“Don’t lose weight,” the mother told the daughter. “When you lose, I gain.”
She said it as a joke—but serious—but a joke.
The daughter, though, she knew. She spent her teenage years chunky blimpy rolypoly cheesehog lardass buffalo. Teenagers are cruel but not as cruel as a mother who just narrows her eyes.
The mother was a self-proclaimed milf. She delighted in passing her fat jeans on to the daughter.
When the mother was diagnosed anorexic and the doctor spoke to the daughter using obesity and coffin in the same sentence, the daughter took up running. She pushed herself through space for her mother.
For the rest of her life, she’d find it hard to do anything for herself first.
The daughter gained the freshman fifteen her first year of university. The mother lost the same amount, and that’s when she got wise. She’d slice big slabs of butter into the daughter’s food while steaming vegetables for herself. “It’s so unfair,” she grumbled while staring at the daughter’s stomach in between sad attempts to flirt with the daughter’s boyfriends.
The daughter moved away and stayed the same size Small for many years, both to keep her mother safe and to spite her.
One day, the mother called.
“Thank you,” she said.
The daughter had never heard her say that. That’s when she realized she’d missed a period.
The second trimester, the mother called again: “You’re the best daughter.”
The third trimester, the daughter didn’t hear from her at all.
The same day the daughter’s daughter came screaming into the world, the mother called a final time.
“Goodbye,” she said and hung up the phone.
About the Author: Emi Benn’s fiction has appeared in Jellyfish Review, Joyland, Monkeybicycle, and other places. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario.