BHM The Untouchables (SSBHM, Romance, Karma)

Discussion in 'Recent Additions' started by Unbasher, Dec 24, 2018.

  1. Jan 2, 2019 #21

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 6 (1/3). Blanche: Rules


    When I had caught sight of the big blonde in her thirties with the nerd glasses inserting her key into the front door, I wondered if that was Silke, and Griffin’s pallor a few minutes later when he emerged from the building with the first box squashed into his belly was confirmation enough. The silence weighed heavily between us on the way back and I couldn’t keep myself from repeatedly glancing at the expanse of his squishy back in the rearview mirror. Rock bottom. I’d been there myself and didn’t care for another visit, and now I of all people was supposed to help him work his way out? What had I gotten myself into? Helping Griffin get healthy in mind and body was already a mammoth project in itself – again, no pun intended, Karma, I swear – doing so while living under one roof with him was quite another.

    Forty minutes later my living area was strewn with my hardware-store purchases and Griffin’s boxes, all of them unlabeled and their contents spilling out of most of them. Although I could make allowances for his wanting to vacate his old apartment as soon as possible and therefore packing in a hurry, I had a feeling this was his default packing technique. The author of said chaos looked around himself with both embarrassment and solemnity before he turned to me:

    “Blanche? Again, I can’t thank you enough for helping me. I just want you to know I’m taking this seriously and I promise I'll try to keep my time here as short as possible. With my track record in diets that isn't saying much, and I can't guarantee I won't have setbacks, but I'll try my hardest. My job, my relationship, hell, my life is on the line and I can't screw up. I want to make a change and I’ll give it my all. And I don't know how yet but I will think of a way to pay you back.”

    Just when I had been about to send a reassuring smile his way, his last statement wiped it off my face. It was exactly what I didn’t deserve. I had led a useless enough life even before I began to physically hurt people. “Please don't,” I shook my head at Griffin, “I don't want anything.”

    For a moment he looked as if he was prepared to argue but then decided against it. “Let's just not talk about it again, OK?”

    “OK.”

    Watching him lower himself gingerly onto the couch and survey his belongings, I recalled the day I had first sat in this very house, surrounded my own possessions. Back then I didn’t have anyone, no one to help but no one to witness my struggle either. Which one was worse? It was no use to dwell on the past, though. Things needed to be done. Again I grabbed my pen and pad and sat down on the short end of the couch.

    “Uhm, I’m going to make lunch in a while, so before you unpack, we’ll need to go over what you like to eat.”

    His mien darkened. “Are you making fun of me?”

    “No.” Instantly, however, I felt my cheeks prickle. I hate that about myself. I’m usually in control of my own face but whenever I feel uncomfortable, I turn into a beetroot, and Griffin appeared to have a knack for bringing that particular feature of mine into prominence. His pudgy hands gestured around himself while his eyes were doing their best to reduce my life span.

    “Look at me. Don't you think it's safe to assume I like anything?”

    It was like he meant to provoke me to have an excuse to vent or to give me one last opportunity to change my mind about taking in someone like him. Well, not going to happen.

    “No,” I therefore responded calmly, holding his challenging gaze. “Or do you?”

    “No,” he answered after a moment, still wary. “I can't stand raisins, cooked carrots and anything jiggly like Jell-O or runny eggs.”

    “That's it?”

    “Uh, asparagus.”

    “Isn’t that a given?” I mumbled to myself. “Uhm, do you cook?”

    He shot me an embarrassed grin. “Nothing healthy but yeah. I... I'd like to learn, though.”

    “OK. Why don't I lead us through the cooking initially and at some point you try your hand at it?”

    “Alright.” Now it was his turn to blush, as he did so often. His was one of the most readable faces I had ever seen. “Uhm, but I want you to know that you don't have to come up with some diet or exercise plan for me. I need to figure this out myself. You're already doing more than anyone would have.”

    Actually, I had assumed I would support him in his diet, especially since I had adopted a lifestyle that made healthy eating easy and natural. Although I should feel relieved he was taking that responsibility off my shoulders, it didn’t.

    “I understand.”

    “You were going to offer, weren't you?” he asked after a moment.

    “Yes. But never mind.”

    “Hey,” he leaned forward with a wry grin, compressing the cushion of his belly, “I didn't say I wouldn't listen to unsolicited advice.”

    In that moment I realized what was the matter with his teeth: he was missing his smaller incisors. His eye teeth were directly adjacent to the bigger ones. I felt myself smile, both at his words and my own discovery.

    “I was just going to say: I wouldn't bother with a gym membership. Integrating natural exercise into your lifestyle is cheaper and healthier. I, for instance, take regular walks. There are no real walking paths around here but as long as you watch where you step, you should be fine just making your way through the trees. Walks will help you clear your head, too, much better than a stuffy gym.”

    Griffin gave a wry chuckle at that. “Aside from the fact that I need to save all the money I can, I probably wouldn't fit onto any workout machines anyway, so if you say that walks might do the trick just as well, that’s music to my ears. Thanks.”

    His gratefulness spared my overtaxed cheeks from heating up any further.

    “Any more unsolicited advice?”

    “Uh, you do realize that the phrase in combination with your question mark at the end is a contradiction?”

    “Absolutely.” For someone in danger of taking his own life, he looked remarkably comfortable in his vast skin. His smile widened and his flabby arms folded over his belly, unconsciously pushing it out even more. The sight pulled my eyes like a magnet but I managed to yank them off.

    “Well, it all comes down to exercise and healthy eating. If you like, you could just follow my diet. It's nothing special, I just don't eat any sugar and very little meat.”

    “No sugar?”

    “No.”

    “Are you a diabetic?”

    “No.”

    “Has anyone ever told you that you talk like a guy?”

    “No.” Because at the time I had started doing that, I no longer had anyone close enough to me to comment on that.



    Griffin’s method of unpacking consisted of dumping the contents of his boxes on the floor and separating it into heaps. With an inward sigh I helped him repack what would go into the garage, after which he installed the bathroom accessories as well as the curtains around the couch. He also manufactured a chair out of the two wooden blocks and the thick kitchen countertop offcut I had bought. Being a car mechanic it made sense that he would be handy, and due to his height he was able to reach the ceiling for the installation of the curtain rails without having to find anything to stand on that would support his weight. Even so, I could tell the simple act of lifting his arms tired him. No wonder he had lost his job.

    When the majority of his things was neatly put away, the costs for food and utilities as well as my house rules – clean up after yourself, never give out my address, stay clear of my bedroom and my personal possessions – had been cleared up, we sat down together to rice and veggies with herbal sauce. Finally we were able to share a meal at a proper table! Griffin, however, didn’t seem to share the sentiment: just like at breakfast, his downcast eyes and the delicate way he was forking small bites into his mouth made it all too clear he would rather eat in a prison cell than with me.

    Clearly he was ashamed of ingesting anything more substantial than broth in front of me, which meant that I needed to take his mind off our meal, and as it so happened, I knew just which topic would guarantee that. Considering our enforced proximity, he needed to know about it, no matter how much I would have liked to keep it to myself:
     
  2. Jan 2, 2019 #22

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 6 (2/3). Blanche: Rules


    “Uhm, there is something I haven't mentioned before: from time to time I will ask you to leave the house for a while.”

    Indeed this ominous opening caused Griffin to abandon his self-deprecating thoughts about public meal consumption at once.

    “I… I maintain a YouTube channel and I usually upload once a week, so I can’t be undisturbed while I record and video-edit.”

    His eyes widened. “Are you one of those rare people who actually make real money off of YouTube?”

    I only nodded.

    “What’s your channel about?”

    “I’d rather not talk about it.”



