at an early age. Bouncing from house to house, through no fault of their own, repeatedly placed in poor homes who needed the income to make ends meet. Incompetent or indifferent caseworkers. Years of uncertainty in the courts. Sporadic, difficult visits with mom. Mom’s death by overdose when she was 11.

That hit Kelly particularly hard. She found the idea of losing her mother unbearable, and Jenny’s story made her want to run to New York that instant.

David had looked after her most of the time, and she had needed it. “I was always tall for my age,” she said. “And I was always really fat.” Unlike most people, she appeared to have no compunction in using the word. By the time she was nine, she was well over five feet. By the time she entered junior high, she weighed 300 pounds. She was teased incessantly, until high school, and she moved so much that any friend she made she was destined to lose. Her grades suffered. Without David, she wouldn’t have had any friends at all. He included her in everything, stood up for her in public, beat up kids for her in private when he had to, intervened wither teachers about missing classwork, took the blame (and occasionally the beatings) for accusations from some of the worse foster parents. Most of the time they lived within earshot of the Disney fireworks, and every year some foster parent would promise they could go if they were good.

“But it wasn’t until David got his first job, when I was 17, that he finally brought me here. All my life I was that red-headed stepchild—not even that, really. For one day, I got to be Cinderella. I dressed up and everything, looked absolutely ridiculous. But I didn’t care. David dressed up in some cheap Prince costume. That was the best day of my life. I don’t know what would have happened to me without David.”

Kelly understood now why she saw these kids as so lucky. And so happy. She realized Jenny probably saw her the same way. But she was trying to focus on Jenny. “Is that why you’re going into social work? To work with foster kids?”

Jenny’s story had taken so long they’d migrated into the Storyteller’s Café, where Jenny had filled her plate from the buffet. Kelly, in the meantime, had ordered a modest—if indulgent, what with the dressing and cheese—salad. Jenny’s fork stopped halfway to her mouth, and her face all but lit up with the words, You were listening!

“It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Lucky you! I wish I had a career I always wanted to do! But Jenny kept talking, and Kelly kept listening.

“I used to try to look after the little foster kids in my homes the way David looked after me. It makes me happy to make them happy. I’ll never be Cinderella. But maybe someone else can.”

Kelly was genuinely taken aback. “Of course you can! Why couldn’t you?”

This time Jenny’s expression screamed, Don’t give me that bullcrap—which is exactly the way Kelly imagined she’d say it, because she couldn’t imagine Jenny cursing in a million years.

“Well, you could, you know,” Kelly pressed with enthusiasm. Maybe Kelly would never help lonely foster kids, but she had a way she could help Jenny Larsen. “You could do so much more for yourself than what you’re doing. You hide yourself behind those baggy clothes but—“

“A girl should wear something that fits no matter what her size?” Jenny interrupted.

“Yes!” Kelly affirmed.

“And even big girls should especially pay attention to their skin and hair?”

“Absolutely.”

“And for God’s sake, fat girl, get the right bra!”

That’s when Kelly had her first inkling what was happening. Jenny kept looking at her. Jenny kept going.

“There’s no excuse for a fat girl to have bad skin, because chances are you’re eating everything it needs and more. And big hair. The bigger the better! And no matter what your size, there’s men who are into it. Whatever it is, there’s a website. Just take care of yourself, let go of your insecurity, and that man will find you!”

Kelly was stunned. Jenny was still looking at her with those gray eyes, a spackling of green mixed in. She didn’t look angry, or sad. She couldn’t tell how Jenny may have felt, and it was scary. “Yeah,” she finally mumbled. “I guess you’ve heard all that, too.”

“A few times. Thanks, but no thanks, Kelly. I’m already secure in myself.”

Kelly was so embarrassed about what she'd done that she almost started crying.

“It’s OK, Kelly,” she said. “I know what you’re trying to do. You didn’t hurt my feelings. Come on! We’re wasting good Disney time!”

Kelly practically heard Gail’s voice out loud: See? Rough around the edges, but a heart of gold.
 

