"My friend's running late...umm, she's still in the duty free," Olivia explained to the airport staff. "Am I okay to board?"
With unwarranted instinct, the airport staff member gave her elevator eyes.
"Uhh. Yeah," the skinny guy garbled. "No sweat, enjoy your flight."
"I mean - am I okay to board with her ticket? Hers and mine?"
He gave her a perplexed look.
"She's a total drama queen," said Olivia. "She's always late. She's the one who'll come running up with four bags in each arm, like ten seconds before boarding closes - I thought it'd be help if I could speed up the process...you know?"
"You're sure she's okay with this?"
"A hundred percent," said Olivia. "She'll thank me. And you...err...thank you..."
She bustled by his desk, one passport, two tickets in hand. Feeling his eyes on her ass, Olivia dropped her wheel bag and let it roll behind her. She spied her reflection in the clear glass of the corridor stretching to the airplane bays. Her ensemble consisted of a stretchy white t-shirt and an old, fleecy purple zipper jacket. Her ripped black jeans were new - the widest she could find. A scraggly, homemade scarf shrouded her newly jostling cleavage, while a branded pink raincoat, slung over the shoulder, tactically covered the roll of uncovered flesh peeking from her beltline behind her.
A dark pair of shades completed the look, complimented by a thick set of headphones in matching colours. If she was going to survive the next twenty-four hours, Olivia needed to block out the world. Don't get flustered, and don't get upset she told herself. Everything will be fine, so long as you don't cause a scene.
Olivia neared the final turn. Her legs were beginning to burn again. She hadn't walked so far in so long. The comfort break she'd taken in the lounge had been worth it, but it had left her with little time. She pushed on through the tunnel, stretching her waddling strides.
An air hostess was waiting to greet her, her eyes lingering wide. Her own eyes widened in turn. The woman looked as if she'd been cut from a magazine. She waved a greeting, her nails trimmed and painted, gave a frozen smile and a staccated hello. Olivia lumbered to a stop, and showed her the tickets.
"12C, on the left. Middle, by the emergency exit doors. 13C, directly behind."
"Behind?" said Olivia, surprised. "I thought they were together?"
"No Ma'am. You have two seats on separate rows, if you look at our diagram..."
Olivia tuned out. She felt the sweat. She felt cold. How could she have made such a stupid mistake? She wound back her mind to the night she'd made the booking and tried to get a clear picture - naked, slovenly, cloven from her designer makeup, covered in crumbs from comfort food, drunk on a rising stack of cans of beer to steel her for the moment her parents saw her in her shocking, eye-bulging, pitiful new state...
"...as you can see coloured in green -"
"Uhh. It's my friend's seat. We need to sit next to each other!" Olivia stammered.
The hostess paused. Olivia earned her second puzzled look.
"She has...she has needs. You might be wondering where she is...she's - with the staff in the departure lounge. They're helping. Are you able - could you swap some people around? I'll - hey, I'll give her a call..."
Olivia mumbled and coughed. She produced her phone, and instinctively turned the volume as low as it would go.
"Ohh....Madison, hi, how are you?" she called.
Olivia cast her glances left and right, hiding the black screen under her hair. She noted everyone had found their seats. She was last to board, and the plane was nearly full.
"Oh...I see. Yeah, yeah, I understand. So you're..."
Suddenly she felt her fingers tingle. The screen lit up. A chopped recording of Taylor Swift filled the monotone air. Olivia exchanged the hostess' befuddled complexion. She was first to break away, turning to the passengers. She made the ill-awaited announcement.
The student thumbed the call button, quickly.
"I mean - sorry...hi Maeve, how are you?"
The big girl scrunched her brow.
"Maeve? Seriously? What is it - "
She lowered her voice to a whisper
"- why are you calling me?"
"Listen - I know what's happening," said Maeve. "You don't have a disease."
Olivia glanced around the plane. The hostess had her arms raised, conducting her fellow ushers like an orchestra. The grumble of the passengers made for uncomfortable music. A horde soon clogged the aisle as families struggled to reset their carry-on luggage. Olivia looked over the other shoulder. She double checked. No-one was listening to her.