    It had started about one year after I had moved into this house. Despite the regular communication with my online students, I began to feel as if I faded and paled a bit more each day. Most days went by without anyone acknowledging me as a person, and with each silent hour that trickled by I could relate more and more to what it meant to go insane with loneliness. One afternoon, I had just returned from one of my lengthy walks that increasingly failed to restore me to working order, I caught sight of myself in the mirror in the entry. The oversize hood of my black fleece jacket was still up from the light drizzle outside but with the approaching dusk, the inside of the hood looked completely empty. I looked as invisible as I felt. Remaining fully clothed and gloved, I withdrew my phone on impulse and began to record.



    “Have you ever felt like you could disappear from this earth and no one would take notice? They say ‘Whenever you feel that way, try missing a couple of car payments’ but what if your car is fully paid for? What if there truly is no one who would care? If you have lived alone as long as I have, you have probably been in this place more than once, and if you are watching, that means that so far there has always been something that has made you change your mind and live on.

    “So have I, but lately chances are likely that I will come up short soon. In fact, up until a moment ago, this might have been the very day. What changed my mind? This video. I have no idea why I'm recording it or if anyone is going to watch it, but at least it will have served the purpose of keeping me going for one more day. Please don't get me wrong; this isn't a farewell letter, a cry for help or a sick attempt to get attention, clicks or comments. All I'm saying is: Karma, you win. I give up. I know you're only a bitch because I was one first.”



    I uploaded the video without any editing and forgot about it until I happened to click on it again a few days later and discovered that it had received over 11,000 clicks and more comments than I cared to scroll through, e.g.

    OMG, I know exactly what she means! I cried by the time I was done watching!”

    Don't give up, there is so much to live for!”

    What happened to you? Were you in an accident?”

    What do you mean by 'I was a bitch first'?”



    There were also quite a few requests for advice. How had I managed to keep going each day? How did I cope with living alone? I had never imagined I could serve as a source for inspiration, and only out of curiosity did I upload another video the next day, again in the black fleece jacket: how to graciously keep unwanted communication to a minimum.

    That video received the same attention as the first and the requests kept pouring in. Before I knew it, I told the internet about how to prevent people from invading your personal space, how to keep up your manners when living alone or how to stay fit even if you had no aptitude, interest or financial means for sports. Of course there were the regular trolls and letches but most of the comments were praise and gratefulness, many of them encouraging me to love myself since I was such an inspiration. I even received thanks from men grateful for my video about gently turning down unsolicited flirting.



    Although it pained me to do so, I nipped all of Griffin’s attempts at prolonged post-lunch conversation in the bud by nudging him to explore the surroundings while it was still bright outside and by setting out myself when he returned. After dinner I treated myself to a lengthy a shower, wished a bewildered-looking Griffin a premature good night and sought refuge in my bedroom with a book. As much as I had initially longed for the presence of another person, the prospect of having my privacy invaded for months to come was more intimidating than I had believed initially. What's more, I just couldn’t afford to give away too much of myself or to bond with him. It had been difficult enough getting used to a life of solitude once and I had no desire to go through that again once he left.

    All in all, our first few days together passed with as little interaction as was possible for two housemates.



    ~~~



    Although Griffin had soon resigned himself to my distant and taciturn manner by working on his laptop or spending time outside, living with him was like being constantly injected with adrenaline. Whenever we cooked or ate together, I always had to wear my gloves and make sure he didn’t brush my remaining visible skin inadvertently. Even when he wasn’t looking at me, I felt as if his eyes were on me constantly, and when he was outside, his presence lingered in the house. It was increasingly undoing me.

    On the one hand I was grateful for what little interaction we shared, which reminded me of what it felt like to be a person instead of a mere digital presence. There were some practical advantages, too: due to the contribution of his voluminous clothes, I finally didn’t have to wait three weeks anymore to do laundry.

    On the other hand he disconcerted me. I was never able to look at or hold his tent-like clothing in my hands for too long without my face prickling and my lower body tingling. As unfazed as I sought to conduct myself towards Griffin about his size, my subconscious marveled at and physically commented on it constantly.

    All in all, the intensifying tension, coupled with Griffin’s failing attempts to overcome his messy nature, my nerves were fraying more and more. I could tell he was making an effort but he kept failing the most basic of household tasks: loading the dishwasher inefficiently, leaving his shoes lying in the way or the toilet seat open. I had always been particular about order, and granted, these days I bordered on OCD but the fact was that I depended on a clean, orderly environment. I couldn't afford to trip and twist an ankle as a visit to the doctor was simply out of the question. The dishwasher and the toilet-seat issue had nothing to do with that, they simply clashed with my lifestyle and sense of aesthetics.



    On the ninth day I simply couldn’t take it anymore. Even though I had asked Griffin repeatedly to hang up the damp towel onto which he stepped when he was done showering, he had left it on the floor again in a sodden heap. After I had wrung it out, I marched into the living room where Griffin was looking for something in the chaotic interior of the chest of drawers.

    “How many times do I have to tell you,” I brandished the wet towel in his astonished face as he turned, “fabric gets moldy! Please pick and hang up your towel once you’re done showering! How can a grown man still be incapable of cleaning up after himself?”

    “And how can a person your age already be so set in her ways?” he shot back immediately, “seriously, Blanche, who gets this upset over a silly towel? If I’d known you have OCD, I’d have thought twice about staying with you! Geez, and I thought I was impossible to live with!”

    It was as if he’d punched me in the gut. Calling on every bit of willpower, I straightened, marched back into my bedroom where I draped the towel over the radiator and dressed for a walk. Back in the main area, I slipped into my boots and coat, as always avoiding my reflection in the small mirror. Facing myself was difficult most days, and now even more so. Griffin had hit the nail on the head: I was impossible to live with, albeit for a bigger reason than he thought. From the corner of my eye I saw him take a step towards me but then hesitate. No, there was no way I would facially invite him to apologize. For one, I didn’t deserve it, and for another he had obviously meant every word. A moment later I shut the door behind me.
     
  3. Jan 2, 2019 #23

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 6 (3/3). Blanche: Rules


    For the first few minutes that I trudged through the sodden woods, a light layer of snow coating the trees, roots and rocks, my mind couldn’t seem to settle on any particular thought. Only after a while did I feel myself grow calmer and my thoughts focus. How much longer could I bear sharing my space with a person as sloppy as Griffin? If things continued this way, I would definitely break at some point. The problem was, I couldn’t afford to. I practically made a promise to let him stay indefinitely, so he trusted and depended on me. Also, how would a broken promise impact my karma?

    And there was something else, something that I was loath to admit to myself but that kept pushing into the foreground of my troubled mind: the thought of a folded, orderly couch, no tent-like clothing in my hamper and the prospect of all-day silence felt like a tightening noose around my throat. Despite his messiness, I didn’t want Griffin to leave. Oh God, what was I supposed to do?

    When I returned to the house after what felt like an hour, the sight of freshly spread and compacted gravel in front of the garage gate and the door brought me up short. I had meant to fill in the potholes soon but current events had driven the thought from my overtaxed mind. A quick peek inside the house revealed that Griffin’s winter jacket was still there but his boots were missing. Could he be in the garage?

    I was greeted by the sight of my van leaning heavily to the right and a pair of thick legs protruding from the passenger side. My sloppy housemate was wedged into the passenger seat rear end first, cleaning the windshield from the inside. The windows already looked sparkling from the outside. There was no way he hadn’t heard my footsteps but he seemed bent on playing the ignoring game. Well, he didn’t know who he was up against since bearing silences was probably my biggest forte, a skill honed by necessity.

    At last a growl emerged from the inside of the van. “You’ve got to take better care of your car.”

    “Don’t tell me what to do,” I shot back, biting back a smile.

    “On the contrary,” Griffin sent a dark look my way, “since you don’t seem to know shit about cars.” He yanked himself out of the seat and onto his feet, running a shirt sleeve across his glistening brow. “For instance, the next time you get gas, check your tire pressure.”

    He sounded hostile but I refused to prolong our fight. “I do that,” I replied simply.

