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Bluebell's 2019

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I wrote this story ages ago, but never posted it on here. But the pandemic has sapped my creativity so I'm posting it now - in about 12 parts - to help mitigate the boredom/anxiety/fear for y'all.

 

Bluebell's 2019

 

 

January 2019***

 

Light scattered on her blue shimmering hair as the warm singes of air emanated from the hair straightener that she was running through it. Electric blue, according to the hair colourist. Bluebell blue according to her. According to Bluebell.

And as the straightener sucked all of the girl-next-door frizz out of her hair, Bluebell’s eyes hung with heavy sadness at the mirror’s reflection. Why did they have to go out on a Thursday night? Thursday night preceded Friday mornings, and Friday mornings felt hot coals and scissors at the best of times. Not everyone was a student, Bluebell heard herself chunter as she allowed the straightener to relinquish its grip finally. But Bosh was, and Thursday nights were £1 pints at Emporium, so out they went.

Hair straightened, lithe and sleek like a car commercial, while Bluebell’s heavy eyes scanned the rest of her reflection. She was proud of her hair. It was part of who she was. Blue as her name, bright as her personality. She gave herself her best cutesy smile and a girlish pirouette. Then her cutesy smile loosened up to a genuine one. She grabbed her phone and selfied the results, before Snapchatting it to Bosh. Maybe tonight wouldn’t be so bad.

 

Omg babe! U look so hot!

 

It was a nice reply. Bosh was no poet, but she was always earnest and it tickled Bluebell’s heart warm.

She felt hot too. Her normal crop top and dungarees that made up the majority of her clothing were on the end of her bed. Instead, trickling down her ivory skin like rain down a window was her LBD, usually only brought out for birthdays and post-break-ups. But she’d been feeling in a rut of late. Bosh had football and classes, meaning she had too little time to spend with her girlfriend. She needed a spark again, and her reflection might be just the spark.

The black dress, ruffled at the shoulders and spangly across the torso, celebrated every inch of the 5ft5 girl. It swooped down to reveal her collarbones, but not so far as to reveal her diminutive bust. It whittled inwards at the waist, tightly gripping where the blue-haired 116lb girl was most slender. It ended sharply on her thighs, cocktail dress length so that her finch-like legs could spindle their way like spider legs to the floor. And, best of all, her arms were left uncovered, so she could bear her pride and joy, the blackly inked bluebell on the inside of her forearm in all of her ornate glory. Bluebell wore it with pride, the lean black lines of her identity needled into her arm. She always did wear her heart on her sleeve.

 

Outside yours, Blue. You cumin?

Bosh x

 

Yeah, tonight wouldn’t be so bad.

 

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February 2019***

 

 

The morning hadn’t stirred yet. Dark and foreboding, cold and unfriendly. The morning didn’t want Bluebell to wake up. Another Monday seeping into her skin and staining like pools of oil draining into her pores. The bedside light was flicked on, and her pupils adjusted to the spark. 6:45am and the roads outside her bedroom were still quiet and calm, each car an interjection and not part of a norm.

And Sunday night had been a blast. Hot Fizz, a new cocktail bar in the centre of town, had been doing an introductory half-price on drinks all weekend. And we all know how much Bosh likes her cocktails. Bluebell did too, but she always paid the price a little more steeply the following mornings. And this was one such morning.

Bluebell tottered downstairs with pained steps in barefeet and crinkly pjs, into her parent’s kitchen. Oh to move out of her parents’ place. Maybe once Bosh gets her History of Arts degree and they move to London together and rent a flat there. Yeah, that sounds nice. Or Amsterdam. Bluebell always did like the sound of The Netherlands. Sounded arty. She opened the fridge door and smelt the skimmed milk. Yeeeah, that was not fit for consumption. It could probably cause consumption, mind. Instead, she grabbed the cheese and butter and fried some bacon. A toasted cheese and bacon sandwich to soak up the alcohol. It was what her dad used to make her back when she was 16 and experiencing hangovers for the first time. She smiled fondly at the memory. Now 20, she realised that she would have to make these things herself. Except when the hangover was really bad. Then her dad still made them for her.

She took the plate upstairs on tip-toes, careful not to wake her parents. And she walked to her en-suite, and stared at the reflection as she turned the remainder of her breakfast to crumbs. She looked tired, listless, hungover. And it was only fair, since she was. Her eyes wore their sleep deprivation acutely, panda eyed bags and drifting focus. Winged eyeliner and her John Lennon-inspired round glasses would take the edge of that. Her hair was matt and splat on her head, trickling down like blue seaweed, washed up on the shore. A quick shower and her hair straighteners would spark some life into it. Her posture looked worn, shoulders creaking. But wearing her new blouse that the mum had bought her from M&S would give her something to protect her cold shoulders whilst allowing her to bare her pride and joy, the bluebell on her arm. It was something she could get away with thanks to it being the warmest February on record or something. It was always the something-est something on record, Bluebell thought to herself, not really being aware that climate change was more than just a prospect. The world just kept spinning and she never gave it a second’s thought. She gave herself a final look over though, and smiled again. Yes. The look could be rescued.

What she didn’t notice were the wrinkles of soft pudge rising like new puddles on her waist. It was normally gone by morning times so she paid it no heed. But it was here this morning.

 

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March 2019****

 

 

“I can’t believe you haven’t told your parents about me yet” Bosh said, watching her girlfriend fret about the spot on her cheek. They’d nicknamed it Jupiter. I mean, what else should you call a red spot?

“Yeah, well I would but then they’d ask what sort of name Bosh was, and then I’d tell them it’s just a nickname, and then they’d ask what your real name is and then I’d say Louise, and then they’d say ‘oh, is he French?’, thinking I’d said Louis, and I’d say ‘no, she’s not’ and then they’d realise you were a girl and then they’d realise I was gay and then I would be homeless. So I gave it a pass” Bluebell’s eyes remained fixed on the red blemish.

“Well, I told mine. Straight up. Just like that. Bish, bash...”

“Bosh?” Bluebell glanced back and smiled cheekily.

“Fuck off. I don’t even realise I’m saying it these days. You know, I only started saying it ironically? D’ya remember? Fuck me. Anyway, been meaning to say, you been putting on weight girl?” Bosh said, looking at her girlfriend’s waistline. Bluebell was back in her comfort clothing of of crop top and dungarees, and Bosh had a side-angle that her girlfriend’s willowed frame had bubbled a little.

“No. I mean, yeah. A little. But it’s nothing. I’m always skinny. I’m Bluebell, remember” Bluebell smiled back, hoping to defuse the diffused tension in the air it caused in her. She was aware too. It just seemed so unnatural on her too, like she was cosplaying as a more regularly sized girl. It chilled her that it was actually attached to her body. But it would disappear, she was confident. After all, she had never been anything other than skinny before. Why would that stop now?

Of course, Bluebell didn’t know anything other that things were different. That her body was not obeying the rules it had previously established. That when she leaned over, it felt different. That when she didn’t lean over, it still felt different. The 15lbs that 2019 had gifted her weren’t something she’d put a figure on, she’d never weigh herself for fear of adhering to a gender stereotype she considered herself too alternative for. But a 131lb girl looks and feels a bit different to a 116lb one.

“Hey Bosh, you don’t mind do you?”

“About you not telling your dad. Forget it girl, I’m over it.”

“No. I mean, the fact that I’m… y’know...”

“You’ve put on weight? God, you can’t even say it, can you?” Bosh smiled.

“I can… it’s just… it’s weird. It’s not me, is it? It’ll go soon enough, I’m sure. But, just wanted to check, that you still thought I was cute?” Bluebell’s sensitivity and insecurity were as poorly concealed as the spot on her cheek.

“No, I still think you’re cute, girl” Bosh came in and kissed her. “Besides, like you say, it’ll go soon enough”.

Bluebell turned back around to her reflection, confidence slightly dented by the subtext, and began scrutinising what to do with her hair. She could take it out the messy bun it was in, but then she’d have all this hair and it would be a hassle. Maybe just leave it up, it looked chic.

“Your roots are showing, girl, you might wanna get them done”.

“I’m going grey?” Bluebell’s eyes popped out of her head and she started rummaging through looking for incriminating silver.

“No, fuckface. Your dark hair’s coming through. You’ll wanna get an appointment booked and get them seen to. My Bluebell is losing her blue. And what is a Bluebell without her blue?”

“Oh. Fuck, thanks. Yeah. Of course. Yeah, no, of course I will” Bluebell said, gathering her nerves.