StrugglingWriter

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The subject didn’t come up again until late the next day.

“You know,” Kelly said, “Gail didn’t send me to say that stuff to you yesterday.”

They were retreating from Tommorrowland back to Main Street, where Jenny was set on another waffle cone Sunday at the Ice Cream Parlor for the last day at Disney. For Kelly’s part, she’s had no problem sticking to her plan of relative restraint. Jenny, on the other hand, clearly had no plans for restraint whatsoever. In addition to her well-planned, favorite stops at eateries in each of the Disney villages, there seemingly wasn’t a stand of frozen lemonade, Dippin’ Dots, or popcorn balls she could say no to. She’d have found Jenny’s nonstop gourmandizing no less than superhuman, were she not fully cognizant as she observed her companion that she must have looked much the same to anyone who took the time to watch her this past summer. The more she reflected upon it, the amazing thing wasn’t the sixty pounds she’d put on in a scant twelve weeks. It was the other twenty she’d somehow avoided along the way. It reminded her that in the midst of colossal diet failure, even occasional conscientiousness paid its dividends. It helped her to feel that her efforts still had some meaning, even with the beginning of Rush a mere five days away.

It amazed Kelly how comfortable Jenny was with her size, and by comfortable Kelly meant physically comfortable. Jenny was one of the largest people she’d ever met in real life, so big she couldn’t even hazard a guess how much she weighed. Such heights had never entered into her calculations. And yet not once did Jenny appear to struggle with her size. Granted, they sauntered together pretty lazily together through the park. And, it was clear that Jenny would never set any land speed records. But Kelly noticed none of the fatigue she’d noticed in her mother earlier that summer. No matter how much she may have had to stuff herself into a booth or table or ride, if she ever felt a squeeze or a pinch, she never betrayed it. And despite her weight she never seemed to feel the least bit of pain in her feet, even at the end of a long day of walking.

None of which she could say for herself. She felt constantly annoyed by the just-a-wee-bit-too-tightness of her shorts around her midriff and thighs, enough that earlier in the day she’d exchanged her clothes for Mickey Mouse shirt and shorts in one of the gift shops. (Extra-large again. She’d cringed. Curse the mouse for always running so small! She’d thought it with only a mild sense of the facetious irony.) By the end of each day her feet were sore, and despite having none of the obvious problems with compatibility that Jenny encountered everywhere she went, she never quite felt like she fit wherever she sat down, even in the shadow of Jenny’s enormous form. Had she ever stopped to think about it, she never would have thought Jenny’s life of easy comfort could even be possible.

Jenny had also become much more comfortable around Kelly. Jenny was still awkward. But knowing what she knew about Jenny now, Kelly could now see that Jenny’s initial awkwardness had much to do with her discomfort revealing too much about her own history too fast. It had just as much to do with something else: Jenny wasn’t just geeky. It was shortly after Jenny provided a thoughtful response to one of Kelly’s passing comments (something like, “The Magic Castle feels so small when you get inside it, but it looks so big from far away!” which Jenny then answered with something like, “I know! Their use of forced perspective in its construction was genius!”—to which Kelly pretended she understood what those words meant, even if she didn’t truly know what Jenny was talking about), that Kelly fully realized that Jenny was wicked smart.

But Jenny also clearly engaged in substantial effort not to appear so. As their third day together progressed, Kelly found herself grateful for the effort. The brilliant people she’d been around before—like Caleb—had so often made her feel stupid, or condescended to. With Jenny, she felt neither.

More than anything, though, she found in Jenny someone who could listen. Maybe it was all that time she’d spent shepherding younger kids while in all those foster homes. Or maybe she’d learned that the more she let others talk about themselves, the less she talked about herself. Whatever the reason, Kelly felt as comfortable sharing her story with Jenny as she had with Gail—only this time without any of the intimidation factor.

So between Jenny’s periodic trivia about the history and intricacies of Disneyland (inevitably intertwined with the occasional obtuse reference to Star Wars and Doctor Who) Kelly filled much of their time together talking about her first year in Phi Gamma, her travails with her studies and her weight this summer, her friendship with Gail, and especially her exciting new boyfriend.