    “Well, do it more often,” he snapped, but with less sting to it. “Seriously, you can save yourself some costly car inspections if you check on a few things yourself in regular intervals.”

    “I’m just not a technical person and YouTube tutorials only get you so far.”

    “I’m not talking about replacing parts or anything like that. Let me show you something.”

    He waddled to the front of my van where his thick fingers slipped under the hood that hadn’t been closed all the way, opened it and put the prop into place. “Here,” he held up the dip stick once he had dipped it inside the oil tank. “See this brown cream-cheese-like stuff?” Ew, gross. “You shift up too soon. From time to time you need to give your engine a workout. I guess you mean to save on gas but don't do it at your engine's expense.” He cleaned and put the dipstick back. “Also, have you ever cleaned the inside of your gas cap?”

    “Uhm, I suppose I haven't. I always drive my car through the car wash when winter is over and I guess I’ve never thought about it.”

    “And that from the woman who probably irons her rags,” he grumbled but I could tell it was tinged with amusement. “Well, from now on you have to. Every part needs regular cleaning, and considering winter lasts at least four months in this area, you need to clean your car, especially the underbody, more often than once a year. You’re such a neat freak with everything else.”

    “You’re right.”

    Although he looked taken aback at my lack of belligerence, apparently he couldn’t resist poking me further. “And most of your off-brand cleaning crap needs to go. I’ll put together a list for you with a few things that will save you space in the garage, last you forever and be much more effective.”

    I could only stare at Griffin in wonder. So this was the man he used to be: confident and in charge.

    “See,” he added when I didn’t argue, “maybe it was a good idea to take me in after all.”

    “Maybe,” I smiled back, watching him unsuccessfully suppress one of his own. It looked quite endearing, especially with his funny teeth, and the feeling instantly spread throughout my body. “Uhm, are you hungry yet?” I asked, feeling my face heat up again and watching his follow suit.

    “Yeah.”

    “I’ll make something.”

    “Uh, I was going to finish up anyway. I’ll help you.”

    “OK.”

    By the time we sat down at the kitchen table, less than twenty words had been exchanged. We had worked together productively but our fight was still hovering in the room like a malodorous cloud.

    “Griffin?” He looked up at me with an expectant face. “I’m aware I’m a pathetic recluse with paranoia and OCD but I’m all those things because I don’t have a choice. I’d give anything to be normal again.” Crap, I hadn’t meant to let that last word slip out. Well, perhaps he hadn’t noticed. “Nevertheless I’m sorry. I’ll try to work on it and if you make an effort, too, maybe we won’t get into each other’s way too much.”

    “You’re not pathetic,” Griffin answered after a moment in a gentle voice, “in fact, I think it’s impressive as hell how you’re pulling off life by yourself. Yeah, you should lighten up a little but as you said, if I’ll pull myself together, we should get along pretty well.”



    That night was the first night I didn’t feel the need to flee from his presence. We quickly agreed on a movie and I picked up the beginnings of a black scarf I had been crocheting over the past weeks. After a while I noticed Griffin’s broad fingers fidget like a recent non-smoker in dire need of a cigarette. Could it be sugar cravings?

    “Griffin, what’s wrong?”

    “Huh?”

    Catching my eyes on his hands, he blushed and stopped. I was probably spot on with my suspicion or he wouldn’t be this embarrassed. Should I really add to it by addressing the point? Then again if I didn’t, he might break down and raid the fridge later tonight. He probably hadn’t so far because I would find out, but any addict was in risk of breaking down sooner or later. My face was ablaze but I had to come out and say it. On the off chance that I was wrong, perhaps he could put my advice to use when the time did come. I paused the movie.

    “I’m afraid I don’t have any snacks but in case you crave something sweet, a slice of bread with honey usually does the trick.” Instantly he flushed crimson and I knew I had hit the jackpot. “Or if it’s salt, try lox.”

    After a few more silent seconds Griffin looked as if he was about to pop. At last he blurted, “How would you know about cravings?” His chubby hands gestured around my torso.

    “Never assume anything about people,” I quietly told him before I rose and crossed over to the bathroom.

    “Blanche?” Griffin’s voice caught up with me just as I reached for the door handle. “If I've said something wrong, I'm sorry.”

    “It's OK.” I even mustered a small smile. I probably spent five entire minutes in the bathroom but that’s what it took for me to compose myself. When I finally reemerged, I caught sight of a sticky knife and the honey jar still sitting on the kitchen counter. Griffin greeted me with a tray on his knees and a guilty face.

    “Hey. Uhm, your honey tip helped, thanks.”

    “I’m glad.”

    I could see his face working on the next part. “How do you know this stuff?” he finally blurted. “Did you use to be big?”

    “No.”

    Whatever elaboration he was waiting for, he would wait in vain. I had left my past shallow life with its superficial physical ideals and accompanying string of diets in the past where they belonged.

    “Just one thing,” I added, “would you please wash up your stuff right away?”

    “I wasn't sure if I was done—“ His cheeks flushed and his lips clamped shut.

    “Oh, OK then. Uhm, want to continue with the movie?”

    “Uh, sure.”

    Just before I pressed ‘play’ again, I turned to him once again: “Griffin? You never have to justify yourself to me for what or how much you eat, OK? I know it's easily said but I mean it.”
     
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  4. Jan 3, 2019 #24

    taco

    taco

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    I've never read anything quite like this before.
    It's really something.
    I can't wait to see what happens next
     
  5. Jan 3, 2019 #25

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    I've never WRITTEN anything like this before either ;-) I'm glad you're reading my story and I appreciate your feedback. Don't worry, I upload new chapters every three or so days.
     
  6. Jan 3, 2019 #26

    RVGleason

    RVGleason

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    Really enjoying this story. Very well written and I love the characters.
     
  7. Jan 3, 2019 #27

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Thank you so much!! I tried publishing this on Amazon but nobody was interested. I should have come straight here.
     
  8. Jan 3, 2019 #28

    RVGleason

    RVGleason

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    You can always self publish using kindle direct publishing.

    https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US
     
  9. Jan 3, 2019 #29

    Unbasher

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    I did publish via KDP but nobody bought the book, so I unpublished blit again. I'd rather give it away for free here, where it is appreciated by its true audience.
     
  10. Jan 3, 2019 #30

    RVGleason

    RVGleason

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    Is it still available on Amazon?
     
  11. Jan 3, 2019 #31

    RVGleason

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  12. Jan 3, 2019 #32

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Gleason, no, it's not but I will possibly provide a link to the full story once I've uploaded everything. I just want to keep everyone in suspense a while longer ;-)
     
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  13. Jan 4, 2019 #33

    Ffancy

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    This story is amazing!
     
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  14. Jan 4, 2019 #34

    Unbasher

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    Thank you so much, that means a lot to me! When I write, I always fall a little in love with my own characters, and I'm happy to see they're in good hands in this community.
     
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  15. Jan 5, 2019 #35

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 7 (1/3). Griffin: Friends


    asdf asdf as as as df df df – how did people learn how to type without dying of boredom? Still, I knew I had to work on my pathetic computer skills. The time it took to get down to a healthy size again would be a huge gap on my resume and I needed have something to show for it. I could ask Blanche for help since she seemed to be a computer whiz but my pride just wouldn’t let me. It’s like I had something to prove to the woman that was good at everything but cars, and hot on top of that. Just looking at her reminded me of what a pathetic failure I’d let myself become and so I practiced typing, image editing and plowed through ‘Microsoft Office for Dummies' every day. I actually saw some progress but the fact was that I needed my real job back. Taking care of Blanche’s poor van that showed all the signs of neglect by the typical ignorant driver had proven that all too clearly. Yeah, it was still difficult to maneuver – crouching to check on her tires had been a mean feat – and I didn’t have my tools and equipment but I missed my work.

