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So... dunno how far my rep preceded from that other site, if at all.  Somehow I doubt it did.  Anyway, I used to post on the-art-site-that-shall-remain-nameless (under the same user name) between February of 2018 and May of 2020.  At which point a particularly vindictive site administrator decided I was a "waste of talent" and a "spammer" and permanently banned me.  And blocked my email addresses so I couldn't appeal the ban.  Anyway, I'm here now.  (I will ignore the chorus of "...So who are you, again?")  I'll be re-posting some of my stories here, starting with this one.  With a bit of editing.

- - - - - - - - - -

The Foodbaby Fiasco

Chapter One: Christmas Celebration

- - - - - - - - - -

It’s the most stress-ful time of the yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaar…” Naomi mumbled as the blizzard raged outside. The dining room’s dark wainscoting and gold-patterned walls creaked from the wind. Tinsel and colored bulbs glimmered in the candlelight. The house hadn’t had electricity for over two hours, and there wasn’t any sign of it being restored anytime soon.

 

None of that stopped Great-Aunt Helen from cooking. Whisking and chopping noises echoed from the kitchen, joined by the scents of cinnamon and nutmeg and sugar. The old lady wouldn’t let bad weather (and the fact that most of the invitees couldn’t make it) stop her Christmas party.

 

Digitized clicks pulled Naomi’s attention from the snowfall, and she turned and saw her sister snapping pictures of the room. She facepalmed and sighed. “You are not photographing an empty table.”

 

Oh hello stranger of the past, I’m from the 21st century! We share everything with our Facebook and Twitter overlords!” Andrea replied with a chuckle. “Besides, it’s a statement about time. Silverware and plates from the eighteen-hundreds, house from the fifties, decorations from the seventies, lit by candles and photographed on a smartphone. So whaddya think?”

 

That people like you are why no-one takes postmodernists seriously.”

 

Ouch.” Andrea shrugged. “Okay, so, also? I’m really, really bored.”

 

Play some games on that damn thing,” Naomi replied and gestured to her sister’s pink-flower-cased phone.

 

Like this POS has storage for any more than songs and a few pics.”

 

Naomi shrugged. “You could use it as a hockey puck.”

 

True, but then I’d be out fifty bucks.” Andrea giggled, and clicked a few more pictures one-handed. “Hey, we haven’t done this one for a while!”

 

Done wha-” Naomi began, cut short as Andrea tugged her into a halfhearted hug and clicked a selfie of them before Naomi could protest. The younger woman let go and immediately typed something on the phone.

 

Duckface… Pic… with… Evil… Twin… Miss… Grumpypants… at… Auntie’s,” Andrea muttered as she keyed in a description, and smirked.

 

How am I the evil one?” Naomi asked.

 

Because I said so.”

 

Dang.”

 

Naomi and Andrea weren’t really twins, though an observer might’ve easily mistaken them for being so. They were both pale-skinned redheads of average height, though Naomi’s locks were short and coppery while Andrea’s hair was a deeper auburn and long. They had similar physiques, being pear-shaped and bottom-heavy, although by no means anywhere near overweight.

 

On the other hand, Naomi was older by two years. She was also more health-conscious, and sported a trimmer, toned build in contrast to her wider and softer sister. Andrea wasn’t chubby, but she often had a slight potbelly during the holidays. They even dressed differently: Naomi preferred layers, starting with a thin turtleneck, then a striped shirt over it, and a long-sleeved buttoned top, her legs clad in blue jeans. Andrea wore a deliberately absurd ugly Christmas sweater and gym pants.

 

Hey, look on the bright side. Being the evil one means you’ll get a bigger fanbase. And cooler outfits. And better theme music.”

 

“…The heck are you talking about?”

 

You know, if we had a web show or something-”

 

You are insane.”

 

Andrea snorted. “Well, that’s what makes me awe~some.”

 

Naomi rolled her eyes. “Careful, sis. At this rate you’ll turn into the anthropomorphic personification of an imageboard.”

 

But I don’t even own pruning shears or a chainmail bikini!”

 

“…I’m not going to ask what train of thought lead to that remark.”

 

Andrea snickered. “Aw, but learning is half the fun!”

 

The whisking in the kitchen kicked up, and Naomi saw her Great-Aunt working on yet another an entirely new bowl of food, and leaned in to whisper with her sister. “How on Earth can she still be cooking?”

 

Wow, and you thought I was out-of-touch? See, there’s these things called wood-fired stoves, and Big Auntie’s an old-school badass like that.”

 

Naomi let out an exaggerated, exasperated sigh. “Ah, shaddup. You know what I mean. There’s not that many of us here, the fridge doesn’t work right now, and we’re not going to be able to eat all that.”

 

Doggyyyyyyy baaaaaaa~aaaaaag,” Andrea replied, singsong.

 

No. I have no room in my dorm’s fridge as it is.”

 

Oh well,” Andrea said as she stretched. “Betcha we do eat most of it anyway. Big Auntie’s damn good at cooking.”

 

Naomi couldn’t deny that. “Yeah, but my clothes would be too tight for weeks on end.”

 

Whine, whine, body-shame, boo-effing-hoo.” Andrea laughed. “I don’t care, skinny missy. Knowing you, you’ll burn it off in a day tops. You know what, do hold back. All that much more for me! I’ll eat and eat and eat until I get so bloated that my shirt doesn’t cover my belly button!”

 

There is something deeply wrong with you.”

 

Andrea winked. “You know it!”

 

How much coffee did you drink this morning?”

 

Eh, none. I think this is a sugar high.”

 

Naomi pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. “Now I’m afraid of what you’ll be like after dessert.”

 

Oh don’t worry, I’ll be too ballooned-up to move. Probably.”

 

True.”

 

Hey!”

 

What?” Naomi asked, noting that her sibling seemed more bemused than her suddenly-irked tone suggested.

 

You weren’t supposed to agree, meanie-butt!

 

Too bad. And wow, just wow, ‘meanie-butt’? I haven’t heard that one since middle school. Is all that candy triggering a mental regression?”

 

Andrea was about to retort when the saloon-style door to the kitchen swung open. Great-Aunt Helen shuffled into the dining room with an utterly gigantic foil-covered serving bowl of mashed potatoes in her oven-mitt-clad hands.

 

Helen didn’t bear that much familial resemblance to her grand-nieces, mostly due to age. Her silver hair was well past shoulder length, yet wispy enough to expose much of her scalp. Liver spots dotted her wrinkled skin, and she hunched when she walked. She looked older than she actually was, and regardless of her emotional state tended to wear a stern expression and a perpetually crazy-eyed glare.

