Friday, August 02, 2013

Free Fiction Friday - The Fat Farm

Since I've finished my novel first draft and am about to begin revision, I won't have a novel to work on for a while. I know that I hate not writing anything new for months at a time, so I've decided to try my hand at short stories this month. This is a skill I've wanted to develop for a long time, but always had the excuse of I don't write short stories! Well, now I do. Maybe. Let me know what you think.

The Fat Farm

I was starving.

Not your dinner-is-at-eight-and-I-skipped-lunch-to-save-up-for-it starving but I’m-going-to-bite-off-my-arm-and-gnaw-on-it starving. Starving like my entire intestinal track was empty. I was so hungry my mid-section ached.

It was all for a good cause, of course. My tenth high school reunion was in three months, and to say I’d let myself go was an understatement. Working in the research library of a major law firm will do that to you. The librarians were expected to work the same long hours as the attorneys, only with less pay. I already had an appointment at the optometrist to get fitted for contacts to replace my Coke-bottle glasses. But, if I was going to be able to wear a slinky cocktail dress and impress Clark Harrington, I was going to have to lose a few pounds.

Okay, more than a few.

The magazine ad sounded like the answer to my prayers. Lose up to one hundred pounds in only ten weeks! Not that I had a hundred pounds to lose, mind you.

Maybe half that.

I took all my vacation days, added a few weeks unpaid leave, and pilfered my savings account, leaving just enough for the reunion—and to buy that slinky dress. I headed for The Fat Farm.

What was different about this program was that it really was a farm, built inside a huge greenhouse-like thing. We were going to raise all our own fruits and vegetables, cook our own healthy meals, and have coaches to encourage us to exercise. We wouldn’t be allowed outside the greenhouse, so there would be no temptations. And, after ten short weeks, we’d emerge thin and toned and ready to take on the world. Or in my case, Clark Harrington.

The first glitch in my plan occurred when they confiscated my Volcano Bites.

I’m addicted to them. They’re these little chocolate brownie thingies with a center of gooey fudge that’s supposed to be the lava of the volcano. Most of the ingredients listed on the package are long chemical names that no one can pronounce. But they taste soooo good. I knew I couldn’t survive a whole ten weeks without them, so I stuffed a couple of bags in my suitcase. For rewards, you know. Like when I lost my first ten pounds.

I guess that had been tried before, because the coaches searched everyone’s suitcase on the way in.

I could deal with that. I told myself it would just make them taste better when I got out.

The magazine ad didn’t mention that our diet would not include a whole lot other than fruits and vegetables. Every other day, we might, if the chicken-gods were kind to us, have a boiled egg for breakfast. A half glass of goat milk most days. On Sunday, we’d get chicken. One chicken split among ten people. If you weren’t careful, you could finish off your portion in two bites. I learned to cut it into very small pieces and eat them one at a time.

They kept telling us we were getting plenty of nutrients. They had slides that proved it scientifically. We got to see them at least once a week. I don’t care how many berries you get for dessert, they’re just not the same as Volcano Bites. By week six, we were tossing strawberries at the screen, leaving little red marks all over it. It looked like the slides had measles.

At least sleeping was no problem. If I’d thought I put in long hours at the law firm, I was wrong. Research was a vacation compared to farming. I have a whole lot more respect for farmers now. Preparing the soil, planting, watering, fertilizing, weeding, and harvesting before you could even start to cook took a lot more effort than I realized. And then they wanted us to exercise.

Killian was a slave driver! She’d get you on a treadmill or exercise bike and make you go fast. Very fast. Supersonic fast.

I fell into bed every night, exhausted and wondering how just one little teeny-weeny Volcano Bite could hurt after that.

I dreamed of Volcano Bites. I could taste that wonderful squish of chocolate when you bit into them. I could smell them in the air. I could feel the cake in my mouth, the softness working its way into a silky mass on my tongue before I swallowed it. I wanted to cry when I woke up and my mouth tasted like morning breath instead of chocolate.

Today was the last day. By this time, I’d had to put two more notches in my belt to hold up my pants. When it was my turn to step on the scale, I almost cried tears of joy. Forty-seven pounds! Slinky dress, here I come!

But first, necessities. I hit the search function on the GPS in my car and found the nearest convenience store. Who cared if it was five miles in the opposite direction from home? It had Volcano Bites!

I screeched to a halt in the parking lot, opened the car door, and ran inside. I didn’t even bother to shut the car door. I made a beeline for the snack aisle. No Volcano Bites! I frantically pushed aside the cookies and packages of chips, sure there must be ONE package of Volcano Bites hiding on the shelf. No luck.

Desperate, I ran to the checkout counter. “Volcano Bites?” I gasped.

The man behind the counter shook his head. “Nope. Didn’t you hear?”

“Hear what?”

“Seems sales dropped so much in the past couple of months, they couldn’t afford to stay in business.”

And then I did cry. I not only cried, I sobbed. Right there at the checkout counter. What did it matter to gain a slinky dress if I’d forever lost Volcano Bites?
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