The Munchies Return!
By Coyote Wild
By Coyote Wild
Olivia can still hear the laughter.
At night, when it's quiet, as she's drifting off to sleep. It used to precede an impromptu snack or an entire surprise banquet, but that was over a decade ago. And yet, she can still hear the laughter.
In fact, it rose her one morning before her phone's alarm. She sat up with a gasp and called out, "Hello?"
She let out a heavy sigh and closed her eyes in relief as she let her lithe form fall back onto the bed. Olivia chuckled at herself, at her outlandish paranoia. But her worries weren't entirely without merit.
Fifteen years prior, shortly after Olivia had turned eighteen, they found her: The Munchies.
Olivia had been enjoying the house to herself. Her parents were away on business and trusted her to look after herself for a few days.
And on a particularly quiet evening, the Munchies appeared. Little gray goblins of some sort. Friendly, fluffy, giddy, and cute. Scary at first, but Olivia had a sweet soul and soon came to befriend them.
This proved detrimental to her waistline.
It seemed all the Munchies ever wanted to do was eat. And food was always around when they were. But it soon dawned on Olivia that they were never eating with her. They simply provided the food, sometimes even feeding it to her after she began to tire. She had never eaten such delicious, exquisite feasts in her entire life; nor in such quantities.
As a result, her body began to grow. It softened at first, but Olivia didn't notice this stage. Her definition melted, then she slowly started to swell. When she couldn't button her favorite pants, she finally realized the change.
She told the Munchies she wouldn't be eating so much anymore. But that's what they all say.
Olivia soon caught herself with a pastry in her hand or a burger in her mouth. Her hunger surpassed her rational thoughts and calories were slipping past her defenses.
She continued to expand. She became chubby, then fat, and was growing fatter still.
Starting the week slender, Olivia had crested 250 pounds and was barrelling towards 300 over the course of just a few days, splitting seams and popping buttons along the way.
She shook her head to dispel the image. That wasn't her anymore. She escaped the Munchies and over the course of the next five years, slimmed back down to 137, just twelve pounds shy of her original weight; a weight she (more or less) maintained for the next decade. Sure, there were the obligatory fluctuations, but the pendulum never swayed more than ten pounds in either direction.
Olivia's alarm went off and she groaned at the day-to-come like Frankenstein at a villager's torch. She swept the sheets back and hopped out of bed, plucking the seat of her cotton undies from between her small, firm cheeks. Olivia yawned as she pulled the strap of her tank top back over her left shoulder, shuffling to her restroom.
As she brushed her teeth and prepared for another Monday, she locked her gaze with her reflection.
'Remember,' she thought to herself, still shaken up from the scare from before. 'Remember how you beat them: discipline, motivation, will power.'
Olivia's resolve turned out to be too much for the Munchies, and they were unable to conjure the meals or influence her mind. They had retreated in sadness and anger, disappearing from her life for good.
And now, fifteen years later, that victory was still a great source of confidence, which she used to drive herself every single day.
Dressed in her biking gear with her work clothes in her backpack, Olivia jogged down the stairwell of her complex's parking garage, carrying her bicycle on her shoulders. She had a car, she just preferred the exercise and the low-impact on the environment that came with commuting by bike.
Her tone, muscled thighs pumped as she peddled. A harrowing ride of several zigs and zags and a couple of curse words later, Olivia was locking down her bicycle, swiping her badge, and entering the elevator to her offices.
"Wait!" echoed a voice from around the corner.
Olivia quickly slapped the 'open' button and the doors lurched before retracting. The owner of the voice slowed to a jog and swung into the elevator. It was Jake.
"Hey, Olivia! Thanks!" Jake smiled once he realized it was her that saved the day.
"Don't thank me. I meant to press the 'close' button," Olivia joked.
"Well I forgot deodorant today so I should've let you," Jake quipped.
Olivia and Jake had been work friends for the past year, but over the last few months, they had become even closer through occasional hangouts with mutual friends. Though she still wasn't sure what it was she was feeling, she simply found herself excited when he was around.
They talked about the shows they were watching, the weather, their commute, until eventually they came to a fork in the hall and had to part ways. Olivia dipped into the women's room to change out of her biking gear and into her work clothes.
