I Will Do It One Day

Submitted into Contest #118 in response to: Start your story with “Today’s the day I change.”... view prompt

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Fiction

How many times have I heard those words ‘Today is the day I change?’

They haven’t always been said in just that particular way….there’s been ‘It’s ‘D’ day for me today’ or “This has to end and today it will’ or ‘I will really try hard this time and succeed’ or ‘I’m in a good head space now so today I start!’

It has been said so many times and in so many different way and for so long. It hasn’t worked. To be honest I don’t believe it any more.

Everyone knows it has failed, or rather SHE has failed. She knows, I know, the children know, everyone who knows Chris, knows!

What can I do but support her? She is my wife. For over twenty years I’ve heard the same thing being said. I have listened to crying, self-recrimination, excuses (some feeble), self-destructive rantings and even lies. I’m tired of it all.

The thing is that I never minded what Chris looks like, in fact I love her ‘roundness’ I’m not sure now that I feel the same way but it is mainly her health that I care about…..and the children who have grown up with it. They’ve had to put up with a lot over the years. Samuel is just embarrassed by what his Mum looks like and Winston is both concerned and angry. He can’t believe that his mother could let herself get to this size, this weight.

We had a big argument the other day and I told her, in a rare fit of anger that if she doesn’t get healthier (and to do this she will have to slim down) then I shall leave her. At first she just laughed and said “You wouldn’t leave me!”

And I retorted with “Wanna bet Chris. I’m fed up with it. I want a wife who can come out with me and not need to sit down all the time to rest, someone fun and lively, like you used to be. I can’t take it for much longer. Why can’t you just do it? No one wants to hear your excuses any more. We’re all here for you. Winston makes your healthy meals and gets rid of all the junk food hidden in the house, I help you to exercise, walking like two half dead snails along the track, but I do it Chris because I want you to succeed, but you know what, you don’t care, not about your health and certainly not about us. If you did you would do something about yourself”. And I slammed the door and walked out.

Chris slowly walked to her bedroom and flopped onto her bed, and cried. Then wiping her eyes she opened her bedside cupboard door and pulled out a packet of chips and a large block of chocolate, and ate them. “He never used to mind me being big” she sobbed.

While she was eating them it made her feel happy. Laying back on her pillow she let her mind wander to when she was a young girl….walking through green fields trying to catch blue and white and orange butterflies in a net, lying on her back on the soft carpet of grass, watching the clouds float past and making up pictures of what they were. Then hearing her mother call to her “Christine it’s dinner time, come in and wash your hands”.

She had always been a big eater, assisted by her mother. As a girl she had her plate piled high with food and completely in a very short time. “Can I have some more please?” she would ask and her father would give her mother a look as if to say ‘she eats too much for a girl her age you know’ but her mother always answered her with “Of course love, you’re a growing girl”.

And grow she did.

She got teased at school in the early years with the usual names that chubby children  get called. Being quite confident then, Chris could ‘hold her own’ and usually gave back as good as she got.

At recess and lunch some of the other children would say “You get a lot in your lunchbox. I hardly have anything”.

“Well you should ask your mum to put some more food in” but never offered to share any of hers. They would watch her eat not one round of sandwiches but two, at least three sweet biscuits and always the ‘little treat’ that her mum put in because ‘she was such a good girl’.

“I think we need to cut back on the amount of food Christine consumes” her dad said to her mum one day “or at least cut out some of the ‘rubbish’ she eats”.

“Oh for goodness sake Ron” his wife said back. “Chris is a growing girl. She’ll shoot up in height one of these days and it will all even itself out. Stop worrying. And besides it’s unhealthy to discuss weight with children, it causes all sorts of problem”.

“I’m not saying discuss it with her, just give her less on her plate and in her school lunch box” he continued. “I watched her running with the dog the other day and she stops after a few minutes, all puffed out she is. That’s not good for a girl her age”.

So just to keep him happy, Chris’s mum dished up less food on the dinner plate that night.

They all sat down, Chris looking at what was on the white porcelain dinner plate, then at her mum, finally speaking. “Where is the rest of my dinner?”