All of which Jenny could relate to about as much as Kelly could relate to Jenny’s rudderless years in foster care.

“Yeah she did.”

Jenny meant, of course, that Gail had sent Kelly precisely to say what she’d said the morning before.

Kelly should have prepared for Jenny’s bluntness, but then, it was Kelly. She stood in the back of the Ice Cream Parlor line with her mouth agape. How does SHE know what Gail sent me to do or not do?

“I know, I know,” Jenny finally added as they stepped together quickly through the line. “What you really meant to say is that she didn’t tell you to say those things to me. But don’t think for a second she didn’t send you here knowing you’d say them.”

“No way. She would never do that! Gail’s the sweetest, most giving person I’ve ever met.”

Jenny laughed, an obnoxious sound that caused people to turn their heads. “I guess if I were you, that’s the way I’d feel about her, too.”

“Why do you say that? How could you not like Gail?”

“I didn’t say I don’t like Gail,” Jenny snapped back, a little too loudly. The tall guy in front of them glanced their way before repeating his order.”

“I didn’t say I don’t like Gail,” Jenny repeated, a little quieter this time. “It’s just that—“

“What can I get you?” the chirpy blonde behind the ice cream case called out in the noisy din of the parlor.

“Waffle sundae. Two scoops. Extra fudge and whipped cream.” The girl nodded with Disney energy and bustled about fulfilling Jenny’s order. But Jenny wasn’t quite as hasty.

“It’s just what?” Kelly grumped with furrowed brow, her irritation at Jenny mounting.

“What can I get for you?” interrupted a tall slender guy with a killer smile.

Smiles were like air to Kelly. “I’m not having any,” she waved, almost rudely. “Tell me, Jenny. What is it?”

Jenny was just receiving her ice cream from the Chirpy Blonde and reaching into her cavernous cargo pocket for her money. “Gail and you are the same kind of people. And your kind of people are only good to my kind of people when we fit in with your kind of people.”

At first, Kelly was flooded by a wave of outrage, rage, rejection, disillusionment, humiliation AGAIN—so much at one time, that she never did quite get a handle on it all. That’s because a second wave hit her, which demanded her attention.

She looked around for the Tall Smile, stepped in front of the indecisive elderly lady he was speaking with, and flashed her best smile back. “Is two scoops the biggest sundae you serve?”
 
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Biglover

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My first reply. You're absolutely a wonderful writer. I just started reading this story a couple days ago, and looked forward to your latest installment. The twists and turns have kept me coming back, wanting more and more. I do hope that we don't have to wait to long for the next couple chapters. Beautiful writing.
 

StrugglingWriter

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Thank you for the kind words. It has been a lot of work putting this story together, and it really makes a difference to hear from people how or why they have enjoyed it. This particular section of the story has been hard to write. (I also had a disk crash and lost the segment I had been having the most trouble completing.) The payoff for that work, though, is just around the corner, so hopefully the pace will pick up.
 

StrugglingWriter

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“Gail’s rules for fat fashion are all well and good, but she has no idea how much they’ll never work for me.”

Kelly had quickly resolved not to overreact to Jenny the way she had a couple of nights before. Grace under pressure was an important Phi Gamma value. Besides, however much Jenny might put things bluntly, Kelly now understood that Jenny had experienced an entirely different world than her, and she had a lot to learn about it.

Still, Kelly stabbed a little too smartly at her triple-scoop sundae (with the waffle cone bowl) not to betray the irritation she felt. Two days ago it was “girls like us.” Today it’s "our kind of people" and "your kind of people." Make up your mind, sister.

“It’s one thing when you’re your size, or even Gail’s size,” Jenny was saying. “It’s a whole other thing when you’re as fat as me. Girls at size 16 can find plenty of things that fit right in all the right places. But you try it at size 32.”

Size 32, Kelly thought. She found it incomprehensible. Jenny kept going, becoming more animated, even agitated, with each word.