"No, you listen. There's something seriously, genetically wrong with me. If you're going to preach that I'm fat because I've been overeating, thanks for stating the obvious. But it doesn't matter what I do. I've tried diets, I've tried the gym, I've tried to dance again, I've tried starving myself, I've prayed - nothing is working!"
"Olivia - I know why..."
"You study English. Since when were you a doctor?"
"No...I'm not but - please trust me. I...figured out what it is. Whenever you get mad, you gain weight."
"I'm pretty sure I'm mad because I've been gaining weight."
"That's - there, you're halfway to understanding. It's a self-propelling cycle."
"Are you trying to sell me your book or something?" muttered Olivia. "What's your point?"
"It isn't natural and it isn't something this holistic wellness ranch place is going to fix..."
"It's a hospital," Olivia insisted. "Unlike you, they're professionals."
"It's a curse," Maeve blurted out.
Olivia lifted her phone from her ear and stared. She tittered in disbelief.
"A curse? Really?"
"Yeah, we'll call it that." said Maeve.
"Okay, two points. One, there isn't a 'we'. Two, curses aren't real. There's always an logical explanation!"
"Please, listen to mine - okay, maybe curse isn't quite the right word, but I can tell you what is is if you - "
Olivia cut her off. She pocketed the phone in a huff. She was done.
The last overheard locker clattered shut. She surveyed the scene around her. The hostess was encouraging the last few holdouts to sit. She gave her a tap on the shoulder. The lady flinched as if she were shocked. Olivia mimicked the reaction.
The lady raised her eyebrows, regained her smile and straightened her crispy jacket. Olivia's mind raced to her shirt. A flick of the wrist and she corrected where it had ridden up suddenly over her stomach, cotton gripping her bothersome fresh flesh.
"My friend - I just called her, she's not coming with me," she declared.
The hostess batted her eyes. A simultaneous groan echoed from the rows around her.
"Just you then," she exclaimed. "That's no problem. Your seats are free. Please be seated."
She took two deft paces backward and showed Olivia to her row. Olivia followed on, wincing as she felt the bite of the button under her jelly roll. She considered the warmth of the air, her slight sweat and the cabin pressure, struggling to turn her head facts she couldn't add up. The dull pain blinkered her thoughts. She jabbed a thumb through her waistband, easing the ache as her jeans pinched her with every step.
A woman in her eighties slept gently by the window, a doily-like cover on her eyes. Olivia thanked the hostess, clacked open the locker, and in a quick movement clandestinely produced the seatbelt extender from the top pocket of her bag as she pretended to wrestle the zipper shut. Palming the strap as she closed the locker, Olivia brought down her arms and shuffled into her spot. She gave a grunt of discomfort. It was tighter than she'd predicted.
Twisting round, the student lowered both armrests as much as she could. She quietly clamped the extender to the male end of the regular harness, and brought it across her round, turgid tummy. Her t-shirt was riding up; she corrected it. Olivia scooted her butt further but found she had reached her limit. Her stomach pressed on her cramped thighs and her boobs were up to her chin. Olivia sighed. This would just have to do.
She clicked the extended seatbelt shut. She peered over her sunglasses. The hostess was still standing over her.
"Ma'am, I'm afraid we can't get ready to fly just yet." she said, between demeanour of cheer and despotism. "Our procedures require our cabin crew to have access to the aisle at all times."
The hostess clasped her hands. Olivia felt stung. She took the hint with a puff of baited warm breath and a lowly whispered curse. She had just sat down, and she felt drained. The student took stock of herself - a hefty love handle, her ass, the side of her thick, wobbling thigh; all had bust the unwritten limits of her right armrest, and were bulging off the precipice of her seat. Rolling her eyes, she lifted the armrest on her left and tenuously adjusted her position. Her tummy grumbled. Olivia winced. She rested her bottom between the seats, and leant back on the plastic divides. She nudged and budged her body, trying to make herself comfortable.
"Our apologies, our regulations state that won't be a viable option - we need you to be seated and to be wearing a seatbelt prior to take-off."
"Ugghh, okay. Middle seat it is."
