Obese. The word loomed over Helen’s consciousness like a thunder cloud. Since she was 12, her life had been a constant diet, but she never dreamed she’d let it get this bad. Instead of leading her back to the gym, the label “OBESE” on her trainer’s BMI chart had sent her through the Culver’s drive through, and now she was driving to the dumpster a few blocks away from her dad’s house so there would be no evidence. Later in the amber light of the Midtown pub she sipped until liquid silk coursed through her veins. 238 pounds and 64% body fat, her trainer had measured. She drank until she felt a familiar fuzziness behind her ears and started to wonder what she always wondered, when she drank—why no one was looking at her. It was time to stop. As she gathered her purse, a voice startled her:
“Put your purse down. You’re not leaving.” She looked up and saw a thin man in a plaid shirt and denim shorts. “Don’t look so scared, I just want to talk to you. What’s your name?”
“Helen,” she said, louder than she intended.
“I’m David. Can I buy you a drink?”
“Yeah,” she said boldly. “What are you drinking?”
“Gin and tonic. Like licking a Christmas tree.”
Warmth radiated beneath her stomach at the mention of licking. “I’ll have one of those,” she said before she noticed the ring on his finger.
“You know, you remind me of a Picasso painting.”
She didn’t understand but she nodded and smiled. They licked and licked from the Christmas tree until they made it outside to his car. She felt his erection against her belly. He tasted of menthol cigarettes and smelled like sawdust and wood smoke. Soon they were in his Honda backseat and she was sucking his dick. Thoughts of his ring and “obese” were distant now. She sucked until he was finished. He offered to call her a cab but she insisted she was fine. Driving home, Helen listened to her radio and sang along until she was hoarse. When she walked into her dad’s house, she tiptoed drunkenly to the fridge. She ate little bits of everything she found so as to be undetected, and binged until she was filled with an aftertaste like a latte laced with lard.