Overstayed Its Welcome

Submitted into Contest #135 in response to: Write about a casual act of bravery.... view prompt


Drama Fiction

Ashley and her father John had gained a lot of weight. It had been 5 years this day, since Ashley's mother had passed. Her mother used to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner; she would take care of the entire home and take Ashley to school.

Ashley was too young to have learned how to provide healthy energy for her family and John, her father, was always exhausted from the mines. The depression hadn't got easier for him, and his age was starting to show, the mines took more and more of a toll on him these days. His pay was going down and down each month.

He had been cutting expenses by buying cheap: white breads, peanut butter, jelly, milk, knock-off cereal — while not even considering the health ramifications. For dinner he would snag fast food for both himself and Ashley on the way home from the mines. All he could think about was his wife being taken from him.

"Look! It's the fatty!" Ashley turned around in the school court-yard and had a questioning expression, she tried to process who was being accosted. Brent was staring right at Ashley pointing and laughing. She started looking around and most people were staring right in her direction: some were laughing. She didn't even have time to think before tears started to fall.

Ashley completely lost control and panicked, her first thought was to run home, but she quickly realized it was way too far; she stopped in the middle of the court-yard and turned back around to start going instead to the school nurse but tripped. Her girth made it difficult to change direction. She fell flat on her face, tearing up her arms when she braced for impact. 

Everyone was still watching her. "Are you okay?" Kendrick said. "Yeah here, let me give you a hand." A couple boys walked forward trying to lend a hand to help her up but she was so scared and panicked by the humiliation — she took off into the main hallway that lead toward the nurse.

Ashley convinced her father to let her stay home from school that night. He had told her — "You can't just run away from your problems Ashley." But he ended up giving in and letting her stay home, he even bought her a Netflix subscription and set-up the child content filter. He loved her so much.

A knock thudded on the wooden door and John's voice came through. "Hey Honey, I talked to your principle and he said it would be okay if you wanted to stay home the rest of the week and come back on Monday, would you like that?" 

"Yes please! Dad, Thank you so much!" Ashley yelled through the door. 

"I'll call him and let him know. Feel better." John said.

Five entire days of freedom and a Netflix subscription? I love my dad so much.

She had a Roku connected to an older tv; she booted up Netflix and entered the information dad had given her. She clicked her profile and out-came a bunch of genres including mostly cartoons and some Disney shows. 

She didn't feel like watching cartoons or trying to laugh at the moment, she wanted something different. Finally, she reached an extensive children's nutrition section, and she thought back to being humiliated earlier. She thought back, remembering what it felt like to be referred to as "It."

She remembered father telling her not to run away from her problems. She got up out of bed and stood as tall as she could; she decided right then and there: Im going to get rid of this fat. This is not going to be my life any longer. This fat has overstayed its welcome and it's time to go.

She clicked and began to cycle through: there was a ton of content. She found her way to a show that had a description box conveying a beginners guide to being healthy. She clicked on the video and it started playing.

"The first thing you have to do is live an active life, if you're not sure at all, where to begin: why not try going for a walk? Plan a safe route and if you're young make sure you go with your parents!" The show went on to suggest limiting breads and sugary deserts, and that fats were actually healthy! Bacon and eggs is actually a healthy meal. All I eat is breads and sugary stuff. 

Ashley thought for a moment before deciding that she would be brave and go into the unknown, she was going to learn more. 

It said it was okay to skip meals and to eat less: your body eventually forgets the sugar cravings and you find an equilibrium. Ashley was taken back, this is nothing like what she has heard all her life. You didn't have to eat three meals a day? I thought all breads were good for you, bread is sugar?!? School always talked about how healthy grains were. 

Ashley continued to compare the new information she was taking in with what she had previously thought.

After the 5 days of hanging out at home with her new Netflix subscription, she had become somewhat of a self-taught nutritionist. And who better to experiment than on herself? 

She remembered one of the videos describing how difficult it can be, and that sugar is considered a "Brutal addiction to conquer; the person must show immense bravery to commit and change their habits," the video said.

I can do this. I can be brave. I can conquer this.

It was on Sunday that her Father John had agreed to her suggestion that they go grocery shopping together. She had made a list of some of the foods that wouldn't break dad's bank but would also be a lot healthier than what dad had been bringing into the household. 

"Here Dad, right here, the eggs section, come take a look," Ashely said excitedly. John reached for the cheapest option of eggs and Ashley spoke up.

"Dad wait, I wrote down some notes, let's take a look here. It says to not pick out the cheapest ones because they are mass produced and have less nutrition. It says that all eggs are relatively cheap, so why not get the more nutritious ones?"

"Oh yeah, you're right, they really aren't all that much more — just a couple dollars." 

He started opening them, and checking out the eggs themselves. "There's something about em, they do look good. I wan't to crack one of these open right here in the store!" John made a joking expression and started looking around. "You think they got a stove top they'll bring out in the middle of the store here for us? We can start eating now." John said with a smile and Ashley giggled: leaving a persisting excited smile across her wide cheeks. She grabbed a couple different higher end egg cartons. 

"We'll try a couple different ones, and see what they're like," Ashley said.

Ashley and her father John continued shopping throughout the store, reading labels and comparing them to Ashley's notes she had worked diligently on. John was enjoying the time with Ashley and had been making jokes and lightening up: forgetting about his job, forgetting about the loss of his wife, forgetting about his body not keeping up with the other miners anymore. 

All of that had faded, and what remained, was his energized and passion-filled daughter: smiling, joking, playing and just being a kid. He was becoming energized at the same time. The energy surged vicariously through her and into John: they were enjoying life together.

10 Years had passed since that trip to the grocery store. Ashley was head cheerleader for the University of Georgia and had a loving and respectable boyfriend. He was one of the wide-receivers, a Christian, and had straight A's. Her dad gave his blessings for their relationship and he had become a part of the family. 

The father: John. Was outputting more work than ever. He was not only keeping up even in his 50's, he was making more money for the company than any of the other miners. 

His employer had called him into the office and tripled his pay. The company promoted him and gave him more of a leadership role. "Train these guys to work like you, teach them to be as strong as you are." Is what his boss told him before giving him a $20,000 bonus check and patting him on the back. 

John eventually remarried and Ashley had given her blessing. They had morned their loss — they had recovered. They both had a bright future ahead of them.

The end. 

March 01, 2022 19:52

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