This is a story I wrote back during Christmas. I haven’t gotten around to posting it out of laziness and the ease at which I’m distracted by work. It is in three parts due to the length.

David Gray looked down between his pedicured feet and saw the number 187 for the first time in his adult life. He’d gained a pound. Just one.

Skip the Snickers at work today, he thought. The idea fell beneath the barrage of his normal thoughts. Shave, shower, dress, kiss Rachel, pick up coffee, twenty-two minute commute (depending on E. Main’s traffic) and then work. As he began to lather just enough shaving cream to start his day, he continued. Work, answer calls, pay bills, file that report, check email, but this time no break. Just lunch. Salad from up the street. Fat free dressing this go ’round.

In the fashion David Gray knew like elephants know their grave sites, his day went exactly as planned.

Upon request, Rachel made a light dinner.
One pound is one pound, David said.
Of course. Rachel replied.
I don’t want to be married to a fatty.
I don’t want you married to a fatty.
She smiled.
He smiled.
The boneless chicken and simple salad were perfectly prepared.

They read the paper and worked the crossword puzzle together. Somewhere they got an answer wrong because number 36 down was “NMT” which meant nothing as far as they could tell. Rachel threw the crossword away and tidied up the couch pillows. David rose to wipe the coffee table clean. Everything remained controlled in the Gray household.

The next morning, while Rachel slept, David slide the scale from out of the bathroom closet with his right foot. He stepped on it.
David lifted his left leg.
Reset it. He said to no one.
He set his leg down careful to keep his foot flat.

Rachel entered as David stared at the digits between his feet.
186? She said.
The scale is messed up, he said.
Rachel stopped and looked at David’s waist.
Still 187?
195. David was unable to look in her direction.
That’s what the damn thing says. Yes. 195.
Please don’t yell. Rachel said.
Can you get us a new scale today?
Yes. Of course.

David sat in traffic on east Main wondering how much a gym membership costs. In the six years of their marriage, the Grays had never discussed gym memberships or dietary issues much. It was assumed that both would remain the same. They loathed the carelessness that dominates the unhealthy lifestyle of average Americans. Whenever one of the Grays said, “average American” their voices dropped an octave as if discussing retarded children who were standing nearby. Even when alone they spoke this way about average Americans. He reached into his cup holder and retrieved the same travel mug he’d used for two years. He sipped his coffee.

David thought of asking friends at work but reasoned that the trim workers wouldn’t know and the fat ones wouldn’t care to know. He checked online as his stomach growled through lunch time. David avoided lunch altogether.

I paid for it out of my checking account. Rachel said.
David looked at the scale. It was lined with chrome and guaranteed accuracy, without fail, for the next two years.
Thank you. David said. His stomach twisted around its day-long emptiness.

Rachel laid the scale before him.
But I’m dressed, he said.
An extra pound or two at most, she said. Probably around 188 is all.
He stepped on the scale.
Take off your shirt, Rachel said.
David removed his shirt.
Rachel circled him as he lifted his feet up and set them back down slowly.
Still says 200, David said.
He heard Rachel gasp as she touched the skin above his left kidney.
What? David said.
I think it’s a stretch mark. Rachel said. Her voice sounded as if she’d repeated the phrase average American.

David ran from the scale, down the hall and into the bathroom. He pulled back the shower curtain. His twisted frame reflected in the shower’s wall-sized mirror. David saw the faint pink mark above his left kidney.
Rachel was walking down the hall.
We need to go see a doctor, she said.
David slammed the door quickly. Looking down at his waist he saw skin hanging over his belt. Not much.
Just a slither of excess tissue resting on the top of his belt.

Call the Reynold’s gym down the street. Ask them what it costs and tell them I’ll be there tonight! David said.
Have you been eating junk food? Rachel said through the door.
I’m starving to death right now. Call the gym. David said.
Don’t yell at me. And I didn’t deserve the door being slammed at me.
David pinched the fat around his waist and felt a mania come across him.
This isn’t me, he thought.
I apologize Rachel. I’m a bit stressed I guess but no, it wasn’t fair. David leaned against the closed door.
Open the door David, Rachel said.
Please just call the gym. Bring me some comfortable clothes and leave them outside on the floor. I can’t…not like this. This is…
He heard her feet move away from the door.
David sensed her agreement.
She didn’t want to see him like this.

This isn’t me, he thought. He pulled the old scale out of the closet. He stripped off his clothes as if they were on fire.

He stepped on the scale.

David Gray felt hunger pangs rip through his gut as he watched the number form between his pedicured feet.


He stared at the numbers. David’s mind was numb. Filled with noises he’d never experienced. He saw his hands begin to tremble.

The numbers changed.