Short Story: First step

“Look at that fat fuck,” my employee Deborah said with a laugh.

I turned towards the front of the gym I owned, and at the counter sat one of the fattest women I have ever seen. I had, of course, seen her around town and was disgusted by her. She was infamous at the local fast food joints, places I rarely ventured into, but when I did I usually saw her sitting alone at a booth, devouring several large burgers and fries, washed down by several large sodas.

I marveled for a moment, wondering why she had wandered into my gym. Maybe she was lost. I doubted she had come in to join. She was not just fat, she was morbidly obese. The kind of woman you saw at the store riding one of the electric carts, the motor straining to move her enormous mass. She had a greasy, unkempt look to her, and I involuntarily crinkled my nose as if I could smell her from across the room.

“Shit, this is going to be a cluster fuck,” one of my trainers, Todd, guffawed as he joined us. “What the hell does she think she’s doing here?”

“Looks like she’s signing up,” I say quietly, unable to process the sight before me.

“I bet she doesn’t last a week,” Todd laughed.

“We won’t see her after today,” Deborah insisted.

“Twenty bucks?”

“Deal,” Deborah agreed.

“That’s enough,” I said. “If she’s a member, treat her as such. I don’t care how large she is.”

“She’s not going to fit in any of the equipment,” quipped Todd.

“Not another word,” I said with a finality I rarely invoked.

“Whatever you say, boss,” he smirked before walking away.

Deborah left soon after, having a class to teach in one of the side rooms. I stayed and watched as the woman heaved her bulk out of the chair, wheezing as she did so, and labored to follow one of the receptionists as she took our newest member on a tour of the gym.

It would take at least twice as long to show her everything we had to offer, so I took the opportunity to walk to the counter to see who the client was. I looked at the paperwork and read her name, Melba Gomez. The name seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I was taken aback at the fact that she signed up for our top package, though she declined signing up for a personal trainer. Most did. Trainers weren’t cheap.

I kept track of Melba as she struggled to keep up, and I have to hand it to my receptionist, she was patient and kind, merrily waving away every apology Melba uttered. The more she walked, the more she was aware of the stares she was attracting. Everyone was focused on her, some openly mocking the fat chick who was obviously out of place. It was one of the saddest sights I had ever seen, but she tried to ignore the hostility thrown her way. In spite of myself, I was left amazed at her tenacity.

After over an hour, my receptionist left Melba at the exercise bikes, who then struggled to get on a bike, and somehow managed to get one. How she did it, I don’t know, but she did. By this point she was already in some distress, the stress of walking the gym must have gotten to her. I had never seen her off her motorized scooter before, but she was making every effort to walk, even if she had to stop often, but yet she was determined to get on a bike and exercise. I was afraid she would have a heart attack and die of the spot.

She lasted less than three minutes on the bike. She was sweating profusely and her breathing was labored. Melba looked faint, and I think the attention she had attracted was starting to get to her. Some of my own employees looked as though they were openly joking with some of my other clients after her.

Defeated, Melba got off the exercise bike, stumbled a bit, but somehow managed to stay upright. Then, with great difficulty, she walked towards the front door, and I caught a glimpse of tears in her eyes. She got back on her scooter, which she had left by the door, and she left my gym.

As soon as the door had closed, I heard a massive roar of laughter from several of people in the gym. It seemed everyone had found the sight amusing, all except for the receptionist who had shown her around, She look distressed about the situation and looked at me with tears in her own eyes.

“I know,” I told her. “I know. Keep an eye on things, okay?”

“Sure,” she croaked.

I hurried after Melba, who was sitting on the curb, probably waiting for the bus.

“Hey,” I said, “thanks for stopping by.”

“Don’t worry,” she said, “I won’t be back.”

“I don’t understand,” I replied, confused. “Didn’t you signed up for a full year?”

“I have a month to cancel, at least that’s what the receptionist told me.”

“That’s true, but why quit now?”

“Are you kidding me?” She said, her voice hollow, “I’m a laughingstock. I heard them all muttering under their breath. I heard the place bust out in laughter the moment the door closed behind me. I mean, the neighborhood fatty out of her element. Who am I kidding? I don’t belong.”

“Don’t say that,” I pleaded earnestly, wondering why I even cared. I usually didn’t. People came and went all the time. Not everyone was meant to be physically fit. Most didn’t have the determination to be in shape, and that was fine by me. “You came in, you signed up. That means you are a member, Melba. That is your name, right? That’s what you put on the application.”

“Oh my God, you don’t remember me, do you?” She asked before turning away and mumbling to herself, “why would you remember me?”

