A SKINNY MAN AND A FAT WOMAN
The very first time I saw Hannah I fell in love. Laughin’ with a circle’ a friends her smile enchanted me, and though I watched from a distance I just knew she was a woman’ a good, and that, no matter how hard I tried, I’d never find another like her.
Her dark hair shined like new copper under the midday sun and I remember wishin’ I’d had more gumption. I wanted to walk up to her somethin' bad and run my fingers through all those smooth strands but, I never was a brave boy. And besides, these digits bein’ nothin’ but callused knobs, had I’d done so that pretty hair, not yet knowin’ this boney fool, might ‘a coiled from my clumsy touch.
I studied her for a good long time before she noticed me, but, when she did she was all cute and bashful at seein’ my hungry eyes, her creamy skin glowin’ nicely, and it was then that I discovered the sweet dimple in her chin that only appeared when she smiled.
That smart crevice made me weak in the knees.
Hannah was a large woman, yes, made up’ a gentle slopes and warm soft folds. I’m gangly, lanky, tall and scrawny. Beanpole was what they called me in my school days, and I s’pose the title still fits.
Got taller I did, but though my Ma promised it, I never once filled out.
I got used to the name callin’ a long time ago, never did bother me too much, but my Hannah, well... it hurt her, as it always had I ‘magine.
I’ll admit we must’ a looked the couple, Hannah and I, me all shootin’ up into the air and she takin’ up so much space and all, but how cruelty could be found where there’s love, I don’t s’pose I’ll ever understand.
There are a lot’ a things that go over my head. I’ll never be what they call a genius, but when it comes to my Hannah I know plenty, and so, on a day when she and I had been eatin’ out, (right here at Sammy’s Diner wouldn’ you know), I knew somethin’ awful had happened when I returned to her from visitin’ the washroom.
Hannah’s soft face was pinched, her eyes all red and puffy, and in her hand I noticed she clutched a hand full’ a wet napkins.
“Well Hannah, what’s happened?” I asked.
“Nothing at all Graham,” she whispered. “Some water got sipped down the wrong pipe is all. You didn’t hear me coughin’?”
I hadn’t, and I knew she was lyin’ but I didn’ press.
After that day I started noticin’ changes in my sweet Hannah. Not too long after she began even to look different. I watched with my heart breakin’ as her glow slowly faded, turnin’ white and then just plain sickly. Her hair, that shiny smooth hair I so loved to touch, became coarse and wiry, thin even. Her fine dimple I saw less and less.
I really got to worryin’ when I started to see all her carefully chosen outfits seemin’ suddenly to sag over empty space, and I realized my girl was shrinkin’.
“Hannah, are you sick? We should go to Doctor Theodore. He’ll whip things up.”
But it never did any good.
It took me awhile, like I said, I’m no genius, but eventually I realized Hannah was disappearin’ after our meals, all sly like. The last day’ a this I did some sneakin’ myself, followin’ her t’ward the basement washroom after tellin’ her I was goin’ out for a stroll.
Throwin’ up she was. Regurgitatin’. And through the open crack’ o’ the doorway, I had seen she had brought it on herself by stickin’ a toothbrush a darn ways down her throat.
I was horrified.
She cried as we drove along in the pick-up toward Doctor Theodore’s office, all the way beggin’ me not to tell others and sobbin’ that she had been doin’ it for me.
“For me,” I cried, and it was the first time I had ever spoken to her in anger. “How, in any way, would you makin’ yourself sick be any help to me? How Hannah? Can you answer me that?”
Oh, did the look on her face grieve me. Shame, embarrassment, hurt, I could hardly look into her sunken eyes, so changed had they become. But because I loved her so dearly I steeled myself against the desire to give in to her pleas, for I knew she was in trouble. And I was scared.
“God woman, I love you so much. Why would you get to doin’ such a thing? Was it to get skinny? Was that it? Were you doin’ it to look all rake-like, like this ol’ pole?” I tried t’ smile but darned if it weren’t hard to do. “You said you were doin’ it for me, but don’t you know by now I don’t want you that way? Why, from the beginnin’ I’ve loved you large. I love to wrap my arms around your big body Hannah, to feel your warmth. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever known, and I’m not talkin’ it’s the inside that counts. You are beautiful; you, the way God made you, the way you can’t help but be, and I love you now as I did the very first day I met you.”
I had been watchin’ the road as I spoke, tryin’ hard not to speed in my panic to see the Doc., and so I was right startled when I glanced t’ward her and saw the cloud’ a darkness that then hovered over her face.
It was a look’ a hatred if I’d ever seen one, and comin’ from her, my darlin’ angel Hannah, I felt I were drownin’.
“All you!” she screamed. “You made me think all these cursed years that I was beautiful, some rare treasure brought up from the bottom’ a the sea. You who made me think my struttin’ all around town with my slim, handsome husband was a fine thing, when all along, I’ been the joke’ o’ the town!”
My hands gripped the wheel with white knuckled strength.
“Graham,” she continued, sobbin’. “Do you remember that day at Sammy’s, the day you asked if anything was wrong and I said no?”
“While you had gone Graham, Joey came and asked if I was done, I wasn’t, but he had known that already, hadn’t he?”
“What are you talkin’ about?” My right foot pushed further t’ward ground.
“That’s good,’ he said to me, with this terrible, greasy ol’ grin. ‘Because we’ve got a whole cow yet in the back for you, all topped off with whipped cream. How ‘bout it, Wide Load?’ I s’pose I turned red then. Because then he said, ‘you must color like that in the bedroom eh Hannah? I really did always wish to know how a straw manages to screw a grapefruit.’ And then they laughed, Graham. There I was, surrounded by all those familiar faces, and not one was left unsmilin’.”
There was rage then, as I had never before experienced, and so red was that anger that I hurt. I kept seein’ her as I had that day we first met, the way she had shined with laughter and shy smiles.
I didn’ even see the moose ‘til its legs were beatin’ at my face, at hers. I thought, I must be dreamin’, but then came all these strange lights and eerie sirens, strange voices too, and I thought, not a dream, a nightmare.
But it wasn’ a nightmare, at least not in the sleepin’ sense, and it bein’ but four nights ago, you all know it. I see tears in some’ o’ your eyes as you sit with your meals waitin’. And you Joey, what’s on your face, guilt? Or regret for havin’ lost your mask?
I came here straight away because you all deserve to hear first.
I hope the truth of it sits upon your wretched souls forever. Yeah, I get it, a skinny man and a fat woman; hilarious. So amusing we must have been.
Go to hell.
I’ll never see that dimple again. I’ll be cold now.
You can finish your cursed meals. I hope every swallow is drenched in shame.
By J.M. Lavallee