I awoke to smell of bacon and the sound of his screams. Both the sound and the smell traveled down the hallway through our closed bedroom door. He was preparing breakfast shirtlessly again, his chest hair singed by grease. The grease coated everything with a sticky film that took an inordinate amount of my time and effort to scrub away. We collected it in old coffee cans, in used up containers of sour cream and parmesan cheese, in our arteries and our pores.
He soft boiled eggs, and toasted white bread in butter on a skillet. He knew I preferred whole wheat, or multigrain, or anything with fiber content, but he also knew that I would need something with which to sop up the yolk. In this way, he tricked me several times a day, wordlessly coercing me to consume.
When I ate the breakfast I preferred—a green smoothie, or some berries and a yogurt containing little sugar, and a lot of protein—he ignored me, and if he looked at me at all, he did so without emotion. But when I ate from a plate he piled high with meat and refined carbohydrates, he watched me wide-eyed and smiling.
He woke up at six every morning, slipping out of bed an hour before my alarm would sound, to fry and toast and scramble, presenting me with a plate before I was conscious enough to refuse. He replaced my skim milk with half and half, my Splenda with sugar, and filled my coffee cup with heaping spoonfuls. I showered, feeling stuffed and swollen.
I sat on the couch for a minute, my head on his shoulder before deciding I was too full to try to go to the gym or ride my bike instead of the train to work. He was slick with sweat and oil, and his stomach spilled over his waist, and I loved him.
No one had ever looked at me the way that Brian did. His eyes lingered on my face for a long time. It made me forget that the apartment was too small, and his gut was too big, and that I couldn’t manage to wash the smell of bacon from my hair and my clothes.
“Have a good day,” he said, kissing me on the cheek as I walked towards the door.
He made me feel somehow light as I walked out into the summer morning before cramming myself into the crowded train. The air was already thick with humidity—the kind of air you drink down in gulps instead of breathing in.
I ran into Julia on Spring Street. We talked on our way in, squeezing into the tiny elevator instead of walking up the three flights.
We made yoga plans for after work, which I canceled by lunch time, when Brian texted me, “Pizza later?”
That was all I wanted, wasn’t it? Him, and the couch, and the ceiling fan, and the pizza, and the Netflix and the wine.
It hadn’t happened all at once. I lost something new every day. It started with my cheek bones. I looked in the mirror, but I couldn’t find them. Then, went the line in my stomach, and the “V” shape above my hips. There were also gains: a chin, a cupsize, cheeks like a cherub, three inches in my waist.
We talked about the future that night. We talked about marriage, and a honeymoon in Hawaii. I imagined us at a luau. I imagined myself on a spit.
About the Author: Sam Paul is a Brooklyn-based writer, a graduate of The New School, and a student at New York University. She has been a bubble tea barista, ice cream shop girl, bookkeeper, personal assistant, bike messenger, and farmhand. She currently works at the Remarque Institute in New York. You can find her on twitter.