 

Naomi immediately offered to take the bowl the rest of the way, but Helen shook her head. “Thanks dearie, but I got it. You can get the yams outta the oven if you like,” she said. Andrea promptly jogged to the kitchen before Naomi even moved, and barely avoided slamming right into their mother. That would’ve been bad, seeing as Mom had the Christmas Turkey in hand, and their father followed with the roast ham platter in his arms.

 

Mom set the plate down. “What’s wrong with Andi?”

 

Oh, I think she’s just so excited…” Great-Aunt Helen replied.

 

Or she’s really f… freaking hungry,” Naomi chimed in.

 

Helen eyed her. “You were gonna say a naughty word, weren’t you?”

 

No,” Naomi replied.

 

Are you lying?”

 

Yes.”

 

Thought so. Don’t wanna have to add soap to your spices, do you?”

 

Well, that would ruin the flavor…” Naomi said as she took a seat next to her parents, careful to move one of the candles aside.

 

Helen nodded. “Well then, get the dirty words outta your mouth.”

 

And now I have a mental image of me pulling a scarf with four-letter words written all over it out of my mouth.” Naomi paused as her mother snorted. “And that would be inappropriate.”

 

At that, Andrea returned with the other guests in tow: cousin ‘Little’ James, his wife Sarah, and their son James Junior (JJ for short), all of whom quickly took their seats. And that was it: the seven of them were the only ones – out of a list of dozens of invitees – that’d braved the storm. Which, admittedly, wasn’t so bad. At least this time Naomi figured she’d be able to hear what people were actually saying, rather than trying to work it out from the ambient buzz of twenty people talking at once.

 

It felt a bit odd having this few of them at the candlelit table, though. On every previous holiday, guests occupied every seat, and they’d have an additional table set up to handle the latecomers. Despite the storm, this time felt quiet. Awkwardly so.

 

Apparently Andrea thought so as well, and raised her phone. “So how about a bit of classic Russian Christmas music?”

 

Naomi glowered. “Stop.”

 

What?”

 

You’re gonna play the Trololo Man song, aren’t you?”

 

Andrea whistled innocently. “…Noooooooo…?”

 

Yes you were. Don’t.”

 

Naturally, Big Auntie cut in. “What’s… Tro-low-low?” she asked.

 

Naomi balked. “Oh please don’t-”

 

Glad you asked!” Andrea interrupted, and pressed play.

 

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

 

Yah-yah-yah, yah-yah yah, yah, nah-nah

 

Oh ho-ho-ho-ho-ho, la-la-la…

 

- - - - - - - - - -

 

As usual, Helen served up more food than could have ever been needed. Before Naomi knew what’d happened, her plate held a massive pile of the overly-rich sustenance. A mound of mashed potatoes, a heaping helping of spiced carrots, sweet yams that looked more like a dessert than a side dish, several generous slices of the Christmas turkey, and a fist-sized pile of mixed beans lay before her – and that was less than half of the types of food her great-aunt had cooked up.

 

Yep. I think they’ll have to roll me out of the house,” Andrea said, and Naomi halfheartedly nodded in agreement. “I mean, like, this is a literal mountain of food.”

 

No,” Naomi replied.

 

Whaddya mean ‘no’? It’s-”

 

A figurative mountain. Not literal. If that were a literal mountain of food it’d take up much more space and-”

 

Andrea cut her off. “Bo~ring. You’re boring me.”

 

JJ let out a shrill giggle, as if it were the funniest thing in the world, and pounded his fist on the table. “Boo-Rang! Boo-Rang!” he mimicked. Then he tried to spear his carrots with a spoon, and inadvertently catapulted one over the table and onto the windowsill. He then gleefully squealed and did it again, on purpose this time.

 

Neither Little James nor Sarah did anything to stop him, and Naomi sent her parents a sidelong are-you-kidding-me look. Mother rolled her eyes in a way that Andrea had inherited. Father and Naomi sighed in tandem, and both sent a do-your-damn-job glare at the child’s parents. Sarah caught on when a fourth carrot flew by – and quietly told JJ to behave if he wanted extra sweets after dinner. As he’d get dessert either way and was just smart enough to know that, it did little to dissuade him.

 

Naomi mouthed a silent you-must-be-kidding to Andrea. Her sister rolled her eyes, and wolfed down a forkful that looked too large to fit in her mouth. Big Auntie completely ignored the child’s antics and glanced at them instead. “Don’t tell me that your diet’s just smelling the food, Naomi. You haven’t taken a bite yet.”

 

Well, I was-” She’d have said ‘was about to’ but by raw chance one of JJ’s flying carrots landed in her mouth. Uproarious laughter followed as everyone saw that yes, that just happened. It was one of those little things that happened at their family dinners, and after a few remarks – none of them actually funny – Naomi finally dug in.

 

Helen did one hell of a job this time. Soft, buttery mashed potatoes with exactly the right balance of salt and pepper flooded Naomi’s taste buds. She gulped down several huge mouthfuls in short order, and then one so big that she had to puff up her cheeks.

 

Are you trying to do a chipmunk impression, Naomi?” her father asked. “Be careful not to choke.”

 

Andrea snickered between bites. She’d done exactly the same thing, but it was so normal for her that nobody said anything. Naomi shook her head, enjoying the fluffy flavor and tuning out droll conversations about her parents’ recent Santa Cruz trip. She ate so quickly that it took her quite by surprise when her fork clinked against the plate.

 

Huh,” she mumbled, and piled up another heap of potatoes. Then she tried the carrots. They’d been soaked in more butter and dusted with a plentiful amount of brown sugar and cinnamon, then cooked to the point of practically melting in her mouth. The flavor danced on her tongue, and she felt like she’d already reached the meal’s dessert. She speared three or four of them onto her silverware at a time.

 

“–have to ask Naomi. Whaddya think?” her mother asked, glancing her way. “Do you think it works that way?”

 

Huh?” She glanced from her plate, her mouth filled with a spoonful of the mixed beans, enjoying the cold side’s mix of oils and vinegar tastes. “Sorry, I didn’t catch that.”

 

Mother twirled a lock of mildly-grayed auburn hair. “James said-”

 

Little James cut her off. “Wind farms cause climate change.”

 

Naomi blinked. “…What.”

 

See, because of all the wind farms, the air’s being turned around and pulled down and so the planet heats up. It makes more sense than this greenhouse effect bullsh-” (Little James cut himself off at Big Auntie’s glare) “…bull-poop. I mean, there’s nothing solid to hold the heat in!”

 

You’re a moron, Naomi thought. She didn’t dare say it out aloud, but Little James’s obstinate refusal to understand high-school thermodynamics or how a greenhouse functioned got on her nerves. “Ah… I’ll have to check my notes, but I think it only causes weird ground-level currents.”

