Home > 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl(5)

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl(5)
Mona Awad

“Not too late, not too late!” she cries. She is just so glad to hear from you. “I was getting a little worried, actually,” she admits.

It’s sweet how the fat girl worries. She really cares, unlike Some People, who have told you point-blank, just tonight, that it doesn’t matter to them whether you live or die.

Well, you’ve had a hell of a day, you tell the fat girl. A hell of a day. “Hey, mind if I come over?” you ask her, even though you already know she never minds and that, in fact, she was sort of hoping you might.

“Of course!” she says. One thing, though: Her mom’s asleep, so you’ll probably want to come in around the side. “Last time you forgot and woke her up, remember?”

You have a dim recollection of a very large woman in a kimono glaring at you from the open front door, while the fat girl waved at you from behind her boulder-like shoulder. “Oh, right, mother,” you mumble. You look at your watch. Shouldn’t she have moved out by now?

• • •

It’s been a while since you paid a visit to the fat girl. It’s been a while since you fishtailed your way through a dark night of the soul toward her small, split-level bungalow only to crash and burn against one of her mother’s Tuscan urn planters. It’s been a while since you staggered up those steps, collapsed onto the WIPE YOUR PAWS! welcome mat, made that upside-down hanging of birch twigs rattle by banging and banging your head on her front door. You haven’t been to see her, in fact, since your last artistic crisis, wherein you lay on her couch all night, drinking all her mother’s Cointreau and then some, while she nodded sympathetically and made you fudge.

Tonight, as you careen down her daffodil-flanked walkway, you are pleased to find things as you left them. There is the swaying yellow square of light that is her front window. There are the carefully clipped rosebushes you once retched in. There are her mother’s window boxes full of fussy little purple flowers you can’t help but finger, giggling. There is the fat girl filling the side doorframe, waving you away from the front entrance. She’s so happy to see you that she is waving at you with both arms high above her head, cooing, “Not the front door, remember! Here! This way! Shhh!”

“Sssshhhh,” you tell the fat girl, hitting your lips with two fingers.

She looks bigger than you remember, lacier than you remember, younger than you remember too, which is alarming. Are we moving backward in time or forward, you wonder, as you follow her ample crushed-velvet frame down the Escher staircase toward the living room, which is deep beneath the earth’s surface yet somehow still on the ground floor. No matter. Because look, Some People can’t even be bothered to throw an extra Pop-Tart into the toaster when you come over. The fat girl, on the other hand, has lit all of her vanilla-fig scented candles in anticipation of your arrival. She is burning sage and nag champa in little copper holders. She has refilled her mother’s potpourri bowls with Holiday Spice. She is bent over the oven right now, hands swathed in chef-hat-shaped mittens, praying aloud that you like Banana-Rama bread.

“Luvit,” you tell the fat girl, and collapse onto the rose-patterned couch, making all the Indian print cushions crackle and hiss.

How it warms your heart to watch her race to and from the kitchen, bearing plates piled with things she knows you love: rocky road fudge bars; peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich triangles without the crusts—you hate the crusts, the fat girl knows and remembers, unlike Some People, who do not care to know or remember.

“I would have made more,” she says, “if I’d known you were coming.” Next time maybe let her know just a little bit earlier? Just so she can be better prepared?

“Sure,” you assure the fat girl. “Hey, you got anything to drink?” After the day you’ve had, you sure could use something stiff. “Hell of a day,” you tell her.

“Tell me, tell me,” entreats the fat girl, pouring you the last of her mother’s rosé, which is the only booze of hers you didn’t polish off the last time you were here.

“It’s just . . . no one listens, you know?” you tell her. No one really listens. Especially not Some People, you say, as you take the chilled goblet from her plump, pink hand.

Now, the fat girl knows very well whom you mean by Some People. She hates Some People. In fact, even the mention of Some People makes her Betty Boop eyes go black and flinty.

“I listen,” says the fat girl.

“You listen,” you tell her. “Love how you listen,” you say, giving her a wobbly smile and a wink that makes red blotches bloom all over her neck and chest.

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