The Expanding Pear

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I submitted this story to the Your Story competition in Writer’s Digest, but it didn’t make the final cut.  Instead of sulking, I’ve decided to celebrate my first submission of the year by sharing it with my readers. Meanwhile, I’m already working on two more pieces to submit in other competitions.

This piece was entered into contest #42, which gave the prompt of starting a story with the phrase “I’ve got to get out of these clothes . . . fast.”

– – –

“I’ve got to get out of these clothes . . . fast,” I mutter.

My muffin top looks like the baker spooned too much dough into the paper cup.  A year ago this size would have fit just fine, but now it threatens to give me a blood clot. As if that isn’t depressing enough, I’m in this predicament because my favorite jeans split right up the rear seam when I bent over to pick up the cat last night.

The fluorescent lights of the dressing room drains my skin of all color and makes me think I should have worn at least a little make-up.  The jeans I’ve stuffed myself into bunch up under my hips and the back pockets refuse to lay flat or straight. Nothing ever fits right.  Half the time I don’t know why I even try.  Clothes are made for women too afraid to eat or fans of masochism.

I can hardly look at myself in the mirror, yet I stare and wonder why my curves are so ugly.  I bubble out like a pear with my bulging gut, back fat, and wide thighs.  Great.  I look like a fruit I don’t like to eat.  That’s right, skinny on top and global on the bottom.  And I just keep getting more juicy and plump! Of course, my sister looks like a runway model with her beanpole frame and bright blue eyes.  Where was the magic gene fairy when I was born?

The too tight jeans dig into my thighs and as I try to shimmy out of them. The waistband just won’t stretch another inch. Honestly, why does all the fat settle just above the knee?  Giving up on the pants, I try to wiggle out of the shirt, but the shoulder seams clamp down the moment I move my arms.

Pop! Pop! Pop!

Oh, no!  Was that the sleeve?

Now stuck with jeans wrapped around my legs and my arms cinched in a shirt that will not come off, my confidence deflates as though it’s just sprung a leak. Too bad my balloon butt can’t do the same thing. Tears burn my eyes and I slowly sink into the bench.

Why can’t I be beautiful?

A sick feeling of disappointment churns in my stomach.  It doesn’t matter what I do. I’ll never be a Size 2 or the blonde who flaunts it because she has the right to feel pretty.  So, why not give me extra fries with that large chocolate shake, please.

A little tap sounds on the dressing room door.

“Ma’am, are you okay?”

I wipe my tears and suck in a deep breath. No.

“Yes, I’m fine.”

– – –

c.b.w. 2012

The Bright Side of Losing

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No one ever said writing would be easy.  It’s a blood sport and you have to be willing to take a number of brutal blows to your confidence.  First, there’s the inner critic who always has a nasty word on the tip of her tongue.  Then, there’s a reader who doesn’t get it.  And don’t forget the agent who isn’t interested or the editor who thinks your short story isn’t good enough.  The list goes on and on.

At the moment, my inner critic is basking in the fact that I’ve lost yet another writing contest.  She’s quick to point out that this is the fourth one where I haven’t impressed anyone.  It feels a lot like sipping lemonade with a fat lip.   A year ago, a blow like this would have sent me slouching in a corner for a month.  Not now.  If anything, I’m determined to come back swinging.  Four is a little number and I’ve come to look at it like a rite of passage. Every writer with a published book has been rejected more than once and it just so happens to be my turn to pay those dues.

Instead of focusing on the loss, I’m going to focus on my victories over the last few months.  My dream of becoming a writer is slowly coming true one little step at a time.  The victories are small, but they all lead towards the larger goal of finding a publisher.

1. In April, I launched a blog that people actually read.  After much trepidation, I started this blog as a way to motivate my muse.  It’s been an amazing experience and I couldn’t be more grateful for each person who stops by to read my work.

2. In June, I finished the final draft of my novel.  After three years of toil, my first novel can be classified as edited and revised.  To make the journey even more fulfilling, I found the courage to share my work with four beta readers.  The response was overwhelmingly positive, which makes the next step of querying agents so much easier to take.

3. On August 10, 2011 The Daily Post chose to feature Muse Juice.  This was the first time something I’ve written showed up on a site other than my own.  Very exciting, indeed.

4. On August 11, 2011, I got the shock of my life when The Best Souvenirs Are Free was Freshly Pressed.  For a writer who has never been published, this was absolutely amazing.  I’m still giddy.

5. On Thanksgiving Day my letter about a random act of kindness was published in The Arizona Republic.  For the first time, I saw my pen name in print.  My muse and I celebrated with a happy dance.  This victory means the world to me as its the first time an editor chose to publish my work.

The process has only just begun and I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Yes, the rejections are plentiful and always forthcoming, but the victories (no matter how small) outweigh every “no” I receive.

c.b. 2011