    I missed conversation, too. Just two nights ago I’d thought things were finally looking up between me and Blanche. We’d cleared the air and were both making an effort to work on ourselves. I knew she could be funny if she let it out, she was sharp as a whip and full of advice. In a way she was still a stranger to me but in another she seemed like only one who knew what I was going through. That honey/lox tip, for instance, was helping immensely. It didn’t hurt that she wasn’t hard to look at either. But after only three days, Blanche had begun to lock herself in her bedroom again immediately after dinner. We had lived together for almost two weeks and still knew nothing about each other. How long had she lived out here by herself? Didn’t she ever get lonely or scared? Were there no neighbors? What about her family? And most importantly: what was it with the gloves?

    There were so many things she was unwilling to talk about, her YouTube channel for instance, even though I was dying to know what kind of things she shared online that she could earn actual money with. That fact had even made me briefly consider setting up my own channel. Skinny people would be amazed and most likely repulsed by the fat subculture out there but the fact was that there were millions of FAs and FFAs – fat admirers and female fat admirers – out there. Why else would videos of BHM and BBW – big handsome men and big beautiful women – broadcasting naked belly rubs show several ten thousand clicks? Why would the so-called ‘gainers’ who wanted to get bigger receive PayPal donations to finance their lifestyle? There were even compulsive feeders seeking feedees and stuffing them, sometimes to the point of immobility.

    Silke being a part of this world, though, was one of several reasons why setting up my own channel would never work: the odds were too high that she would come across and recognize my body, and watching me flaunt it to the world wouldn’t exactly boost her confidence that I was trying to turn my life around. Flaunting was the last thing I felt like doing with my body anyway. But most of all: I would need privacy to record these videos. Blanche wasn’t away from the house often enough for me to do that, and asking her would entail an explanation I just couldn’t give to a skinny girl. She would be even more disgusted than she had to be already. What else would cause her to keep such distance between us? Yet sometimes I thought I saw something more: fear. Of what? Germs? There were some powerful phobias out there but was that it?

    Reflexively, I pulled the lid of my laptop shut. It was no use trying to practice typing anymore, my concentration was shot anyway. I had to get out of this house. I needed people who cared about me and who made me feel better instead of worse, and in my current state even the friendly ribbing from the guys at the garage could very well push me over the edge. No, I couldn't face them like this. Lars and Evelyn, that's who I had to see. I’d texted and told Lars about my breakup on my second day at Blanche’s and he’d written back I could come by any time since things were quiet in his job at the moment. Well, now I would take him up on his offer. The two of them would be shocked at the sight of me but they wouldn’t judge.



    ~~~



    It was over half a mile from the closest bus station to Lars and Ev’s house, and by the time I finally reached the two-story sandstone building from the 1920s I was sweating and out of breath again. Still, riding on a bus full of gawking people and lugging my huge body on foot beat having to ask Ms. Perfect to drive me. Her reminder before I left not to give out her address was enough I needed from her.

    Just like I’d imagined, my friends’ eyes bulged when they opened the door to me. Actually, I knew I’d lost a bit of weight since my pants felt a little less snug but the last time they had seen me had been fifty or so pounds ago. Of course it would be months before anyone saw any progress but I’d take every ounce less. Living with Blanche might come with a price tag but it worked.

    “God, you’re huge,” Lars shook his head when even his long arms couldn’t reach around me for our hug. He is one of those lanky guys that never gains an ounce of weight but at least I wasn’t going bald the way he did, and I told him so. Ev, who now wore her curls in a honey-colored bob, only smiled at me when she stepped forward but her shock at my size was obvious. Hugging a woman as short as Ev proved even more difficult, especially with the addition to a six-month baby belly to her usual curves. As difficult as the logistics had become, though, hugging my friends made me realize how long I’d gone without being touched by another person this way. God, was I overdue.

    I almost stepped into their den with my muddy boots on but two weeks of living with Blanche were beginning to have an effect. Although Ev would never give me crap about it like Blanche, she didn’t like it either and I didn’t want to add to her chores.

    “What would you like to drink?” she offered when I’d followed them into their roomy kitchen with the thankfully sturdy bench around the large scuffed oak table.

    “Do you have Diet Coke?” I was becoming fed up with water. Blanche didn’t even keep juice in the house and lemon slices just didn’t cut it. As greedily as I took my first swallow of the fizzing brown liquid, though, all the more would I have liked to spit it out.

    “Holy crap, that’s sweet.”

    Lars’s eyebrows rose. “It’s Diet Coke, what did you expect?”

    “Not this.” I heaved myself off the bench again, refilled my glass with tap water and gulped it down to get rid of the yucky fake sweetener taste. “I think I’ll stick to water after all. It’s better for me anyway.”

    Ev suggested we take it into the living room while she finished up lunch, thankfully a healthy one. Although I craved a pizza like mad, I couldn’t afford to slip up in my diet, and after the Diet-Coke experience I suspected my system might not welcome a pizza the way it used to.

    “Out with it, big guy,” Lars began once we were sitting on the couch. “You only texted that you and Silke had broken up and that you were staying with a friend. Should I feel offended you didn’t call me the moment it happened?”

    It felt as though my laugh was the first one in weeks. “Should you feel offended that I didn’t ask you if I could clutter your house with all my stuff, seriously?”

    Lars returned my laugh. “Fair enough. Still, I’m sure we could have put up with you for a few weeks.”

    I shook my head. “I know you’d do anything for me in theory but don’t you remember the time I spent two nights here?”
     
  16. Jan 5, 2019 #36

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 7 (2/3). Griffin: Friends


    “Do I remember? The stains in the carpet remind me every day.”

    “See? Besides, I’m looking at months, not weeks.”

    Lars’s face grew serious at that. “And you have a friend who will let you stay with him for that long?”

    “Her.”

    “Her?”

    “Not what you think,” I waved his rising eyebrows back down, “she has nothing to do with the breakup. I mean, can you imagine anyone jumping this?” I gestured around myself with a bitter grin.

    My friend shrugged. “Silke did.”

    “Not lately.”

    Lars fell silent and at last I told him my whole story, with some minor editing: instead of the bridge scene I told him I had called Blanche and taken the bus to her place.

    “How come you’ve never mentioned this Blanche?” Lars asked when I was finished. “And how do you know her anyway?”

    “She brought her van to our garage once and we got to talking. And I’ve never mentioned her because we haven’t been in touch a lot lately.”

    If interpreted the literal way, it wasn’t even a lie. Except for her giving me a haircut and my bumping into her, we had never touched.

    “And where does she live? I mean, so I’ll know where to come visit.”

    “She’s a very private person. She doesn’t like to hand out her address.”

    “Why not?”

    “It’s complicated.”

    Lars’s high forehead rippled and he leaned forward. “Griff, what’s going on? I’ve never heard of this Blanche and it sounds like you don’t ever want us to meet her either.”

    “I do, I just don’t know if she does.”

    Lars shook his head. “That doesn’t sound like the type of person you’d be friends with.”

    “People change.” That had to do for now; I could hardly explain the truth to him.

    “And this Blanche will take you in for whatever time you need?”

    “That’s what she said.” A sigh escaped me when I thought back to how she always seemed to flee from me. “I just hope she won’t change her mind.”

    “What’s she look like?”

    “Snow-white.”

    “And which one of the seven dwarfs are you?” Lars grinned at me.

    “All seven put together, I guess,” I grinned back.

    “Well, you can be grumpy, sleepy, definitely dopey—ow!” He rubbed the spot where I'd punched him in the shoulder. “Seriously, Griff, details. Or better: a picture.”

    “I don’t have one. Well, she’s almost as tall as me, killer figure, green eyes like a cat and long dark hair shaven on the right side of her head.”

    “She sounds pretty cool.”

    “Actually, she's an OCD pain in the ass,” I grumbled back.

    “Sounds like just what a slob like you needs. Kicking your ass was never Silke’s strong suit.” Again his face turned pensive. “You know, not to speak ill of the ‘dead’, so to say, but in part Silke’s responsible for your problem.”

    What the crap?

