Contains sexual references.

The man stood before a large mirror, a piece of paper trembling in his hands as he viewed his naked image with a mixture of scorn and regret. Over the years his once taught, muscular figure had slowly drooped, bulged and slackened until this day of reckoning when even as he flexed his muscles and sucked in his belly with deep, desperate breaths, no semblance of his former glory could be resurrected. He remembered his teens when the effects of hyperactivity and small portions of food kept his weight in check. There was not much he could thank his parents for-his childhood felt now like everyone was sliding around on a sinking ship with screaming and fires and lifeboats capsizing but with the exception the children were left to last and had to save themselves by any means possible. 

That considered, he could still find gratitude for the three square his mother put on the table every day. There was never much of it but he knew his mother would often go without so her children could go to bed with just a little more in their bellies.

In those days there wasn't the plenitude of sugary treats at his disposal like there was now. Now he had the autonomy to choose but on reflection, the choices he made seemed to have their roots stuck deep in the past and it was a rare day that he did not have liberal amounts of chocolate, cake or ice cream. The man thought it likely he was making up for the frustrations of his childhood when his father forbade him and his siblings any kind of sweet treats at all. He called them ‘tooth rot’ and said things like, when his mother gave him the occasional chocolatey balm, ‘those bloody things will be the death of ya, son.’ 

In this his father had been right, at least to the degree his addiction to sugar had caused him much anguish and the doctors all warned him that, if he didn’t change his habits, it would eventually lead to his death. The traumas of his childhood and the resulting bottomless pit of emptiness he felt inside demanded to be appeased by a constant stream of sugary or greasy foods. It was a feeling of lack and inability to find fulfilment in the simple things of life. He was the veritable hungry ghost with an insatiable appetite but only a tiny mouth through which he could stuff food into and appease the cravings.

At some point he realised it was not food that was the problem but the feelings of inadequacy and sadness which drove him to over eating as a means of feeling, for just a few moments, some semblance of happiness and peace. Since this revelation the journey to find help had truly begun. The man joined a support group and found much solace and comfort from the heartfelt sharing that dominated the proceedings. He inched slowly towards forgiving his mother and father for the instability of his upbringing. They weren’t terrible people, he realised, they too were the victims of violent, unstable childhoods and in this fraternity he and they shared a precious, unbreakable bond.

It was funny twenty years ago when his heavy drinking and eating swelled his belly and breasts with the largesse of pleasure and indulgence. His friends nicknamed him Burgs-short for hamburger-a food he considered to be one of the essential food groups and one which no meal was complete without. His mates were often inspired to, eyes raised in eloquent query, rub his pregnant gut and ask as to how many months he was…along. 

The man could laugh then, the hope and vigour of youth shielding him from the insults-veiled or otherwise-that sought to humiliate and belittle him because of his voluptuous figure. He chuckled and tittered along with the others, entertaining them with impersonations of famous people of renowned girth and stature. He often wondered why this curse had appeared to haunt his life, what karmic retribution had tracked him down and bestowed the gift of obesity upon him.

Still, things had made a sudden turn for the better and he was not submitting himself to this ordeal-by-mirror for nothing. He was not in the habit of viewing his image in the mirror, being cautious of the aftermath of shame and sorrow it invariably created. But his support group abounded with shares from those with the courage to face themselves as they were-as indeed God had made them-people of substance who looked in the mirror in both the literal and metaphorical sense, people who were slowly learning to accept and love themselves unconditionally. 

The mantra at the group was ‘we are all a work in progress.’ It hung in enormous chant above the air conditioner in the small, dusty hall where they met. The man loved this slogan as it made him feel like no matter how bad things were now everything would be fine in the end if he made group regularly and kept to the recommended regime of exercise and diet.

And oh yes, things had indeed made a sudden turn for the better. 

At the tender age of forty-three the man was deeply, madly in love and the energy of it surged through his body doing tingly loops around his chest and lower belly. He felt refreshed and reinvigorated-rescued even-from a life of dreary, hopeless routine. It was a thing of marvel and wonder and he sometimes found himself frozen in dreamy pause, smiling like a maniac with a lollipop as he stood in line for coffee, or at a bus stop, awakening to the intrigued looks of people who were standing by. 

He had met her online and it was love at first sight. This common saying ceased to be a cliche within the context of his lived experience. His heart did skip a beat and he did gasp and then hold his breath! He understood then all the love songs ever made and knew that love was indeed an altered state that made one see the world in an entirely fresh, enlivened way. 

It wasn’t that he didn’t have fun before, as depressed as he sometimes was when he fell into the habitual pit of self pity and shame. No, he saw himself as a man of aspiration and hidden talent, a man with the soul of a poet who loved to express himself in poems, short stories and recently a novel which he was oh so close to finishing! He also was a collector of various things, old things which lay permanently in the shadows of another era, things like photos from the nineteen twenties or children’s toys’ of the sixties and seventies. The man enjoyed his hobbies and also his work as a tech guru for a large computer company in his city. Unfortunately, like his work his hobbies did not require much physical exertion and his weight remained almost constantly challenging. A friend at his support group recommended an online chat room where people like themselves could get together and talk openly about anything at all. This friend said that alone they were vulnerable and easy prey for the demons lurking inside, but together they comprised a wealth of experience cast from the fires of suffering and from this wisdom they could all draw and share. It was after one of these meetings, as the man was idly surfing the net, that he came across the woman who had changed his life. 

And so, sparkling with the champagne of love, the man had composed an ode to the woman’s intoxicating beauty. The words had foamed out from him in pink bubbles of love and devotion. He stood now fresh from a shower, naked before the mirror preparing to read aloud the poem he had composed as a tribute to her glory. He took a moment to take inventory as he sometimes did after a shower, his ample rolls of pink, hairy flesh were never going to look more vital and appealing. 