Olivia made sure to lock eyes with her powder-puffed oppressor as she slid jauntily across the row. She seized the leftmost armrest for leverage and pushed with her legs. Her jeans lifted from the seat, tearing like Velcro and her fingers tingled with static. Suspended for the briefest moment, Olivia swung her bottom deeper into her gaudy, plastic confines.
She heard a sudden squeak. Her heavy hip bounced and buffered into her window seat neighbour. Olivia threw her head around, her face paling.
"Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry!" she cried, mortified. "I didn't see you!"
She lurched to the right, or rather she tried to. Olivia winced as cramp wrapped round her calf, strangled by her jeans. Digging in through the pain she inched herself away a little more. She flipped her hair, fighting her body into position.
"You're on my leg," the elderly lady croaked.
"Shit - I mean, sorry!" Olivia chastised herself for cursing. She fumbled and shoved her weighty waist rightward, until she felt the familiar sensation of hard plastic pressing her coccyx. She was wedged in the space between seats again.
Olivia looked up to the air hostess in desperation. The slender woman extended her manicured fingers. Her arm brushed the dishevelled girl's heaving chest, a palm softly placing itself on her distressed fellow passenger's shoulder.
"We're so sorry!" she said, palpably emotional. "We have an upgrade we can offer you. Are you able to follow me to business class? Are you hurt?"
She raised her eyebrows once, twice quickly in Olivia's direction. "Excuse us!" she hissed.
Olivia whimpered. She swayed herself into motion. She half stood, half rolled her way from her seat, planting a chubby leg back in the aisle. She hauled the rest of herself out into the cooler air. The hostess zipped down into the space she occupied, a comforting arm stretching around the valued guest's shoulder.
"I'm...err...I'm just gonna go to the restroom..."
The student twisted away from the awkward scene and barrelled for the toilet. She opened her eyes to the rest of the flight. She swore she heard a sharp, collective intake of breath as she sighed, holding her head low. Olivia swung her legs, mumbling apology after apology as her hips brushed by. Some apologised back. A row of boys shifted to the side, a few comically far, earning a laugh from their friends. The older women tutted. The younger stared with pity. The worst was the rearward rows, and the squat, bryl-creemed businessmen in the premium economy seats. There was one who pretended not to see her, or hear her after she pleaded excuses. Groaning, she trundled by, his shoulder brushing the sides of her belly, soft fat slipping past a cheap, crinkled suit. Olivia winced. She could have sworn she felt him smirking.
The door couldn't have come quickly enough. By time she pressed up against the handle her spirits were shot. She rattled the door, stepped through, twisted and closed it tight behind her. Olivia was in darkness. There was minimal space to move. She fished her phone out from her vice-like pocket. She couldn't see a light switch. She couldn't sit. She could barely turn around, but with a grunt and a thrust, she did so.
She was alone. She locked the door.
The former dancer began to seethe. Hot and waxy tears ran down her cheeks. She covered her mouth, determined not to let anyone hear her. She wished the plane would just take off, with her in the shadows. She wished she was invisible. She wished everyone else was every bit as uncomfortable as she was. She wished she was slim, fit, graceful again most of all. She heard voices outside, simple chatter, kids cajoling each other, broken in segments by the obnoxious blare of the businessmen on the last row.
"We're running ten minutes late,"
His partner swore.
"Au contraire," said a third man. "I'm confident we'll arrive ten minutes early, after the crew force her off..."
"Throw her down the slide," someone laughed. "She'd roll to China."
Olivia's temper flared. Her brow boiled to volcanic proportions. Her fists were clenched tight. Her chest grew warm, her breaths grew furious and ragged. Didn't they know who she was? Didn't they know the girl she used to be? How dare they? How could they? How could everyone see, but nobody know?
Suddenly the pressure welled up in her midsection. Olivia choked. Her cheeks flushed in agony. Before she could seize her stomach the noise hit her eardrums. No longer in pain, she felt under her belly. She found one edge of her jeans, then the other, split by a gaping zipper. There was no button there. It had gone. Olivia's fingers curled at the feeling of soft flesh, sticking out in front of her, hanging in half an inch of space where there'd been nothing at all.
