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Picturing Perfect

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Just in case you needed help keeping score, here’s how things were with Zoey up to this point: looking larger after nearly a full year of lockdown in November (well, not quite a year I guess, but certainly feeling like it); noticeably larger still on the subsequent quarterly update, with C cups on camera and starting to get bolder, starting to send her UberEats; and in late May, larger still, going off cam at the corporate meeting but still sending bolder and bolder DM pictures, leading up to this latest late night apple fritter pic that highly suggested less and less control over her relationship with food, giving into her impulses at all hours. 

I looked at it in the early morning, glancing over at Emily next to me in her king size bed; I hadn’t done anything yet, but I knew what was likely to happen based on our months of flirting. I was genuinely a bit torn, until I realized the right answer was very much either not to think too much of it, or better yet not engage at all (and this didn’t feel realistic), given our workplace relationships. I briefly considered just outright telling Emily, but being as it was simply easier not to, well, I deferred it.

Hours later, Emily somehow looked lovelier still in the morning light over the whirr off grinding coffee beans; she stood in white underwear and a t-shirt by the National that was probably a bit oversize when she first got it, but was now looking decidedly tight. Scrolling through her phone — I noticed she even changed over to the plus sized phones —  and pursing her lips, I thought about how not even 24 hours ago I was privy only to the heavily presented version of herself on camera in a corporate meeting, a world away from this sight and somewhat miraculously looking a solid thirty pounds less than she truly was.

“So uh, a couple things,” Emily started. 

“Yeah,” I said, taking to the couch and looking over.

“One… here’s your coffee. Two… I had fun last night, but I guess to be straightforward and clear, I don’t want to make it weird between us at work. Well, I guess it’s a bit too late. But like, I’m not sure about like, anything like a relationship.” I nodded.

“And three… I AM going to lose weight. And I may or may not invite you back. But I do like you and you are fun, and a great colleague and dare I say, friend,” Emily finished.

“I… yeah, absolutely. Well I had a lot of fun and for whatever it’s worth, and not to be trite or cliche, but you’re beautiful regardless your size,” I said, a little awkwardly. Still true, I thought.

“Yeah, yeah,” Emily laughed. 

As we inched into the afternoon, I reluctantly let her know I would go, due to seeing family in an outdoor visit just out of town. The lies were already piling on, it seemed.

“Oh that sounds lovely.” She hesitated. “Well… don’t be a stranger, huh?” She went in for a hug, and I relished it, being unclear exactly when I might be able to feel her again, with a strange mix of sensuousness and genuine intimacy.

I gathered myself and hopped back in the Tesla, still revelling in the surreality of going from seeing no one in well over a year, to two highly suspect workplace-related encounters in a weekend.  

As the car edged up Polk street I felt my anticipation mount all over again. This time it was a semi-detached on a different but similarly canopied street. I tentatively walked up, and the door proactively opened. 

“Well hi,” Zoey said in the doorway—somehow looking even more out of control than Emily. I tried my hardest to hide my shock, even despite my anticipation, which visibly amused her.

“Would you be okay to come in first for a bit? I haven’t, um, eaten yet…”

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It was almost immediately obvious that every trick employed by Emily was taken up almost in parallel by Zoey on a long path of self-denial, albeit complicated somewhat by the fact that is was somewhat obvious that she was at least somewhat aware that I was into it. 

Her dark brown locks were done up in an impromptu ponytail; usually she went for a bit shorter, but the haircuts came a bit fewer and further between. Her face was even more penetrating than usual, for three reasons—the way the light of the morning bathed her face, the vivid liveliness of seeing her in person, and perhaps most of all, the tantalising contrast between her defiantly well-defined cheeks and chin and the way her curves had been allowed to swell under the confines of her ever-stretchier, darker wardrobe. 

The Zoey of 2019 would have been fine wearing light-washed Levis and just about any graphic tee. The woman that stood before me either knew better than to attempt that or didn’t yet have the confidence to. To be fair, it was in the end a pretty big change, and I was careful not to mention it or draw any more or less attention than she wanted. That being said—the apple fritter selfie and the little hints here and there in our unique semi-online relationship was kind of telling. 

“Hey, relax. Coffee?” 

I smiled, putting up my spring jacket. “I want to see all this barista gear you’ve been raving about,” I offered, doing my utmost not to glance at her inconspicuously. 

“There’s a Eames replica over there. Relax.” She paused a looked at me. “I’m a little worried we’re doing this but I know we both got tested recently and I guess it’s too late now.”

I grimaced a little. “I can put on my mask.”

“But then I can’t see your cute face.” I raised my eyebrows.

“Well then uh, here I am,” I laughed, raising my hands as if giving up.

“Indeed. So.” She paused, smiling at me. “Did you have breakfast? I can make omelettes.”

“Too kind—um, you know me well; I have once again skipped breakfast thus far.”

“Bad boy. Okay… feel free to throw something on as I go.”

“Well I mean, I can help, if you want.” She paused, looking at me.

“We can forget that you’re my boss, right?”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” I pretended.

“Uhuh. We’ll figure it out. Here, grind these beans.”

As I got up and approached her, I found myself once again beside myself. What exactly was she thinking? Was she going to make a move? Did she care about her weight gain—either way? As I brushed by her, she grabbed my hands and turned me towards her.

“Hey,” she said. I hesitated, making pains again not to glance at her chest, which I guessed may just have reached the D-range. I placed my hands on her hips subconsciously; they felt like memory foam—pliable. There was definitely one or two layers underneath deftly holding her midriff in. I found myself suddenly very much alert, experiencing in my fingers what I once only imagined in a screenshot. She looked at me, smiling, knowing she had me right where she wanted me.

“I said grind the beans, silly,” she said as she let me go, and in a semi-daze I attempted to gather my senses enough to comply with the order. 

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