You will pop the screen and sneak out your bedroom window. You will meet other kids at a bonfire out in the woods, smoke clove cigarettes and eat gummy candy. You will get six mosquito bites and see a shooting star. You will sneak back into the house and sleep in your clothes, which still smell like the bonfire.

A boy at school will say you have a fat pussy. You will hide in a bathroom stall and cry. On a summer night, a different boy will pick you up in his two-door Hyundai hatchback and drive out to the lake. With the windows down, you will listen to the oldies radio station that you both like. Lightning bugs will pulse and flicker slowly in the tall grasses near the shoreline. He will unhook your bra and hold your fat boobs. You will rub the outside of his shorts. He will tell you he loves you. You will say it back.

You will move away and into the dorms. You and your friends will meet in the dining hall where you will eat cold cereal that dispenses from a mechanical plastic spigot. A chain-smoking friend, much smaller than you, will drone about her own disgusting belly fat as she eats a bowl of lettuce. You will listen—you’re a good listener. One night, a guy at a party will flirtatiously spank you through your jeans and also suggest you go on a diet. It’s not about looks—it’s about health, he will insist. That night you will watch him drink eight beers and snort coke off a kitchen counter. You will take a fencing class and wear a hard plastic chest protector.

At your gym, while you are on a toilet inside a bathroom stall, leggings around your ankles, you will overhear a woman in the locker room call you a whale. You will go swim in the ocean like a whale. You will get sand in your fat ass crack. You and your friends will chase an ice cream truck, then you will eat a cartoon character on a stick, frozen gumballs for the eyes.

A man will hold your fat face and kiss you under a streetlight. You will ride an elevator to the rooftop of his apartment building where you will share a cigarette and talk about how the moon looks so three-dimensional through his cheap telescope. You will eat cherries and spit the pits off the side of the building.

Eventually you will grow three humans inside your fat body. Two will slip out from that fat pussy between your fat thighs; the last will come through a slit sliced into your fat belly. Your boobs will ache and swell, and your husband will hold hot, wet washcloths on your boobs while the milk leaks into a towel on your lap.

You will wear shorts and roller skates and rub gel between your fat thighs so they do not chafe. You will fall on your fat ass and feel embarrassed, and then you will fall on your fat ass again and laugh. You will wear goofy skate socks.

Your daughters will become tweens and teens. During a screaming match with your youngest, she will call you a fat bitch. You will cry. Later, she will cry, and tell you she is sorry, and she will lay her head in your fat lap and you will stroke her hair. You will forgive her, one-hundred percent. Together you will have oatmeal with banana slices for dinner.

A man will call you a hippo while you are in line at Family Dollar. Later, you and your husband will take your daughters camping, where you will float like a hippo in a swimming hole near a waterfall. Your daughters will shriek and splash and try to catch minnows in their cupped hands. Underwater, your husband will secretly slip his hand under your swimsuit elastic and feel your fat ass. That night you will grill jelly sandwiches and sweet corn over the campfire.

At work you will wear big dresses that you will pay to have tailored just right. You will wear queen-sized tights and glossy red shoes. Your fat ass will sit in an expensive ergonomic chair, and your office will have lush plants, cozy lamplight, and walnut bookshelves. You will have a mini-fridge where you keep tangerines, string cheese, and ginger ale.

One day your husband will go into cardiac arrest while watching TV, and with your strong arms you will pull him off the couch onto the floor and straddle him with your fat legs while doing chest compressions. He will die anyway. Your daughters will come back home, and you will hold them as they sob into your fat boobs.

When you are old, you will get cancer in your blood. No diabetes, no clogged arteries, just one freaky mutant cell setting off the whole cascade. Your treatment will make you thinner, and your friends will make jokes about your secret trick for weight loss. A flat joke, but you will laugh to be polite. Your cancer won’t respond to treatment. You will lose more weight, and the skin around your skinny ass hole will hurt, raw from diarrhea. You will eat Jell-O, rotating red, yellow, blue, green. You will die. Your grandchildren will carry your casket, and it won’t be too heavy. Workers at the crematorium will slide your body into an incinerator and sweep and scoop your ashes into a medium plastic bag.

Your three daughters will go back to your empty house to sort through old photos of your fat body and cry in your kitchen. They will sit in lawn chairs on your screened-in porch and laugh about your roller skating and argue about selling your house. They will eat roasted chicken, cucumber salad, and chocolate cake. They will drink coffee with cream.

© Jessie Lovett Allen
[This piece was the runner-up for the 2020 Forge Flash Fiction Competition, and was selected by Barbara Barrow]