 

Which cause global warming,” he said, as if she’d proven his point. That how he worked; he pretended getting the last word was a victory.

 

She knew damn well that he was trying to bait her into a no-win scenario; if she gave him the intellectual beatdown he so desperately needed, everyone would treat her like the villain for making him look bad in front of his wife and kid. If she handled him with the kid gloves, she’d be labeled a condescending elitist. If she started and backed down for fear of escalation, he’d claim victory and act like he was the more intelligent one.

 

Of course, if she handled it perfectly and beat him fair and square, he’d say her data was all fake and claim their argument was moot. So she disengaged. “I’ll check my notes later.” To cut herself short, she gulped down a glass of soda, taking long enough that Little James got bored and started yammering about something else.

 

She then finally chomped away at her turkey. Hints of spices and salts brought out the flavor. It was far too good to be left to cool and used later on as sandwich meat, as the family too often did with leftovers. She gave Big Auntie a quick compliment, and then went back to eating. It’d be tough for Little James to stir up an argument if she kept her mouth shut. Or full.

 

And so Naomi filled up her plate again. This time was for the other half of the dishes, starting with the ham. She added big scoops of the odd diced tomato, herbs, onion, and grilled pineapple medley that Helen was so proud of as well. She took heaps of the marshmallow-topped yams, and massive slices of cornbread too. At this rate I’ll get fat, she mused.

 

The meal alone was enough to distract her from the averted argument, and she mused on how the ham contrasted the turkey. While the latter was savory, salted, slightly dry and light on the tongue, the former tasted sweet, rich, and heavy. Honey glaze with a hint of apple gave it an amazing flavor, and she took her time with each bite. If the first part of the meal had been balanced, this half was sheer sugar.

 

Nonetheless she gulped it down in large mouthfuls, and redoubled her efforts when Little James tried to steer the topic back toward his anti-science conspiracy theories. Another piece of ham here, a heap of tangy fruit-and-veggies mix there, and more kept her busy. She dug into the yams, and noticed a distinct hint of nutmeg among the soft texture. The side dish could have easily served as the filling for a gourmet pie.

 

Even the otherwise fairly normal-looking cornbread tasted cake-like; moist, heavy, and sweet. It didn’t crumble like she’d expected, and she felt like she should’ve eaten it with her fork rather than her fingers. When she finished it off, she picked away at the crumbs.

 

More remained. She grabbed a ladle and poured herself a bowl of the stew, and tried the less-appetizing foods as well; the coleslaw, the relatively bland-looking Italian salad, and the bread-and-walnut dressing. Despite Big Auntie’s usual standards, only the first was any good; a hearty stew in broth, full of sliced carrots, red potatoes, rice, celery, and more. Naomi slurped it down, saw Little James turn his head her way, and immediately heaped up seconds of the ham, potatoes, turkey, and bread.

 

Andrea did likewise, and chuckled. “My food baby’s coming along. I think my belly button’s gonna pop soon.”

 

Father laughed. “Just remember we’re not staying the night – you’ll need to fit through the door.”

 

Naomi glanced to the window as the blizzard kicked up again. She didn’t know what her parents thought, but no way would she drive her car in that mess. Especially in the dark.

 

- - - - - - - - - -

 

Silverware clinked against plates, and the guests waited for serving platters to make their rounds once more. Despite everything they’d eaten, more remained. Naomi ‘accidentally’ took too big of a scoop of potatoes. “Whoops. Just made tater mountain,” she said.

 

Andrea smirked. “A figurative mountain, or an actual one?”

 

Ah, shut up Andi.”

 

Helen butted in. “Naomi! Don’t be rude! Say you’re sorry!”

 

Naomi shrugged. “Uh… no?”

 

Her great-aunt sighed. “Kids these days… in my day, people knew how to respect the rules.”

 

Naomi grinned. “Auntie, I do recall your stories about how you used to sneak out and smoke joints with some Fonzie-looking biker guy…”

 

That was different,” the old lady said.

 

How?”

 

For starters, I got away with it.”

 

JJ looked baffled. “Wassa join-tes?” he asked, shrill as always.

 

Sarah cut them off. “It’s a nasty, filthy habit that Big Auntie used to have, and you shouldn’t ask.” She then gave Naomi a stern glare.

 

Naomi capitulated, and turned her attention to her food. Thankfully, Little James grew bored of trying to provoke her, and she was left to eat in peace. Bite after bite went away, and it struck her that she didn’t know if it was her third or fourth plateful. She’d stopped paying attention, and instead just enjoyed the tastes and textures.

 

Then she had one bite too many, and her jeans burst open.

 

She paused, fork halfway to her mouth as she realized what happened. She tried to fix it one-handed, without success. She took her next forkful anyway, and re-buttoned her pants – which immediately popped open. She fixed them again and again, and the button refused to stay closed. Flustered, she sucked in her stomach and tightened them one last time.

 

Everything okay, Naomi?” her father asked.

 

Yeah,” she lied. “Dropped something on my lap, that’s all.”

 

He accepted that explanation without question, and went back to his meal. Naomi played it cool, relaxed… and felt her pants pop again. Give me a break, these were loose when I sat down! Did I eat that much?

 

She didn’t want to look down. She stared at her still-mostly-full plate (which she decided must’ve been her fifth) and tuned out that chatter around her. The meal taunted her, as if saying ‘eat me’ and she imagined herself as Alice in Wonderland – but instead of the food and drink changing her size, it’d make her bloat up. She tried not to count calories.

 

On the other hand, Christmas was a once-a-year thing. Maybe a bit of extra food wasn’t so bad. She resumed eating, and soon enough the plate was empty once more. Out of curiosity, she finally glanced down, but in the dim candlelight she couldn’t see much. As stuffed as she was, she didn’t yet feel full; she felt like she could eat an elephant. She piled up another small plate, leaned back, and held in a burp.

 

Enough, she thought. After this you’ve had enough. Enough is en-

 

An argument cut into her thoughts. “You need to eat your carrots, sweetie. Get the runway ready for the airplane-” Sarah said to her child.

 

NO!!! DON WANNA!!! CAR-TOTS IS YUCKY!!!” JJ screamed. He slammed his fists on the table. “YUCKY!!! YUCKY!!! YUUUUUCKYYYY!!! CAR-TOTS!!! IS!!! YUUUUUUCKYYYY!!” He then paused and took a deep breath. “YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!

 

Naomi’s ears rang. She wanted to tell JJ to go to the guest room, but that was allegedly his parents’ call. Even if they sent him away, he’d scream and cry all night. Or play video games. So she waited.

