Publisher's Pick

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Joseph Rein

Author of Roads without Houses, from Press 53, March 1, 2018

Followed by author biography

Encyclopedia Helenica


148.6 lbs.: Weight of Helen Trudeau on 1 November 2016, taken on locker room scale in Crivitz High School, an official, sliding-metal physician scale that bobs and ticks and leaves Helen in unnecessary suspense waiting for the thing to sink down, to become heavier than her, sliding past 130, her presumed weight, it has been that long since she’s stepped on a scale or even thought about it, 135, 140, no, 145, no no no, for the love of Christ don’t make her slide it all the way back and lug the big weight to 150, until finally it stops.

Helen: (Greek, “Shining Light”) 16 July 1999–Present. Of Crivitz, Wisconsin, born and raised. Teenage female of slightly-below-average stature (5’1” at last doctor’s visit) and above-average weight (see 148.6 lbs.). Vice-president of Crivitz High School drama club. Fun-loving only child of Trent and Elise Trudeau who finds adventure in everyday situations (see Helen’s Dominant Behaviors and Traits, pre-1 November 2016).

Golden Burger: Restaurant chain with seven locations in northeast Wisconsin; Crivitz location frequented often during open lunch period by Helen and best friend/confidante Gina.

Geez Hel, hungry are we?: Words spoken from Gina in a brash but ultimately enlightening tone (see Gina’s Dominant Behaviors and Traits), the first reason for Helen’s instantaneous and repulsive realization that she has demolished her entire meal before Gina has put even a dent in hers.

Haphazard remains of a Third-Pound Golden Cheesy Burger with fries, lettuce and tomato discarded in a slovenly mix of ketchup and mayonnaise: Second reason.

Crivitz, Wisconsin: 1883–Present. Founded by German immigrant Frederick John Bartels; subsequently named for former German hometown. Located at 45°14’2”N 88°0’25”W, Wisconsin, United States of America. Small village of approximately 990 people (2010 Census). Current graduating high school class of 28. Largest of the small townships and municipalities surrounding Lake Noquebay.

Gina: (English, diminutive form of Georgina, feminine version of George, “Land worker”) 19 September 1999–Present. Of Crivitz, Wisconsin, born and raised. Teenage girl average in both height and weight, not exactly thin but not heavy either, certainly not in comparison to present company.

Drizella, the tawdrier of the two Wicked Stepsisters: Helen’s casted role in Crivitz High School Players’ production of Cinderella (see Helen’s Acting Resume), cast beside Gina as Anastasia, their on-stage chemistry and off-stage shenanigans a contributing factor in casting decision by Mrs. Bing, music teacher and play director.

Fifteenth rehearsal, delving into “Lovely Night” scene, a showcase for the stepsisters and a chance for Helen to really shine: Helen’s extracurricular activity on 1 November 2016.

Helen’s Heart (1): Just not in it, a fact noted verbally by both Gina and Mrs. Bing.

Hey, forget what I said earlier. See you tomorrow, okay?: Gina’s conciliatory words before she drops Helen off at home.

One helping of turkey, minimal gravy; small scoop of mashed potatoes; slice of white bread, buttered; glass of milk, subsequently rinsed out and refilled with water: Helen’s dinner on 1 November 2016, the first time she scrutinizes the amounts of what she eats in lieu of how her body feels.

You feeling okay, dear?: Question posed from Elise to Helen at dinner table.

Elise: (Greek, “Pledged to God”) 23 December 1970–Present. Of Crivitz, Wisconsin, neither born nor raised. Wife of Trent Trudeau for 19+ years. Woman of medium height and above-average build, plump but not fat, not really, a typical mom body, though Helen notices unhealthy extra folds on her upper arms, off-putting way her stomach rests limply over jeans.

I’m fine. Just don’t have much of an appetite tonight: Helen’s timid response, followed by a haste placing of her plate in dishwasher and retreating to her bedroom, her stomach smarting with a lack of fullness, but then maybe that’s not it, maybe she is full, maybe fullness is a relative term that she has accustomed herself to, maybe thin people experience it differently.

149.2 lbs.: Weight of Helen Trudeau on night of 1 November 2016, taken on scale in quaint adjacent bathroom, painted pink and a bit girlish for a seventeen-year-old, she’s now noticing.

The Mirror: 53.5 in. x 17.5 in. over-the-door body-length mirror with silver double-beaded frame, made by Reflections Mirror and Glass Company, in front of which Helen stands in her bedroom.

Lucky Brand Bootleg Princess Jeans, size 6 (1): Helen’s old favorites, ones that hugged her hips and flared flatteringly at the leg, that now won’t even pull up over her thighs, how big those thighs are, holy hell, what has she done to herself.

You’re a growing girl: Previous justification, accepted as fact by Helen—as she has done with most parental truisms, hers being the good parents they generally are—given intermittently by Trent and Elise as to why her favorite clothes no longer fit.

That bullshit: What, standing in front of The Mirror, pants desperately around thighs, Helen sees right through.

Skipping breakfast: An idea with nothing but negative connotations (see Most Important Meal of the Day!), counter-weighted by Helen’s following justifications:

1. Simple math, read by Helen in some health magazine once, stating that to lose one pound of fat in a week, she need excise 200 calories from her daily diet and burn 200 more in exercise (see Common Weight Loss Misconceptions),

2. Lunch is only +/- four hours away, and

3. She’s not really hungry anyway.

One pound a week: Lofty but, Helen expects, reasonable goal, considering all the excess weight she has to lose (see multiple entries for Overweight).