    “Come on,” Lars went on despite my frown, “she made no secret of the fact that she preferred you bigger. You practically became fat for her.”

    Instantly I shook my head. “I was fat before we met.”

    “But not like this. First she happily let you blow up and then she kicked you out when it got too much. She should have talked to you long before that and offered help.”

    I wouldn’t let him talk badly about the love of my life, best friend or not. “She did offer help, I just didn’t take it. Lay off her, will you?”



    The rest of the afternoon passed quickly. Those two were just what I had needed to recharge.

    “Sure I can’t drive you?” Lars offered when he and Ev had hugged me goodbye.

    “I don’t think I’d fit into either of your tiny Asian cars,” I shook my head with a grimace, “besides, I need all the exercise I can get.”

    “True,” Lars commented with an uncomfortable expression. Apparently he’d only now realized how serious the matter was. “Still, don’t be a stranger. Call or Skype us from time to time, OK? And if there’s anything I can do, you have to let me know.”

    “And you can come over whenever you want, OK?” Ev put in, her eyes twinkling. “I don’t know why you’ve suddenly decided to take off your shoes or help with the cleanup but with this new side of you we might even let you spend a night or two.”

    While I walked back to the bus station, I texted Blanche when I would approximately be home as she’d asked me to do. “Just in case, so I’ll know if something might have happened or you’re just staying late.”

    I ended up surprising myself by walking fast enough to catch the earlier bus and also by mastering the walk from the bus station rather well. By the time I let myself into Blanche’s house I was feeling exhausted but also pretty good about himself, except for the pressure on my bladder.

    “Blanche,” I called to her when I discovered that she was in the bathroom, “I hate to rush you but could you hurry, please?”

    “Uh, sure, hang on.” I heard the toilet flush and a minute later she came out, red-faced and not looking at me. What was that all about? Just when I was about to dry my hands, I noticed a bit of familiar fabric peeking out from in between the towels under the sink. Wasn’t that… a tug not only sent a bunch of towels tumbling to the floor but revealed that it was indeed one of my T-shirts, along with my other pair of jeans. Why were my clothes in the bathroom hidden between the towels? Had Blanche—no. No way. Feeling the heat in my face, I yanked open the door.

    “Blanche?” The face I laid eyes on when she turned was the image of guilt, which only served to stoke up my anger. “What were you doing with my clothes?” Her red lips trembled but no sound came out. “What. Were. You. Doing. With. My. Clothes?” Still nothing. “Were you trying them on or something?” Now her pale face flushed crimson, which was answer enough. “Are you freaking kidding me?! What the hell is wrong with you? Did you want to know what it feels like to be a freak show? Why don’t you order a fat suit, too? I know what you must think of me but have you ever heard of basic human decency?”

    For what felt like a minute, my own heavy breathing was the only sound in the room. Still no explanation from the woman with the glowing face in front of me.

    “This isn’t working out for either of us,” I finally choked out. “I thought so even before… this happened. The more you got on my case about breaking one of your precious rules, the more I wondered why you’d offered to let me stay here in the first place. I’m aware this is your house and that I’m in your space all the time, three times more so than the average person, but I’m trying! And still I can’t seem to do a single thing right!” I closed my eyes for a moment. “I can’t live like this. Whatever reason you had for taking me in, obviously you’re regretting your decision. It’s no wonder you live alone, and you probably always will.”

    Blanche flinched as if I had struck her and her face suddenly did honor to her name but I was done being considerate. “I’ll need a day or two to figure out where I’m going but I am going. You’ll have your precious privacy back in no time.”

    “Griffin, please,” Blanche finally put in, stepping closer as if to touch me before she pulled back after all. In that moment I truly hated her. “I’m really, really sorry, it’s not what you think—“

    “I believe it’s exactly what I think.”

    “I can’t be among people because I have a condition!” she blurted before I could fully turn away from her. When I faced her again, her face was still as white as snow but her green eyes were fixed on mine bravely. “I- I’m not ready to talk about it but bottom line is that I’ve been alone for so long that I’ve forgotten how much I needed someone close by. Yes, I was trying on your clothes but it was only because I was trying to be close to you!”
     
  17. Jan 5, 2019 #37

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 7 (3/3). Griffin: Friends


    What the heck?!

    “Please don’t leave,” she added, almost in a whisper.

    Just when I thought there was nothing Blanche could have said in her defense. “If you want to get to know me,” I heard myself answer, “stop locking yourself in your room. Talk to me. Ask me questions. Sit or stand as close to me as you’re comfortable with. That's how normal people do it.”

    “OK.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever stared at another person and been stared at in return for as long as was currently the case.

    “Is… is everything OK between us?” Blanche broke the silence at last in a small voice.

    “It will be if you let me try on YOUR clothes. I’m kidding,” I added when her eyes widened. “Yes, we’re OK.”

    “So… are you staying?” The hopeful smile that started to spread on her face reminded me of the one at the bus station when she had offered to take me in.

    “Yes.”

    “Good.”

    I swear the noise she made after sounded like a nervous giggle, only I never thought I would ever use the words ‘Blanche’ and ‘giggle’ in one sentence. She then suggested she make dinner while I could enjoy a shower. Before I disappeared in the bathroom, I turned around to her one last time:

    “May I ask you one thing about what happened before we never talk about it again?” Again her cheeks turned pink but she nodded. “I’ve been gone all afternoon. Why didn’t you try on my clothes way before I came back?”

    Her blush deepened. “I… I didn’t get the idea until two hours or so after you left and then I spent some more time trying to talk myself out of it. By the time I was ready to cave, I discovered you had texted and figured I still had some time.” She grimaced. “You were early, though.”

    “Thank you,” I nodded at her and closed the bathroom door behind me.



    Although dinner started out silent as always, this time it was a companionable one.

    “Why do you have an American name?”

    I looked up in some surprise at the blurted question, only to find Blanche’s eyes fixed on me as if I was an oracle she had just asked about the meaning of life. “Uh, my mom got it from one of her five hundred or so romance novels. Why?”

    “You said I could get to know you buy asking you questions.”

    “True.” I looked at her for a moment. “But only if you give me answers about yourself to the same questions.”

    “Deal. Uh, well, my mom is fond of everything French. 'Blanche' means 'white' in French.” A small smile placed around her red lips. “I guess she knew I'd inherit her skin tone.”

    “Huh. What does 'snow' mean in French?”

    “'Neige'. Why, because I look like Snow-white?”

    My face gave the answer before my mouth had a chance to but Blanche didn't seem offended. If anything, she was amused by my question.

    “Well, I can't deny that fairy-tale was one of my favorites.”

    Blanche as a kid… it was so hard to picture.

    “What, is it so hard to imagine I used to read fairy-tales like most little girls?”

    Of course my thoughts were spelled out on my face again. “Uhm, actually it is. I’ve never seen anyone so grown up. I mean, I've never even heard you laugh,” I blurted, instantly wishing I could take back that last part. Strangely enough, though, it wasn't hurt that I saw on Blanche's face but a sly grin.

    “Perhaps that’s due to present company.”

    “Oh, really?” l grinned back at her after I had processed her quip, “are you saying I'm no fun?”

    “I can't say since I still don't know you. You haven't let me get very far with my question round so far.”

    “True. What else do you want to know?”

    We took it over to the couch where I learned that she had traveled a lot in her old job, an aviation-industry lobbyist, something I couldn’t picture at all for the silent, private person next to me, and that traveling used to be one of her greatest hobbies, along with swimming and going to concerts. Although I was glad to discover she was into some of the same bands as Silke and I, her eyes clouded over at ‘used to travel’. Whatever her condition was that had caused her to move here, it was obvious she missed her old life. Well, that made two of us. Talking of concerts only reminded me think of how much I’d screwed up with Silke. Next, Lars’s words about her came to mind. I hated that I couldn’t let them go.