“People Gail’s size are pretty much like bigger skinny people. When you get my size, all of your parts are different sizes. Hell”—it was the first time Jenny had cussed, and Kelly realized they at least had that in common—“you have whole new parts that skinny people don’t even have!” She crossed her arms over her flat fat chest and pressed her baggy T-shirt to her form, exposing the side boobs under each of her pits. “Buy something that fits your form? OK, which part? Anything you can buy that even fits over your tummy gets all baggy around the chest. Meanwhile the sleeves get all tight around the upper arms, so you might as well have an empty knapsack around your neck. What do I need the right bra for if I have all that going on! Besides, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a bra that fits at my size?”

Kelly just looked up from her sundae and smiled but said nothing.

“Oh. Well, I guess you do." Pause. "Anyway, with all that the only thing about your form that winds up showing is your big, fat belly. I don’t need to get some overpriced flimsy fru-fru thing to get that look. I can just buy a big men’s T-shirt and wind up with the same look with none of the cost.

“Besides do you have any idea the size some frilly ruffle would have to be on a girl like me to hide anything? On you it’s a cute little adornment. On me, it’s the size of one of your shirts. They just don’t make things like that for me! And then there’s buttons: one tight, then one loose, then another tight. You sit down, and the whole equation changes as parts of you ooze here and there. Any time I wear something like that, all I can think about is how I would feel if one of those things popped off.”

“That’s nothing different,” Kelly interjected dispassionately, in contrast to Jenny’s increasing irritation. “You could wear something stretchy.”

Jenny laughed coldly. “Not stretchy enough! And if you do, then you’ve got one of Gail’s no-nos: roll after roll highlighted for everyone to see. No one wants that. No one wants to see it, and no one wants to be seen with it.”

“You’ve thought a lot about this.”

“You bet I have!" Jenny rolled on, with animus. "You wouldn’t believe how much she brings it up. I’ve wanted to say all this stuff to her for you-wouldn’t-believe-how-long.”

Kelly smiled, “But I’m not her.”

Jenny actually blushed, then looked down at her melting sundae and sighed.

“No, you’re not,” she mumbled. “Sorry. I guess it bothers me more than I thought it does.”

“Of course it does. Me, too. I’ve been telling you for two days: my whole summer was about that!”

“You know another thing?” Jenny continued, this time more relaxed. “None of that fru-fru stuff is ever sturdy enough. One time I was 16 and this caseworker of mine used some special program to buy me and one of the other girls in my house each a dress. I was so excited, because it had ruffles and cool patterns. My friend’s did, too. Well, they were pretty cheap, I guess. Mine was from Lane Bryant and hers was from Hot Topic or someplace like that. Mine started falling apart the very first time I wore it. People don’t realize it, but being a fat girl is hard on clothes. And fat girl clothes wear out so easy! They’re always made of the flimsiest material, especially those stretchy things you’re talking about. You know, they wouldn’t show your rolls and folds so bad if they were a little stiffer. I think they do it to save on costs. That’s why I like having cargo shorts. They don’t wear out so easy.”

“The thing I hate most about cargo shorts is how the pockets and buttons are so hard and rub me the wrong way,” Kelly offered. “I don’t even see how you can feel so comfortable in them.”

“Meh,” Jenny shrugged. “No more than being fat. There’s always rubbing here or chafing there. I think after a while you just get used to it.”

Kelly doubted it, but then she’d seen the evidence right before her eyes.

“I’m sorry I said what I said about you and Gail, Kelly,” Jenny demurred. “But it really frustrates me how much she really doesn’t understand. You know what she really doesn’t understand, though?”

“What’s that?”

“All those rules are really all about one thing: MONEY. Money at the hairdresser. The nail salon. Hair products. Shampoos. Skin creams. Perfumes and body spray. Clothes, clothes, clothes! Gail’s never gone without money, and—no offense—I’ll bet you never have either. So she just assumes everyone else can do all these things that she does and then judges people if they don’t. Even if it all would make a difference for me—which I doubt—money is just one thing I’ve never had.”