 

YUCKY!!! YUUUUUUCKYYYYY!!!” (Perhaps JJ loved screaming.) “I WANNA PIE!!! GIMME PIE!!! GIMME!!! GIMME NOW!!!

 

She looked over to Andrea, who’d busied herself with the meal. Their parents exchanged glances, and mother looked about ready to say something. Father pushed his glasses up to his receding hairline and pinched the bridge of his nose, and JJ’s shrieks drowned out his exasperated sigh. Her great-aunt hid a quiver, on the verge of tears from the child’s insults.

 

Hey fine, you don’t want ‘em I’ll take ‘em,” Naomi said, and swiped the carrots from JJ’s plate.

 

The boy sniffled. “Take yuckies.” He tossed one toward her, and it splattered on the table instead. It was almost funny.

 

Thanks.” As soon as JJ looked away, Naomi winked at Sarah. “So, I know that kids who don’t eat their veggies don’t get their dessert. Does this mean I get his slice of pie?”

 

Sarah caught on. “Oh, of course. It’s very nice of you to let Naomi have your dessert, JJ.”

 

The child’s face contorted as he worked out what just happened, then twisted into the verge of an even worse tantrum. “Gimme back yuckies!”

 

Naomi speared a carrot on her fork and ate it. “Whoops, too late.”

 

JJ howled. “NO!!! DON TAKE IT!!! PIE MINE!!! MINE!!!

 

Sarah patted him on the back and put a small serving of carrots on his plate, and glared daggers at Naomi for provoking him. Naomi sent a you-must-be-kidding-me glance to Andrea, who tried not to snort. Tried.

 

As Sarah and Little James reassured their toddler that he could still have his pie if he ate the veggies, Naomi heaped scoops of potatoes and turkey and cornbread onto her dish. She discreetly wolfed it down, and paid little mind to the small talk. She caught her parents whispering about how if she or Andi ever acted like that they’d have spent the rest of the night in their rooms – but somehow she doubted that.

 

Naomi’s silverware clinked against empty porcelain again, and she put together yet another serving. She didn’t think much of it as she ate – until her shirt’s buttons strained. When she looked down, she saw her belly had ballooned out as far as her chest. Oh damn, she mused, and undid the fasteners before they burst. She felt grateful that she’d worn layers.

 

Helen noticed. “Is it too warm in here, Naomi?”

 

Kinda. Must be the heat from the oven,” she lied, relieved that her bloated stomach went unnoticed in the candlelight. Despite her engorged state, the meal was so good that she snacked on small servings of side dishes.

 

Her ‘small’ snacking quickly escalted to another full plate.

 

- - - - - - - - - -

 

Auntie helen lit another set of candles as the first burned out. Both of Naomi’s parents finally set their plates aside, her dad complaining that he felt fit to burst. Little James and JJ did likewise, which didn’t stop the child asking for pie every thirty seconds. Naomi added more to her remaining food from spite, and as did Andrea. Sarah finished off a tidbit more and finally pushed her plate away.

 

As Little James and father chatted about an old police cruiser they planned to restore, Naomi gulped down the buttery mashed potatoes. Her clothes felt funny, and she supposed that her jeans zipper no longer closed. She couldn’t see it in the poor light, but kept eating regardless.

 

Mother elbowed her in the side, and Naomi supposed JJ was about ready to pitch another fit from not getting his dessert. “He can wait,” she whispered. Mother nudged her again. “…What?”

 

If you’re going to get up, fix your shirt,” her mom muttered.

 

Hmm?” Naomi wasn’t sure how she’d made the cloth lift, but it was a simple fix. She reached down, felt a sliver of bared skin, and tugged her shirt over it.

 

As she let go, it rode up again.

 

Uh-oh. Naomi pulled it down again, and it rose as she released it. She tried again, but the third time was decidedly not the charm. She pulled it down so much that it left a bit of her back exposed, but a slight shift in position made her belly peek out again. She tried to tuck in the hem, but her unfastened jeans made it problematic.

 

I’m that freaking bloated?! I thought that only happened in cartoons!

 

She did her best to keep a straight face, then tasted a distinct flavor of spiced beans. On instinct she’d taken up another spoonful – and a mostly-full plate sat before her. She groaned. That wasn’t good for leftovers; Helen expected clean plates, and didn’t particularly like wasted food. One more helping had to go; she barely managed it, and her shirt rode up further.

 

Naomi put down her silverware, sat back, patted her distended belly, and sighed. “Thanks, Big Auntie. That was great, I’m stuffed.” She eyed the considerable amount of food remaining. “Guess we’ll have left-”

 

She burped. Loudly. Her hands flew to her mouth and she blushed as all the chatter stopped. For a moment every pair or eyes fell on her. Andrea broke the awkwardness as she reared back laughing, and everyone else followed suite. Naomi looked at her empty plate.

 

Leftovers,” she finished, a sheepish grin on her face.

 

Yes, I guess we will.” Helen stood up, her omnipresent crazy-eyes stare falling to Naomi. “So, who’s up for pie?”

 

ME!!! ME-ME-ME-ME-ME!!!” JJ shouted.

 

I think JJ speaks for everyone here,” Mother said.

 

At this rate I’ll explode, Naomi thought – but said, “Yeah, sure.”

 

Within moments, two warm pumpkin pies sat on the table. The scent demolished Naomi’s reservations over eating more. For a moment she felt like she’d be able to fit an entire pie into her stomach. Helen cut the first into generous sixths rather than her normal eighths; Father politely declined a piece, and Little James and Sarah split theirs.

 

Naomi stared at the dessert before her. It smelled good; she wanted to gulp it down at once. Orange-brown, perfectly spiced, and topped with a fist-fized spiral of whipped cream, it looked like the sort of food that could instantly make a thin person quite fat. She waited until everyone had a piece and took her first mouthful.

 

Sweet heaven flowed over her taste buds. Every hint of spice and sugar brought out the flavor and texture to its fullest, complemented by the crispy graham-cracker crust and the soft toppings. She savored the bites and drowned out the chatter around her, losing herself in the meal. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven mouthfuls… and then it was gone.

 

Naomi sighed. At least that was over-

 

Thunk. An entire quarter of the second pie landed on her plate. She looked up and saw Auntie Helen beam at her. “Um… thanks…? But that’s a bit much, so…”

 

Hey, you looked like you enjoyed it, and we don’t know when we’re getting the power back. Go ahead and eat up,” Helen said, and offered a big chunk to Andrea as well, who gladly accepted it.

 

Well… New Year’s resolution, burn this all off by next Friday, Naomi told herself. She dug in.