“We’re all cutting down a little bit to try and get healthier” her mum said quietly looking at her dad.

“You and Dad aren’t cutting down, just me. Why Mum?”

“Well….it’s always good to be a bit fitter, you know, be able to run a long way…” she feebly trailed off trying not to look at her daughter, who had already finished her plate of food.  “It was Dad’s idea” escaped from her mouth before she realised.

Chris looked at him, knowing it would only ever be her dad, not her mum.

The cutting down of food on the plate and in lunchboxes didn’t work. It looked like it did as Chris only ate what was on her plate and never asked for more, but in the evening when her Dad had gone for his evening stroll and smoke, she would wait in her bedroom for the sound of her mother tiptoeing to her room with a tray of food for her. “Thank you Mum” she would say each night, shut the door and settle down to her feast.

When Chris started high school she could be described as ‘very cuddly’. She was smart in class and not in the least interested in sport of any kind. But it didn’t really matter, and she didn’t care - you were sporty or you weren’t at that age. Her dark curly hair framed a round olive skinned face, and dark brown eyes sparkled under long lashes. The boys found her very attractive and there was no shortage of dates for her – much to the annoyance of some of the other girls… “How can you be so big AND pretty” they would say.

One of the boys in her final year of school remarked that he loved taking Chris out to dinner as she wouldn’t fuss over food, picking at it, leaving most on her plate – at least with Chris he had gotten his money’s worth! “Mind you” he remarked while talking to his mates “I wouldn’t like to keep her fed for a week!”

Chris met Joe when they were at University together. He told her that his ideal girl was ‘someone with meat on her bones’… and she obviously fitted the bill. He could only see her beautiful smile and happy personality.

They got married on a beautiful spring day with Chris being described by Joe as a ‘gorgeous goddess’. There had been none of the dieting for weeks before the wedding, that most brides ended up doing to be able to fit into the dress …Chris just got the dress altered one last time two weeks before the wedding.

Joe and Chris’s life settled into a routine, a pattern of life where children are conceived and born, firstly Samuel and then a brother called Winston. The daughter and sister that came into the world stayed for only a very short time but her perfectly formed body and soft delicate face would never be forgotten. It saddened the family but none more so than Chris who had pushed her little girl into the world, delighted at the thought of having another female in the house, and already looking ahead to the day when they could go out together, just mother and daughter shopping and having lunches.

She coped with the loss in the way that she always dealt with bad news, disappointment or heartache; she stayed in bed and ate.

Chaos reigned around her but she didn’t care. Joe coped the best that he could but the boys often came into the bedroom to tell Chris that there wasn’t enough food in their lunchbox, (not like when you make them Mum) or that Dad left them waiting at the school gate for too long after school, he hadn’t bought the pens that they needed for art, he hadn’t let them invite anyone over to play, or let them watch their favourite programme on television, and on it went. Chris slid under the bed covers to blot out the voices of her sons and when they had given up hope of her listening and sympathising and left the room, she opened up a bar of chocolate and ate it.

The two boys soon learnt that you left Mum alone when she was like this, and Dad told them that Mum was just too sad to be a part of the family at the moment, but she would get over it.

The morning she ventured out of her bedroom (not Joe’s as he had moved into the spare room – too many biscuit and crisp crumbs in the bed for him, too many wrappers on the floor and bedside table) was a “Today is the day I change’ day.

When Joe and the boys stepped in through the front door and saw the neat and clean house , and the wife and mother showered and dressed in something other than pyjamas, they knew she was ready to be a part of the family once again.

Dinner was made and simmering on the stove. “Oh Mum” said Samuel “something other than pasta – hallelujah!” They all sat down at the table and ate together, talking and laughing just like before Lucy was born.

After dinner Chris went into the bedroom and brought out a box of chocolates to share. No-one was particularly interested in them after such a big dinner, except Chris herself. She ate nearly the whole box. Joe couldn’t help but look each time she reached for another chocolate, deliberating and deciding at the beginning of the box which one to have, but just grabbing anyone by the time it was nearly finished. “You’ve polished off the whole box” he told her, as if she didn’t know.