Olivia's mouth hung open. She hadn't moved her feet. But her gut was now pushing against the door.
Shell-shocked, she took out her phone.
"Maeve, it's me. I believe you." she breathed, the moment she heard her pick up.
She wiggled and nudged. The door rattled. Olivia peered through the millimetre slit left in the wall by the hinges. Someone was waiting for her.
"I'm glad. Where are you now?" Maeve replied.
Olivia bit her lip.
"A runway. About to burst out of an airplane toilet...oh god, I must weigh a tonne by now. How come I didn't notice it before?"
"You weren't meant to notice, the weight gain happened to you overnight because I delayed it, I mean - the curse was delayed..."
"YOU DID THIS?" screamed Olivia.
"I'm really sorry!" Maeve wailed. "I can fix this! I didn't want it to be like this, I swear! The curse - the...thing, I think I'm losing control over it, I just wanted you to know so you can stop..."
There was silence on the line.
"Ugghhhhh" Olivia moaned. "Ohhhhhhhhh!"
Her bottom pressed harder on the sink. Olivia leant forward. Her belly flattened along the width of the door. She gasped. Her breasts were beginning to brush the signage. Her shirt pulled tight across her shoulders. Olivia heard a stitch split.
"Please," Maeve pleaded. "Please don't get mad! Just do something to get out of there!"
The student staggered. A rumble emanated from the soles of her feet. She shivered as the buzz crept through her tendons. The plane had ignited its engines.
Her burst of growth had pinned her in place. Olivia's blood ran cold.
"You can't go," Maeve urged. "Get off the plane!"
"I - I can't get out," Olivia whimpered. "I'm about to fly!"
"The thing - the thing I used to do this to you. It's called -"
The line howled with hiss of static.
" - from a book I read but then I lost it, I don't know where it is!"
"What did you say?" said Olivia. "I can't hear you!"
"Please - don't shout! Don't -"
"Maeve, it's okay, I'm not mad - tell me what it is, tell me what to do!"
"- livia, we're being watched. You've got to keep quiet!"
"Just tell me. Hurry, I think I can - hhgggnnnhh....heerrrrnnggghh!"
Olivia pounded the door and tried to unstick herself.
"We need to stay together!" shouted Maeve.
Olivia heard a rumble from deep down below. The tinny lights shivered and buzzed. The plane was shifting its gears.
"You need to stay here!"
Olivia fumbled for the latch, palms sweating. She pushed her left hand past her heaving stomach. She drew a breath. Her fingers slid on the steely bolt piece.
"Tell me." whispered Olivia. "Maeve, tell me what's going on."
"I used a - krrrrcchhh - device. It's c - krrrrcchhh - Penultimator!"
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
Aaaaand that wraps it up for the night! Any and all comments, critiques and criticisms worth your time will be given mine. Leave a like, I hope to see you again for the final chapter!
Shift, exclamation point. I sighed as I checked the time. 1:52 am.
I clicked the post button and switched tabs to a piano cover of Yesterday. My eyes were straining and I dimmed the screen. The music helped ease the ache. I switched tabs again to an article I'd skimmed past a couple hours before on rising cat ownership. I read it until the song stopped, glugged some water and closed the page, then the curtains. I was ready for bed.
Down below, I heard someone open the front door.
I lived alone. I stopped breathing. I turned in my chair, my mouth opening slowly.
Two wet footsteps struck the tiles of the porch. I wasn't imagining the noise. A rustle of material and a thud echoed down the hallway as someone discarded a soaked raincoat on my shoe rack. Click
The hallway light was on. Click
I switched my bedroom light off. I dimmed my laptop to black. I scrabbled for my phone as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. I stepped away from where the light was seeping through under the door, into the shadows by the wardrobe.
Serial killer. Do I shout out? I stuck a hand in the door. I gripped my old hockey stick.
The footsteps were closing towards me. I unlocked my phone, and entered three digits.
The figure had reached the stairs. It was coming for me.
The footsteps grew slower, louder. I had nowhere to hide. Nowhere to run - but back down the stairs, audibly groaning as someone ascended.
"Ughhh...hey! I finally found you...."
