The Eyes Have It
The dress fits a bit more snug than her intention as Cindy leaves the restroom for the umpteenth time, having used yet another safety pin to reattach the seam in her dress. The work Christmas party is the only occasion she has an excuse to get dressed up, but she refuses to spend more money on clothes when she’s made the stand-up commitment to lose weight. Only fools spend money on something they can only use once.
As she makes her way through the tables squeezing between them and hoping she doesn’t mash anyone’s face into their plates, she shimmies her hips carefully. Weightwatchers is kind with their support and delicious food, but she knows she won’t be getting support from them tonight. Besides, so far she’s managed to lose nearly five pounds this week alone. The elephantine body that started at 365 is down to a melting 220 and do or die, she’ll get the guy if it kills her.
“The guy” this referral eludes to is Joe Lildich, the top executive of the office who can make any woman swoon just by walking within the three-foot space around her. The first time she saw him, she had just shoved a Twinkie into her mouth by the vending machine and accidentally swallowed without chewing when she inhaled his cologne. The process was embarrassing, to say the least, having Dave Yates do the Heimlich to her when he was only half her weight. Although he never did say anything to her, he walked somewhat hunched over the next few days, but that was what convinced her to change.
The chairs were too small for her body, not that she couldn’t sit in them, but once she did she had no idea how she was going to get up again without pulling the table on top of her. Embarrassing moments is not at the top of her list of “things to do” tonight, so she stands casually by the wall. Staring at Joe, she wonders what it will take to get him to notice her when she loses a bit more weight, but these thoughts are cut short when the lights dim down and the slide projector lights up. While everyone else is ceasing to speak, she hurries over to the buffet table and grabs a handful of bite-sized éclairs, rolling them into a napkin and cautiously folding them into her purse for later. When she gets home, she’ll be restricted to carrots and water but these will be a great way to relieve tension, if necessary. Besides, she bargains with herself, she’ll probably feel so guilty she’ll throw them away when she gets home.
The slideshow reveals the awards and kudos of everyone on the team, and then the song “Had a Bad Day” begins playing. Photographs of all sorts of awkward moments of the staff urge laughter from the unsuspecting and half-drunk audience. Joe is taking it in and chuckling with the girls sitting around him as he imitates the victims’ faces of the camera. That is when the most horrifying picture of all displays in front of everyone, Cindy getting the Heimlich from Dave. You wouldn’t know who it is squeezing her from any angle, because all that is visible is tiny little arms struggling to meet in the front. In the photo, her eyes are humongous and her face is nearly purple as she fights for air around that damned Twinkie. Frozen in her tracks, out of her peripheral vision, she can see Joe leaning back in his seat and puffing out his cheeks as far as he can before his entire table busts a gut.
Lightheaded and unthinking, Cindy grabs a couple of handfuls more of the tiny éclairs, leaving only after cramming them into her purse. Most of the people are still watching the presentation as she pushes her way past the ones who aren’t and makes her way to the hallway, tears streaking her freshly applied makeup down her face. A few sparse people give her a peculiar once-over and she wonders if they’ve seen her photo as well as she pushes the restroom door open, seeking refuge.
The stall is narrow, and she didn’t realize how narrow before when she entered, as it somehow seems to have shrunk. She finds herself barely able to turn around and close the stall door as she has a seat and cries until there are no more tears. It seems hours have passed when she stands and opens the narrow door to escape and sees the long mirror above the sink with her portly body and tiny head sitting on top. The makeup she had spent hours applying is a total mess and she begins dabbing her face with a tissue when it finally happens; POP! Cindy felt relief as one of the pins pops open and releases a tiny bit of her exorbitant waistline.
Slowly, so very slowly, her hand creeps to her handbag and removes an éclair, as she watches herself in the mirror taking a bite. Before she has a chance to taste it, it no longer exists, so she drops one into her mouth whole. She never removes her eyes from her reflection. The next time, she takes three and crams them into her mouth and then more, without even swallowing what’s already occupying it.
Two women are going on about how Joe Lildich is the life of the party when they push the door open to the facility and stumble inside. The first woman trips and falls on the floor as she realizes she’s tripped over a huge leg. Around the corner they see the most outrageous and gruesome site they’ve seen in a while as hunched against the wall is Cindy Adams, covered in chocolate, her dress tearing apart at the seams, and a smile permanently etched onto her lifeless face.