 

By the time she’d counted to thirty, she’d eaten the whole thing. She polished off the crumbs, licked her silverware, and sat back. Full. She was finally full. She suspected that if she ate another crumb, her family would get showered by bits of her dinner – because she’d puked or popped, whichever came first. She sat back and let out another belch, ignored the laughter, and reached down to fix her shirt.

 

She couldn’t get it over her belly button.

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16 minutes ago, maltesefalcon said:

If this story is a repost, that means it's already written yes?

Why not just go ahead and post it in its entirety?

 

I'm cleaning it up, editing, fixing phrasing and a few other things with the other chapters.

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The Foodbaby Fiasco

Chapter Two: Instant Images

- - - - - - - - - -

 

Naomi pulled her shirt down again. And again, and again. Each time it rode back up. She managed to get it down over her navel, but it still left a good portion of her lower stomach bare. She hiccuped, and her bellybutton went back on display.

 

Ooh… crap. I ate too much, she thought. She couldn’t see it in the candlelight, but guessed her stuffed stomach did an impression of being seven months pregnant. I ate WAY too much!

 

And yet she couldn’t help but feel content. “Thanks. That was one h… heck of a meal,” she said, narrowly averting a mild swear.

 

Oh yeah,” Andrea said as she gave her own heavily distended belly a pat. “We’re gonna have to do this again next year.”

 

Great-Aunt Helen beamed. “Thank you, girls.”

 

Sarah nodded. “Yeah, it was. Wasn’t it a nice meal, JJ?”

 

JJ made a ‘hmph’ noise and glared at the emptied trays of pie. “Pie’s good. Please may I have more?” (He didn’t understand that there wasn’t any left, and Sarah whispered something to him to halt another tantrum.)

 

Naomi slumped into her seat and fought the drowsiness. A wave of nausea hit her, and it wasn’t just from the aftermath of stuffing herself. Her cheeks grew hot as she imagined all the jokes at her expense, and hoped that as long as she wasn’t asked to help clean up, she could slip out unnoticed. If she hunched over and scurried, the candlelight might prevent anyone from seeing the extent of her bloating.

 

Come to think of it, the dim flame didn’t illuminate much. For all she knew everyone was swollen-up. At least Andrea had practically admitted as much, even with her tendency to exaggerate. She snorted, amused by the idea of them all sporting cartoonishly ballooned bellies, singing the Oompa-Loompa song while rolling a spherical Andi out of the house.

 

What’s so funny?” her sister asked.

 

Naomi tried not to giggle, and mentally scolded herself for drinking so much wine. “Nothing. Nothing at all. Just disturbing thoughts.”

 

Such as?”

 

Trust me, you really don’t want to know.”

 

Andi smirked. “Define ‘you don’t want to know’. Is this a ‘rudeness’ level of you don’t want to know, or are we skipping that and going straight to ‘Tubgirl’ levels of TMI?”

 

Their great-aunt cut in. “Tubgirl?”

 

Naomi, her parents, and Sarah instantly replied in unison – all while glaring at Andi. “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” they yelled.

 

Ub-sloutely not! Ub-sloutely not!” JJ yelled in mimicry. Naomi had a suspicion that the toddler just found his favorite new way to say ‘no’ when he was told to do something he didn’t want to.

 

The younger redhead held up her hands. “Yeah, yeah, I know. I just ate too, I’d prefer to keep it down. Besides, she started it.” She thumbed at Naomi, and sipped wine with her free hand. “It’s not always my fault.”

 

I suppose I’ll take your word on that…” the elderly woman said as she struggled up, her crazy-eyed gaze sweeping the table, “So, I suppose we shouldn’t leave such a mess. Now, who’s gonna help me clean up?”

 

Mother butted in. “Don’t you worry about that, Auntie. You’ve done enough, the meal was excellent. We’ll take it from here.” She glanced at Andrea and Naomi, volunteering them for the dreaded clean-up duty.

 

Sure,” Naomi said on instinct, and immediately thought Oh shit.

 

Thank you, girls,” Helen replied with a grin.

 

Andrea nodded her head. “No problem-o.”

 

Naomi quickly amended her agreement. “Um, if you can give me a minute…?” She sucked her stomach in as far as it’d go, yet still couldn’t get her shirt to cover it entirely. Nor was she able to get her jeans to button. She envied Andrea’s sweatpants.

 

No problem, just help put this up when you’re ready,” mother said.

 

Naomi stifled a burp. She hunkered down with a meek “’Scuse me.” The pressure on her full tummy immediately triggered another belch, and she didn’t have time to stop it.

 

Little James reared back in laughter. “Good Lord, girl!” He glanced at her parents. “Didn’t either of you teach her any manners?”

 

Naomi bit back a snippy reply to Little James’ brazen hypocrisy. She knew she’d probably fumble it in her current state anyway. “Of course they did. I just ignored them,” she said, and smiled.

 

Sarah sipped her soda. “How unla-” She let out a hiccup-burp mid-sentence, and continued without missing a beat. “How unladylike.”

 

Father shrugged. “Now if we’re all done farting around…”

 

Little James sniffed the air. “Hey, I didn’t pass gas.”

 

JJ let out another ear-injuring squeal. “Fart! Fart! Fart!” he giggled.

 

Helen sighed in feigned (or maybe genuine) disgust. “Really now…”

 

- - - - - - - - - -

 

At that moment the local power company made their annual Christmas miracle quota and restored electricity to the block. The old-fashioned bulbs flickered back on, the fridge made a loud buzz, and some positively ancient heating system made odd clicks and clunks as it kicked its way back to life. Mother applauded the power’s return. “About time,” she said. “Guess you two are off the hook for washing this by hand.”

 

Naomi puffed out a sigh of relief. At least that was one crisis averted-

 

Mom stood up and brushed a few errant crumbs off of her shirt. “I don’t think it’ll take more than a moment to… to…” She trailed off. Then she snorted, chuckled, and escalated to laughter. “Oh God, that’s funny!” she exclaimed, doubling over as she clutched at her stomach in hysterics.

 

Naomi went bright red as she realized that her mother had looked directly at her swollen belly. “U-Um…” she stammered.

 

Father raised an eyebrow. “What’s all this about?”

 

Mother covered her mouth, reared back in hysterics, and pointed straight at Naomi’s over-filled tummy. Andrea lacked a direct line of sight, but stood and leaned over the table. “What, is she making obscene gestures under the table or something?” she asked just as dad peeked over and joined mom in guffaws. Mom laughed so hard that she cried.

 

You better not be,” Big Auntie said.