 It was touching how resilient the human spirit could be. Even after a thousand heartbreaks it could rally, perhaps just this one final time, to the just cause of life.   

  The man sniffed, cleared his throat and began.

There are such fields of tree and grass

  and light so soft upon them plays,

  and winds so ripe with a golden yawn

  the stretch and rise

  Of a summoned dawn.

  I have seen you so

  my Golden Love,

  here and in meadows of night-time


  the sonata of stars

  playing melodies entrancing

  Trembling with a 

  mystical yawping,

  entreating songs of beauty bold

  and it is you,

  my dear

  Who is bespoken and told.

  It is for you the piano 

  exists at all,

  and that violins crescendo,

  Then cascade in a fall.

  Your flesh so soft

  your skin so white

  your lips so kissed

  with a luminous bite.

  But oh, if I dwell on the 

  roll of your breasts

  so smooth and white

  with nipples erect,

  or the arch of your hips

legs folded aside,

 in your loveliness my heart abides. 

T'was it but flesh that lures 

  me forth

  not brazen or fickle but

  natural and pure,

  my heart would not beat

  to a song so rich

  for shallows cannot

  Contain such depths.

  In your light I dance,

  in your darkness I hide

  such alluring fallows

  found in a winter’s 


  Do you see me, 

  My Dear?

  Do you hear me

  My Sweet? 

  Are my words

  beheld as they

  Gently entreat?

  Are they gems 

  to polish

  and admire, or

  litter doomed to 

  Be cast aside?

  Regardless my darling,

  let me be clear

  I am the image and

  you are the mirror, 

  And forever we dance

  In the reflections of you!'

The man smiled. It was pretty darn good! He stood tall and viewed himself again. He patted his chest and ran his fingers along the underside of his wobbling arms. His body was a work in progress and it felt nice to touch and he was grateful to it for the pleasures of food and love.

  The man turned and grabbed his computer then headed towards his bedroom and climbed onto his bed. He opened the laptop and turned it on, made a series of clicks then hesitated before the woman’s room icon, her frozen image waiting for his finger’s touch to summon her to into life. 

Tonight was the night he was going to reveal himself, have the courage to show her who he really was. Previously he had watched her hidden behind his avatar-‘The mirages of beauty’-an unusually poetic name amongst others far more crude and unimaginative. He had hoped this would make him stand out amongst the throngs of horny men who were regulars in her room. She would take note of the eloquent messages which accompanied the frequent, generous tips he gave her. She would acknowledge the pleasure he was giving her; every token he sent her way activated a small, pink device inserted into her vagina. Every token he sent her was another thrilling gesture of his vast, transcendant love. 

Tonight he would approach her scented boudoir and bowing with the grace of a gentleman, request a private audience. Tonight they would meet face to face for the first time and he would gift her with words of power and beauty befitting a creature of such majesty. 

The man took a deep breath and opened her room. A familiar message appeared alerting him that he was ‘connecting to Annabelle’s room.’ Then there she was laying on her back, her lustrous body so voluptuous, smooth and white, her long black hair caressing her pillow, her beautiful breasts heaving with life and pleasure.

The man’s heart was pounding and he was visibly sweating. He held his poem aloft, took a deep breath then pressed the cam to cam icon. Someone laughed outside and there was a sudden gust of autumn wind. A green light blinked and she turned to her screen and smiled.

She had seen him! 

  ‘Hi gorgeous’ she typed, ‘do you want to play?’

  The man smiled and began typing his poem: ‘There are such fields of tree and grass…’ He typed line after line in quick succession, pausing after each one to send a tip and a buzzing thrill through her warm, yielding body. Each tip was accompanied by a high ‘bing’ sound and he rejoiced now to hear it-bing! bing! bing! His fingers performed a joyous boogie across the keyboard and love flowed from him in such rich bounty he was lost within it. Type, tip, send, BING! Type, tip, send BING! After each bing her body shivered or she arched her back and moaned, her sweet face unveiled with an ecstatic surrender. He felt as she and his body quivered with the joyous rapture of it! The rhythm of typing merged with his breathing and became as jungle drums beating out a celebration of her wild, rapturous beauty. He typed and laughed and sweated and swayed, rolled his eyes and bopped his head as he sang and shouted along with the earth shaking hallelujah of it. Glory! Glory! Glory!

Then in one sublime instant her image on the screen faded and everything was subsumed into a vast, timeless silence that was infinitely more than just the absence of noise. 

Amazing Grace how sweet The Sound! 

  He paused in serene wonder and watched remotely as his fingers danced across the keyboard like electric tentacles lit up with love and joy and beauty itself.

  He knew then the secret of love and that it was so big and beautiful his tiny little body could never, ever contain it.

December 10, 2021 15:00

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Lucinda Sloan
14:03 Dec 16, 2021

I loved your story, it was a mixture of despair and beauty. You wonderfully wove the elements of his childhood and his need for sweets together so that the ending was not a surprise but still so sad. His need for love, his hatred of his body, father’s reprimands are dealt with sensitivity. I think the poem was good but too long for a ‘short story’, just an opinion. There was ‘poetry’ in your prose that maybe wasn’t strong in places and not a part of his character as I read him. The sparkling champagne sentences for example. It really was a f...


20:25 Dec 16, 2021

Thanks Lucinda for your insightful comments. Yes! I see the poem is too long now i look at it fresh. Going to revisit it and consider it with new perspectives. Cheers, Glen.


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