The two girls wandered downstairs, and Bluebell gathered her jacket too. It was still fairly mild for the time of year, but a good bit cooler than the month previous, weirdly. Bosh opened the door for the pair of them to leave, only to see her girlfriend walk into the kitchen. She followed her to find her in the fridge.

“What you doing Blue? I thought we were go… are you eating a sandwich? Babe, we’re going ‘Spoons, I thought we’d eat there?” Bosh asked as Bluebell pulled out a bacon, mushroom and mayonnaise sandwich out of the fridge and began eating it, careful not to get mayo down her top.

“Yeah, but my dad made me a sandwich for me. In’t he sweet? But we can still eat at ‘Spoons, this is just my pre-drinks sandwich. He always makes it for me” Bluebell said with her mouth full and her cheeks as dimpled as they were pimpled.

“I thought you were trying to lose weight?” Bosh snickered.

“No. I mean, I always have a pre-drinks sandwich. And I’ve always been thin. It’ll be fine. It’s normal. I always do it. It’s just, it’ll be fine” Bluebell stammered, trying not to show how close the comment came to her nerve and accidentally seeing a slippy, mayonnaise-coated mushroom squirt out of the sandwich and down her dungarees. “Fuck!”

“Oh, you know that stain looks like something else babe”

“Ha! Whatever, fuck it, it’s only Wetherspoons.”

 

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April 2019***

 

 

Brexit got extended

 

Bluebell Whatsapped Bosh while lying in bed and half-watching the news gently roll by like the scenery on a train journey. It was a Saturday and Bluebell was determined to milk one of her two chances a week for a lie-in.

 

wtf? what does that mean?

even more brexit?

anyway, wen did u get all political

?

blame those hags from your work

 

Bluebell chuckled at that, rolling onto her side to message her reply.

 

Dont call them that lol

Some of them are nice

Jasons a doll

and, the deadline for brexit extended

so mite not happen

which would be gud [two thumbs up emojis]

dunno, just started watching the news more lol

dont watch youtube as much [laughing crying emoji]

 

Bluebell fidgeted back onto her back and waited for Bosh to reply. She glanced at the time on her watch. Nearly 11am. Should probably get up, if only to have breakfast. Then a guilty thought crossed her mind. Or maybe she could skip breakfast, escape the calories, and blame it on her laziness. That way her parents wouldn’t suspect she was trying to rein in her eating.

Cos she couldn’t bring the subject up with them. It just wouldn’t sound right, the words coming out of her mouth. Like they didn’t belong there. She never thought about dieting or healthy choices, nobody in the family did. They always ate what they want, drank what they want, did what they want and it never really mattered. It didn’t ever dawn on her until recently that her parents weren’t actually that slim. It was never a conversation topic raised or noted, but recent neuroses had drawn Bluebell’s attention to it. They were both uptight and emotionally repressed so-and-so’s, despite Bluebell’s delightfully idiosyncratic name, and such considerations always felt so frivolous that she feared bringing the matter up. They’d always said that she was the pretty one, and her mum always said she was jealous of her only daughter’s body, and part of Bluebell’s anguish was admitting that it was no longer quite so enviable.

 

Whatever trevor

fuck politics

wanna see what I look like in my suit?

[pic of Bosh sent]

 

Bosh was doing her dissertation presentation on Monday as part of her dissertation grade, contrasting the Dutch golden age of painting with the rise of De Stijl in the early 20th Century in terms of how modernity affected international commercial reach or something or other. Bluebell wasn’t exactly sure, she liked paintings and art in museums but the finer details were a little too daunting for her. Either way, the presentation meant Bosh was trying on formal attire for the first time in her life. And Bluebell approved.

She approved so much in fact, that her hand drifted down her body as she admired the picture of her girlfriend, so typically bohemian looking, lithe and boyish, all suited up like she was ready to take on the world. But Bluebell’s descending hand brushed against her stomach as she did so, and she flinched the fleeting feeling away. Her stomach had always been flat. Hell, she was fairly convinced that it had always been concave. Though, despite it being only a recent acquisition, she couldn’t actually remember with any conviction. Either way, it wasn’t any more. Fat saddled her midriff now with cautious inelegance, spooling out a little, ambidirectionally. The awareness of it shook the poor girl into retracting her hand.

She lay on her bed and sighed. This wasn’t right. It felt wrong. Like the world was running away from her. She wasn’t changing, she was exactly where she always was. It was just that everything and everyone seemed to be changing. Including her newly-discovered stomach, which she had mentally disowned and disavowed at this point. She just wanted everything to keep on going as it had done up until this point, was that really so much to ask for?

 

Thats it, bought it

no messin

bish [hand clap emoji] bash [hand clap emoji] bosh

never wearing it after 2moro tho [crying laughing emoji]

 

Bluebell smiled again at her phone. At least Bosh never changed. Staunchly rebelling against development like the renegade badass that she was. Bosh always did her own thing and Bluebell loved her for it. And she really did look good in that suit. Bluebell’s hand slipped down again and her calves tightened as she got back into the yearnful headspace.

At which point, Bluebell’s dad barged into her room.

“Bloody hell dad, don’t you knock?” Bluebell shrieked as she contorted in her covers, trying to make it look like she had just been lounging in bed. Her heart raced as she nearly got caught red-handed.

“Wow Bloob, nearly made me drop this. Sorry about that love, just thought it was getting on a bit in the morning and I didn’t want you to miss breakfast, so I thought I’d bring you some up for you” he said rather sheepishly, Bluebell unable to gauge what exactly it was that her dad had seen. Either way, it would never get spoken of again. It was just the way they were as a family.

The breakfast, on the other hand, looked delicious. One of her dad’s famous bacon butties, this time bacon and brie, and a blueberry muffin for a side-dish. “Yeah, I saw the muffin when I went shopping this morning and I thought of you. Blueberry for my Bluebell. Anyway, eat up cos your mother’s cooking up a storm downstairs, and we got some rhubarb crumble and cream for dessert too cos it was a good old yellow sticker ” he added, referring to the reduced sticker.

“Thanks dad” Bluebell smiled. Did she really live in a house of gluttons all along and only now realise it? It was no wonder she was up to 140lbs, though she hadn’t dared weigh herself to find this out.

“Oh, and watcha watching? The news? My Bluebell, watching the news? Never had you pegged as a fancy-dan current affairs girl. My, they grow up so quick don’t they? You’ll be marrying some handsome lad from work by the time the year is out, I reckon” the dad smiled as he closed the door behind him, leaving Bluebell with her food. And normally, she wouldn’t have thought anything of it, just tucked in absent-mindedly. So she endeavoured to do so again, trying not to let these new negative thoughts stop her from being herself.

 

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May 2019***

 

 

Bluebell stood in front of her bedroom and sighed. She didn’t fancy posting anything to her Instagram or bothering her friends on Snapchat with selfies. She didn’t really feel like herself. She didn’t really look like herself.

Bosh was right about her hair, she really did need to get it re-dyed. Sure, Billie Eilish had made the dark roots look a little less untrendy, but Bluebell wasn’t trying to emulate her. She was trying to be herself. And Bluebell had blue hair. It was simply part of who she was.

They’d spoken about it before they went out together last night. Or, at least, before they planned on going out. They never actually did.

 

*-*-*-

 

“Why haven’t you sorted your hair out then babe?” Bosh asked rather nonchalantly as Bluebell decided against putting her hair through the straighteners again, and instead left it in its ponytail and elected to nibble on some salted cashews that her parents had picked up from the store.

“Dunno. Needs cutting first really. Wanna get it cut and styled. And then dyed later. Otherwise I’m there for ages and I can’t be arsed with that.”

“So why ain’t you getting it cut then?” Bosh countered, declining the salted nuts that Bluebell offered, leaving the blue-haired girl to nibble unabated by herself.

“Dunno, busy. Because stuff. Life. Not all of us are unemployed and out of education” Bluebell argued. And she felt like she had been busy too. Absolutely battered in fact. Ever since Bosh had handed in that totemic final University assignment and broken up, not for the year but for good, all the girl did was celebrate. And she did that by going out and partying. Ever. Single. Night. For a whole month. When all of Bosh’s classmates were doing interviews or getting jobs, Bosh was smashing every nightclub within a five mile radius and it was up to Bluebell to try to keep up. But Bluebell had a job as a care assistant at an old people’s home, and holiday season had started in, meaning she’d been picking up extra shifts to cover vacations. And all of this had relegated fixing her hair to the back of her mind.

And this was what she had tried to tell her girlfriend when Bosh just grabbed some scissors and started chopping off her ponytail.

Bluebell raged at this, flinching backwards as half-blue locks tumbled down to the floor.

