Thursday, February 13

short story / TG

two things. 1/ this is fictional. 2/ i did not get a great score when i submitted this as a 'creative' response in English last year. but this story means something to me, and I'd like to share it with you.

The taxi jerked along the gravel so that when I leaned my head on the window it bumped against the side of my cheek. My hands felt clammy and my T-Shirt stuck to me because of the humidity in the air. I pulled my backpack closer to me, and brought my knees up to my chest. I looked outside the window at the hundreds of people going about their daily business. Smiling, nervously tapping their legs, pacing, muttering, frowning. I saw it all from my window and even considered jumping out of the taxi and pretending to be like these people. I would rather hide in the anonymous crowd than face my father after all these years.            

It was only when the driver turned to face me with concern in his eyes and a 'You're going to be alright, Miss?' that I noticed that the taxi had slowed to a stop. I half-smiled at him and mumbled something about being tired from the plane trip and, after paying him, I stepped out of the car. Lugging my backpack and suitcase behind me, I watched the taxi drive off. My father lived in an enormous Victorian-style house in the Valley, in an area of Los Angeles called Tarzana. Half expecting Jane to swing down from one of the palm trees surrounding the house, I reluctantly made my way up the path and rung the doorbell once. I couldn't really do any less.           

I waited, taking advantage of the respite to look around me. The front garden was much neater than the last time I had visited, the orchids were in full bloom and the path rid of dirt. After a couple of seconds, the door swung open to reveal a tall woman I had never seen before. Her hair was tightly pulled back in a high ponytail with two very symmetrical curls loosely bouncing around her face. Everything about this woman was perfectly manicured, almost airbrushed, from her cream nails to her high-cheek bones. Above all, I was fascinated by the white of her smile. It was a white full of promise; you could not be anything but grand with that much dental perfection.  
"And you must be Jo" the woman said, her slender hand locking my wrist and pulling me inside of the house. "I've heard nothing but wonders about you from your Daddy. Jo? I suppose that's short for Josephine, huh?" she said winking at me conspiratorially.

Jo was short for Jocelyn but I was fine with it being short for anything as long as this woman was talking to me. I felt a sudden urge to please this creature, my cheeks flushed with the idea of her honey-coloured eyes looking at me with warmth. In that moment, standing in the front door, I did not see the hollowness of her cheeks or the painted expression, all I wanted was to radiate like her.

"Just Jo is fine." I said my throat dry and scratchy from the air-conditioner in the plane.
"Well then, Just Jo it is. I'm Katy; you can call me Katy-Cat if you like. That's what all my girlfriends call me. Come inside Just Jo, I'm sure your Daddy is going to be so happy to have you here!" Katy said leading me into the house turning around to reveal a perfect body sheathed in white jeans and an airy orange blouse.

That evening we ate dinner at the dining table in the centre of the huge house, a mahogany table bathed in a white fluorescent light that hurt my eyes and made my head spin. I sat next to my father who, when I had first arrived a couple of hours before, had briefly asked about Australia with a particular interest in my mother’s social life. I looked at his silver earring glistening in the harsh light. Now that I had lost my chubby cheeks and braids and that I could no longer be shown off at his cocktails parties as a cute sidekick, I found myself wondering whether I was anything else than an inconvenience in this household.

For dinner my father greedily ate chicken with his fingers, stains dotting his napkin, or ‘serviette’ as they called them in America for what I suppose is a posh touch. I was ready to start eating, maybe with a little more restraint than my father, when I found myself glancing at Katy. Her sleeves where daintily rolled up and she ate a salad with a silver fork. It was so dry I heard the leaves crunch under her teeth. She smiled at my father and pushed her plate away, barely touched.

“Hon’, look at her, she doesn’t want to eat that. You can’t force everyone to eat like you, you know.” She said giving me an understanding look.

I smiled back, pushing my stomach out so that it wouldn’t rumble. I had not eaten anything else during my trip other than two packets of Cheetos as I was fairly repulsed by the soggy scrambled eggs that smelt like the limp curtains of the plane that they offered. I reached for the bowl of salad and served myself, wanting to imitate the way she ate. I wanted to make mine her poise and sophisticated ways, as if it were an evening gown that I could sashay around in.

"See?" Katy said laughing, "this is why they need us, women, in the world." She dabbed her lips and continued slowly. It seemed to take her a great amount of concentration to come out with the words, as if she was convincing herself of what she was saying. "They need us, so that their daughters are well looked after. Right, Josephine? Men just don't know the trouble we go through to keep them happy."

My father seemed to find it highly amusing that Katy had decided to address me with a new name, and refraining from correcting her he chuckled and returned to his chicken. I smiled at her, but my heart was not in it. I was not feeling too good, and Katy's words seemed to echo around the room and ring in my ears.

Katy did not seem to stop talking. The more she talked, the more little details came to my attention. The way her pinkie tapped the tablemat, the way her eyes were searching for my father's approval and the way her thin watch fastened on her thin wrist was ticking ever so faintly.

"You know what?" she continued relentlessly "There is this new rage over here, in California, called the TG. The thigh gap, it's pretty ingenious really. I've doubled my hours at the gym to try and get my thighs toned and slender. Ah, some day I might be lucky enough to achieve it... We have to go to the gym together. I'm sure you'd get in three times faster than I would. Even if you do have a fair way to go." She tilted her head sympathetically.

There was a silence.

I excused myself from the table. When I walked to the bathroom, my thighs felt squashed against each other, as if they wanted more room than what they already had. I could feel the challenge in my flesh.

In the bathroom, I felt the glare of the mirror finding myself judging her body and numerous imperfections. I felt her whole stomach churn and heave at the same rhythm as my thoughts. I touched her already unfamiliar face, feeling disgusted. I let my fingers run along the bumps on her skin, her large pores and those dots scattered on her face. I frowned at them; intruders on what should be a blank canvas. I turned around on myself in the bathroom and faced the toilet, looking away from her.

1 thoughts:

  1. This is actually incredibly written. You are a wonderful storyteller and I was engaged throughout all of that.

    Thank you for your writing. Newest follower! x


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