 

Naomi shook her head, her blush deepening. Sarah looked baffled, and Little James didn’t care. JJ, being JJ, squealed and giggled along even though he didn’t know what he was laughing at.

 

Mom wiped the tears away from her eyes, still struggling to control her snorts. “Go on Naomi, show ‘em.”

 

Naomi blanched. “What? No!”

 

Little James rolled his eyes. “Should she have been wearing a bib this time? Got a new Pollock painting on her shirt?” he asked with a smug grin. Unlike Andrea’s playful smirks, his expression betrayed a level of contempt.

 

His goading got her to stand up, which she immediately regretted. Oh crap, she thought as another round of chuckles erupted around the table, this time with everyone joining in save for her. She winced and looked down.

 

Her earlier impression that her belly stuck out further than her breasts was mercifully wrong, probably brought on by slouching in her seat. And to be honest, her shirt was too small, which explained why it no longer fit over her navel – although if she’d worn something looser, she’d still have a sliver of skin exposed.

 

But she’d intentionally worn jeans that were four inches too wide in the waist, and now couldn’t zip them. Combined with how far down they’d been pushed and how far up her shirt went, she guesstimated she couldn’t have added less than eleven inches to her waistline via distension. Probably more; she could have easily passed for being five, if not six months pregnant.

 

I look like I’m gonna freaking explode…” Naomi mumbled.

 

Mother laughed. “Well, we can’t have that. We’ve had our fun, so-” She reached over, grabbed the edge of Naomi’s shirt, and pulled it down. Naomi didn’t have a chance to step back or stop her, and a moment of dead silence struck down the humor as the fabric climbed right back up. Then the noise redoubled, and Naomi felt her face change to a color that probably was a match for her coppery hair.

 

Andrea quickly scurried around and looked at her older sibling from the side. “Is that real?! Holy crap, you’re a balloon! How much are you pushing it out?!”

 

Gee, thanks, Naomi thought as she broke eye contact. “…Not at all?”

 

Bull.” Andrea stepped back and patted her own heavily swollen stomach. “That is Grade-A, top-shelf fertilizer level of bullsh… bull’s poop. I ate a ton and I’m not that huge! You’re screwing with us, aren’t you?”

 

Naomi winced. “Yeah, yeah, I admit it. You got me there,” she lied, sucked it in, and tried to exhale. It hurt, and she let out a hacking cough – and lost her hold on suppressing her middle. “…Okay, fine, I’m not pushing it out.” She took a deep breath and did so, half-expecting her poor full belly creak as she expanded it to its limits. Now she looked seven months along.

 

It triggered yet another round of chortles from the family. Andi just about doubled over. “You do know I was joking about the ‘eat-until-my-bellybutton-shows’ thing, right? It wasn’t supposed to be a challenge!” She then sang, “All I want for Christmas is a food bay-bee, a food bay-bee, a food bay-bee, all I want for Chri-”

 

Aw, shaddup.” Despite herself, Naomi let a nervous grin slip onto her face. “Well… oops. So I don’t win anything?” she jibed. She gasped for air and ceased pushing, feeling like she might bust open if she kept it up.

 

Probably the mother of all stomachaches,” their dad said.

 

Feh.” Sarah sat back and patted her own now rather bloated-looking abdomen. “Somehow I doubt it. This is nothing compared to having a little bun kicking around.”

 

Click-click-click, went Andrea’s phone. Naomi blinked, and caught her sister taking pictures.

 

Hey!” she snapped. “Cut it out!”

 

Andi snickered. “What? It’s funny.”

 

Not to me. I feel gross, I’d prefer not to broadcast it to the world. Delete those. Please.” She slumped back down in her seat.

 

Andrea looked thoughtful – and then a mischievous look wormed its way onto her features. “Nah. Imma Instagram it.”

 

Naomi grimaced. Bile rose in her throat; she hoped it was anger, and not dinner’s return. “Andi, don’t.” Andrea didn’t have many followers, but a few mutual friends did peek in. Naomi didn’t want them seeing her bloated.

 

Her sibling grinned. “Imma do it.”

 

Don’t. You. Dare.” Naomi tried not to hiss the last part.

 

Imma did it,” Andrea giggled.

 

Andi, don’t you dare…

 

Too laaaaaa~aaaaaaate.

 

Mooooo~ooooom…” Naomi said, and halfheartedly glanced over for help. “Andi’s being a bi-… um, Andi’s being a butt.”

 

Andrea groaned. “And you said I was having mental regressions…?”

 

Mom laughed once more. “Okay Andi, you’ve had your fun. You didn’t really put those online, did you?”

 

Andrea shrugged. “I did.”

 

Naomi glowered. “Andi…”

 

What? It’s funny.”

 

She glared. “Take. It. Down. Now.

 

Her sister shrugged. “Bleh, don’t worry your faces about it, everyone gets a floaty-bloaty-balloony-belly sometimes. You gotta learn to go with the flow, don’t be embarrassed by weird things your body does. Though yours… looks close to being some Loony Tunes crap. Are we sure we’re not descended from cartoon characters or something?”

 

Andi.” Naomi gritted her teeth. “Gimme the phone.”

 

Look, it’s a joke. We’ll laugh about it today, and I guarantee you nobody’s gonna remember it tomorrow.” She glanced over to their parents. “I’d be willing to bet everyone’s got a foodbaby going! If you ballooned up, raise your hand!” Andrea turned sideways, patted her engorged stomach, and grinned. Foodb**s or not, nobody complied with her suggestion, and so she made a pouty face. “Really? You’re all gonna be that way?”

 

Father replied. “Well, I’m really not sure I can stand right now.”

 

Mmm-hmm,” mother concurred. “I’d rather not move too much.”

 

Little James shrugged. “I guess that makes me the only one here who watched what I ate. The rest of you should be ashamed of-”

 

Oh hush, you put away as many plates as I did,” Sarah interrupted. “We can can do a few pictures just for grins.” She stoof (with a bit of effort) and joined Andrea’s side of the table. “Come on, everybody up.”

 

Naomi tugged her shirt down yet again, and still couldn’t make it stay over her navel. She took a deep breath. “All right, fine. But can you please take down the ones you took of me?”

 

You know what the Strickland… Stressford… the Whats-Her-Face Effect is?” Andrea asked.

 

“…The Streissand Effect?”

 

Yeah, the thing. You take ‘em down, people are gonna wonder what you’re trying to hide, and then-”

 

Naomi cut her off. “They have been on the ‘net for thirty seconds.”

 

Little more than that… so what?”

 

Naomi groaned. “But that’s not how it… because… Effect… you… fix… I can’t even… you…” She very much wished she could swear in JJ’s presence, and struggled to find the words. “You… you… you stupid potato!