“I know Joe that today was a fresh start but they needed to be eaten” came her reply. “There’s no point in them just lying around is there?’ she asked him.

He knew she was still fragile so decided to just agree with his wife “Yeah you’re probably right”.

“Besides, once they are all gone, I’m on a sensible eating programme” she told him and he wished he could believe her. He couldn’t count the number of times she had started to eat healthily, exercise and get fit but it never lasted long. There were always excuses as to why she had gone back to her ‘old ways’.

“How do you expect me to resist a couple of treats at a celebration ‘now and then’?” she would say, but ‘now and then’ was a bit stretched when there were so many birthday parties, Halloween parties, Christmas, Easter, New Year’s Eve, Weddings, Funerals and any other social events that were going on -  usually at weekends – then when Monday came around so did the catchcry “OK this has to end, and today is the beginning of the ‘new’ Chris!”

The action taken after the statement was as usual very short lived.

Joe turned his head and looked at his wife. It was Winston’s high school graduation, the second and last son to go through. Although Joe thought the actual ceremony too long and slightly boring, he was proud of his son having done so well. Chris could just squeeze into the seat. She had gotten really big and as they had walked in he had noticed some people staring their way, some even taking a second sneaky peak. He knew people not having seen Chris for a while would be shocked.  He wasn’t sure how he really felt - on the one hand he was annoyed that people could look and criticise his wife, but he was irritated with her for getting to this size. He never thought he would ever see his wife as unattractive, but he was starting to. ‘I’ll talk to her about it…again – for her health’s sake’ (and our marriage)  he thought as the evening speeches began.

Having coffee together at the weekend Joe broached the subject with his wife. “But I just worry about your health Chris – it’s not good for you being so big. You know that yourself”. He wanted to add that he found her less attractive the bigger she became but knew it wasn’t worth it.

“I try Joe. I really do” she told him dipping a chocolate biscuit into her coffee.

“You know  Winston told me the other day that he worries you will die before he has his twenty first birthday party. How do you think that made me feel Chris? Sad, that’s how” and he walked inside, telling his wife it was to refill his coffee cup but he didn’t come back out.

‘All this pressure’ thought Chris grabbing another biscuit as her son came towards the table.

“See you Mum. I’m off to Jason’s for the day”.

“Why don’t you bring the boys around here anymore love? We have the pool, the park down the road, and loads of food” she asked ever hopeful.

“It’s ok Mum. You’re quite often resting or sleeping and there’s always a lot of noise with the group. I’ll see you later” and he left her pondering about the real reason he didn’t bring friends home anymore - he was embarrassed about her size.

The last time she had gone out with her son – to buy some clothes for a school social – she had needed to sit down and catch her breath on a seat in the mall. At first Winston had helped to find a seat and asked if she needed anything but when she noticed one of his friends walking towards them, Winston was nowhere to be seen. “Oh hello Jimmy” she said to the other lad, “Winston was here a moment ago and I’m not sure where he’s gone to”.  Two minutes later her son was back telling his mother that he didn’t care if he had new clothes as he would make do with his old ones.

Her girlfriends didn’t ask her to join them any more for outings or luncheons. They did come and visit Chris, have a coffee and chat about meaningless things – light and fluffy gossip – never broaching the subjects of diet or health and then they left her, going out to have fun while she sat on her own feeling dejected, lonely and disappointed with herself. She knew it was difficult to them. What could you talk about to your friend who was slowly eating herself to death? They had all offered advice and even support over the years and they probably felt as much a failure for not succeeding as Chris did.

The boys were both out; Joe was playing golf and forgetting about what his life was really like, laughing and talking with his friends. He didn’t have to think about what state his house, mind or his marriage was in. He was just hitting a little white ball and trying to get it into a hole.

‘A perfect time to just relax on the couch’ thought Chris slowly making her way over to the big comfy seat. She heaved her large self over and sunk down into the cushions, flicked on the television and opened the Doritos – just to start with.

‘Oh well’ she thought a short while later, feeling over full and satisfied ‘tomorrow will be the day I change….and I mean it’.

November 05, 2021 22:49

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