    “Why don’t you write to her, asking her to wait for you?” Blanche’s voice suddenly pierced through my thoughts and I turned to look at her.

    “You were thinking of your ex, weren’t you?” I only nodded, feeling my throat close up. “From how she handled everything between you and how sad she looked when she entered your apartment building, I’m sure she still cares about you.”

    I couldn’t stand hearing one more word about her and she had no business in Blanche’s mouth either.

    “Please let’s not talk about her anymore, OK?”

    As hopeful as I’d been about the outcome of this evening, this time it was I who asked her if she minded giving me some space. The fact that she seemed reluctant for once to see less of me did nothing to cheer me up.



    ~~~



    The only thing that kept me from taking out my mood on Blanche after a night of next to no sleep was to go on a walk directly after breakfast. Even though she tried to sound and look understanding, I could tell I was hurting her but I just had to be alone with my thoughts. I didn’t even feel like teasing her about having enough time to try on my clothes this time since I planned to be gone for at least an hour.

    I trudged through the woods covered in a light layer of snow faster than most people would have given a guy like me credit for. Blindly I plodded on, not caring where I was going. With the Autobahn as a sort of landmark it was pretty much impossible to get lost anyway. Only when the sound of my own labored breathing became louder than the crunching sound of my footsteps and the chafing of my socks, coupled with the stabbing pain in my right side, refused to be ignored any longer did I slow down. When I sank down on the first fallen log I spotted, my fat ass got soaked at once but that was the least of my troubles. God, I was still in terrible shape, no wonder after only two weeks of dieting and regular walks after years of laziness. Silke and I used to love going out for drives but hardly ever took walks together. Lars’s annoying words – “She made you fat” – now refused to be driven out any longer.

    So far I had always believed she couldn’t have been more perfect for me but listening to my own wheezing and seeing my bulges spread out around myself, I wasn’t so sure anymore. Yeah, it had been me taking every bite, not her feeding me, but she should have said something much earlier and made me listen. The more I thought about my friend's words, the deeper they sank in their teeth and at some point I couldn’t take it anymore. All the diet frustration, the helplessness and the self-loathing of the past months poured out in one giant yell that sent birds fluttering and other unseen creatures scurrying away.

    When I had no more air to spare, I slumped down on the log again. Who cared if I was within earshot of Blanche’s house or not? If she had heard me and wanted to know what that had been all about, she’d have to ask. I had invited her to do it and she would have to suck up her shyness. Would she, though? I needed her to. As much as it had touched me to hear she’d tried on my clothes so she could feel close to me, if she didn't start treating me like a person soon and let me get closer to her, I would break.
     
  18. Jan 8, 2019 #38

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 7 (1/2). Blanche: Revealed


    Poor Griffin. I could tell he had slept badly, and despite my good-morning smile and subtle attempts to draw him into a conversation, I could tell that his ex lingered on his mind. At least he sought recourse in exercise, not food, and I hoped his walk would bring him the answers or the peace he craved. How I wished I could hug the pain away that was etched into his found face. His softness beckoned, he just looked so huggable. Ever since I had watched him clean my van with such dedication, it was as if I saw him with different eyes. His biggest weaknesses, his eating and his messiness, were serious flaws but overall he was a good guy who deserved to be happy again. Every day he put in an effort to turn his life around and I so wished I could be the friend to help him through it, not just sort of an annoying landlady.

    When I had succumbed and stepped into his clothes yesterday, breathing in his scent, I had indeed done it to feel close to him but there had also been another reason: for years I had persuaded myself that this feeling that spread in my anatomy whenever I watched an overweight man was nothing but vicarious embarrassment. It was the only thing that would add a shade of sense to the illogical and unwarranted reactions of my nether regions, wasn't it? Yet with each new day with Griffin there was no escaping the fact that I had never felt the same for large women – in my head perhaps, just not in my body. The fact was that big men fascinated me and apparently always had. Living in such close proximity to a large man had therefore catapulted my curiosity about the veritable extent of Griffin’s physical dimensions up to a heretofore unknown level.

    That wasn’t abnormal, was it? After all, wasn’t it human nature to explore what aroused one’s curiosity and to find out more about it? Right, that was it: scientific interest. Aside from my ability to burn living creatures to a crisp, I was perfectly normal. Yet the memory of getting caught still caused my face to prickle in shame and suddenly I felt grateful for the extended absence of its author.

    Huh, speaking of absence, I had the house to myself for at least 45 minutes. Impulsively I did what I had craved for weeks and couldn't believe I hadn't indulged in the day before: I turned up the heat and stripped down to my burgundy satin panties. Just because I had to resign myself to a life without skin-to-skin contact didn’t mean I couldn’t make the most out of air, water, a soft sheep skin or smooth fabric caressing my body. Before Griffin had stepped into my life, I had always slept nude, too, and I missed the freedom of being able to do all those things.

    A few minutes later, I danced and sang along to my favorite band, exploiting the full capacity of my excellent speakers. With no neighbors, hardly any walkers and Griffin gone, I was free. How much I had missed the sensation of my sheets against my hairless skin! Ever since puberty decided to gift my body with the same abundance of thick black hair I enjoyed on the top of my head, I had always made sure I was shaven all the time, even in winter. What would a doctor think if I broke something and they had to examine a hairy leg? Gross. Even though doctor’s visits and dating were relics of a bygone era for me now and I could hypothetically revert to the hair culture of the eighties, I kept up the habit of shaving in order to maximize the contact between my skin and whatever I felt like rubbing against it.

    Suddenly I caught a movement in one of the front windows out of the corner of my eye: Griffin! He was watching me open-mouthed, the only thing missing from the image a bag of popcorn. With an almighty yell I ducked behind the kitchen shelves. What on earth was he doing back so soon?! After I had managed to angle my arm around to the drawers and to tug out a towel, I covered my breasts with it and raced into the bedroom where I scrambled into the first sweater and jeans I got my hands on. When I yanked the door back open to the unbearable temperature of my cranked-up heating system, Griffin was standing in the entry with a glowing face, still clothed in his hat and jacket.

    “Do you want me to leave?”

    “For now or for good?” I threw at him while I marched forward with the mother ship of all glowers, which caused him to duck his head even more.

    “I’m really sorry.”

    He painted such a sorry picture that, in spite of my anger, I swallowed my verbal deluge with all its invectives and rash decisions. However, given the rate at which my brain devised unconstitutional forms of punishment, maximizing the distance between myself and the object of my homicidal endeavors was vital.

    “I can’t look at you right now. I’m going for a walk and I don’t want you inside my house while I’m gone. And don’t you dare follow me either.”

    Under my intensifying glare Griffin retreated outside. Once I had jammed my limbs into my coat and winter accessories, I turned down heat and stormed past the large, hunched figure.



    My booted feet covered the familiar territory at record speed even though I perceived my surroundings only through a haze of fury. Why had Griffin come back so soon? Only thirty minutes had passed instead of the 'at least an hour' he had thrown over his shoulder before he'd left. Was it payback after all for me trying on his clothes even though he said things were OK between us? They certainly weren’t now and perhaps there had never been a chance for that either. Having another person in my space almost 24/7, constantly having to watch where I placed my hands and always making sure I was fully covered had long been wearing a hole inside the gossamer fabric that was my inner peace, and now this. I just couldn’t go on, no matter how much I needed the good karma and how much Griffin made me feel alive. I couldn’t look him in the eye anymore. He had to leave.

    Does he really, though? one part of my brain put in.

    Of course! the offended part insisted. He saw me almost naked, and not by accident either. He knew exactly what he was doing.

    But is kicking him out the only solution?

    Perhaps not but I just don’t trust him anymore. For all I know he could have been going through my underwear drawer every time I left the house!

    At least sleep on it.

    That last thought gradually lowered my heart rate out of the humming-bird range. Alright, I would give it until next morning, provided Griffin didn’t antagonize me any further.