“You… what did you just do?”

“I cut it. Let’s get it sorted. Let’s bish, bash, bosh this motherfucker” Bosh said with triumph, gesturing for Bluebell to let her finish the job. It was too late to do anything other than let Bosh finish cutting it, and rescue it as best she could. And so she did, letting Bosh utter her ‘bish, bash, bosh’ catchphrase once more as she finished the job to the sound of a cluster of hair falling to the floor.

Now, Bosh assumed, she could get her hair dyed and be Bluebell once more. And Bluebell panicked at having a bob thrust upon her. This was the first argument that they had had that night.

 

*-*-*-

 

Bluebell’s eyes drifted down on the mirror until her eyes met her own. Weathered and weary from too much drinking and not enough sleeping. But also a little haunted, sadness etching itself into the gentle cracks around her lids. And her eyes were the source of the next lovers’ quarrel the previous night.

 

*-*-*-

 

“No, you don’t need to wear your glasses tonight. It’s Emporium, you’ll end up losing them or breaking them” Bosh suggested, referring to Bluebell’s zeitgeisty rounded glasses.

“No, I do need to wear them” Bluebell had sassed back, a little pent-up over the hair cutting incident.

“Now, don’t be like that. It was just a suggestion. Wear them if you want” Bosh answered with similar levels of passive-aggression.

“No, not if I want. I need to wear them. They’re glasses. I need them to see!”

“Since when? They’re just clear glass, an accessory aren’t they?” Bosh glared at her girlfriend.

“Since two weeks ago, that’s when. I went to the opticians and I actually need glasses now, okay?” Bluebell said with a little defensiveness.

“So you had time to see the opticians but not the hairdresser?”
“Well, yeah! I need glasses to literally see! One’s a bit more important than the other, don’t you think? Why are you even so obsessed with my hair anyway?” Bluebell snarled back.

“Because I want my old Bluebell back” Bosh shouted, leading them onto argument number three.

 

*-*-*-*

 

Bluebell stared at herself in the mirror, the thoughts of the previous night lingering in her mind like the smoke from other previous nights lingered on her clothes. Her eyes closed as the memories rumbled around on a spin cycle in her head. These memories, so recent, so close, she could remember the sound of the music being played through Bosh’s phone at the time. The fucking soundtrack to the new Aladdin movie. “A whole new world. A new fantastic point of view” being crooned by some One Direction has-been. “I’m like a shooting star, I’ve come so far, I can’t go back to where I used to be”.

Eyes opened again, and they slowly tumbled down to the final culprit. The cause of the third argument. And maybe, just maybe the final argument. She looked at the rest of herself, decked in her green buttoned-up care assistant uniform. This was where the fault really lay. The way that the buttons tugged away in the oppositional direction to the clothing it was supposed to adjoin. The way that her body stuck out below her breasts when they were supposed to demarcate the last juncture of outward extrusion. The third argument had been about Bluebell’s weight.

 

*-*-*-*

 

“You want your old Bluebell back? What does that even mean?” Bluebell raised her voice in reply.

“You know exactly what I mean!” Bosh snapped back.

“My… are you talking about my...”

“Your weight? Yeah. Like, I’m sorry if this isn’t woke of me but am I just supposed to turn a blind eye to it? Like, are you doing it on purpose or to spite me or?”

“No… I’m not… I’m… not doing anything. I’m not doing everything different. Nothing” Bluebell protested through tears.

“Yeah you are. You’re getting fat. That’s what you are doing! Why are you doing that? Why can’t you just keep things how they were? Why are you ruining this? Why do you have to change?”

“I’m not doing anything, I’m staying the same!” Bluebell protested, but the world had run away from her before she could explain to it that it was the world that was moving. “You said you didn’t mind, that I looked cute no matter what?”

“And you said you’d lose it. So I guess we’re both liars then. But only one of us is fat!”

Bosh stormed out with typical harrumph. Bluebell knew it was pointless chasing her. Bosh would go out and hit the clubs hard, get absolutely trollied and then wake up in the morning with no hangover and no girlfriend. Drinking her troubles away. Like, truthfully, she had been all month.

And Bluebell just wilted like an Autumn petal. The ‘f’ word circling her head, looping round on a cassette in her mind. So there was nothing to it but to seek solace in silence and cry in her bed, and eat anything and everything that she knew she shouldn’t. Wake up with no hangover for the first time in a month, and no girlfriend for the first time in six months. Eating her troubles away like, truthfully, she’d been doing for months now.

 

*-*-*-*

 

And this all that rushed through Bluebell’s head as she stood before the mirror and took in her reflection. The world and everything she had come to know, slipping away from her and accusing her of doing the same. Truth and circumstance had thrown her this physical baggage, and left her with 148lbs and a world-swallowing vacuum where her heart should be.

Bluebell mopped the tears beneath her prescription glasses and took a sigh. And then took a final bite of the blueberry muffin that she’d had for a breakfast she didn’t need, a blueberry muffin that was now a frequent resident since there uncovering last month. And the crumbs tumble down her straining uniform.

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June 2019***

 

 

“You know, my parents probably think we’re fucking” Bluebell said, smiling.

“Ha, classic Bluebell. Bet you let them believe it to, you cheeky bitch” Jason joked back as the painted their protest signs.

“Yeah. Bit awkward though. My dad said he was glad I was seeing someone, was worried I was going to be single forever. That hurt” Bluebell sighed as she applied paint to her precisely depicted oompa-loompa, but with an orange quiff to accompany the orange face.

“Oof. Bitch, I bet it hurt. Do they not even know about your ex? Boop or whatever her name was” Jason asked as he held up his sign with satisfaction. Sprawled in pink glitter, it said ALL IN ALL YOU’RE JUST ANOTHER PRICK WITH NO WALL.

“Bosh. And no, no clue. And it’s so weird hearing her called an ex. Feels like there’s been a mix-up or something. I dunno. Ex. Ex. No, sounds so weird” Bluebell stated as she stopped working to stare into the wall of her bedroom, before sparking back into life. “Hey, what do you think?” Bluebell held up her sign to compare. A highly detailed drawing of an Oompa-Loompa, but with Donald Trump’s tell-tale quiff, accompanied by the angry scrawl of HOW DO YOU SAY ‘FUCK OFF’ IN OOMPA-LOOMPA? “It’s cos he looks like an oompa-loompa. Cos, y’know, he’s orange.”

“No, I get it. I get the joke. He’s orange. I get it. And bitch, when did you get so good at drawing? That oompa-loompa thing looks like so good, it look like a photo, only… more realistic. Seriously, you should have an Etsy or something. You would make a kiii-III-lling. And mama always needs mo’ momo, ain’t that right?” Jason exclaimed, wagging his arms around affectionately.

“Ah, thanks babe. You’re always so nice and supportive. But Bosh was always the arty one, not me” Bluebell said, feeling twinges of discomfort at the conversation topic always flitting back to Bosh. To her ex. No, even thinking it felt weird.

“Oh please, I ain’t the compliment Santa Claus, if I say something nice, it’s cos I mean it. And you can draw. Trust me, I know art, I’m gay. And don’t you even try to hide your talent behind Blip or whatever she was called. Else I tell Blip how to say ‘fuck off’ in two-faced bitch” Jason spat and Bluebell giggled.

“Thanks Jason. You really are the best. Can you be my best friend? Not just at work, but all the time. I bet you’re such a great best friend. I bet you’d never ghost me” Bluebell said, her face crinkling with a little sadness.

“Fiiiinally. Bitch, I’m gonna be your best friend and I’m gonna be the best best friend you’ve ever had. Starting today. I’m gonna be your Scrappy-doo”

“But Scrappy-doo was a dick?”

“Good, that was just a test to see if you qualify to be my best friend. And guess what… you passed. Now let’s celebrate being bffs-forever with a selfie. That’s bff-forever, short for best friends forever, forever. Cos that’s how long we’re gonna be best friends...” And Jason’s monologue was interrupted by an affectionate hug from his new best friend. She hung in that position, trying to hide the fact that she was crying. The damp patches on Jason’s shoulders and the steamed-up glasses betrayed her though.

“Fuck! I’m gonna have to redo my make-up. It takes me ages to get my eye-liner sorted” Bluebell joked, hoping that any pity that her new best friend might have would be disguised with self-deprecation. Speaking of which… Bluebell dared herself to make a joke she didn’t think she could dare make. “Oh, and my sign was originally gonna say ‘how do you say fuck-off in fat-ass’, but the people wouldn’t have known if I was referring to him or me.”

