Says who? It's true though. Have you noticed that overweight people either hide in a corner or are excessively jolly? But let's take a step back here. Who decides who's overweight and who isn't? the media have a lot to answer for. So too does the fashion industry. All those skeleton-like waifs on the catwalk making us think it's natural to look that way. And don't get me started on the damage the junk food industry has done over the last couple of decades.
I hate to admit it, but I've become as paranoid as the next girl about the way I look. Sadly I'm not longer in my twenties - or my thirties or forties either, if I'm being honest - but I still worry about how I'm supposed to look. I'm five foot six and weigh 135 lbs. Pretty ideal, you'd think. Except that not so long ago I was 130lbs. How did that happen? Where did the extra come from? Know what I'm saying?
In Downsizing, my heroine Maxine is well overweight. She's also intelligent, funny and full of life, but no one can see that in her except local heartthrob Noah Fenwick. But he lets her down too, proving to Maxine that Fat Girls Aren't Supposed to have Fun. Her best friend - her pretty, skinny best-friend Cassie - is jealous of Maxine's friendship with Noah. Here's now she get's her revenge during a holiday in the South of France.
Maxine was the only female in the pool not wearing a minuscule bikini that displayed a perfectly proportioned body. Instead, she wore a costume that resembled something from an Edwardian postcard in a futile attempt to cover the worst of her bulk. She learned to block out the cutting remarks and scathing glances by retreating into a fictional world where no one could reach her except Noah, and counted the seconds until she was due to return home.
That was still eight long days away and in the meantime she wasn’t even permitted to escape from playing tennis. She’d been compelled to play at school, had a good eye for a ball and a thumping forehand, but her immobility was her undoing and she’d never risen to Cassie’s lofty heights on the tennis court. Tennis was Charles Turner’s passion. Cassie’s father was a proficient player, and tennis was the one activity he had insisted his daughter take up as soon as she was tall enough to hold a racket. Whether or not Cassie enjoyed the game Maxine couldn’t have said. She had a habit of taking up activities on a whim and dropping them again just as casually when she got bored. Tennis was the one thing she’d stuck at, enduring endless hours of private coaching in an effort to please her father.
In a baggy pair of shorts and over-sized tee-shirt, Maxine tired ineffectually to blend into the background. When partners were selected she fervently hoped that the numbers would be uneven, letting her off the hook, because no one would partner themselves with her by choice. There were several lads at the villa, all proficient players, but Mr Turner, twenty years their senior, was better than them all. Cassie looked thunderous when her father, instead of selecting her as he partner, turned toward Maxine.
“Shall we show them how it’s done, Maxine?” he asked, smiling.
Unable to think of an excuse, Maxine miserably dragged her feet onto the court.
“Poor Daddy!” Cassie’s throwaway remark reached everyone’s ears. “He’s only doing it to be kind.”
“Come on, Cassie,” said Rob Simmonds, a good looking, over-confident guy and one of Maxine’s main tormentors. “This is going to be a piece of cake.”
Tentatively at first, Maxine returned the killer shots Rob aimed directly at her. Mr Turner, or Charles as she’d been encouraged to call him, made no comment upon her appalling immobility. Instead, he darted all over the court covering shots that ought to have been hers. He praised her when she got her forehand going, and admired her quick thinking at the net. By a combination of Charles’s tenacity and a healthy portion of luck, they came out winners.
Maxine knew Cassie wouldn’t allow her to get away with that, and didn’t have to wait long for her to exact revenge. They had lunch on the terrace the following afternoon with a crowd of hangers-on. A plate of cakes circulated at the end of the meal but all the slinkies waved them away as though they were poisoned. Maxine’s mouth watered at the mere sight of them, and her gaze continuously returned to the plate. She clasped her hands together to stop from reaching out to take one without her permission. Cassie, watching her closely, smiled maliciously and pushed the plate closer.
“Go on, Max,” she said. “Someone’s got to eat them or they’ll go off.”
Everyone tittered. Maxine blushed but by an act of supreme self-discipline managed not to eat a single one. The others looked disappointed, like she’d spoiled their fun, and drifted away from the table. Whatever plans they had for the afternoon clearly did not include her. That left her with a whole afternoon and just a book for company. Bliss!
Furtively she stole a cake, sighing with pleasure as she licked the thick cream from her fingers and reached for a second. Only when it was too late did she realize that Cassie and several of the others were peeping round the side of the house, watching her and laughing themselves silly. Worse, money openly changed hands between Cassie and Rob.
Isn't Cassie a spiteful witch?
Downsizing by W. Soliman now available from Musa Publishing http://bit.ly/tDzp4U or Amazon.com.
Read the first chapter on my website http://www.wsoliman.com
Hope you enjoy Maxine's revenge.