The voice was a stranger's. But it was young. Feminine. Loud and accented.
"Are you looking for me?" I said, balking.
"Geez, didn't you see me waving at your window?" she gasped, then huffed. "Of course you didn't. You were on your computer."
She paused for breath. My mind hung on the inflections. Far as I could tell, she wasn't from England.
"Phew....so I tried the front door, your doorbell doesn't work, but you left it open - so..."
She flicked on the stairway light.
"Sorry - do I know you?" I asked her.
"Yeah...kinda...phew - look, we'll get to that later. Second door on the left's your room, right?"
"Err, yeah. Wait, I'll get the door."
Heart still pumping, I returned the hockey stick to the wardrobe. I found some slippers and threw on a hoodie. The pyjama bottoms would have to do. I tossed an empty can of Coke in the bin. I pocketed my phone, switched the light back on, and opened the door.
There was a girl in ripped jeans, a thin purple zipper jacket and a white t-shirt, leaning with her hands on the balustrade, a loose scarf dangling over the edge. She pushed back her soaking blonde hair over her shoulder and looked me dead in the eyes. I tried my best not to peel mine away.
I couldn't overstate the obvious. She was fat. She was immense. Her every move exaggerated her mass. As she approached my doorway her rolling stomach hung out from under her shirt, drooping over the crumpled zipper of her straining, buttonless jeans, puffing out her shirt into a taut band around and between her belly roll, supported by faint, silvery vertical lines. I couldn't afford to peer down any more as she drew closer.
My mind built a picture of her stretchmarks as speech marks, flanking her round belly button. A similar noise escaped from my mouth. She stopped, inches away from me. Her plump lips tightened.
"Can I come in?"
My eyes were on the doorframe. I was dumbstruck.
"Uhh...huh, I dunno," she said, mocking my voice. "Can you?"
I'd gone mute. She groaned. She motioned for me to move out the way. I did. She stepped forward, and true to my inklings, the hinge side gave her hips a firm press. For a second she was held, but she was heavy, and she bouldered through. She smoothed a hand down the redness on her side, then rolled her shoulders. Her jacket, like the soft, chunky arms it wrapped around, looked purely vestigial. She clearly couldn't close the zipper across her body.
The girl closed the door. She occupied the centre of my room, vast and fat, coughing soft and rapid breaths.
"Hey. First of all...fuck you, this is all your fault. Second of all, don't talk unless I tell you. Don't make me angry. Third of all, I'm exhausted. Can I sit down?"
"Thanks. That walk couldn't have been worse. Why do you have to live up a hill?"
She deposited herself on my lounge chair. I heard a wheeze of air escaping leather.
"I'm so unfit. I haven't been to the gym since I split my leggings trying to run on a treadmill, it was - how d'you put it - humiliating, watching my butt wobble in the pristine glass."
I simply stared. She was giving me a queer look.
"Am I ringing any bells here?"
"I...err...I don't think we've met before..."
"No, we haven't." the girl said, shrugging. "But you definitely know me. You know everything about me. You know more about me than I do."
I found my own chair, by the laptop.
"I'm lost." I admitted to her. "Who are you, exactly?"
"I'm Olivia Johnson. Remember me? I'm the straight-A student college star dancer you wrote about and thought - wow, wonder how I can wreck her life? I know! Destroy her figure with some rapid, uncontrollable college weight gain."
"Yeah. I remember you. And clearly I must be dreaming."
Olivia smirked. She lifted her shirt to just underneath her breasts.
"No, this isn't real. You're from one of my stories," I told her.
"Nooo" she said, mocking my voice again. "All of this...is very, very real." She drifted closer. Her belly was stretched, round, plush with armfuls of quivering fat. "Feel it," she offered. "Give it a rub. Don't you want to?"
"This is a dream!" I repeated.
But I wasn't waking up.
"Touch..." she cooed, pursing her lips. "Feel me. You don't have to hide it here. I know what you really want."
Closer and closer she came. She put a shoe on my chair's rolling wheel. I felt my hand travelling upward, to protect myself. But then I stretched out a finger...
No sooner had my fingertip poked her stomach than she had seized my wrist with claw-like nails. She slapped me across the face. I felt a burning sensation.
