Julia took another bite of her Moro bar, spat it out, and burst into tears again. Five kilos in two months. She just kept getting fatter. It wasn’t fair. Cindy had quit smoking without gaining all that weight – so why couldn’t she? Chocolate tasted good though. It was one thing that made Julia feel better. She was getting fatter, but at least she wasn’t smoking. As for her prick of a (now ex) boyfriend – He’d simply said he’d prefer a smoker to a lard-ass before dumping her. Wasn’t she suffering enough already? Her ex was a total dick.
Julia had been on her way to Muzza’s Bar when she’d stopped at the dairy to buy chocolate. It was better than getting drunk. Or was it? Getting drunk wouldn’t make her any fatter, or would it? She could forget her sorrows for a while. No. She’d only ever been drunk a few times and that hadn’t ended well. Think of what drink did to your mother, she thought. Not pretty. That isn’t for me. Seated on a bench in the park, she could see the top of Muzza’s on the next street, peeking over the trees as if it were on the lookout for potential punters.
There was a small playground only a short distance from where she sat. A “smoke free area” sign sat perched above the seemingly obligatory pile of cigarette butts that spontaneously formed at the edge of every public playground. That used to be you. She glanced at the swing, thinking the frame looked like a gallows. It would be easy to hang yourself on it. Just toss the rope over the top. The kids will come down to play and find a skeleton swaying in the breeze. Julia shook her head at the ridiculous thought. She’d hated swings as a kid, especially the school ones. None of the other kids would let her have a turn. She’d always had to wait forever and usually miss out. Eventually she simply feigned disinterest. There’s no one to stop me now, she thought, contemplating the empty swings. No, I’m too heavy – and I’m not a kid anymore.
Her chocolate bar was nothing but an empty wrapper now. Muzza’s Bar was still subtly peeking at her over the trees, bathing itself in the afternoon light. Well I’ve never been an alcoholic – so one drink isn’t going to fuck me up, she rationalised. Besides, I don’t need to get pissed.
Checking her compact, she decided she didn’t look too much the worse for wear, despite having packed a howly. She walked purposely into Muzza’s looking far more confident than she felt, or was it the other way around? Whatever. At the far end of the room, three young men seated around a table became noticeably quieter and three heads turned to track her path across the room. Boob detectors are obviously working, she thought to herself.
There was a cigarette vending machine on the wall, containing her favourite brand. She looked away quickly and continued to the bar.
“Which one, Luv?”
“Whatever tastes good after chocolate.”
She didn’t even bother to ask what she was handed. It was beer-coloured. Good enough.
Picking up her beer, Julia was about to find a table when she noticed one of the young men had approached her. It had started already.
“Name’s Andrew” he said, offering his hand
“Julia” she replied, ignoring his hand
“Come here often”
“Can I get you a drink”
“What do you think I’m holding?”
“Uh,um, you know…”
“So far, not impressed”
She managed to suppress a smile. Andrew was young and, she admitted begrudgingly, kinda cute with his blue eyes and dark-blonde hair. He was blundering badly but was making an effort. The other two men still at Andrew’s table were making an obvious show of trying to not be obvious, though it was clear they were taking in every word, awaiting the outcome of this little dance with great interest.
“You, um… You’re good looking. Totally hot” Andrew managed.
Julia could say nothing for a moment. She stared at this young rooster with her mouth agape as if he had just called her a whore.
“I’m not good looking, I’m FAT!” she spat at him.
“Sure, but you’re not that fat. I mean, just a little plump …”
Julia slammed her glass down so hard that it cracked, spewing beer across the bar. She stared at the mess for a moment, bewildered at her own rage, then turned and bolted out the door.
Well, that was interesting. Sitting on the bench again, Julia tried to make sense of what had just happened, and burst out laughing. What a story to tell Cindy. Julia would write it down, make some minor changes and Cindy could post it on her blog. No. Stop! Julia was sick of hiding behind friends. She would start her own fucking blog. She had always enjoyed writing. She had things to say. She had a score to settle with the universe. She was angry. She was full of adrenaline. The climbing frame! Would it hold her weight? Tentatively at first, she gave the ropes an experimental tug. They were thick and strong. Why didn’t she write? She had never felt she was good enough. Fuck it! With both hands over head and one foot on a horizontal, she pulled herself up. It held – and so did Julia. Repeat. As a child, she had always imagined herself as an author. Up another rung. Who cares what anyone else thinks of my writing? Go lard-ass go! Yes, slowly up to the top, so far so good, carefully does it over the top, and down the other side. Heart pumping from the exertion but already recovering. How much harder it would have been had she had still been a smoker. She could write her novel, definitely the novel, though she hadn’t written anything in years. She didn’t read much anymore either for that matter. What was the last thing she had read “Fifty Shapes”? No “Fifty Shades” or some crap like that. She hadn’t liked it. Her ex had liked it and had left a welt on her thigh that lasted a week. Well, he was gone now and good riddance. She should have told him to piss off back then. Life was better without him. She could write a better novel than that too. How hard could it be? I’ll ask Cindy how to set up a blog tomorrow.
Julia sat down heavily on the bench, exhausted, but smiling.
Whoa girl – Chill! The light was starting to fade. It wouldn’t be wise to hang around too much longer. As she stood up she noticed a lone figure walking on the other side of the street. It was Andrew. “Andrew, over here!” She called and waved to him. Andrew stopped, hesitant, then came over, managing to look both pleased and bewildered simultaneously. Given Julia’s outburst at the bar, she wasn’t surprised that he seemed a bit apprehensive.
“I um, sorry about, I didn’t mean” he started.
“No, forget it. I over-reacted. Bad-hair day. Look, you still want my number? after what happened?”
“It’ll cost you a coffee” she chuckled “but first there’s something else you can do for me”
Julia walked over to the swing and sat down, looked at Andrew and grinned.
“Give me a push!”