Bluebell felt awkward saying it, her eyes fixed on Jason. His response seemed to take an age to manifest, the suspense ratcheted up as he digested her comment.

“Oh. My. Days. Did Bluebell just make reference to her size for the first time?” Jason smiled, as Bluebell winced. She just wanted to sneak it in surreptitiously. Let the world know it wasn’t this albatross around her neck. Or, at least, trick them into thinking that it wasn’t.

“God, is it that obvious?” Bluebell flinched.

“Oh babe… course it is” Jason came back in for a second hug, but Bluebell pulled away.

“I thought best friends were a bit more supportive than that. You could have at least lied”

“Best friends forever… forever, do not lie. They tell the real truths. I want you to know that I will never lie to you. Truth is friendship babe, and truthfully, it’s noticeable. Like, everyone is gossiping about it behind your back. Sorry, but it’s true” Jason shrugged.

“Oh god, is it really that bad. Oh god, it’s been so hard. Like, I tried to get in this dress I have, this one that I always wear when I have a break-up and I need to feel good about myself and it wasn’t even close to fitting. Oh god, I think I’m… y’know… fat” Bluebell finally vocalised all the fear and dread that had been percolating in her mind for half a year. Words that had felt like poison in her mouth, finally spat out. Bluebell, skinny Bluebell, enviable Bluebell was 155lbs… was getting fat.

“Oh babe, don’t use the word fat. Use the word curvy. It means the same thing but it sounds nicer. And anyway, you are gorgeous girlfriend. And you know I wouldn’t lie. You are gorgeous and when we go to that Anti-Trump demonstration, you are going to be the hottest girl there. Have a little faith, sister”

And Bluebell smiled.

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*Disclaimer*

Just wanna say that the reason that I didn't post this story on here earlier was in case it offended anybody. I appreciate that politics is an incendiary topic and I mean no ill-will either way. This story does involve characters engaging with politics, but the intention isn't to use them as vehicles for my own political commentary. That's what Twitter's for, lol. Instead, it's just part of Bluebell's arc of growing up and working out who she is. I wanted to write a story that captured what it felt like to be at that weird age when you actually have entered adulthood, but you're still working out who you are, you're still changing, you realise that adults are fallible, that you are fallible, and that maturity isn't some Valhalla. But I didn't want to make it auto-biographical, I wanted to explore what it might feel like growing up now. Which is why I wanted '2019' to be a character, and, more specifically, 2019 in the UK. It's why I mention Brexit and the anti-Trump march and the weird weather and, coming up, the Women's Football/Soccer World Cup. And it's why Bluebell is political - because this generation z seem a lot more politically cognisant than I was at their age and I wanted to reflect that. Whatever your views and stripes, any form of societal engagement is cool and I respect the hell out of this generation. But this is not part of some personal agenda, I'm not judging her or saying she's right or wrong and I don't mean to rile. It just felt believable to have her this way and I wanted to do her justice.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled fap material, enjoy!

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July 2019***

 

 

Bluebell sat on the top of the stairs, running her hand through her dark hair, blue tips relegated to the ends. Her glasses, rounded as she was, sat next to her, to stop them from steaming up again. Tears trickled down, ruining her winged eyeliner, stylishly flicked. Her nose sniffling to stop it from dripping too. Her jaw clenched. Her shoulders tight. She couldn’t tell if she was angry or sad. But, whatever emotion it was, it had her in a suffocating headlock.

“Do what? She’s her own woman!” Bluebell’s mum yelled downstairs to her dad. Bluebell was all dressed up in her England top, ready to hit the pub to watch the semi-finals against the USA. It had been the first time she’d watched women’s football, first time she’d really watched sport. And she’d loved it. When you get to know the names, you start to invest. How the play becomes extensions of who those people are and you invest. And England was now one step away from the World Cup finals, with a Rapinoe-less USA in the way, and she couldn’t watch the game because she was trapped on the stairs listening to her parents.

“Talk to her. I dunno. It’s woman stuff, right? Fuck, I don’t know. Maybe serve her salad more often” her dad replied, downstairs in the living room where he was in a full-bloodied argument with her mum. Stony still, all Bluebell could do was listen to it.

“You think it’s the food I cook? You’re the one who does her bacon sandwiches every time the weather turns. But I suppose this is all my fault, is it?”

“But that’s different. I’ve always done that. That’s our thing. I… I mean, do you think I should stop?” her dad sounded defeated. Sad. And that hurt worse than when they were angry.

“It wouldn’t do any harm would it? Oh… I don’t know. I don’t want you to lose that thing you have with her. You know, I reckon it’s that boyfriend of hers. It all started when she began seeing him” and Bluebell snickered briefly as her mum, again, mistakenly believed that the world’s most blatantly gay man, her colleague at the old folk’s home Jason, was her boyfriend and the girl who she had been having over for six months until last month wasn’t her girlfriend because they were so traditional that they kept forgetting homosexuality existed.

“God, I don’t like that lad. Can’t put my finger on it. But what can we do? She’s got to learn these things for herself” her dad replied, and Bluebell could taste the patronising tone in his voice. How can the be so certain that they were right, and still be so wrong.

“We’ve got to do something Martin, did you see her in that England top we bought for her? That was our Bluebell. Our little girl. She looked huge. That top was supposed to be a medium, she looked like she needed a large. A football shirt! They’re always oversized as it is. Our Bluebell, a large” and that stuck in Bluebell’s throat. She looked down and saw what they were talking about. The top, hugging her like her parents used to. Like Bosh used to. Like nobody did any more. The way a little miniature roll kept bubbling out underneath where the top ended like an escapee. She pulled her top down defensively, the third time she’d had to since she’d put it on. It just kept squidging out. Tauntingly.

But it was around her arms that she felt it the most. And neck. Constricting. Tightening. Every movement and gesture pressing against her skin. Her arms were getting fat? Was that even a thing? Her arms had always been sleek and girlish, topped off with the beautiful Bluebell ink at the end of her right one. She never thought that her arms would change. That just seemed… too real?

“God, I know. What should we do? Should I talk to her then?”

“Oh, no. Don’t. You can’t. You’ll break that poor girl’s heart. And she’s putting enough strain on that thing as it is” her mum protested, and, through thick sobs, Bluebell nodded to herself. It was breaking her heart to hear all this. It felt like a stiletto piercing right through a crack in the ribs and stabbing its flesh.

“Fine. I guess. I mean, she’ll lose it, I’m sure. It’s just puppy fat or something. Part of growing up”

“Yeah, I mean, maybe she’ll have a growth spurt. You’re sister grew late, didn’t she?”

“And she always loses it. I mean, remember how she was as a baby?”

“God, yeah. She was a fat baby. But, come on, this is different. She’s a woman now. And this isn’t just a few pounds here and there. It must be thirty pounds”

“Forty, more like” Her mum counter-claimed. Well, the 5ft5 girl was now 164lbs now, so actually make that nearly fifty. “But, like we said, she’s a grown woman now. It’s her life, her body, and she’ll have to sort it out herself. It would do her good to take responsibility for once. She’s not a little girl any more”

“Hmff… you can say that again”

Bluebell had heard enough. Enough daggers being plunged into her. Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. No. She walked away, hoping those additional sixty pounds, hanging from her like wet clothes, didn’t make the floorboards creak as she scurried back to her room. She needed to find relief in something other than food, but she knew, deep down, that was where she was going to find it. Maybe England would beat the USA. Maybe that would fix her mood.

 

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August 2019***

 

 

“I could never die, I’m Chuck Norris” Bluebell said, between angry drags. “Fuck the government and fuck Boris!”

“Girl, you are absolutely killing that song by the way. Like, 999, someone is murdering this piece of music. And I call it a piece of music… but I just do not do grime, even if Stormzy is so hot he should be called Dreamzy” Jason giggled as Bluebell danced in his bedroom, ash from her cigarette scattering onto the carpet. “And careful girl, use an ashtray! Not all of us have the luxury of living with our parents, these are my carpets”

“Sorry babe. But you sound like my parents saying ‘I just do not get this modern music’” Bluebell teased.

“I so do get modern music. I practically am iTunes, I’m so modern. I just don’t do grime. It’s too angry”

“Nothing wrong with angry”

“Amen to that sister” Jason poured Sambuca into shot glasses and the two chinked glasses before downing them.

“I used to be the same Jason. But did you see him at Glasto? He was so good. And now I like British hiphop. Loyle Carner, Bugzy Malone, Ghostpoet, Kate Tempest who so gets it by the way. She just understands, you know”

“I have no clue darling, but I love this new you” Jason laughed.