 

Naomi!” Mom snapped.

 

Big Auntie coughed. “Well, somebody woke up on the grouchy side of the bed this morning…”

 

Andi smiled. “Careful, sis. Your tsun-tsun side is showing.”

 

“…Shut up.”

 

Naomi!

 

- - - - - - - - - -

 

In the end, Naomi capitulated. She, Andrea, their mother, Sarah, and Little James bared their stomachs and lined up, sides to the camera for a pic. Andrea piled up plates at her side of the table and did a first-person shot looking down for another. Then she convinced Sarah to pose for one with her stomach puffed out, a fork in her mouth, intended for amusing captions about eating too much. Mom got one where she feigned passing out in her chair, hands on her tummy, and an emptied pie tray in front of her. Naomi tried to slip out of the individual shots (“What is this, your art project?” she’d asked) but Andrea pestered her until she agreed to do it.

 

For her picture, she sat in a chair, distended belly on full display, and gave a wide-eyed smile to the camera as she held a forkful of leftover beans and potatoes in one hand, a spoon of yams in the other, and a straw to a glass of soda in her mouth. Andi captioned it something about nourishing a food pregnancy and posted it on the Internet. Because of course she did.

 

Naomi couldn’t help but nearly fall over in shock when she saw the picture of all of them from the side. Under normal circumstances she’d be the thinnest one there, but in the image her belly stuck out the farthest. That worried her; everyone else had pushed their abdomens out for the shot.

 

She hadn’t.

 

It took a little over a half-hour for her waist to subside enough for her shirt to barely cover her navel, and another hour beyond that for her clothes to fit (albeit tightly). By then the weather cleared up, but outside it still looked dark. Dad finally surrendered to the idea that they were all stuck there for the night and mentioned something about deep snow (Andi claimed ‘Deep Snow’ as her sooper-sekrit code-name, whatever that was about).

 

Little James, trying to be macho, refused to admit that driving in the mess was a bad idea. At least until he went outside, stepped off the porch, and found himself waist-deep in snow.

 

Don’t. Even. Say. It,” he said to Sarah as he returned. Sarah sucked in her lips and looked away, desperate to hold in a giggling fit, while Naomi and Andrea didn’t bother to hide their amusement.

 

Tick-tock went the clock, and by nine PM Auntie Helen decreed that everyone was staying, like it or not. They lit the den’s fireplace; mother and father got the fold-out couch, Little James took the armchair, Sarah and JJ took the guest bedroom (JJ with the bed, Sarah with a sleeping bag), and Andrea grabbed the love seat. Naomi took a pile of quilts on the floor, and fell asleep within moments.

 

Of course, all she’d eaten (more likely, Big Auntie Helen’s excessive use of nutmeg) made her slumber downright weird.

 

She dreamed that the family had to have their Christmas Dinner at the bottom of a filled swimming pool, because floating laser-firing Exit Signs from Outer Space roamed the neighborhood. Her dad bought a ‘turkey’ (actually a live sheep) from a store underneath the backyard deck, but the meal dissolved thanks to the pool’s chlorine. To fix it, Naomi went to the beach and teamed up with Jon Snow and Turanga Leela, who insisted that they had to get a clothing iron from Morgan Freeman.

 

Naomi’s night took a turn as she and ‘Jon’ (who inexplicably became a giant kitty) used Legos to build a science center at some university because ‘President’ Ronald McDonald and Big Bird demanded she do so. Then a trio of strange men in gorilla costumes challenged her to a rodeo, which involved riding around on giant Steampunk wind-up mice. A tornado made of books ripped around in the background, and then transformed into a horse.

 

With the problem solved (because of… reasons?) she climbed into a briefcase that was bigger within, and found Auntie Helen had cooked up so many chocolate cakes that she didn’t have room for them in the house. Slice after slice appeared on her plate. She ate anyway while Andrea made ‘oink-oink’ noises from somewhere just out of sight. Her tummy utterly ballooned in size as she ate against her own better instincts, first getting as big as a yoga ball, and then swelling more.

 

She ate so much that she exploded, but retconned it into a big water balloon bursting under her shirt. Thin once more, she ran to the post office because she had to pay off her house by midnight, lest its infestation of vampire bats worsen. But to do so she needed to fly to Las Vegas, and she’d gotten so fat from Christmas that she couldn’t fit through the metal detector. A Tyrannosaurus suggested she take the Ferris wheel to get there instead…

 

She woke up only vaguely recalling the dream. The parts where she’d stuffed herself silly stuck out; she wondered if she’d been sleepwalking and eating, and her heart skipped. She looked down, half-expecting to see a huge round belly, and to her relief found that last night’s meal had mostly digested and left her abdomen mostly flat (albeit still taut).

 

Just as she gave a sigh of relief, she noticed the scents of a massive breakfast being cooked a few rooms over.

 

- - - - - - - - - -

 

Oh for the love of God, Naomi thought as she stepped into the kitchen. A few plates remained stacked by the antique stove, and the small table next to the window lay stacked with breakfast. At a glance, she saw oatmeal doused in brown sugar, cheese-laden scrambled eggs, greasy bacon and sausage, abundant hash browns, and buttered biscuits. Her great-aunt also had a bizarre insistence on every meal of the day having its dessert, which was probably what the coffee cake and donuts were for.

 

No wonder her currently-absent Aunt Jennifer had suffered weight problems for her entire life. She stared at the table, but felt so full from the dinner the night before that she didn’t think she could take any of it. For that matter, something felt wrong with her clothes, and she couldn’t put her finger on it. She feared she’d put on weight, but when she prodded her waist and legs for signs of padding she found none, and ultimately figured that she was still a bit bloated.

 

She bypassed Helen’s intended and severely oversized meal in favor of simple coffee and toast. There was so much food there that she didn’t think anyone would doubt her if she claimed she’d already had some.

 

She glanced out the window. Sparse snowfall continued, but at least the plows had cleared the roads. Mom and Little James were outside, and shoveling to free the cars. She heard chatter from the living room across the hall, and a bit more from the main dining room.

 

Father waved good-morning from his seat at the table, but otherwise had his business phone up to his ear, listening to a peeved customer rant over defective merchandise. Andrea sat on the far side of the table, wolfing down bites from a stack of samples of everything from Big Auntie’s breakfast buffet. She either hadn’t digested last night’s meal, or already put a ton of food into her stomach, as she’d developed yet another foodbaby (albeit not nearly as big as what she’d had after dinner).