    When I returned, the object of my indignation was slumped on the two front steps. At the squelching sound of my approach, his head lifted and its owner heaved himself to his feet, standing aside to let me unlock the door. I did not look at him while I did so but left the door open in mute invitation. After a moment I heard his heavy footsteps.

    “Uh, may I come in?”

    “Do you think I leave the door open to heat the woods?” I growled while peeling off my coat and shoes with my back to his wobbly voice before I strode over to the kitchen and began transferring vegetables onto the countertop. Anger had mostly turned to hunger by now although there was still a considerable portion of the former left over. This time I didn’t bother with gloves. If he came near me, I swear to God, I might just touch him after all.

    “Blanche?” I heard his thin voice closer to me after the rustle of his shoe-and-jacket shedding process had ceased.

    “Blanche,” he began anew when I ignored him and chose to wash the peppers instead, “I don’t know what else to say besides I’m sorry.”

    I wished he would stop talking. With each new word he—

    “Will you please look at me?”

    “No.” I sank the blade of my excellent knife into the first red pepper, contemplating to resume the flirt with my earlier schemes for Griffin's premature demise. “Whenever I look at you, I’m reminded of what you did. I mean, trying on your clothes was wrong but watching me…” I just couldn’t bring myself to finish the sentence; finishing the thought was bad enough.

    “What… what can I do to make it go away?”

    “I don’t know.” And what would be the point? He was as good as out of here anyway.

    “Please, I’ll do anything.”

    The knife rested for a moment. “I don’t think there is anything you can do. I just don’t trust you anymore.”

    “You trusted me before?”

    I hated I felt touched by his touchedness. ”I did.”

    His breath hitched, then silence. The cogs in his head were ticking. “What about if you got even?”

    That almost made me turn around to him. Instead I spoke over my shoulder in his general direction. “What do you mean?”

    “I… I would strip down to my underwear and you could look at me until you declare us even. That would certainly get rid of the other memory.”

    What the…

    “Of course, nothing short of brain bleach would make that image go away.”

    That mumbled addendum almost made me forgive him on the spot but I forced myself to concentrate on his suggestion. Did I want to see Griffin naked? Or more important, would it be wise? As hard as it was to cope with my own willful body while seeing him clothed, what would it be like when he was naked? All it would do was confuse me further, whereas what I needed was to reestablish trust or at least some kind of peace between us. Would that make things right again? What had happened to make them wrong in the first place?
     
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  19. Jan 8, 2019 #39

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 7 (2/2). Blanche: Revealed


    “Why were you standing by the window anyway?” the words burst out of me and I turned to him for the first time after the incident. “You said you’d be gone at least for an hour.”

    His face and body were still at half-mast and his eyes barely on mine. “I was back early because… because I walked too fast. I got sore and too much out of breath to go on.” Now his gaze dropped completely. “I never meant to spy on you, I just caught you out of the corner of my eye when I got closer to the house and then… well, hormones took over. I’m a guy, I couldn’t stop myself. Again, I’m really sorry.”

    His explanation and apology rang sincere and yet my anger refused to subside. Perhaps his eye-for-an-eye suggestion had something going for it after all. “You know what, I’ll take your deal.”

    Griffin’s gulp was even more noticeable than his subsequent nod. When he turned and lumbered over to the couch, I rinsed my hands and followed him, sitting down in my customary spot on the short end. Now Griffin turned. After his thick fingers had undone the buttons, he shrugged out of his shirt, revealing the bulges of his upper arms underneath his black T-shirt that he wore tucked into the elastic waistband of his jeans. Now he reached inside his pants and hefted out more belly mass than I would have thought possible and let it flow unrestrained out of his T-shirt. I had always assumed that he carried a massive underbelly in his pants but now I realized that his stomach had turned so soft and overflowing that no T-shirt was able to contain it, leaving it no other option but to rest in his jeans. Trying on his clothes still hadn’t revealed to me the full ramifications of such an anatomy.

    All the while Griffin kept his eyes firmly on the floor but his face was already splotchy with color. Next he pushed his jeans over his wide hips before he carefully sank down on the couch to peel off its legs, his bulges restacking themselves. When he pushed himself to his feet again, I received a full view of bulging calves and Michelin-man-like thighs, part of which were obscured by the hanging mass of his apron belly. Only his bulging hips revealed that he was wearing underwear. His eyes still connected to the floor, the enormous man yanked his T-shirt over his head and began to turn slowly on the spot, revealing a series of rolls underneath his arms, flesh overflowing his underwear and back fat hanging in waves like a curtain on either side of a deeply buried spine. There were creases where I had never thought there could be creases and a rear end that defied the rules of physics.

    From wearing Griffin’s clothes I already knew how much he had to scan his surroundings continuously, assessing seats for stability and narrow passages for fit, but now I realized how difficult it must be for him to feel his body mass always shift around independently. Whenever he sat or lay down, he had to make sure he wasn’t sitting on himself. How many things were denied to him that I was taking for granted? In a way, he was as isolated as me.

    Compassion, however, was only a fraction of what I felt at the sight of Griffin’s exposed body: so much moisture had pooled in my panties that it would be only a matter of seconds before my jeans were soaked as well. Where any sane person would have been horrified by the amount of flesh on one person, all I felt was the need to knead it, to feel how much I could hold in my hands and to experience how heavy that belly was.

    Christ, I had been staring at Griffin for probably two full minutes. He may have offered to strip but every second that my eyes rested on him must push him deeper into that pit of self-loathing that was practically my secondary residence.

    “I’m done. You can get dressed again.”

    I couldn’t look at him when I said those words but I could feel his gaze resting on me.

    “Are you sure? I looked at you a lot longer.”

    “I- I’m sure.”

    I just couldn’t bear it any longer. I bolted, locked the bathroom door behind me and sank down on the toilet, examining the full extent of the damage in my panties. As my head dropped into my hands, it felt almost too heavy with thoughts to rest there. There was only one logical explanation for the state of my underwear and it wasn’t vicarious shame, nor scientific fascination: the sight of Griffin’s naked body had aroused me, as had every single overweight man I had ever laid eyes on as an adult. They say that in sexuality and relationships everything goes and apparently that included being into big people. The notion was more than preposterous and yet deep down I knew it was a fact. I was attracted to overweight men.

    It felt as if a rush of hysterical giggles was bubbling its way up my throat and I hastily gulped down some tap water to keep them contained. I, Blanche Kirchner, the epitome of opportunism and shallowness, was attracted to a group of people the world perceived as repulsive. Even more ironic, a tiny giggle forced its way out after all, one of this group’s largest representatives shared a home with me and I couldn’t touch him!

    After I had I wiped my panties and splashed water on my prickling cheeks, I still wasn't ready to face their source. Even though we were certainly even now, how would I ever look him in the eye again? On the other hand, Griffin most likely assumed the worst from my reaction and didn’t deserve to be left alone with his thoughts one minute longer. He had gone to extreme lengths to make amends, stripping himself not only of his clothes but of his last shreds of dignity. He was serious about giving it his all to start over and to become a better person. I had to get over myself.

    When I returned to the living room, Griffin was slumped on the couch, back in his clothes. Strangely enough, keeping my eyes on him wasn’t hard at all. When I looked at him now, all I wanted for him was to be happy again. Fine, and to sink my fingers into his flesh.

    “Thank you.”

    My two words brought up a pair of eyes filled with incredulity. Another gulp, then just a nod.

    “Want to help with dinner? I was thinking salmon and veggies.”

    Griffin’s forehead rippled. “Uh… I don’t get it. Does that mean we’re good now?”

    “Not good but better,” I replied with a wry smile. “Come on, you need to earn your keep.”

    A few seconds after I had turned I heard the couch groan and quickly assigned Griffin a knife, mushrooms and a cutting board in safe distance from me. When he silently took his place there and began cutting the mushrooms, I noticed his eyes flickering towards my ungloved hands every now and then, and for the first time I didn’t mind it. Anything to prevent his thoughts from straying back to what had just happened between us.