“Not a new me. Same me. Bluebell, look” Bluebell gestured at her tattoo on her forearm. “By the way, let us bum another ciggy off you babe.”
“This is exactly what I mean. If you’d have told me last year this quite mouse girl who’d started at the home, who looked like she was a ukelele and some fairy lights away from being a youtube vlogger, would end up smoking and drinking and listening to rap and saying ‘fuck Boris’, which is an epithet we can all get behind darling, then I would have told you to do one. But here you are, burning through my fags and booze like they’re flammable...”

“I mean, they are flammable”

“I’m saying you’ve changed”

“Fuck you”

“In a good way”

“Fuck you”

“You’ve grown”

“Oh, now really fuck you”

“In a good way”

Bluebell paused.

“Thanks”

“And in the other way”

“Fuck you” and they both laughed. She had grown too. Or continue to grow, anyway. It was part rebellion, a ‘fuck you’ not to Boris or the government this time, but to Bosh and her parents and people’s preconceptions. But it was also just seeing something burn felt good. It feels good when you’re angry. And Bluebell just felt so angry all the time. She felt cheated. Betrayed. And so she burnt something. And that thing that she burnt was Bluebell.

She had grown, and she hadn’t quite become accustomed to dressing in a manner that disguised the fact. She partly wanted to flaunt the 9lbs, to aggressively rub it in people’s faces. But, partly, it was for the opposite reason. Complacency. Disregard. She hadn’t developed the habit of remembering that this was part of her. Her weight, her 173lbs, splattered across her like paint pellets in a paintball fight. The cardigan that she was currently wearing should have been disposed at the tail end of her Bosh days. Back when she couldn’t name the current home secretary, unlike these days where she happily masturbates to her whilst simultaneously despising everything about her. Instead, it fought valiantly and futilely against the tide of flesh pushing from her.

“Do your parents know about you smoking?” Jason asked as Bluebell lit up another from her pack.

“Bollocks do they. Least, I hope not. Or they’ll really lose their shit. Probably kick me out or something. And it’s so hard to afford rent these days. You know the cost of living for our generation...”

“Babe, no more politics lectures please. We’ve had our fill. This house, my place, is a politics-free zone. A safe place. A sanctuary from your… stuff. And also, if it’s so hard for people to afford to rent these days, how come it’s always you borrowing cigarettes off me?” Jason joked.

“Cos we’re bffs-forever” Bluebell smiled cheekily.

“Fuck, I should never have agreed to that” Jason smiled back.

“So bff-forever. What we eating tonight?”

“Babe, we ate earlier? We had a pizza each”

“No, that was just pre-drinks pizza. Now I’m getting drunk, I have a proper one. It’s the Bluebell way, always has been, always will be.”

 

 

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You’re really talented. There is an intimate grit to this story, I like it. 
 

At first it seemed strange that she was putting on a binge-eating amount of weight without binge eating, but then I am now realizing that must be part of the disassociation the character is making with her shifts in habit. 
 

Anyway, thanks for posting this here. I think the references to politics and events just make her a more real character—places her as a person in a real place at a real point in time. 

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7 hours ago, dania201 said:

You’re really talented. There is an intimate grit to this story, I like it. 
 

At first it seemed strange that she was putting on a binge-eating amount of weight without binge eating, but then I am now realizing that must be part of the disassociation the character is making with her shifts in habit. 
 

Anyway, thanks for posting this here. I think the references to politics and events just make her a more real character—places her as a person in a real place at a real point in time. 

Thanks, this is a really nice comment. Intimate grit is deffo the vibe I was striving for. 

About the amount of weight, you're exactly right. It's the result of an accumulation of habits that she allowed to fall under the subheading of 'just how bluebell is', without realising that things won't just stay the same if these new habits keep subtly stacking up. 

I'm glad the reference to events is okay, I wanted her to feel like a real human in the real world, and tried to use these to anchor her. I'm glad you felt that came across.

This comment has y genuinely made my day, so thank you so much for it

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On 4/11/2020 at 1:36 PM, Alphazoomer12345 said:

Great story - please keep it going!  Enjoying all the social awkwardness from her gain.  That’s just as fun as the physical descriptions in stories.

Thank you so much. It's sounds cliche but this story was as much (more?) about her changing as a person than the physical stuff, so it's nice to read a comment like this

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@swahilimonkfish you are a very talented writer, not just dealing with the wg trope, but making the protagonists interesting and full of life. Your writing style is clear and has a good pace ,where even the longer pieces do not feel drawn out. Keep up the good work. :)

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This story is truly enjoyable. The descriptions about the evolution of the protagonist are described very well.

The main character's psique about her old and new behavior is quite awesome. I love when the psichological factor enter into the stories. It's truly awesome to read for me.

Please continue this...

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17 hours ago, Tastic1 said:

@swahilimonkfish you are a very talented writer, not just dealing with the wg trope, but making the protagonists interesting and full of life. Your writing style is clear and has a good pace ,where even the longer pieces do not feel drawn out. Keep up the good work. :)

I'm so glad you think so, writing pace is not my strong suit so I'm glad you think so. Really appreciate the kind words, and I hope the standard maintains

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9 hours ago, corozosilco said:

This story is truly enjoyable. The descriptions about the evolution of the protagonist are described very well.

The main character's psique about her old and new behavior is quite awesome. I love when the psichological factor enter into the stories. It's truly awesome to read for me.

Please continue this...

Thank you for the kind comment. Writing about the psychology of the character was the main reason for doing this story, so I am really glad that you are enjoying that aspect

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September 2019***

 

 

The doorbell chimed.

“Mum, Dad, can someone get that please?”

Bluebell lay in her bed, eating Pringles with a flannel over her eyes, stopped and listened for movement. Nothing.

“MUM!...”

Her parents would have been at work. It was Friday and shift rotas had meant that Bluebell had the Friday off this week instead of the Saturday. Which meant she was home alone. Which meant she had to answer the door.

The doorbell chimed again.

“OKAY! For fucks sake, I’m coming!” Bluebell shifted herself out of bed and threw the flannel onto her desk and grabbed her glasses. She grabbed her phone to check the time and see it was 8:40am. Another groan followed, as she rummaged through her handbag to find her cigarettes, lighting one as she clunked down the stairs heavily. Five hours ago. Five hours ago she was stumbling back in, so drunk that gravity felt like a minefield. Five hours ago she passed out on her bed, after Emporium’s £1 drinks had scorched her liver. Five hours since she fell deep into sleep, bloated from the fish and chips and curry sauce she’d grabbed on her way home. Just five hours sleep and her head was pounding.

It was probably just a delivery. Had she ordered anything from Amazon lately? She’d had her eye on these sustainable bamboo drinks bottles for work. She’d been try to be more environmentally conscious these days, even if her parents lived in the stone age politically and modern age in terms of energy consumption. Maybe she’d bought a bottle last night through Prime when she was drunk. Though it was a bit early, even by Amazon’s slave-driving standards.

It wasn’t a delivery. She opened the door and the person and, unless the past few months hadn’t gone to plan for them, it was not a delivery person. It was Bosh.

She was wearing her suit. The one that she wore for her dissertation presentation back in March or April. Back when they were still together. She looked great in it. Bluebell’s memory burnt as she recalled her hand trickling down her body as she admired the photo. One of her last good memories with her. It hurt. The memory hurt. She’d forgotten how much it hurt. And all that hurt that she’d locked away to protect herself, was standing right in front of her eyes.

She looked so good too. Better than ever. Slimmer, tighter, prettier. Really well-tailored. As if to rub it in. The bitch. And a bitch that Bluebell missed so much.

“Hey… oh… umm… is… is Bluebell in?” Bosh stammered awkwardly. This confused Bluebell, already battling a fairly discombobulating headache.

“Yeah” Bluebell grumbled, not even taking the cigarette out of her mouth to speak. Trying to avoid eye contact because of awkwardness. Succeeding in avoiding eye contact because of tiredness.

“Could you get her please… she… she text me last night, say I could come round and pick up her hair straighteners, that she didn’t need them any more” Bosh said, equally evasive with her eyes. Bluebell sighed and tilted her head in exasperation. She’d text Bosh last night? Really? God, what a cliché she was. Texting her ex. What had she been thinking? What had she been drinking?

“And actually...” Bosh said, finally making eye contact. “Why are you wearing her glasses? Who does that? What are you… her latest squeeze? She can do a lot better. I mean, Bluebell’s… a good looking girl and, no offence, you’re a fat bitch and she can do so much better than you. And why are you wearing her fucking glasses? What kind of person takes their girlfriend’s glasses? What kind of...”