"That's for making me get fat. Totally what my plotline needed. Aspiring dancer, star of the family, super fit, starts college and balloons into a separate ZIP code. Thanks."
"Nightmare," I decided. "Holy shit. I'm having a lucid nightmare."
"I'm real, you dumb asshole! The story you wrote about me was true!"
"But...but how is this happening? I didn't write a part where you come alive and travel all the way to my house and break in to confront me! Look...here, let me show you!"
I grabbed the mouse, swivelled it and brought up the document on my laptop. The title flashed up in bold. Olivia's New Moves. I scrolled down. Chapter 11.
"Look, I haven't even finished the whole thing. You... you're on the plane to your home state. You've left your last lecture that day, it's the end of term. You wanted to go to a health facility for summer, Maeve called you, you got stuck in a toilet. You're trying to get off the plane - how did you get here?"
"It's that stupid device," said Olivia. "The Penultimator, it's a thing that transfers fiction to the real world? It is real. The college, the classes, my family, stupid Maeve, all that fricking food - you don't know how, but you created all of it. I got off the plane. I did a search to find out what Maeve told me in the toilet and I found your story online. My story. Word for word, exactly what happened to me. I tracked your username, found your accounts elsewhere, found out where you lived, skimmed your address off a data hosting company and then found you."
"Wow," I mumbled. I curled my toes.
"Where do I start....err, didn't know it was that easy. I should change my passwords...hang on a minute."
I scrolled. The words ended where I thought I'd left them. My sign off. Shift key, exclamation point.
"I didn't write any of that last part. The train, the walking. In fact I literally just wrote the plane sequence. How could any of what you just said have happened?"
"You haven't written it, but you're going to."
"That doesn't make any sense."
"It does. Think about it. Nobody writes in the present tense. Everything you've written about me happens in the past. You're going to write how eventually I flew over here, how I boarded a train, how I walked a mile from the station in the pouring rain and found you in the past tense. Like everything else, got it?"
"Got it. I think..."
Olivia glowered at me, indignant. She tapped her watch.
"Oh...right, I'm guessing you want me to rewrite what happened? The whole...weight gain thing?"
Olivia patted her stomach, eyes on me.
"You're driving me crazy. I'm literally getting heavier as we speak. What do you think I want?"
"Sorry" I mumbled. "I could just delete everything? That's if, you know...you're okay with being wiped from history, maybe."
"Try it," she shrugged. "Maybe it's my time. Maybe I had it alright in my little existence as someone's fantasy."
Wincing, I clicked my documents and sent the whole folder to the recycle bin. I returned to the internet and ventured to the forum where I'd made the last post. One like, one comment. Not bad for seven minutes. I found the edit button. I highlighted the text. I hit backspace, running page after page away.
I found Chapter 1. Olivia's New Moves. She was in my room. She was still there. She was still - I quickly glanced over my shoulder - fat.
The text glowed blue. My finger balanced on the button. I closed my eyes.
I scrolled up, and scrolled down. No more fiction.
But she was still there.
"Errm. Are you feeling anything?" I asked her.
"I feel fat," said Olivia. "Just like you wanted, right?"
"Didn't work then," I murmured. "Unless..."
"I can figure why. I put it all online. I can't eliminate the possibility that someone copied and pasted them. Maybe for a collection? There's no way I could get it back."
"Someone's collection. You're flattering yourself...but shit, you're probably right." Olivia sighed. "You'll have to write an ending with me getting skinny again. Sorry to put you through the torture."
Somehow, I had to smile.
"I'm not that bad, am I?"
"Let's see." Olivia folded her arms.
I turned back to the screen. I fished Chapter 11 out of the recycling bin, opened it and scrolled until the page was blank. I began typing.
Olivia decided she wanted to lose weight. She walked to the gym.
"Walked?" said Olivia. "Seriously? You're letting me walk? I'm walking now? Dude, I waddle. That's how you've moved me since Chapter Eight - she squeezed herself from the booth and waddled to the restroom. Because I'm so swollen from all the plates of food I stuffed myself with at the buffet, remember? That's how I get from A to B when I leave my room, increasingly rarely these days..."