 

She waved for Naomi to sit down with her, finished another bite, and said, “So we got a whole bunch of lulz and laughing emoji comments on the pics. I told you they’d laugh with us.” She speared another sausage, and said, “Also, Dana thinks our tummies look cute that, and that we’ll look nice whenever we get preggers.”

 

Naomi sipped her coffee and remained silent. Andrea continued, “Oh fine, be that way.” (That’s what Naomi thought she said anyway; as Andi had a mouthful, it sounded more like, ‘Hu fum, ‘ee ah ay’.)

 

Their great-aunt shuffled in, and immediately saw Naomi’s meager breakfast. “Is that all you’re having, sweetie? Would you like any more?”

 

Hell no, Naomi thought. “No, I’ve had enough. But thanks.”

 

Helen coughed. “Are you sure? Are you feeling okay?”

 

You ever seen Monty Python’s Mr. Creotse sketch?”

 

The old lady shook her head. “No, why?” (Andrea mimed getting sick while Helen wasn’t looking, and father rolled his eyes.)

 

Never mind,” Naomi said as she slouched.

 

Something still didn’t feel right about her clothes, but her pants were back to being loose again and her shirt fit fine.

 

She ignored it and finished her coffee, then went to help when she noticed Sarah going to load up one of the cars – and having trouble carrying an armful of JJ’s presents. Andrea set aside her dishes and followed along in a waddling jog, her somewhat-noticeable bloating impeding her movement, wincing a bit as Sarah accepted their help and handed her a big box.

 

Have a nice holiday?” Naomi asked.

 

Yeah,” Sarah said. A pause followed. “Look, I’m sorry for how JJ acted yesterday, with all the throwing carrots and screaming.”

 

Naomi shrugged. “You really should apologize to Big Auntie.”

 

I did that first thing this morning.” Sarah placed the pile of presents in the SUV’s trunk. “Disciplining JJ can be… difficult.” She paused, reddened, and corrected herself. “That’s not an excuse, though. James and I swore that we weren’t going to be those parents, the ones that let their kids run rampant and make things miserable for everyone else, and… well… you can see how well that’s working out.”

 

Mmm-hmm,” Naomi mumbled, suddenly not wanting to be involved in this. As she loaded more boxes into Sarah and James’s car, she felt fabric tighten around her chest. She blinked, and discreetly made an adjustment. That was what felt off about her outfit; her bra was more snug than it’d been last night. Considerably more snug.

 

Sarah didn’t notice. “Nobody told me that bringing up a kid would be this exhausting. And I feel real bad about that whole mess at Thanksgiving.”

 

Naomi raised an eyebrow. “Huh?”

 

Andrea answered for her. “Yeah, that was a… disaster, I guess is the best way to put it. Naomi’s lucky she missed out.”

 

Sarah looked utterly mortified. “Yes. Sorry. James and I dropped the ball. I think, um… I…” She cleared her throat and busied herself with arranging the boxes in the trunk.

 

Little James carried the sleeping JJ to the car, humming Sleigh Ride the whole time. As he buckled the child in, Sarah turned toward Naomi and Andi. “Well…” she said, “Guess we’ll see you around.”

 

Andi grinned and gave her a quick goodbye hug. “Yep. Don’t worry so much, this wasn’t a complete repeat of last time.”

 

Sure,” Sarah muttered. “Later.”

 

Naomi repeated Andi’s gesture, albeit self-conscious about her too-tight bra, vaugly wondering if she’d put on weight. She then gave the only-barely-awake JJ a goodbye poke on the nose, which he batted at, mumbling something about Gran and a tank.

 

Little James gave one of his typical bear-hugs to Andi, who grumbled something sarcastic that Naomi didn’t care to listen to. Naturally, Naomi was the next to get the obnoxious see-you-later embrace, and for a moment feared that her relative would make some snarky comment about her having gained weight. But he didn’t.

 

Merry Christmas,” he said.

 

Happy holidays,” Naomi replied. She hadn’t meant anything by it.

 

Merry. Christmas.

 

But Christmas was yesterday, so it’s Boxing Day… and we still have the New Year ahead of us.”

 

Little James made a ‘hmph’ noise and let go. “Well, you two take care of yourselves. We’ll pray for you,” From his underlying tone, it was clear he really wanted to say, ‘eff you’. Sans the minced words. Nonetheless he gave a smile as he joined Sarah in the front seats, and they waved goodbye as they drove off into the snowy roads.

 

It didn’t occur to her until after the SUV vanished around the corner that Little James and Sarah took off without saying good-bye to anyone else. The embarrassment from their son’s behavior must’ve finally sunk in.

 

Naomi glanced at her sister. “Next time I’m bringing a Menorah just to screw with them.”

 

Andrea flinched. “Ooh, bad idea.”

 

You think he’d go ballistic?”

 

No, I think JJ would knock it over and set the house on fire,” she said as they headed back indoors.

 

Naomi furrowed her brow. “Yeah, I guess that’s possible. So what the hell did he do at Thanksgiving?”

 

Andrea made a disgusted noise. “He was a little bastard through and through. He threw a lit candle and set fire to one of the rugs, ran up and spit all over the turkey as soon as Gran pulled it out of the oven because he didn’t want to eat dinner, and then pissed all over the bathroom wall.”

 

Wow.”

 

Then he kicked poor Finster, broke one of Gran’s good vases, ran up and screamed into Mom’s ear at the top of his lungs as a ‘joke’, cried and shrieked and deliberately crapped his pants when Gramps didn’t let him watch Spongebob on the big-screen TV, and threw another tantrum while demanding presents because he’s too stupid to understand the difference between the holidays. He also kicked Uncle Jed in the shins and tripped up Mimi. And when Charlie took poor Finster to the vet, Lil’ James didn’t want to pay until Sarah took him aside and ripped him a new one.” She then paused, and added, “Oh, and he kept calling me fat.”

 

Naomi smirked. “Well, to be fair…”

 

Hey! I skipped Halloween this year, so this,” (Andi gave her still-distended and significantly sizable potbelly a pat) “didn’t show up until after Thanksgiving. Speaking of which-”

 

So why were they invited back, anyway?” Naomi interrupted.

 

Eh. I know that mostly everyone didn’t want them back, but Sarah and Mom worked out some kind of deal, something about JJ being on his best behavior.”

 

Naomi groaned. “You know that ‘best’ doesn’t-”

 

Necessarily mean ‘good’? Yeah, I think we got that. I don’t think they’re going to be invited to the next one.” Andrea closed the door behind them and stretched. “So…”

 

Yeah?”

 

Andrea rubbed her round belly. “I’ve gotten a lot fatter than usual for this time of year. So, Skinny-Missy, what’s the best post-holiday diet?”

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