Bosh trailed off as Bluebell felt her neck muscles tighten, or at least the rounded bits where her neck muscles used to be, in the way that she’d found that they did when she didn’t know whether to rage or cry. To stub the cigarette out on her ex or herself. Bosh trailed off as it slowly dawned on her.

“Fuck… it’s actually you isn’t it?”

“Yeah”

“Fuck, sorry I… your hair, it’s...”

“Not blue anymore?”

“Yeah. I guess. I mean, and since when did you smoke?”

“Since when did you care?”

Bosh winced as she said it.

“You know, I didn’t really come for the straighteners. I… I came to say sorry. I mean, I’ll take the straighteners, I did pay for half of it, but… look, Blue… I’m sorry” Bosh looked into Bluebell’s eyes and started crying.

“I’ll go grab them for you” Bluebell just turned around, leaving Bosh standing there in the doorway, quietly sobbing. She just stood there, not caring who saw her pathetically bawling at an empty front door. She didn’t care. She wanted to but she couldn’t help it. All the conversations she’d planned in her head, the sad ones, the angry ones, the reconciliatory ones, even the joyous ones. None of them planned for it to go like this.

“Here you go” Bluebell was back and handing them over.

“Oh” Bosh said, taking it in and just standing there. Expecting more. Expecting words. Discussions. Anything.

“Oh? OH? You know what, fuck you Bosh! How did you think this would go, huh? What did you think would happen? That I would take you back? That I would be skinny again? Is that how you saw this going down? Is that why you’re in that fucking suit?” Bluebell just unleashed a train of thought she didn’t know was in her. Thoughts and barely constructed emotions tumbling out and scattering across the floor. Anger. Sadness. Both. Neither. Whatever.

“No…” Bosh stammered, looking scared. “No, it’s… it’s for work. I… fuck, I work this fucking thing for work.”

“Oh” Bluebell said this time.

“Yeah, um… I work at the… at the University now. But as part of their media team. It’s boring but… it’s a job I guess. The real world, whatever the fuck that is.”

“Sorry, I didn’t realise”

“No, it’s… look, are you okay? Like, actually okay? Because it doesn’t look like you are okay and I feel like that’s my fault. That I abandoned you when you needed help. I should have seen the signs...”

“Signs?”

“Yeah, of depression” Bosh said, and the words just hung in the air. Depression. Is that what this was? Was Bluebell depressed? She felt angry all the time, sad all the time. But that was… that was just grieving, right? Was that what this all was? Was that why she was fat? Because she was depressed?

“No. I dunno, I don’t think so. Maybe. I mean, I’m not a psycho… whatever they’re called...”

“Therapist”

“Yeah, one of them. Look, Bosh...”

“Louise”

“Oh. Um… okay. Look, I’m just me. Okay. Whoever that is. And I think we just grew apart. Literally in my case. But neither of us is the girl we started dating, and I think that’s all it is. Maybe. Or maybe I’m depressed. Who the fuck knows? Doesn’t matter any, Tories fucking cut funding to mental health resources anyway and...” Bluebell explained, saying thoughts at the same moment she thought them. Each word uttered an epiphany to herself.

“But the weight gain? I mean, it’s a lot”

“Oh, I know”

“Like, a lot”

“I know Bosh… Louise, sorry. I know it’s a lot. You want to know how much? Exactly how much? 185lbs is how much it is now… Louise. So yeah, I’m aware it’s a lot. And maybe some of it as been for this reason and some of its been for that reason, whatever. I mean, I may eat a lot, but you drink a lot” Bluebell felt defensive mentioning the numbers. Numbers close to beginning with a two. They felt different to the other ones. Strangely disconnected, like this threshold would be crossed, it was irreparable. No longer in the same division, but formally and officially elsewhere now.

She felt it too. She shouldn’t have come down in just her pjs, the one remaining item of clothing that she had crossed over from 2018. They didn’t come close to fitting, but it had never normally mattered. She hadn’t had to chat to an ex whilst wearing them before.

“Actually, you’re right. I did drink a lot. It’s why I stopped”

“You… stopped?”

“Yeah, I mean, I’m not saying I ‘had a problem’ or was an ‘alcoholic’ or anything. But I’m not saying I wasn’t either. I didn’t have a healthy relationship and it was costing me friends… girlfriends...”

“Girlfriends? Plural?”

“No, singular. But she looks plural these days” Louise braved a smile. Bluebell relinquished one back. “Anyway, I decided just to quit. It wasn’t good for me, and not just health-wise. Generally. It’s not… it’s not who I wanted to be.”

“Fuck. I didn’t realise”

“We’ve both been saying that a lot this morning” and the two girls smiled again.

“You know, I should probably follow suit. I’ve been… drinking more than I should. I guess. Maybe. I’ve been doing everything more than I should, really. Look, I’m sorry too. I guess. I mean, I’m no longer what you signed up for.”

“No, you don’t need to apologise Blue. You were just being Blue. I just didn’t know that’s who Blue was. Neither did you at that point. Look, I gotta go, I’ll be late for work but… I’m glad we did this. This… this is a much nicer note to end on. It feels like closure” Louise smiled.

“Closure? Is this it then? Am I never going to see you again?” Bluebell felt suddenly insecure.

“Yeah. I mean ‘What did you think would happen? That I would take you back?’” Louise mocked.

“Touché Bosh. Touché” Bluebell smiled again as she closed the door. On Bosh. On that relationship. On all of it. And she did so with little regret.

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October 2019***

 

 

“Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday dear Bluebell

Happy Birthday to you”

“Thanks mu...”

“Hip-hip, hooray,

Hip-hip, hooray

Hip, hip… hooray!”

Bluebell regained her composure and tried again.

“Thanks mum, thanks dad!”

Bluebell closed her eyes and blew out the candles. She didn’t know what to wish for, she just wanted things to get better, whatever form that would take. Maybe that would mean Labour would win the forthcoming election, or maybe it would mean that Megan Rapinoe would discover she had a Bluebell fetish and leave her wife for the now 21 year old. But, whatever it was, she just wanted things to be better.

“By the way dad, this cake looks epic. Not gonna lie but thought you were just gonna stick a candle in a lettuce leaf...” Bluebell joked, unaware that she was actually licking her lips. And the cake did indeed look epic. Not pretty per se. The light brown buttermilk and Orea cream around the cake made it look like something that a cow had left behind in a field. But definitely epic.

“It’s your birthday Bloob. Yesterday we nagged you about your weight and tomorrow we’ll nag you about your weight. But today… today’s your 21st birthday and we don’t want you to worry about anything” Bluebell’s mum told her, stroking her daughter’s hair while she sat up in bed with a big smile on her face.

“Wow, I should have birthdays more often! What cake is it?”

“The Goodfood magazine called it a… I’ve got the recipe here… a ‘cookies and cream party cake’. We thought that sounds like something our Bluebell would like.” Her mum told her.

“Aye, we thought, well, Bloob likes ‘cookies’ and she likes ‘cream’ and she likes ‘partying’ and she likes ‘cake’, so this should be perfect for her” her dad added.

“It is. It really is. Birthday cake in bed. This really is the life. So, you two gonna go then and let me eat this thing?” Bluebell asked, pulling her greasy black hair out of her eyes.

“Oh, you’re just gonna eat all of it now? Okay, sure...” her parents looked sad.

“Mum, I’m kidding, I’m obviously kidding. Really guys? I’m not just going to eat a whole birthday cake in bed. I know I’m… not as thin as I used to be, but really?” Bluebell laughed.

“Oh haha, well, you’re clearly a growing girl, I didn’t want to judge” Bluebell’s mum laughed back.

“I mean, you were actually just going to let me eat this whole thing. I should have called your bluff and done it. But seriously, thanks. It’s a really nice thing to wake up to” Bluebell smiled.

“So, how’s your hangover?” her dad asked, big grin on his face.

“Not as bad as tomorrow’s hangover is going to be. Hot Fizz is doing happy hour tonight so Jason and the girls from work are treating me to as many cocktails as my liver can take” Bluebell giggled, her mouth almost aching from smiling so widely.

“Oh, that’s my girl. And… what am I thinking? We’re not finished yet. We’ve got you a present, haven’t we? Well, it was your birthday and it was what you wanted so...” her dad said, handing her an envelope.

“What I wanted? Wait, is this a cheque for even more cake?” Bluebell giggled before opening it to read who the cheque was actually made out to. It was the tattoo parlour in the town centre. “Sorry, I...”

“So you can change your bluebell on your arm to a rose like you wanted” her dad clarified. “It was your mum’s idea”

Bluebell’s eyes welled up with water.