She seized a thick roll of her belly. "Hmm. I wonder why?"
She gave it a furious shake.
"Point taken." I said, bleeding a little on the inside. Like I'd imagined, it took Olivia's fat more than a moment to settle.
"Weird. I never saw the point." she said, still jiggling as I turned in my chair to the laptop. "Why was I in bed all morning? Was I tired because I'm fat? Was I lazy because I'm fat? Maybe I was too embarrassed to go downstairs to the real world...because I'm fat? You left it pretty ambiguous. Guess you've got a few different tastes to please, huh? More fool me thinking there's only one fricking track in the world of your fetish."
"It...could be worse?" I said with a shrug.
"No shit," Olivia muttered. "I trawled through a lot of stories after I found mine. Lot of heavy reading. You didn't feed me to a giantess, I guess. Also, am I supposed to thank you for not making me immobile? That seems to happen a lot."
My eyes dashed to my edit history.
"Yeah. Totally." I mumbled, the colour of my cheeks draining as the first thoughts were struck down by one more harrowing. "Err...are any of the other stories real too?"
"Who knows?" the softened dancer replied. "Maybe they are real, to the good writers." She rolled her eyes.
"That's...hey, that's not an insult," I said, cheerily.
"Oh yeah? I hate you," she blurted. "Your stories like, really suck."
"Not done." She eased my hand off the mouse, scrolled up and highlighted the sentence she wanted. "A hefty love handle, her ass, the side of her thick, wobbling thigh; all had bust the unwritten limits of her right armrest, and were bulging off the precipice of her seat. Who the hell do you think you are? Do you get off on Shakespeare too?"
"Again..." I shrugged. "Wouldn't call that an insult."
"Urgghh! You're the worst! Stop flattering yourself, you fucking narcissist!"
I kicked myself from the desk and rolled away.
"Give it a go yourself," I suggested. "You're better than me, clearly. Prove your point."
"If I could write my own story - " Olivia grumbled " - would I really be standing in your bedroom. I already tried, it didn't work. You're the one with the power to change this."
"Look, I don't know how I did it." I said. "You mentioned the Penultimator - that's just a word on a page, to me. I thought I made it up. I don't know what it is. I wouldn't know where to find one. If we could just stop arguing for like, one minute, maybe we can come to some sort of agreement? Then I can go to bed, wake up and it'll be like it was all a dream. No sod that, we're too far gone. A bad trip on acid."
I breathed in.
"If I'm going to write something that's - if not good, at the very least, plausible - I need to get a feel of what it's really like for you. What was it like, being in my story? Was I controlling you? Did you feel like some sort of puppet?"
"No," Olivia said, calmly. "It wasn't. Not in a sense you were directing every movement. I had plenty of freedom between chapters, just not when I was around junk food, clearly. I think you used the phrase eating machine? And seriously, why did you keep making me hungry at midnight? It was so annoying! I had to get up, squeeze into my forlorn pyjamas, somehow not wake my parents while I plodded down the stairs to cram my face and go back to bed on a full stomach! No wonder I slept late so much!"
I was about to warn her not get mad again but, as if on cue, she yawned.
"You have a place to stay tonight somewhere, right?" I said.
"No," Olivia said again with a shrug. "You haven't written one for me."
"I'll put you somewhere nice. If I wake up and you still exist we can think about this tomorrow."
I flicked on the bedside light and tapped on the keyboard.
And after her detour to the bedroom, Olivia grew sleepy. She left through the open door, descended the stairs and was promptly whisked away for a night at the London Ritz
I hit enter to post. I spun in my seat. My muse was still standing there, incredulous. She shook her head.
"Nope. Not happening." said Olivia.
"Maybe it'll work when you go down the stairs," I said. "Maybe there's a footman and a limousine?"
"It didn't work. I can't leave through the open door. It's closed, you idiot."
"Oh." I muttered. "Sorry...I must be tired too."
"Screw it. Get some sleep, you'll write better in the morning. I think I can handle one more night of morbid obesity."
I rubbed my eyes.