A little surge of joy shot through Kelly as she realized how she could help. She smiled, reached into the Coach clutch she’d carried around with her at Disney, and placed her stack of new credit cards on the table. “I guess you were right,” she said. “Gail really did have a plan in sending me after all.”
 

samster

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Just read this story so far -- really excellent work, love the characters, the development and you are a fantastic writer!
 

StrugglingWriter

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Thanks, sam. Right back at ya. My favorite of yours is still the first one chronicling the growth of Debbie into her thirties.
 

StrugglingWriter

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The next day an excited Kelly and a nervous Jenny walked in together to the Lane Bryant at the Tustin Marketplace.

“I don’t feel right about this,” Jenny offered.

“I do,” Kelly answered, but inside she wasn’t completely sure. She’d never actually shopped a plus-size specialty store before. She’d wanted to take Jenny to something less bourgeois than a Lane Bryant, but a quick online search had told her that the options for size 32 were more limited than she could have believed.

But if Kelly knew one thing, it was clothes, and whatever the location, Kelly knew she could help.

She spotted the Cacique lingerie section in the back. Underwear was always about trial and error anyway, so they might as well start there.

“Nuht-unh,” Jenny blurted a little too loud once she saw where Kelly was headed. “I did not agree to come here with you to get sexy lingerie.” She turned around and started to walk out. Kelly darted to the door, her breasts bouncing clumsily up and down as she did so (Ow! I have to stop forgetting about that!), and pulled on Jenny’s arm.

“It’s not lingerie,” she said the word with faux French flair. “It’s underwear. Dressing right’s like anything else: it all starts with a good foundation. Don’t worry … I’m not trying to set you up for some sexy encounter!”

But Jenny continued to act as if Kelly was.

Jenny was in the dressing room alone with several of what Kelly hoped were good choices. (Kelly had never shopped a plus size store before, particularly not for underwear, and Kelly’s inquiry about Jenny’s size had yielded the band size “48” and a cup size “Uh, whatever seems to fit cheap.” Not all that helpful as a start.)

“What’s the point of this, Kelly? I mean, no one but me is gonna see this on me.”

“I will,” Kelly called over the door.

“I don’t swing that way.”

“See? You do think about who might be attracted to you!”

Jenny snorted. She must have thought it was funny despite herself. “Not using bras I don’t. This is a waste of time.”

Kelly laughed. “It was never my bra that led to the attraction!”

“That’s exactly my point. I can’t dress like some Phi Gamma sex symbol, and I don’t want to.” Jenny swung open the door. She was still in her baggy t-shirt and the bras were on the seat.

“No you don’t,” Kelly pushed back. “Get back in there.” She’d have walked in with Jenny if there were room. But there wasn’t, even in this plus-sized changing room. She felt dwarfed by Jenny’s huge form looming over her. Jenny could have easily overcome Kelly’s gentle push, but she quickly yielded.

That just confirmed what Kelly knew: inside Jenny was begging for help from the right person. But it had to be the right kind of help.

“Silly girl! The Phi Gamma dress code isn’t about sex.”

Jenny rolled her eyes, a gesture a lot of people used with her that she was recognizing meant, You’re so naïve! “Of course it is. It’s a sorority, Kelly!”

No, it’s Phi Gamma!

In Phi Gamma they say, You have to be Phi Gamma to understand Phi Gamma. People thought sororities were all the same: all about parties and sex and special connections. The more glamorous, the prettier the girls, the better the sorority was. Kelly wasn’t that naïve. She knew what sororities were about, and truthfully there was plenty of that in Phi Gamma. She’d lived it, after all, thinking guiltily again of her several sexual encounters over the last year.

That, of course, just got her hot about Wade.

But what others didn’t understand about Phi Gamma was that, at its essence, Phi Gamma, even at the top of the heap, was the working girl’s sorority. Yes, they had the best parties, but then so did all the best corporations, too.

