Wednesday, 14 November 2012

FLASH FICTION AT FIVE: Maddy McKay and the Elves in Her House by Regan Wolfrom

The scale was broken... that had to be it. How could it say that Maddy McKay was losing weight when everything else told her she was inflating like a balloon? Even her five tiny house-elves had noticed the lack of progress, though they had been far too polite to mention it... or most had been; Alberich Blue-hat often mooed now whenever Maddy walked into the
room. Evidently, he thought he was being funny.

Maddy had done it all, Atkins and the South Beach Diet, the Subway diet and the one where you only eat cauliflower and raw salmon... and she’d been blasting her calves so hard they felt like two flabby rolls of patent leather. Alberich had even quipped that Maddy’s best chance of losing weight would be to saw off her legs and sew them into fine Italian
handbags. She began to worry once she found his stash of sewing patterns and hacksaws of various tooth lengths.

So Maddy went further.

She now would skip lunch and then she’d skip dinner, trying to motivate herself with visions of the wondrous new clothes she could buy. Wondrous new clothes to attract all sorts of men, up to and including the dreamy Benjamin Trasett who lived across the hall.

One day soon, she told herself... one day soon... skinny jeans for oh so skinny legs, nice short skirts that flare out and stay miles higher than her knees, swimsuits that didn’t even come with matching shoulder covers... if only her body would cooperate.

At first Maddy knew nothing about it; she’d starve herself and exercise until she bled, going to bed exhausted and hungry, falling asleep to the skinny person clothes and inspirational strains of Project Runway and then dreaming of Tim Gunn’s shining smile and silvery coif.

And then she’d wake up the next day and drag herself into the bathroom, ignoring the creaks in her joints, the pains in her muscles, and the Holstein bellows of a sadistic blue-hatted house-elf; once there, she’d climb onto that scale once again.

And then she’d see exactly what she wanted to see:  pound by pound dropping away -- she’d gone far past her goal, or so the little numbers told her. And the elves would rejoice, Elfriede and Vena hugging her ankles, Elga and Durin humping her heels. Even Alberich would seem touched by her progress, choosing those very moments to remind her that even cows have value beyond their flank steaks.

But though her weight seemed lower, Maddy’s clothes were never looser; in fact, they felt tighter, her shirts and her jeans squeezing her tightly like a full-body corset. It was like all her work was making things worse.

But after a month she had an idea; if mornings were rough, she’d switch to the evenings. The weigh-in moved to after her dinner, now a meal of hot water soup with a hint of scotch whiskey, and after she’d done slurping she would try on her clothes.

And so she did, and while the scale told the same lies the clothes now fit her better. So much better, in fact, that she felt like a woman again and not a tightly cased sausage. So she squealed with delight, knowing that this time it was different; this time her body was listening. And then she turned on the TV and soon fell asleep.

The next day she awoke with a smile and a deep pain in her stomach, and after a heavy breakfast of four oversized grapes, Maddy went to her closet to dress for work.

And the clothes didn’t fit; the clothes were too tight.

Maddy squealed in frustration.

And Alberich laughed. And then he mooed. And then he laughed again.

And Maddy felt he was acting a little suspicious.

She left her apartment and went across the hall, making sure that her house-elves had not come along. She knocked on the door of dreamy Benjamin Trasett, and he answered with a smile and a welcome fib about all the weight she had lost.

She asked for a favour, and Benjamin said yes; he always said yes, with a dumbfounded smile and a bulge of his eyes.

She went back to her apartment to lay out the trap. She needed a distraction, so she spun up her Tivo for the elves’ favorite show. And as every last house elf sat on the couch, eyes glued to The Donald and his tower of hair, Maddy laid out the sticky pads at the door to her closet.

And then she changed over to Runway and got ready for bed.


The next morning came and Maddy’s life changed. She passed on the grapes and a reheating of last night’s soup of hot water; she got out the frying pan and a big stick of butter. And she made a new breakfast to kick off her new life.

She’d used up all five of the sticky pads at once. She found five tiny house-elves stuck to those pads, each one brimming over with remorse and carrying a tiny needle and thread. She’d realized only then that it had  been a team effort.

And for the first morning in months her pants weren’t too tight. And her shirts hung too loosely, and even her socks felt too big. Just one night was enough to show her what’s what.

Maddy McKay really was skinny; her time had finally come.

In fact, she could probably stand to gain a few pounds.

Maddy looked back to her breakfast, in the frying pan she’d rediscovered at long last. She’d had a full serving of food, at least. But she could eat more.

She went back for seconds, and thirds, fourths, and fifths. It was the best meal she’d had in forever.

Her five tiny house-elves were completely delicious.

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