It took over a month for Brody to give up.
At first, he really put in an effort. Lots of calls and text messages and flowers delivered to my apartment. He even got me See’s chocolates, which he knows are my favorite chocolates in the whole world. I did eat them, but I didn’t call to thank him.
Eventually, the attention petered out. He’d text me, but only once a day. Then once a week. And then there was a point when about three months had passed and I realized I hadn’t heard from him in close to a month.
It’s officially over between me and Brody.
You know how they say that a rebound helps you get over a guy? Well, my rebound is chocolate. And in spite of what Brody said that day in his apartment, there isn’t a thing wrong with it. Actually, chocolate is far better than a guy. Chocolate won’t give you genital herpes. Chocolate won’t break your heart. It gives you everything you want and expect nothing in return. Chocolate is just right.
It’s actually a huge relief not to have to worry about my weight anymore, now that I don’t have a boyfriend. Not that I was dieting or anything, but it was definitely something that was in the back of my mind. I knew Brody was seeing me naked and I didn’t want to be completely disgusting. But now I don’t have that problem. Honestly, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
Unfortunately, giving up Brody meant that I had to give up my friendship with Jess. There was no way I could still be friends with her—not when she’s marrying Brody’s best friend. And furthermore, I don’t want to explain to her why the relationship ended. I’m sure Brody would appreciate me not telling her what a liar he is.
About four months after Brody and I broke up, I get a call from an unfamiliar number. I pick up without thinking, and when I hear Jess’s clear, familiar voice on the other line, I almost cry with happiness. Or hang up. One or the other.
“Emily!” Jess cries. “I miss you so much! I know it’s weird with Brody, but I miss you, girl!”
Even though I hate myself, I ask her warily, “Where are you calling from?”
“I got a new cell number,” Jess admits. “Some customer I worked with got my number and was harassing me so I had to change it. But I figured this was a good way to make you actually pick up.”
“I’m sorry, Jess,” I sigh. “I know I’m a bad friend, but I… I just can’t be around you right now.” I add in a small voice, “I’m sorry.”
“Brody won’t even tell us what happened,” Jess says. “I mean, I know it must have been bad, because you guys were so crazy about each other.”
“Yeah,” I mumble, speaking around a lump in my throat. I get up off my bed and start hunting through my desk drawer for chocolate. All I find is an empty bag of mini Twix.
Jess is quiet for a minute. “Max and I sent out wedding invitations, and I’d really like to send you one. Can I?”
“Brody will be there…” I say. I remember how excited I’d been about going to a wedding with a date. So much for that.
“Yeah, he will,” Jess says. “But it’s going to be huge. I can make sure you guys aren’t seated anywhere near each other.”
“Is he going with someone?” I ask.
Jess is quiet for long enough that I know the answer. “Look,” she says. “He did RSVP plus one. But… he’s not seeing anyone. I mean, I’d know.”
“Maybe it’s Sean,” I say hopefully.
“Oh no,” Jess says. “It’s not Sean. Sean is banned from any future events. Brody wouldn’t dare.”
“So it’s a girl then,” I conclude. I flip open the shoebox in my closet, which is my other hiding place. Empty. Damn. I need to remember to restock.
“Oh, Emily,” Jess sighs. “He’s not seeing anyone. Trust me.”
I don’t know whether she’s right or not. But the thought of running into Brody at yet another dateless wedding is more than I can handle. I’m not going to that wedding. And I can’t be friends with Jess anymore either.
Something sort of scary happened this morning.
For some reason, I had a little trouble getting out of bed. I mean, it’s not like I usually leap out of bed every morning—usually, I have to sort of roll to my right side, which isn’t always the easiest thing, then I swing myself slowly into a seating position. It’s definitely a little bit of a process. But this was more than my usual amount of trouble.
This morning, I rolled onto my right side, then I just couldn’t seem to sit up. I kept trying to push myself up, and my body just wouldn’t budge. And for a few minutes, I was absolutely terrified. I was morbidly obese before, and I know that since Brody and I broke up, I’ve gained some weight. Have I reached a new level of obesity after morbidly obese? Am I now ginormously obese?