“Do I know you?”

“I guess not, but we went to school together. Sat in front of you for a full year in English class, and you used to torment me, the class fatty, you called me. You made my life a living hell.”

“Chicken wing?” I gasped as the memories came flooding back. “Is that you?”

“Please don’t call me that,” she said as her eyes glistened with renewed tears, “but yes.”

“I’m so sorry about that,” I apologized lamely. “I was a total bitch. I shouldn’t have, I mean I – I was a very unhappy, I – I’m sorry.”

“Unhappy? You were the most popular girl in school! You were beautiful and funny, and smart. All the guys loved you. You were athletic and a cheerleader. All I was was a punching bag for you to make fun of. You and everyone else.”

“I can’t take it back,” I said, looking at myself for the first time through one of my victim’s eyes. I was a bully, and I tormented her. Was I responsible for her present state? Maybe not completely, as I never discount a person’s own responsibility, but maybe I played a part in her misery. Maybe I had helped push her to the years of self-abuse.

“No, you can’t.”

“No, but I’m not the same person I was twenty years ago. I changed.”

“So have I.”

“I can see that.”

“Why? Because I’m such a slob now, even more so than I was in school? Don’t you think I already know that? Lord, I can’t even look at myself anymore without being disgusted at what I’ve become, what I let myself turn into. I always knew I was fat, but why this?”

“Please, stop crying. You’re not doing yourself any favors by feeling bad about yourself. I did and became an alcoholic and took did some risky things. I know it’s not the same, but I opened up my eyes and realized I was going down the wrong path, just like you have. You came in to my gym for a reason. Why did you come in? You don’t owe me that, but I still want to know.”

She broke down in front of me. It was a noise beyond despair. It was inhumane, like the sound of a mortally wounded animal, but it came from the woman in front of me, a woman struggling to talk to me, the energy she spent just walking around the gym had completely drained her.

Finally after several minutes, she wiped her nose and dabbed her eyes, looking away from me, she answered. “My mom died last month. Her heart gave out. My dad died the week after I graduated high school from a massive heart attack. I’m almost the same age he was when he died. Both my parent’s are gone, both due to being so over weight that the stress on their heart was too much.”

“Oh my God,” I croaked, “I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.”

“I – I’m scared,” she intoned pleadingly, “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to live either, but I don’t want to die like that. I don’t want to die alone. I have no brothers or sisters. My family is gone. I have a couple of cousins, but they’re disgusted by me. Haven’t seen them in years, so I’m it. No family, no friends, just pathetic old Melba, just like I was in school.”

“Don’t say that. You took a chance and made your first step. Don’t quit now. I won’t let you.”

“I can quit at any time. Says so in the contract, and I’m not paying.”

“I’m not asking you to,” I argued angrily, not caring that I was offering membership for free.

“What? You feeling guilty? This isn’t your fault. You’re not responsible for me.”

“I don’t care. You came in and damn it, you want to make a change, so for fuck sake make it.”

“Come on, everyone was laughing at me.”

“Let them laugh. Come back and we’ll be the one’s laughing at them. What do you say?”

“I’m scared,” she said with an apologetic laugh. “I can barely walk around the place, and everything’s so hard.”

“It’ll be tough, I’m not going to lie. It’s hard for me and I’ve been lucky genetically, and I’m already in shape. For you, it’s going to be some of the most demanding and strenuous months of your life, but if you see it through, it’ll get better and easier, and you will start to feel better, I promise you.

“You think so?”

“I believe it, and you should too. What do you say?”

“Okay, I’ll try, but why do you care?”

“Because, I saw a woman with more courage and determination today come in to my gym and worked so hard just to take the tour of the facility. I saw you struggle quietly to get on the bike, and then manage to walk back unassisted to your scooter.”

“But I was only on there for a couple of minutes,” Melba hung her head in shame.

“But you did it. Every other person takes that kind of mobility for granted, but not you. You worked for it. If you put in that kind of effort regularly, you’ll be amazed how much easier it’ll get for you. One thing, though, I want to know when you’re coming in so we can be ready for your sessions.”

“I’ll pay for my membership, but I can’t afford a trainer,” Melba protested.

“But I’m giving you one,” I offer. “I’ll be the one training you. I own the place, after all. I can spare an hour three times a week.”

“You don’t have to, you know.”

“I won’t be doing anything but guiding you. You’ll be doing all the work. I would suggest you get with a doctor before starting.”

“I already did last week,” she looked away again. Her voice was beyond despair. It broke my heart. “Said I was eating myself to death anyway, so exercise wouldn’t matter at this point.”

