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Torfaen Tales

The Scales of Justice

Rosemary settled back blissfully in her favourite chair, put her feet up on the footstool and aimed the remote control at the television. Alan had gone to his camera club, and she’d promised herself a special treat. She hesitated momentarily, savouring the aroma before taking a large bite of pizza. Absolute bliss! She’d been dreaming of pizza on and off for weeks. After the pizza she’d have a few chocolates, perhaps some garlic bread, a couple of doughnuts, and then the piece de resistance - chocolate profit roles! She could think of no better way to celebrate having reached her target weight on the diet to end all diets.

The glorious day had finally come, as her weight loss club leader had promised it would if she kept on the straight and narrow. Last night Win had piously announced to the assembled group that Rosemary Wallace had reached her target weight, having lost forty five pounds. If only she could see me now, though Rosemary, guiltily eyeing the calorie-laden delights before her.

It had not been easy. Rosemary recalled the empty ache of night-time hunger which had kept her awake on numerous occasions, the tedious weighing of portions of food, and the frustration of attending parties and having to steer clear of a table groaning with gastronomic delights. Alan had proved a welcome ally once he’d overcome his initial disbelief that his plump wife really meant it this time, and had kept her away from foot when temptation threatened. A few months of deprivation was a small price to pay for the self-confidence that a slim figure afforded.

She sighed happily. For the first time in her life she knew she could enjoy her summer holiday without feeling conspicuous on the beach. While the garlic bread warmed in the oven she detoured to the bedroom for yet another inspection of her new holiday wardrobe. Nobody realised just how awful it was trying to buy a swimming costume when you were desperately overweight, but that, hopefully, would be something she’d never have to experience again. She licked her lips, relishing the last morsels of sugary doughnut and hoping that one night of indulgence wouldn’t put too many pounds back on. Tonight was a one-off, honest!

It was quite remarkable how much money she’d been able to put aside for clothes, money which would previously have been spent on fattening lunches and chocolate. Rosemary had revelled in her shopping spree, going into fashionable boutiques with her head held high and picking clothes off the racks, knowing there was a pretty good chance they’d fit! She’d made a proper day of it, getting her nails done and her hair styled at an expensive salon.

The summer holiday had been an unexpected bonus. Several months earlier a letter had arrived from Rosemary’s friend Lyn who now lived in Canada. Lyn and Rosemary’s friendship dated back to the days of short socks and skipping ropes, but even after six years of separation they still corresponded regularly.

“Robert and I are holidaying in the South of France this year,” wrote Lyn. “Of course we’re bringing little Jean-Luc too. We’d love you to join us.”

Rosemary’s initial delight at being reunited with her friend soon turned to despair. What good was a holiday on the beach when you looked like a beached whale?

The ever easy-going Alan was happy to go along with the planned holiday and did what he could to dispel his wife‘s concerns.

“Aw, don’t be daft. Lyn wants your company, not a fashion parade. This holiday sounds like a great idea.”

But this seemed to Rosemary an ideal time to do something about her weight. The plumpness of her early teens had gathered momentum as the years went by, and after four years of married life cooking for a husband who enjoyed hearty meals, she felt and looked considerably older than twenty-six. She knew the excess pounds would be a hindrance when the time came to start a family. Lyn, on the other hand, had always been slim and fit, and had regained her figure soon after the trouble-free birth of Jean-Luc.

So it was with the future in mind that Rosemary embarked on her first serious diet. There’d been occasional fasts and faddy diets in the past, but this time she was determined to do it properly, eating three balanced, calorie-counted meals a day. It had been grim at first, but after a few weeks she had been surprised how much more energetic she felt having lost a few pounds.

Rosemary was relieved in a way to find she wasn’t really enjoying her forbidden feast. She had to admit defeat when it came to the profit roles. The rich chocolate sauce made her feel queasy. It was true, she no longer had the capacity for such quantities of food. In days gone by she would have wolfed the lot and come back for more. But now she scraped the remains of pizza and garlic bread into the bin, unwrapped the chocolates and threw them in on top out of temptation’s way.

She had just sprayed around with air-freshener to disguise tell-tale smells when she heard Alan’s key in the lock.

“Hello, love. What’s on the telly?” he said, leaning over to kiss her. But he stopped short with a strange expression on his face. “Rosemary, what’s that on your face?”

She jumped from her chair and raced upstairs to the bathroom. Sure enough, a tell-tale dribble of chocolate sauce ran from the corner of her mouth, giving her the rakish air of a vampire who had dined well.

Alan followed her upstairs.

“You’ve been sneaking food, haven’t you?”

Rosemary admitted defeat. “Okay, okay! But don’t I deserve a little treat now that I’ve reached my target? I promise to be good from now on. After all, we’re off on holiday in two weeks.”

“I’ll let you off if you make a poor, weary man a nice cup of tea.”

Two weeks later, Rosemary and Alan were embarking from their plane at Nice airport. Rosemary caught a glimpse of her reflection in the plate glass windows, admiring the way her new dress showed off her figure. She cocked her head to one side, noting how her face looked quite different without a double chin. After a one night orgy of pizza and chocolate she’d gladly returned to a sensible diet and now felt little inclination to stray.

Rosemary scanned the crowd waiting at the Arrivals gate. Then she spotted Lyn, Francois and Jean-Luc. Her eyes widened in surprise. Lyn was enormous!

Lyn followed Rosemary’s puzzled gaze with an impish grin.

“Surprise! I’m expecting twins! They’re due in just over two months. But just look at you! You look fantastic, Rosemary. So slender!” she added wistfully.

Rosemary’s self-conscious giggle grew into a helpless fit of hysterical laughter, joined by Lyn. Nobody else seemed to find their reversed situation even mildly amusing, but then they probably hadn’t known the joy of release from the prison of a fat, clumsy body.

By Karenne Griffin

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