I know there are people out there who put on so much weight that they literally can’t get out of bed, and eventually it takes like eight firefighters to haul them to the hospital. I know people like that exist, but I never believed that I was close to being in that category. It was actually something that I comforted myself with—I may be fat, but at least I’m not on that level.
But this morning, it didn’t seem quite so unrealistic that could happen to me one day.
Luckily, it was a short-lived fear. I managed to propel myself into a seated position, and I got up to start my day.
So when I get home from work today, I’m not really in the mood to find Abby sitting at our dining table with a very serious expression on her face. I know what she’s going to say to me before she even says it.
“Emily,” she says. “This is an intervention.”
I roll my eyes. “Aren’t there supposed to be more people at an intervention? It’s just you. That’s not an intervention.”
That throws Abby for a second, and I’m hopeful that maybe I can escape to my room without a lecture. But no such luck.
“Please sit down, Emily,” she says. “We need to talk.”
“I’m pretty busy,” I say, which is true. I’m taking a new class at the college, and I’ve got homework to do. Fortunately, Brody isn’t in this class. But I’ve been struggling a little bit, because for some reason, my vision has gotten worse lately. I’ve always had 20/20 vision, but lately, I’ve been having trouble seeing the board clearly during class. I probably need glasses—good thing they won’t put a crimp in my social life.
“Please sit,” Abby says again.
And she looks so anxious that I do sit down. But when I do it, I sigh really loudly. I’m having flashbacks to my teenage years.
“I’m really worried about you, Emily,” Abby begins.
“I’m fine,” I say quickly. “Honestly.”
“I don’t think you’re fine,” she insists. “Ever since you and Brody broke up, you’ve been putting on… quite a bit of weight. And that’s on top of already being a very unhealthy weight.”
I feel my cheeks grow warm. “Are you done insulting me?”
“I’m not insulting you!” Abby cries. “Emily, you get out of breath just walking across the apartment. Your clothes barely fit you anymore.”
I had no idea she noticed my clothing problem. Yes, my clothes have gotten pretty tight lately. And here’s the awful part: I went to the K-mart that the bitch at Urban Outfitters recommended, and even the largest size was too small on me. I had to order some outfits online, taking a stab at what my size might be.
“And Brody is worried too,” Abby adds.
I look up sharply. “You spoke to Brody? I thought you told me I shouldn’t date him because he’s a retard.”
Abby’s face colors. “I’m sorry—I was wrong about that. I’d never really known anyone who was… differently abled before. Brody called me to talk about you and he obviously cares about you very much.”
“When did he call?” I ask.
“About a week ago,” she admits.
I suck in a breath. I thought that Brody had forgotten all about me, but maybe not. The thought of him seeing me like this makes me slightly ill.
“What can I do to help you?” Abby says, her voice almost pleading. “I’ll cook for you every night… I’ll join a gym with you. Just tell me what to do, Emily.”
“I’m fine,” I say through my teeth.
“You’re not fine,” Abby insists. “I’m really worried about you. Maybe you can’t see the problem, but Brody and I do. As your friend, I can’t just sit by and let you do this to yourself.”
I push back my chair from the table, and I get to my feet with only a bit of a struggle. “You’re not my friend, Abby,” I shoot back. “You hardly even know me. The only thing you ever talk to me about is how I’m too fat.”
Abby’s eyes widen. “That’s not true.”
“Really?” I raise my eyebrows. “Fine. Then tell me something about myself that doesn’t have to do with my weight. How many sisters do I have? What do I do for a living? Where did I grow up? What class am I taking at night?”
Abby is quiet.
“Exactly,” I puff. “You know nothing about me. All you care about is how much I weigh.”
“Emily…” Abby says softly.
“Please,” I say. “I’m really sick of you and Brody and everyone ‘caring’ about me so much. Why don’t you just mind your own goddamn business and I’ll mind mine?”
I don’t give Abby a chance to answer before I storm out of the apartment. I need some quiet and solitude and KFC.
Abby and I barely talk for the next week. Whenever we pass each other, she gives me a tiny, embarrassed smile and nod. And I just nod back. It’s better this way.
Abby decides to go see her parents on the island for a night. It’s such a relief to have the apartment to myself—I feel the tension going out of my body as I walk through the empty rooms. Next time I get a raise, I’m going to get my own place. I’ve officially decided.