She walked towards her office with a confident stride and settled in at her desk. She leaned to her right and pulled out a lower drawer, revealing it to be filled with healthy snacks like crackers and granola bars.
Plucking a bar from the drawer, tearing the package right through the print claiming the contents to be "Under 100 Calories!", Olivia logged into her computer and started the day.
She was startled by a knock on her office's door frame. It was Claudia, her boss, with a smile and a wave. "How was your weekend?" she asked.
"Good, thanks! Productive but relaxing. Yours?" Olivia asked.
"Meh," Claudia replied. "Listen, do you think you could lead a meeting this Thursday to walk some of us through that new archiving system?"
Olivia stammered her response before eventually eeking out: "Sure, absolutely!"
"Great! Also, I hope to have an answer for you soon regarding...you know," Claudia said with a wink.
Olivia did know. She had applied for a position as a department head a few weeks prior at Claudia's encouragement. As the process could be excruciatingly long, she suggested Olivia put it out of her mind until she heard more. And here Claudia was, hinting at news with a smile.
Things were looking up for Olivia.
Claudia left and almost immediately, Olivia's email notification chimed. It was from her friend Lori: "Lunch?"
A couple of hours later, the prongs of Olivia's fork were piercing layers of lettuce, cucumber slices, and cherry tomatoes. She took her bite with a satisfying crunch-squish combo only achievable with a delicious, fresh salad.
Olivia and Lori were eating at their favorite lunch spot, standing at the window bar, side-by-side, like storefront mannequins looking out at the busy city street. Lori and Olivia used to be college roommates, Lori being the one that got Olivia her current gig. Olivia had just told Lori of the potential promotion and the meeting she'd be heading up on Thursday.
"Hey, alright!" Lori replied smiling, eyebrows raised. "Go, Liv! You're absolutely killing it right now!" They bumped fists and imitated explosions.
"And!" Olivia continued, unable to contain her excitement. "I got to walk in with Jake this morning," she said through a glowing smile as she poked at her salad.
Lori's smile suddenly seemed less genuine and more polite. She cleared her throat and took a drink of water.
Olivia's smile faded when she noticed the shift in Lori's tone. "What?" Olivia asked, afraid of what Lori knew. Was Jake gay? Was he married? Was he already seeing someone in the office? Strange that Olivia wouldn't pick up on any of these things, but they never seemed to talk about their romantic lives so she couldn't be sure.
"It's just...don't take this the wrong way or anything, but I found out recently that you may not be Jake's...type," Lori explained.
"How do you mean?" Olivia asked, annoyed that she even had to. Lori's withholding of information was beginning to feel personal.
"Well, you know Becky in marketing?" Lori asked.
"You mean, Big Fat Becky?" Olivia clarified. Big Fat Becky was an acquaintance/coworker that looked kind of like Anna Nicole Smith, if Anna Nicole Smith had ballooned to 400 pounds. She was also nearly as sweetly vapid, only more sweet and less vapid.
"Right. Well, before you started working here, she was actually pretty skinny. She and Jake were dating back then."
"Oh wow," Olivia said, processing this new information. "So after the breakup, she found solace in cake and ice cream?"
Lori shook her head, hoping Olivia would be able to put it together correctly. "She wasn't 'Big Fat' Becky when they started going out but she became 'Big Fat' Becky well before they broke up."
Olivia's brow furrowed in confusion, then raised in realization. "So you're saying..." Olivia began.
"She was just Becky, until Jake made her Big Fat Becky," Lori finished.
Olivia's eyes darted off to the side as she processed the intel. "He likes fat chicks?" she asked, when it all clicked. Lori nodded empathetically, hating to break this news to her best friend.
"I know you like him, kiddo, but he isn't worth losing your body over," Lori consoled, placing her hand on Olivia's back. "I know you have a history of weight issues and I know how hard you work to stay in shape. Could you really throw out all those years of effort for one guy?"
Olivia was crestfallen. She honestly wasn't sure how to answer that question. Her connection with Jake was the first solid bond she had felt with a romantic interest in quite a long time. And though she wasn't lonely by any stretch, she saw a lovely companionship in Jake. But now she wasn't sure what to do with this new information.