“B...but I didn’t think… I didn’t think you’d want me to lose my bluebell? I… really? For the Labour rose?”

“We don’t get to decide who you are Bloob, all we can do is give you the support and opportunities you need for you to decide who you are. And if this is who you are, then we will happily love and support you for who you are” her mum stroked, feeling a rogue tear drip down her own cheek.

“That said, we’ve decided that we’re not going to call you Bloob any more. We’ve decided to shorten Bluebell another way, and we’re just going to call you Belly instead”

“Dad!”

“Martin!”

“I’m kidding girls, I’m kidding. I’d never do that to you… Belly” Her dad laughed as Bluebell mock hit her dad.

“Mum, dad… I just wanna say, I’m sorry for everything. I know I’m not always the greatest daughter in the world but...” Bluebell smiled tentatively, bracing for a confession.

“That’s where you’re wrong. You are the greatest daughter in the world” her dad retorted.

“Thanks, but… I feel like I’ve got a few things to confess to. I’ve… I’ve really let you down and...” the tears started to stream down her face again and her voice began to break.

“What is it dear?” the two parents looked worried.

“Um… okay, I’ll start with… um…. Please don’t be mad… I… I’ve started… smoking the odd cigarette” she cringed as she said it, it felt like such a dirty admission. And it wasn’t ‘the odd cigarette’, it was a steady succession of nicotine every time her parents turned their back. But she couldn’t hit them with the whole truth, even this half-truth felt bad enough.

“Oh. Thank god, I thought you were going to say you were on drugs...” they both sighed.

“Well, I think technically they are drugs. Wait? Are you not mad?” Bluebell looked so confused as her parents leant back in relief.

“Oh no. I mean, I didn’t know kids still did cigarettes any more, but… I thought they did, oh what are they called, them machines...” her mum asked, the word on the tip of her tongue.

“Vaping?”

“That’s the one. I quite like the fact that you’ve gone for something a bit more retro. Never liked them vaping things. You know, they kill kids in America”

“Denise, they have different standards over there, it’s different over here, it’s safer” Martin suggested.

“And you have to be careful with new things like that, you never know how dangerous they are. Remember all them thalidomide b**s because they didn’t know it was bad for you...”

“But mum, dad, I’m not vaping, but I’m still smoking. It’s still really bad for you” Bluebell found herself almost arguing against her parents lack of concern over her behaviour.

“Oh, I know it is love, but I can’t say anything, can I?”

“No you bloody well can’t Martin. Sorry, you’re right dear, it’s a terrible habit and I blame your father for setting a bad example”

“Dad?” Bluebell looked confused. Again.

“Oh, love. I thought you must have known. Every now and then...”

Every now and then my arse” Denise muttered

“No, every now and then is right. Every now and then… I do smoke the odd cigarette myself. Usually when I’m down the working men’s club with the lads or when we hit the pubs after the game on Saturday for home matches. Or sometimes when your mother is doing my head in, so if I do smoke a lot, it’s her fault”

“It’s not Bloob, he just says that so he doesn’t admit it to himself. Yeah, your father’s been a social smoker ever since I met him. He’s more ‘social’ these days, but yeah”

“In fact, Bloob, if you smoke B&H Gold… I couldn’t borrow a couple for tonight, it’s Jimbo’s anniversary and they’re celebrating down the club”

“Martin! Really!”

Bluebell smiled as she watched her parents bicker. But the relief was short-lived. She had to make confession number 2.

“Mum, dad… the other thing I have to admit...you know Jason isn’t my boyfriend?” Bluebell winced again, still fearing the worst.

“He’s around here a lot for a man who’s not your boyfriend. In my experience, if a man is round a woman’s house this much, he’s only after one thing...” her mum commented.

“Mum! No. He’s… gay”

“Thank fuck! He would have made a terrible husband”

“Dad, did you just swear?”

“Oh please Bloob, you’re 21, it’s time we stopped pussy-footing around you with that kind of stuff”

“It’s still rude Martin”

“She’s a grown woman Denise, I bet she hears worse, I bet she uses worse. They have such fancy swear words these days Denise, it’s not like our day when it was just the classics”

“Yeah, no, I do swear, just… I never thought you guys did. Not unless you were really angry” Bluebell couldn’t believe how naive she sounded when she said that out loud. “Anyway, I… come on, just say it… Jason isn’t the only one who’s gay. I… I am gay too”.

Her heart stopped right at the back of her throat as she said it, and stayed there. Congealing at the base of her tongue. Each word drawing thicker and more viscous than the last until she got to the G-word, where it sludged out like putrid black tar

“Oh, you referring to Louise? That might just have been a phase love...” her mum argued.

“No mum it’s not just a...” Bluebell’s eyebrows darted down in anger, ready to counter their predictable homophobia when she realised… “wait, you know about Bosh?”

“Oh, of course we did. We may be older than you, but our ears still work. Plus she was a handsome girl so it all seemed quite reasonable...”

“Mum! She’s literally young enough to be your daughter and… sorry, what?”

“I’m just saying. If you are a… do they call them lesbians or dykes, I never know? If you are one of them, I hope you end up with someone as pretty as her. Not too pretty mind, or your dad will leer” her mum patted Bluebell on her back as shock turned to tears turned to joy.

“I will not leer. I only have eyes for one woman…” her dad kissed her mum. “Janet from work… I’m kidding, I’m kidding, it’s you Denise. It’s always you”

“But you don’t mind that I’m gay?”

“Mind? I don’t understand, why would we mind? If anything, I’m proud. Maybe it’s because I’m from a different time, but nobody our age would have ever had the confidence to admit something like that. They’d hide it, pretend it wasn’t them. Just admitting it takes real nerve. But that’s you Bloob. Stronger than you realise. You always were. You want to know who you are Blueberry? It isn’t your tattoo or your blue hair or your body or your… is it called gay or queer, I never know? The thing that makes our Blueberry, Blueberry? It is that she’s always been stronger than she knows. Even as a kid, even as an adult. Stronger than she knows” her dad said, hugging her with pride.

Bluebell hugged back.

“Now, breakfast is in a couple of hours, and your dad’s doing his bacon and mushroom sandwich… yes, with mayonnaise, for you. So we’re going to leave you alone with that cake, and I suggest you eat as much of it as you can before then because, from tomorrow, we’re nagging you about your weight again” her mum said with a friendly smile.

“Fiiiine” Bluebell feigned being put out, before grinning like a child. “But I’m not going to be able to eat all of it, you know?”

“Even a girl your size?”

“Dad! No. Even a 194lb girl like me can’t...”

“Wait, how much did you say you weigh?” her parents said with shock.

“Bye mum, bye dad, leave me alone with this cake now. Remember I have an amnesty for the day” shepherding them out the door with that big grin still attached, before looking back at that ridiculous cake. Wellll… maybe, if she really put her mind to it, she could eat it before breakfast.

 

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November 2019***

 

 

“Hi, we’re here about the forthcoming election and we were wondering if we could talk to you about...”

The door shut in Bluebell’s face. The rain was pouring down from the heavens, raindrops as large as the palm of her hand, crashing down on the girl as she stood there without a hood. Fucking climate change.

“Hey, don’t worry about it kid. You get that a lot” the older woman said to her as Bluebell groaned in frustration. “Canvassing is really important, but it’s really frustrating at times. Believe me, this is my eighth election volunteering for Labour”

“Eighth? Wow, that’s… I guess I should come to you for advice then. Oh, and frustrating? A little. But exhausting? Fuck yeah” Bluebell moaned, flinching at the blisters in her feet.

“Oh, you can take a rest if you like. I can only imagine for a girl of your size...”

“A girl of my size?”

“Oh, sorry I...”

“Relax, I’m kidding. I know I’m… I have curves. Bluebell, by the way” she smiled at the gentle, older woman.

“Bluebell? What a beautiful name. I’m Trinnie, nice to meet you. Shall we grab a seat at that bench under the bus shelter for a bit if you’re out of puff? Don’t worry, nobody will mind. It’s a case of every little bit helps with these things”

The two girls walked to the bench across the road and sat down. Bluebell closed her eyes as she did so. It was good to get off her feet. It was nice to get out of the rain too. Her jeans felt like they were vacuum sealed against her legs even before they got drenched and clung tighter, and her jacket, with sleeves rolled up because all that walking had made her warm, glistened with the residue from the watery air. And everything she wore was suffocatingly tight, but at least Bluebell was used to that.

“Like your tattoo by the way. Is that the rose, the Labour one?” she asked, as Bluebell caught her breath and recovered from her aches and pains.

