Clogged Arteries and a Stroke of Genius

“Pick your ass up off that couch, Rachel,” her mom barked. “They can’t taste so damn good that you’d sacrifice everything for which you’ve ever worked to have just another bite.”

Golden crumbs stuck to the trail of drool rolling down Rachel’s chin, her fingers glossy with salty oil. The air reeked of fried chicken and butter. “I can’t help it, mom; you know that.” Her hand fumbled in the darkness of a potato chip bag. “And besides,” she spat, “half the housework around here wouldn’t be done if I weren’t here all day.”

Rachel’s mother scoffed, cutting the calorie-rich air with a sharp index finger. “Excuse me? The only thing getting cleaned is your hands after a plate of buffalo wings.” Taking a less accusatory tone, she joins Rachel on the sofa. “Babe, for your own sake, at least look at this page of classifieds.”

The heavyset teen chucked the damp newspaper roll across the room. It was the same deal every afternoon: soon after Rachel’s mom arrives home after working a third shift at the bakery, she would present Rachel with an alternative to her unhealthy habit. One day, she brought Rachel an introductory yoga course flier. The high school valedictorian was a whole 400 pounds of pure woman; there was no way she was going to embarrass herself and the others taking the class sticking her ass in the air. With her luck, she’d fart and everyone would need a paramedic.

Rachel didn’t need yoga or a depressing page of job ads, she knew exactly what the universe had in store for her. “Mom, no! I told you I’m going to be a model. So until you can bring me the phone number of an agency that accepts plus-sized girls, you might as well just mind your own business.”

“Honey, it’s not that –”

“Let me tell you something: modeling isn’t all about anorexic, skinny beauty. We larger chicks are so much better than those pathetic twigs, anyhow!” She chokes on a mouthful of black licorice. “Don’t you realize that the reason I eat so much is because the fat in this good food makes my skin plumper and my complexion more vibrant? Take this Cheeto,” Rachel waved a gnarled orange cheese twist as if it was a motion of surrender, “one of these bad boys has enough good stuff in it to make my skin thick and tight enough to get rid of the largest pimple or blemish.”

Rachel noticed only confusion in her mother’s bleached face. Then, after swallowing a spoonful of chocolate gravy, Rachel adds, “Society mistakes fucking miracles for obesity, mom. You might as well call me a magician for the blotches that I’ve purged from this round face of mine.”

“You know what? Just forget it. Forget it. I’ll be in the bathroom cleaning up your filth, if you decide you want to have an actual conversation.”

Gnawing on a strip of beef jerky, Rachel called, “Okay, mom. Just mind the stash of Butterfingers and cereal bars in the top drawer; I’ll need those if I’m ever going to get rid of that birthmark on my ass.”

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