“Bastard,” I sneered. “We’re show him as well. I’m glad you came in. I promise you, we’ll be unstoppable.”

“Do you really think I can do it?”

I looked into her eyes, this woman I tormented decades before, a woman who saw her parents die due to their own unhealthy habits. I caught a glimpse in her eyes, a glimmer of hope beneath the tears and the despair, and I knew I could not let her down. This was literally a matter of life or death. “Alone, no, but you won’t be alone. I’ll be there, and so will my team. Every look, every laugh, every name you’ve ever been called will be your motivation. By this time next year, I promise you won’t recognize yourself.”

“Thank you,” she sniffed.

“No, thank you for letting me help.”

The bus arrived, and I stood there as the driver used the lift to load her onto the bus. She was embarrassed by it, but she hardened herself and smiled at me resolutely. Within two months she no longer used the scooter, six months she walked to and from the gym. After a year I recognized the girl I bullied in school.

She’ll never be thin like I am, but she didn’t need to be. She was beautiful and full of life. I caught a glimpse of the woman she was on the inside, beneath the layers of clothing, skin, and fat. I met the dreamer, the artist, the soul.

I met the woman I feel in love with. I met my joy.


Short Stories

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Previous story – The Confession

Short story: The Confession

Marcus stood there in a state of shock. He couldn’t move, frozen in place, petrified by the sheer misfortune of being found out. He was half dressed, panties, pantyhose, and a bra, a skirt in hand, his girlfriend’s sweater on the bed.

“What the fuck, Marcus?” Tina exclaimed once she found her voice, having been stunned into silence by the sight before her. “What the actual fuck?”

“I – I can explain,” he stammered, knowing that there was no way to explain what was happening.

“Can you?” She screeched. “Can you really? Oh, that’s great. What the hell are you thinking, you freak!”

“Okay, can you stop yelling? Sit down and we can talk this out.”

“Talk? Talk!” Leanna was beside herself. “No! You’re some kind of perv, some sick sex deviant.”

“I’m not. Wait, let’s talk.”

“No. I’m out. You want to dress like a girl, dress like a girl. Fuck this. I didn’t sign up for this. I want a man, and I don’t need some confused weirdo. I’m done.”

***

Marcus woke up in a sweat, panting as he realized that it was only a dream. Leanna slept soundly beside him. She hadn’t caught him, but how could she? He had turned his back on his own deviance. It had been years since he had worn women’s clothing. Years since he had purged his stash of clothing and makeup for the final time.

No, there was no way Leanna could find out, no way for her to walk in on him during the act. Dressing up left him feeling disgusted, as though he had allowed his kink to control him. He was stronger than his urges. He was a man, a manly man. He had joined the Marines to prove his manhood. He had proposed to Leanna to prove that he deserved to be called a man.

But the dream. The dream was becoming more persistent. If not this one, then the one where he is was out on the town, turned to look in a mirror, and found himself wearing a black cocktail dress, stilettos, and his hair long in in curls. But the thing is that it’s not him looking back, but it was him, a different him. There stood a woman smiling serenely, beaconing him to accept the truth.

The truth was what kept him awake most nights. When he was tired, he was at his most vulnerable, and the images and sensations of his illicit deeds came flooding back. The stolen moments when, home alone, he would steal into his mother’s closet, find something to wear, and prance around, excited to feel right. This continued until he was almost caught by his father, and he swore he would never dress again.

That’s the thing, though, it was not the last. He left for college and began to indulge in his fetishism. He bought dresses and wigs. Pantyhose was his favorite article of clothing. He bought makeup and taught himself to apply it, though it had the same heavy-handed application middle school girls took as they learned how to do their own makeup.

Thus began a cycle of buying and purging that plagued him for years. It left him feeling scared and alone. He kept to himself so that no one could possibly find out what a sicko he actually was. Days after he turned 21, he dropped out of college and enlisted, joining the Marines as did his uncle. He needed to prove himself a man.

He excelled during his time in service, achieving a rank of Corporal before being discharged after turning thirty. He met Leanna soon after landing a job with a defense contractor. He kept his focus, not wanting to regress back to the days when he dressed up like a sissy.

And it worked, until a few months back. Leanna had come home and started gossiping about a man named Todd, someone she worked with. He had come out to everyone at work as transgender, and had intended to transition.

“Can you believe it?” Leanna whispered, as though she feared being overhead. “Todd wants to be a woman! How weird is that?”

“Sounds a bit squirrelly,” Marcus guffawed, though part of him resented his bravery.

“He was one of the most manly guys in the office,” she shrugged before adding casually, “we dated for a few months before I met you. Trust me, there was nothing squirrelly about him.”