    “Griffin? Would you be up for playing Jenga after dinner?”

    A round, confused face turned to mine. “The block-stacking game? I haven’t played that in ages. Uhm, yeah sure, why not?”

    “Great.”



    Watching Griffin’s bloated fingers carefully prod and extract the building blocks while his tongue was trapped between his funny teeth in concentration inflicted even more damage on my underwear. Although I still wasn’t close to done processing my earlier discovery, every time I felt the moisture pool between my thighs, I almost welcomed the sensation.

    When all hell had broken loose for me, I’d had to leave not only my life behind but also myself as a person. While I felt retrospectively grateful for having my eyes opened to how cruel and shallow I had been, for the past years I had been at a loss to say who I was now. As unexpected as the revelation of my sexual preferences had been, it constituted one major clue to who I had become.

    Plus, not only did my game idea successfully occupy Griffin’s thoughts, I thoroughly enjoyed playing and getting to know a new side of him. Instead of just a morbidly obese guy down on his luck whose presence posed a continuous threat to my safety I was coming to know him as a person. By the time we were ready for bed, he had knocked over our impressively fragile constructions fewer times than me. I should have known a mechanic would be good with his hands. When we had packed up the game and both got up, I sent Griffin what I hoped he would recognize rightfully as my warmest and most open smile yet.

    “Griffin? I was wrong when I said we weren’t good but better. As far as I’m concerned, we are good now. Sleep well.”

    It took Griffin a moment to reply. “Uhm, you too.”

    The hesitant smile on his round cheeks followed me to bed that night.
     
  20. Jan 11, 2019 #40

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 8 (1/3). Griffin: Curiosity


    A thick layer of snow had fallen over night and it looked kind of like it had felt between Blanche and me yesterday: a fresh start. Something had changed for the better between us, only I still didn’t get how. Although I’d kept my eyes on the floor during my strip-tease, I’d felt her eyes glued to my body, and who could blame her? Few people had ever seen such a whale. And then she’d bolted to the bathroom, most likely to throw up. I mean, I hadn’t heard her do it but she was the best-mannered person I knew and probably even managed to puke delicately. I had actually considered packing my stuff right there and then but only a few minutes later she’d come back out, looking anything but repulsed. In fact, she’d smiled and thanked me. Actually thanked.

    I just couldn’t figure her out, and her reaction to seeing me without my clothes on was only one of the mysteries. The biggest one was her phobia of being touched. A skin condition would have made sense but now that I’d seen almost all of her smoking body, I knew she had perfect skin. Was it something that only broke out when she touched another person? I’d never heard of such a thing. Or was it something else entirely? What else could be the reason she always wore gloves and lived in isolation? Could she have been abused or even raped? Whatever it was, it had to be the same reason she avoided looking at her reflection.

    The object of my thoughts was still asleep but I was getting hungry, so I decided to greet her with breakfast. I had done so once before but usually she was up so damn early that I didn't get a chance, and the promising evening yesterday deserved a continuance. I saved the noisiest past, the coffee, for last, in order to let her sleep in for as long as possible, and at last she emerged from the bedroom, adorably sleepy as I’d never seen her.

    “Hey, good morning,” I greeted her with a mug of coffee the way she liked it – hopefully.

    “Thanks.”

    Ha, judging by the dreamy look on her face at her first sip I’d gotten it right.

    “Wow, you made all this?”

    She stared at the feast on the table: boiled eggs, tomato spread, a smoothie and a bowl of grapes and cut-up apples. What I wouldn’t have given for some bacon and pancakes, too, but Blanche’s smile made up for a lot, especially because it looked like she wasn’t only happy about the food but about sharing it with me, too.

    Indeed I’d never enjoyed a meal with her more. Don’t get me wrong, what happened yesterday was still fresh on my mind, and I bet on hers, too, but things between us had never been better. Blanche was unusually chatty and cheerful – not the nervous kind of chatter meant to distract from what we would hopefully never speak of again but the kind that came from a genuinely good mood and pleasant company. She laid eyes on the fattest, most out-of-shape guy ever and turned into Ms. Congeniality? She really should come with a manual, and her manual with a manual.

    “Could you pass the grapes, please?” I asked her at some point.

    “Sure. Watch out!”

    Instead of passing them, Blanche rolled a bunch of them across the table, sending them all over the place! Quickly I slammed down my arms on the table as a barrier and actually kept most of them from dropping over the edge.

    “What did you do that for?”

    “Uhm, fun?” the crazy person across the table grinned back with all the innocence of a toddler.

    “Fun.”

    “Yes, maybe you’ve heard of it.”

    “Seriously, Blanche, what’s gotten into you?”

    “Breakfast?”

    I only chuckled and shook my head at that. Whatever was with her this morning, I wouldn’t get an explanation out of her right now, and to be honest I didn’t need one either. She was coming out of her shell and that was what mattered. After breakfast we washed up, she washing and I drying as usual, when Blanche suddenly exclaimed: “Look, deer!”

    What the heck? First goofing around and now endearments?

    “There, look!” Her bony shoulder nudged mine.

    Whatever she’d meant for me to look at, I couldn’t care less. She had touched me. She obviously hadn’t meant to but she had, and as I stared into the confused face beside mine, its owner suddenly understood and swallowed hard. I was the first to shake myself out of that peculiar trance and to follow her frozen outstretched arm that indicated two deer about thirty feet away. Instantly I felt the heat in my cheeks. Thank God I hadn’t replied to her ‘Deer’ with ‘Sweetie’ or something. Hastily I refocused my concentration on the two animals traipsing through the trees on their spindly legs.

    “Wow. How often do you see those here?”

    Again Blanche swallowed and looked relieved at being let off the hook. “Little enough for it to still be special,” she answered with a smile, her eyes flickering to mine briefly before they followed the deers’ path again. “They are so beautiful.”

    I agreed, and not just about the deer. The smile currently tickling her lips was the best thing she’d worn since I met her. She wasn’t made for isolation, she was made for smiling and making people good about themselves.

    “Want to head out when we’re done? Snowball fight?” I added with a wink, watching her teeth sink into her lower lip. “What’s the matter, think a fat guy can’t keep up?”

    “No, I just thought it would be pretty unfair, with you being a much larger target.”

    Immediately her eyes bulged and she opened her mouth, clearly to apologize, but I would have none of it. Her words had been funny, true and from the heart, just like her shoulder nudge. I wanted more of that.

    “No argument there,” I grinned at her as if nothing had happened, “but I bet you throw like a girl.”

    It took her a moment to answer. “We’ll see about that.”



    After we had finished up and got dressed, I caught Blanche turning her face away from the small mirror above the shoe rack again.

    “Why do always avoid looking at your reflection?”

    “Not important,” she mumbled, zipping up her boots.

    “Uh, yeah it is or I wouldn’t have asked.”

    Her eyes only met mine briefly. “What’s the point of looking in a mirror? It’s not like I have to be somewhere.”

    “You don’t just not look, you turn away.” Silence. I shouldn’t ruin our promising new start by pestering her but I just couldn’t leave it alone. “Don’t you like what you see?”

    “I don’t like who I see.”

    And with that she turned and led the way out the door. It killed me when she said things like that and when she looked as if she’d never smile again. I would so love to help. I wanted to pull her into my arms and let her have a good cry until she felt better, and then I wanted to tell her jokes until she gasped for breath. I longed for that tiny front-teeth gap to show and her eyes to sparkle.

    No, I suddenly reminded myself, blocking out the silent figure in my peripheral vision, that kind of thinking was dangerous. It was OK to feel compassion but not to long for her smile. It would be wrong on so many levels: all conflicting emotions about Silke aside, Blanche was just not the right person for me. She was too withdrawn and evidently had no plans to change that. Besides, she was the owner of this house. If things got awkward between us, she might decide I had to move out before I had even remotely come closer to my goal weight.
     

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