What Phi Gamma’s code—Gail’s code, Kelly realized—was about extending the influence of the sorority girl beyond the college experience.

Just like every fraternity perceives itself as preparing its members to be leaders in the workforce, so was the Phi Gamma sorority. But where the best fraternities had good ole boy networks to propel their alumni on, sororities had no such advantage. Generations of Southern tradition had geared Phi Gamma girls for domesticity, for hitching a ride with power.

Phi Gamma was about preparing women to seize power on their own, without connections, both in college and beyond.

That was why Phi Gamma pushed a tight, professional, tailored and polished image. It wasn’t devoid of sexiness. Of course not. No ideal of womanhood could be. But the Phi Gamma version of sexy cultivated the image of power, poise, confidence, competence.

All of which Jenny Larsen possessed 100% in actuality (except for confidence), and almost 0% in image. Kelly just knew that was what Gail had sent her to California to fix.

But she couldn’t imagine how she could ever convey all of that to Jenny in this one single moment.

“Yeah, but think about it. It’s Gail’s sorority,” she offered after just a moment's hesitation. If only you knew how much. “You think for one minute in any other sorority a girl Gail Hedges’s size could become its president?”

Jenny just gave Kelly a vacant look. Nailed it. Gail, of course, used to be much thinner, but Jenny didn’t seem to know it. And, Kelly decided, no use in letting her in on that little secret right now, either.

“That did always strike me as odd,” Jenny demurred. “But she sure fit the rest of the picture.” By that, Jenny was clearly referring to the drinking and God-knows-what-else about Gail that Jenny had learned since Gail started dating her older brother. I’ll bet she has some serious stories.

“I guess you can’t deny that,” Kelly conceded. “But take away all that, and Gail’s a professional. All those rules she has? They aren’t about making it as a sorority co-ed. They’re about, as a woman, being taken seriously as a professional. And that doesn’t change whether you’re a CEO or a pharmaceutical sales rep. Or,” she added, “an overweight social services worker.”

Kelly cringed at using the word overweight but she knew she needed it to make the point.

“In this world,” she continued, “no matter how smart she is, no girl can be taken seriously wearing khaki shorts and a baggy t-shirt.” In Phi Gamma, that phrase usually included hoop earrings, leggings, finger paint make-up or low-rise jeans, but, hey, a girl has to adapt to the moment.

“You’re the smartest girl I’ve ever met,” Kelly concluded. “Don’t you want to be taken seriously?”

Jenny was still standing a step inside the dressing room doorway, eyeing Kelly with a curious look, halfway between wanting to believe Kelly and dismissing it all with a sneer. Time ticked forward a few seconds.

“I don’t think you really understand,” she finally said slowly, with diction. “And I think it’s important that you do,” she said slowly. “No matter how you dress or how you make yourself look, the thought people will always have going through their minds when they see someone like me is, ‘Wow. She’s really fat.’ When you’re fat, that’s all people see. And it’s all they’ll ever see.”

And yet, she still turned back into the dressing room and began asking Kelly questions in a hopeful tone about how to tell which of those brassieres she’d chosen truly fit the best.
 
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StrugglingWriter

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“How was Disney today?”

“Oh, we finished up Disney yesterday. But today was like Disneyland!”

Wade wasn’t allotted much free time while in summer drills, but, as he had each night since they parted in Vegas, he had called for a few moments to talk and wish her good night. By this time it was the cool of the California evening, and Kelly and Jenny had migrated over in a chartered car to The District in Tustin for stage two of their quest at a Catherine’s.

Shopping for Jenny had been harder than she had expected. Jenny had been right about everything. The cheap material. The bunching fabric. The impossibility of finding the right fit everywhere. And, the ultimately unflattering look of just about anything Jenny slipped on.

The early struggle was pulling Jenny away from the discount rack: if this makeover was going to work, options could not be limited.

“Look,” Kelly finally said. “Do you have any idea what I spent in Vegas on clothes?” She whispered the amount in Jenny’s ear.

Jenny’s eyes went wide.