“Yeah, got it recently. Shame it’s so cold and so so so wet, I never get the chance to show it normally. Oh, do you want a smoke?” Bluebell offered her a pack of Benson and Hedges Gold.

“No thanks, and even if I did, I wouldn’t smoke anything that strong. Dear, they’re like blowing on an exhaust pipe”

“Oh, I know. I didn’t used to. But my dad smokes them and it’s just easier this way if we both get the same. You get used to it real quick”

“Well, I wouldn’t be fulfilling my Hippocratic Oath if I didn’t point out that should probably give them up” the lady said, still with the kind of gentle smile that puts you naturally at ease.

“Fair. So, you a nurse or...”

“GP. But don’t worry I won’t get on about your smoking or eating, I’m off the clock and, honestly, I’ve got to save my preaching for another couple of hours of doing this, if we’re going to have even half a chance of turning this place red” she replied.

“Thanks. I hate being told what I’m doing makes me worthless. It isn’t as incentivising as people think. Yes, I smoke too much, drink too much, I recently crossed the 200lbs threshold, blah, blah, I geddit. I’m a fuck up. But is it too much to ask that I’m not just a fuck up. I’m a strong fuck-up. A brave fuck-up. A conscientious, rebellious fuck up. A fuck up who canvasses in her spare time and draws pictures for commissions online to pay for all the drinking, smoking and eating that makes her a fuck up. A fuck up with a loving family and a great best friend and is even on good terms with their ex. As fuck ups go, surely I’m one of the better ones” Bluebell found herself ranting again. But it felt good to get it out of her system. These thoughts, they built up inside of her, clogging up her neural pathways. It was nice to release them periodically.

And the drawing thing was a nice thing to brag about. It was a new venture and provided some much needed revenue to her rapidly depleting coffers. And it was nice to produce something. To feel worthy enough to produce something. And it gave her hope. Hope that there could be more to her life than she currently had. A future that involved drawing for a living maybe. Who knows? But it was nice to have something positive to think about when she switched off her light at night. Bluebell, an artist. Yeah, it sounded nice.

“Oh dear, you don’t get to be my age without realising a few things, so let me tell you this for nothing. Everyone’s a fuck up, by some measure. And nobody in the world is so well-adjusted that they’re not a fuck up in one way or another. So be a kind fuck up at least. It’s all any of us can do. And you seem to be a kind fuck up” Trinnie said with almost maternal affection.

“Wow, thanks Trinnie”

“Hey, a group of us volunteer at the food bank up by the rugby ground on a Saturday. You should come down some time and help out. I think you’d like it, and we could always take extra hands”

Bluebell stopped to consider it, but not for long. The answer was on her lips long before she knew what it was she was about to say.

“Of course, that sounds great. And it’s right opposite Burger King too, so before I go, I could grab… wait, is that disrespectful?” Bluebell said, with a smile that said she was joking and a stomach that suggested she wasn’t.

 

 

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December 2019***

 

 

“So when are you going to get a girlfriend then, Bluebell?” Dad asked, as he took another bite of cockerel.

“Yeah Bloob, when are you going to get a girlfriend?” Jason asked mockingly.

“Oh fuck off Jase! Not you too, I have enough from these two” Bluebell laughed, reloading her plate with seconds. Pigs in blankets, brussel sprouts, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, mashed potato, two types of stuffing, leek, peas and lashings of gravy. It was quite the festive spread.

“Hey, language Blueberry! I don’t want to hear that kind of language at the table. You’re worse than your father” her mother chastised, with a predominantly serious expression.

“Yeah Bloob” Jason added again, with the same teasing tone as last time.

“Sorry mum” Blueberry rolled her eyes, while discretely sticking up her middle finger at her bff-forever.

“And you didn’t answer the question Bloob” her dad reminded her, probing once again now her love life was no longer a topic off limits.

“Jason, bale me out here, distract them by changing the subject for me” Bluebell nudged her friend.

“Oh. Umm…. Soooo, anyway, Denise, Martin, this food is so good and I like cannot thank you enough for inviting me over for Christmas dinner. It is like nice so of you” Jason added, sipping a glass of sherry with his little finger wafted in the air.

“Look Jason, I ain’t gonna pry into your family life son, but if your parents don’t wanna have their son around for Christmas, well that’s not being a parent. And anyway, since our daughter here is showing us up, going to some soup kitchen in an hour… well, maybe charity runs in the family” her dad said, still not entirely won over by him.

“Well, it’s still so nice of you and it’s really nice and… it’s not that big a deal but… like whatever” Jason stifled some tears as Bluebell let him rest his head on her shoulder.

“Seriously Bloob, you’re such a nice girl, you should have… girls after you all the time” her mum added.

“Oh, I’m really busy mum. Work, side-job, volunteering… and I’m young and… not really. I’m not… I’m having a lean spell, I guess. Well, not lean maybe but...” Bluebell sat uncomfortably and reached for her wine glass again and emptied it. Christmas dinner leant itself well to the emptying of wine glasses. Which would explain why this was that was her fourth already.

“Yeah, lean is not a word I’d use around you Bloob” her dad chuckled, before looking to see his wife give him daggers for insensitivity. Bluebell tried to laugh it off a little too loudly, tipping her hand as to the fact that it still hurt to mention. She was 211lbs, nearly 100lbs over what she started the year as. Unlike food, Bluebell found that fact hard to swallow.

“And the roast parsnips were really good Denise” Jason tried to steer the conversation away to protect Bluebell once again.

“Yeah, I did those actually. They’re just from frozen. You just put them in the oven, bish, bash...” her dad winced as the words rolled out of his mouth.

“It’s okay dad. It’s fairly amicable between us. We still Whatsapp each other sometimes. It’s… you’d be impressed about how mature we’re being” Bluebell said, hastily pouring more wine. This meal could not end soon enough.

“Mature. I’d not speak to that woman again if I was you. What’s that thing that they call it these days...”

“Dad? Are you suggesting I should have ghosted Bosh?” Bluebell smiled at that. Her dad advocating ghosting while she was trying to keep things on the level.

“I saw her the other day in town. She looked good Bloob” her mum added, getting a glare from her daughter. “I’m just saying… she did. If you to are on speaking terms, is there any chance you two might… y’know… maybe… in the future?”

“No mum, I will not be getting back with Bosh. That’s done” Bluebell replied, before confessing “but I saw her last week at Primark and you’re right mum, she really does look good these days.”

“So that’s your type, is it, huh?” her dad asked, and Bluebell launched back into her wine, much to Jason’s amusement.

“I guess. I mean, yeah”

“Then why not? Why not get back with her if you get on so well and you still think she’s attractive?” her mum added, causing a grimace in her daughter.

“Because… well, I don’t want to look back. I want to look forwards. The past happened, and it made me who I am and everything, but I wanna focus on looking forwards” Bluebell said with quiet reserve. “And anyway… I think it’s safe to say I’m… no longer ‘her type’.”

The room fell silent at that, and everyone just ate their food in peace, each of them going back for additional servings. It was Christmas and there was far too much food made once more after all. The silent metronomic eating interrupted with a sudden silver burst.

“Fuck Bosh!” her mum, from nowhere, exploded.

“Mum!”

“No. Fuck Bosh, if she’s going to think she’s better than my daughter because she’s a bit… more than she used to be, then she can just… fuck off. No Bloob, you are wonderful and any man or woman...”

“Just woman mum”

“Anyone who doesn’t think you are anything other than the best thing on this planet is an idiot and isn’t worth the time of day. I will not have it. You are beautiful Bloob, at whatever size” her mum spat, and Jason loudly cheered in support.

“Your parents, Bloob, are the best parents ever and I love them” Jason beamed.

“Yeah, they really are, aren’t they?” Bluebell smiled. “They really are. Oh, hang on, I’ve got to be at the kitchens in 40 minutes...”

“Well, you finish that plate and I’ll warm up the Christmas pudding. Brandy butter or cream?” her mum said, getting up and walking towards the kitchen.

“Yes please” Bluebell joked. Best parents ever.

 

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2 hours ago, Alphazoomer12345 said:

I enjoyed this story.  Thanks for finishing it.  Very plausible dialogue and ‘scenes’ from the various months.  Felt more real than a lot of literature.  Nice going.

Thanks. 'Scenes' was deffo the vibe I was going for. Just snapshots to indicate her change. Glad you felt like it worked.

PS - I'm gonna do one final chapter to mirror the first chapter and give her a chance to reflect on what a difference a year makes, hopefully that'll round out (heh) her 2019.

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