"Fine." I closed my laptop, stood up, opened my wardrobe and fished out my sleeping bag from between the hiking boots at the bottom. I took my laptop in one hand and the bag under my arm as I approached the door.
"Where are you going?" said Olivia.
"Living room couch." I mumbled.
"But this is your bedroom."
"And that's your bed for the night. Enjoy."
"I can't take your bed from you."
"You're not going to fit on the couch. No offence."
For the first time that night, she laughed genuinely.
"Oh, because I'm huge? Can't let anyone forget it, can we?"
She slapped a hand on her plump rear end.
"Aren't you a little afraid I might break your bed into splinters? Because I'm so overweight?"
She plopped herself down hard on the mattress and the springs squealed. Her boobs were bouncing. But nothing yielded. The bed held firm.
"It wasn't made out of plywood, like yours," I said. "Pretty comfortable too. Goodnight!"
"Hey, wait," she shouted. "You're making me feel guilty"
I found myself grinning.
"I wrote a sense of guilt for you?"
"I guess so... your writing's awful by the way - I mean, you can stay up here, if you like. It's your place. I don't want you to feel like I've crashed everything."
"Wow, Olivia. Thanks, but I'd rather not feel the bruises in the morning. It's an old floor."
"I mean in bed, idiot," she whispered under her breath. "Stay with me. I know you're having a rough ride with your stories coming alive at your doorstep but I don't know what the hell's up with me either. It's something bigger than me, if that's even possible. I don't what it is. I just don't want to be alone. I'm always alone. Please?"
My feet were rooted. My stance was awkward.
"...I can do that." I said.
"Woohoo. Get in bed." she replied, deadpan.
"Err...let me go brush my teeth."
I hopped out of the room to the first door on the left, the bathroom. The first thing I did was splashed cold water in my face. I stared at myself in the mirror. Still real. I could tell as I could hear my bed creaking, with the sound of Olivia slowly stripping her damp clothes off her body.
I hung on the last two words. I splashed some more cold water. I took my time with my teeth. I wanted her to be comfortable.
I wanted her to believe I was the opposite of everything I'd done.
Returning to my room, I shuffled to what was now my side. Her clothes were strewn all over the floor. The t-shirt was pulled out of proportion, and on the verge of ripping. I opened the duvet. Her pillowy form was under the sheets, softly stirring, naked but for her knickers, or panties as she'd have called them. Her breasts had tumbled to each side of her frame, braless. I breathed out. Shit. I hadn't given her a bra that fit since Chapter Eight.
I left my side of the sheets tucked in. I lay down over the top, and pulled the duvet to my chin. I stared up at the ceiling.
Olivia flicked her eyes at me. She looked me up and down. She saw what I'd done.
"Ughh!" she mock-groaned, with a giggle. "Such a virgin."
I was too tired to press a case for the defence. She threw the duvet over both our heads, and bucked her hips until she faced the bedside table. She loosened the sheet, kicking her legs free, shoving the edge under her back then rolling over the top. Olivia stuck out a hand and switched the lamp off. Then, breathing a little less softly, she rested.
I faced the wall. I uncurled my legs, and rose my head in consternation as gravity drew them to the other side of the bed. My unexpected guest was tanking the mattress from the edge, creating a wallowing depression. Her form unmoving, Olivia was sucking me in, and she knew it.
I relented. I rolled from one shoulder to another, facing her side. Now there were centimetres between us. She felt my breath on her shoulder. She softly cranked it up.
I let it touch my chest, breathed in, breathed out and closed the gap. She let me push her dark golden hair a little away from my eyes.
"Is this...is this really okay with you?" I repeated, whispering in her ear.
She took my hand. She purred as she placed it delicately on her plush, yielding waist.
"Mhmmphh. Night Campbell."
I sighed, then I yawned.
"Mhmmm. That's not my name..."
I heard no reply. In seconds, the biggest little spoon in the world and I were asleep. If she snored I didn't hear her. I remembered only my dreams. They were never like my stories. I saw a dog, equally sleepy, lazing lonely on a plane, unmoving as a lithe fox swept from the hazy shadows, unflinching as it leapt over its back, again and again. A drooping pair of eyes, and a flash of brown.