“All of it with my Mommy’s blessing. So what’s a few hundred more on top of that?”

That apparently did it. But Lane Bryant didn’t. Wrap dresses, frilled tanks, loose tops—none of it did more than provide a frame for her round protruding belly. Kelly steered her away from the T’s and capris so much like her favored cargo shorts and men’s shirts. Standard leggings and a strong supply of various tanks was the best they could do.

But Catherine’s had been a different story. Skirts, blouses, even sweaters—all of it provided a professional look that even Jenny was willing to accept. Kelly insisted she try each item with her new Cacique underpinnings below, and the occasional pair of leggings. And at each step Kelly emphasized how each look defined a professional who knew what she was talking about, who could be trusted by kids, parents, and supervisors alike. Jenny even accepted a few bits of jewelry. (Kelly noted a need for revision: Gail’s/Phi Gamma's rule against big jewelry clearly didn’t apply when it came to big girls. The bigger the girl, the bigger the jewelry!)

Kelly tried to explain it all to Wade without boring him. She was pretty sure she wasn’t succeeding. The only response she got from him was a low whistle when she relayed to him the number of bags they’d packed full that day and the amount she’d managed to spend without Jenny realizing.

“Is that really worth it? I mean, if she’s as mafugly as you say she is….”

“Wade Bodie!”

“Just saying.”

“I never said that,” Kelly whispered. She was out in the Promenade watching Jenny from afar as she inhaled chips and queso in the covered patio at the Mexican grill, but she felt like Jenny was standing right next to her.

“Not right out.”

“Wade Bodie,” she scolded again. These two may not have looks in common, but they both have the same tact. “I swear you’re—“

Kelly’s phone had interrupted her with that always annoying alarm to inform her the battery was low.

“Never mind. I’m running out of battery. I can’t wait to see you! When do I get to see you next?”

“How would I know? When do you get back?”

Kelly opened her mouth, then shut it. She had no idea. She’d been so focused on playing What Not To Wear with Jenny today that the thought hadn’t crossed her mind.

“I don’t know!”

“Well how do you know you didn’t miss your flight already?”

“Jenny said we have to check out of the hotel tomorrow. So, I guess I fly back tomorrow.”

“You’re so clueless, Kells. You’re the blondest blonde I ever dated. And that’s saying something.”

Kelly figured there was no point being offended by what was so clearly true. It bothered her more to think about Wade dating other girls, blonde or not. The thought had simply never occurred to her before.

“Whatev. Hey, I gotta go.” I love you! her suddenly jealous heart wanted to say. But she knew better. “I’ll text as soon as I know when I’m coming back. You could meet me at the airport!”

“Sounds exciting.”

“Whatever. You’re the worst! Get lost!”

“Bye, Sweetheart. Sleep good.” Click. Or it would have clicked, if modern phones still clicked.

Boys were so frustrating. Especially the gorgeous ones! Kelly put it out of her mind, turned off her beeping phone and placed it in her purse. She was as annoyed at herself for forgetting about going home as she was now worried about missing her flight. Better ask Jenny what—

“Oh!” Kelly exclaimed as she looked up. Jenny was standing right there. She still had a smudge of queso in the corner of her lip. But for some reason her already red cheeks were redder with embarrassment.

“I hate to bring it up after you bought me all that stuff—“

“My Mommy bought it for you, and it was her pleasure,” Kelly smiled.

“Yeah.” Jenny smiled back, then went back to mumbling. “It’s just that I should have brought it up before.”

“OK.” What is it?

“It’s just that, it’s getting late, and I still need a swimsuit.”

Swimsuit? First Kelly’d heard of the subject. “Sure." She started to look at her phone for the time and realized she'd turned it off. Maybe we can go out again tomorrow and get one.” Kelly was starving, and the thought of missing out on queso and chips made her grumpy.

“Um, you think we’ll have time?”

“You know, I was just about to head over and ask you what time I leave—“
It suddenly hit her.

“Wait,” Kelly said. “Why exactly do you need to buy a swimsuit right now?”
 
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