Unlike me, Abby has a full length mirror in her room. On a whim, I strip down entirely naked to take a look at myself.
I look substantially heavier than I did back when I was with Brody. My upper arms are large enough that my arms no longer can lay flat against my body, or even close. My thighs are puckered with rolls of cellulite. My breasts are—big but fine, I guess. The worst of it is my belly, which is quite large. The sheer bulk of it has caused it to sag substantially, so that my upper thighs are now entirely concealed.
If Brody saw me this way, he wouldn’t be worried anymore. He’d just want to get far, far away from me.
I sigh and head to the bathroom to take a nice, hot shower. Abby always uses up the hot water, taking like a million showers a day, so it’s nice to have it all to myself for a change. I turn on the heat as high as it will go, and carefully step inside the tub.
I stay under the hot water until my skin is bright pink, and my fingers are getting pruny. I shut off the water, and shake my hair out. But as I start to step out of the tub, I take a wrong step on my ankle, and my feet slip out from under me. I land on my ass in the tub with a resounding “plop.”
For a second, I just sit there, stunned. My fall has completely taken the wind out of me, and my right ankle really smarts. The other issue is that our tub is pretty small, and my abdominal girth just barely squeezes inside. I can tell already that it’s going to be really hard to get myself out.
I lay my hands on either side of the tub and push. Unfortunately, my right ankle hurts far too much to put any significant weight on it, so I have only three limbs to work with. And the tub is really slippery.
I try for the better part of twenty minutes to free myself before realizing that it probably isn’t going to happen.
This sucks. This really sucks.
Panic mounts inside me. I’m naked, wedged in the bathtub with a likely sprained ankle, and my roommate isn’t going to be home until tomorrow. Could I sleep here? And when Abby returns, will she be able to free me?
I look up at the sink, and I see that I left my phone on the rim. I bite my lip, knowing that this is a very tenuous situation. I can just barely reach the sink, but probably not enough to grab the phone. All I can do is knock it off the rim and hope for the best. If the phone falls into the sink, I’m screwed. If it falls onto the floor, but out of my reach, I’m screwed. If it falls and breaks, I’m screwed.
Slowly, carefully, I reach my arm out. I feel my fingers graze the side of my phone, and it slides about a centimeter. I edge it closer to me, closer to the edge, and finally, it falls.
I close my eyes and hold my breath. After the clattering noise fades, I open my eyes. And I see my phone on the floor. It’s within reaching distance. Barely.
I let out the breath, although this now poses a new dilemma: Who do I call?
If I call Abby, there’s not a lot she can do on Long Island. I don’t know if I want to wait over two hours for her to drive back. My family? No way.
I could call Brody. But what the hell could he do? Anyway, this is the last thing I want him to see.
Jess? She’d definitely come and help, but then there’s a reasonable chance the whole thing will get back to Brody. And I don’t want her to see me like this either.
I recognize that there’s only one option: I have to call 911.
I dial the three numbers slowly, hoping maybe some alternate solution will occur to me before the call actually goes through. It doesn’t. The operator picks up, and asks me what my emergency is. And now I have to explain.
“I twisted my ankle in the bathtub,” I say. “And I can’t get out of the bathtub now.”
It does occur to me that maybe I should have given more information. Like, that that my bottom is firmly wedged into the tub and it could take more than two guys to get me out. It might have been useful for me to say that. But I can’t make myself say it. It’s either be humiliated now or later—I’m choosing later.
I do have the foresight to call downstairs and let our doorman know that I had an accident, and the maintenance guy will have to let the paramedics into my apartment.
It takes about half an hour for the paramedics to show up. Half an hour of sitting naked in the bathtub, making a few last ditch attempts to free myself. I really wish I could at least reach the towel rack.
The paramedics are both young—about my age. Both of them are fairly well-muscled, which is comforting, although the idea of two attractive young men seeing me naked, stuck in the bathtub is not that appealing. When they open the door to the bathroom, they both get really wide eyes.
“I thought you just sprained your ankle,” the taller and burlier of the two says in a thick New York accent, almost accusingly. He turns to the other paramedic. “Ain’t that what they said, Ben?”