“And you’re okay with one of your exes becoming a woman?”

“It doesn’t matter if I’m okay with it or not,” she argued, becoming annoyed at the direction of the conversation, and the contemptuous tone in his voice. “Todd was alway sad and miserable. When he came out to me last year, he was terrified.”

“He told you last year? Why are you only now telling me?”

“Because, he made me promise not to tell anyone, and I keep my promises.”

“Hmm,” Marcus harrumphed unhappily, though he grudgingly knew she did the only honorable thing, even if it did sting.

“Anyway, he’s been looking happier this past few months, and decided to take the next step.”

“And how’s the office taking it?”

“Most everyone’s okay with it. We don’t understand it of course, but we know Todd. He’s not prone to follow trends or whims. He did this after years of struggling and coming to terms with who he is.”

“Don’t you mean who she is?” Marcus scoffed.

“Maybe, but not yet. Todd will debut Melody next week.”

And that was it. That conversation had awakened his desire to dress up. He missed the feeling, the freeing thrill of dressing up female. It was liberating and empowering. And he feared it more than he was willing to admit to himself.

In the middle of the night, he struggle to quiet his mind, and a whirlwind of thoughts flitted through him head, struggling to make sense of his own identity. Marcus was a man, and successful man. He had joined the Marines. He had killed men in the field of battle. He had dispensed mercy and let many live who were in his power to die.

He began to shake. It wasn’t the first time, and he doubted it would be the last. He fought against the reality of his situation for so long. It had been thirteen years since he had purged his collection of the last time. He now wavered, wanting more than anything to succumb to his need.

“Are – are you okay?” Leanna yawned, her fiance’s trembling had awakened her.

“What? No, I’m fine,” he lied.

“Don’t lie to me, babe. What’s going on?”

“It’s nothing, honest.”

“Bullshit!” She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and turned on the lamp. “You haven’t been fine for a while. Something’s been bothering you for weeks. Are you ever going to tell me, or are you going to keep shutting me out? If we’re going to get married, you’re going to have to trust me.”

Marcus opened his mouth but had lost his voice. He tried a few times before shaking his head and admitting defeat. He shrugged and began to tear up. He couldn’t keep it a secret any longer. She was bound to find out regardless, so it might as well be now, before they got married. Might as well give her the opportunity to walk away and scrape up some pride while she was free to do so. It might as well be now.

“How’s Todd doing?”

“Todd? You mean Melody?”

“Yeah,” he replied in a small voice.

“She’s fine. Happier than ever. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for all of us, but she’s holding up well. Why do you ask? I thought the idea of her transition was offensive to you sensibilities.”

“It’s weird,” he chuckled before clearing his throat. “What would you say if I said that I kind of respect his courage.”

“You mean her courage?”

“Yeah. It’s, I mean I’m kind of jealous of that.”

Leanna’s eyes narrowed as she focused her attention on him. “What are you trying to tell me?”

“I think I understand her a lot more than you will ever know.”

“I think you’re not giving me enough credit,” Leanna said quietly. “I love you, Marcus. If you’re going through something, you need to trust me to see it through with you. If you can’t trust me, there’s no point in me staying with you, is there?”

“I suppose not.”

“Good. I won’t press the matter, but when you’re ready, you can tell me anything. I love you.”

“Thank you.”

“Well, I’m worn out, so if there’s nothing else, night baby. ” She kissed his worried brow, rolled over and turned off the lamp, and fell back onto her pillow.

“I think I might have something in common with Melody.”

She sighed as the light came back on and Leanna got out of bed.

“Where are you going?”

“If we’re going to have the conversation I think we’re going to have,” Leanna replied as she threw on a robe, “I want coffee and pie.”

“Should I join you?”

“I not eating in bed, so yeah. I’ll brew up a pot if you heat up the pie.”

“Done,” Marcus said warily.

“Don’t look like that,” Leanna smiled sadly. “I already said I loved you. That hasn’t changed. You just need to get this out so we know where to go from here.”


Short Stories

Next story – First Step
Previous story – Madness

Being true


This whole duality has been confusing. I’ve been, for most if my life, content to remain hidden. It’s only within the past year that I’ve come out into the open, embracing this other side of me, the true side.

I know that the time will come that I’ll.have to choose who is real and who is not. Will Joe win, or will Stefani? I am both and yet somehow neither.

The greatest thing I have done is begin volunteering in Amarillo as Stef. It’s like I’ve found a place to belong. It’s at once scary and liberating. I just wonder hiw many people I will lose in the process.

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