The slimmer paramedic, Ben, who I notice has kind eyes that put me at ease, says, “It’s fine. We can deal with it.”
“We don’t even have a bariatric stretcher,” the other guy whines.
Ben shoots him a look, and approaches me in the bathtub. The first thing he does is take the towel from the towel rack and hand it to me. I take it gratefully—not only am I embarrassed to be seen naked, but it’s become freezing in here since they opened the door. “Are you Emily?” he asks. He also has a thick New York accent, but it’s not quite as abrasive as Fred’s.
I nod, doing my best to conceal myself with the flimsy towel.
“I’m Ben,” he says. “This is Fred. We’re going to get ya out of there, okay?”
“Sorry,” I feel compelled to say.
“Don’t apologize,” Ben says to me. He looks down at my feet. “You hurt your ankle, Emily?”
I nod again. “I can’t put any weight on it.”
Ben and Fred confer for a minute about the best way to help me out of the tub. Ben gets in the tub, and Fred stays on the outside, and they both pull on my arms. But now that the tub is dry, my skin seems to have fused with the fiberglass. And my rapidly swelling ankle isn’t making matters easier.
“Goddamn!” Fred cries. “This is impossible. We need to rub her down with butter or something.”
Ben shoots Fred a look. “Shut-up, will ya?”
Fred shrugs. “That was just a joke. Just trying to get a smile out of Emily here.”
I don’t smile.
I want more than anything for them not to have to call for help. But even I recognize the difficult situation, and I don’t protest when they call for two more guys, and ask them to bring a bariatric stretcher. I don’t know why they need a stretcher though. I’m not going to the hospital or anything after this. I just need to get out of this tub and I’ll be fine.
In the end, it takes four guys and a sliding board to free me from the tub. The towel gets completely forgotten in the effort, and when I stand up, I’m completely naked in front of four young, fit men, sitting on the edge of the bathtub. I can’t even imagine what’s going through their heads. Actually, I can sort of imagine. Anyway, I’m grateful when Ben hands me the robe I abandoned on the toilet and I wrap it around myself.
“Bring the stretcher in,” Fred directs one of the ancillary support.
“I don’t need to go to the hospital,” I say quickly. “I’m fine.”
I look at Ben, my advocate, for support, but he shakes his head. “Tell ya what, Emily,” he says. “You walk us to the front door and then we’ll leave you alone.”
Seems reasonable. I push myself to my feet, and the pain in my right ankle is excruciating. I gasp, and fall back onto the edge of the tub. He’s right. I can’t walk.
The men help me onto the stretcher. When I’m lying down, Ben takes my blood pressure with this giant cuff, and he gasps slightly. “It’s 215 over 122,” he says.
“Is that high?” I ask.
“Are you kidding me?” Fred answers. “That’s really high. You need to get to the hospital right now.”
I feel a little ridiculous being wheeled out of my building in a stretcher. Everyone is staring at me, even more than usual. I mean, it’s just an ankle sprain. If they give me a pair of crutches, I’ll be completely fine.
Ben and Fred load me into the ambulance and the other two guys take off. Ben stays in the back with me because he’s concerned about my blood pressure, and Fred does the driving. He doesn’t turn on the sirens or anything, which makes me wonder if they’re exaggerating how worried they are.
“We’ll be at the hospital in about ten minutes,” I hear Fred say into his walkie talkie.
“Roger that,” a voice crackles back. “What you got?”
“Lady hurt her ankle, got stuck in her bathtub, and now her blood pressure’s sky high,” Fred replies. “You won’t believe this chick. You never seen a lady so fat before, I swear. She gotta be, like, four or five hundred pounds, easy.”
Ben looks up sharply. “Hey!” he yells at Fred, pounding his fist on the wall. “We can hear ya back here, asshole!”
But it’s too late. I feel the tears pricking at my eyes. I can’t believe this is happening to me. I just want to go home and crawl into bed and never come out.
“You’re not so bad,” Ben says awkwardly, as he sees a tear roll down my cheek. “I seen much worse. It’ll be okay.”
Ben is trying his best, but he’s just a kid himself, and what he’s saying only makes me feel worse. I cry all the way to the hospital.
To be continued....
To be continued....