Renee’s ass (1): First thing Helen notices in the hall morning of 2 November 2017; the ass Helen used to have not so long ago, freshman year even, the ass that caught glances, particularly in Lucky Brand Bootleg Princess Jeans, size 6, ass that filled but didn’t stretch pants, didn’t tuck into itself, didn’t fold over underwear, just didn’t didn’t didn’t.

Xander: (diminuitive form of Alexander, Greek, “Defender of Men”) (See also Helen’s Perpetual Love Object) 17 November 1999–Present. Teenage male of uncanny good looks, like a Greek god himself, body sculpted from three-sport varsity activity, biceps and pectorals in particular, chiseled as if from stone; hair dark brown and curled just so over ears, enticingly disheveled; eyes a deep, lose-yourself-in-them brown as well; and smile, God his smile, you should see him smile.

Prince Charming: Role of Xander York in Cinderella, naturally.

Body Blast of Crivitz: Gym that Helen frequents immediately after play practice on 2 November 2016, it being the only workout option outside of high school exercise facility, but there’s no chance (see Never, Nuh-Uh, Fat Chance, When Pigs Fly, and Not in a Million Years) of her working out there, wearing her mom’s tight-fitting yoga pants and tank top that are incapable of containing her body, fat folding over the arm holes and in strange creases behind her legs, nope, not until she fixes this.

Body Blast, contents: Eight newer, shining silver treadmills; five exercise bikes; three elliptical machines; two Stairmasters; one outdated rowing machine, rope tattered, placed in far corner to further discourage use; weight benches with bars, plates; long rows of free weights; medicine balls of all sizes; resistance cords; front desk with young attendant in hot-orange shirt; patrons of all body types, from the thin and beautiful to the robust and ugly; three walls of floor-to-ceiling mirrors mirrors mirrors.

1.62 miles: Distance Helen manages to run-walk-run in unsystematic sequence before her throat burns with bile and her gelatin legs threaten entire shutdown (see Exercise Side Effects, Negative).

To discuss a new exercise plan: Helen’s presumptive reason for visit to Dr. Samson on 5 November 2016.

To gauge how bad she’s really gotten: Helen’s actual reason.

Overweight (1): (see also Fatty, Pear-Shaped, Obeast, Lard Ass, Buffet Slayer, Piggy, and Wisconsin Skinny) Classification, based on body mass index (BMI), calculated with a basic equation of height and weight, of large percentage of American adult men and women.

28.5: Helen’s BMI, not just Overweight but hovering nauseatingly close to the next highest classification, Obese, and which Doctor Samson assures her can be a natural part of growing, really this measure is for adults and not a terrific one at that, not something Helen should be too concerned about as long as she’s active, but if she likes she could drink more water, exercise a bit more, for Doctor Samson it’s really about life choices, you see, about starting healthy habits that will lead to good decisions when older, those are the types of successes she sees, not those who live in the extremes.

I understand: Helen’s only verbal response during visit.

147.7 lbs.: Weight of Helen on 8 November 2016, after intense, fatigue-inducing first week of exercise and diet, not nearly enough weight loss to justify pain and ascetic self-flagellation, causing seething self-doubt and a desire to quit in Helen (see Helen’s Dominant Behaviors and Traits, post-1 November 2016).

Back on the horse: Where Helen gets the next day at Body Blast.

DO YOU REALLY WANT THIS?: Mantra Helen develops while stretching 2 miles into 2.5, pushing beyond burn and bile and yearning to just give up.

Killed two and a half miles today at Body Blast! And that’s just the start!: Helen’s Facebook status 9 November 2016, her first post in eighty-three days, liked or otherwise emojied by ten friends within minutes, then sixteen, some responses adorned with encouraging remarks from random classmates, from great-aunt Clarissa she has never met in person, from Gina.

Julia’s Calorie Bible: Book bought by Helen at Marinette Barnes & Noble to prove devotion to mantra, containing calorie counts for every food Helen has ever eaten, the cover flaunting Julia’s flawless body, her endorsement reading This book contains the information you need to live a healthy, natural lifestyle. I guarantee it will work!, her smile so gargantuan it can only be real.

1,025: Calories in a Third-Pound Golden Cheesy Burger with fries, a number Helen reluctantly looks up with equal proportions shame and disgust.

Eight glasses a day: Generic recommendation for intake of water (see Common Weight Loss Misconceptions) which is the least Helen can do, as water occupies the stomach and is the healthiest thing, really, for her.

Daily Schedule, 10 November 2016: (see similar entries for 11, 12, and 13 November 2016; week of 16 November; most weekdays thereafter leading up to Cinderella performance, minus Thanksgiving, 30 November and 6 December [see also Pathetic Days Helen WILL Put Behind Her])

1. Wake up

2. Skip breakfast

3. Coast through morning classes, paying attention only in Pre-Calc to impress Xander York (see Helen’s Perpetual Love Object)

4. Lunch: turkey sandwich plain, apple and/or banana, granola bar, water

5. Dream about Xander during afternoon classes

6. Play practice

7. Body Blast baby!

8. Post workout update to Facebook

9. Dinner: half plate of whatever Elise makes, less if thick on carbs or sauces

10. Immediately catalogue from Julia’s Calorie Bible, down to the crumb, day’s food intake, drawing a hard double-line underneath to keep from eating more.

Eating < three hours before bed: Kiss of death, as Helen has read that such calories store immediately as excess fat (see Common Weight Loss Misconceptions).

132.0 lbs.: Weight of Helen Trudeau on 1 January 2017, day nationally known for resolutions of the weight variety (see Make a new you! and You’re only fooling yourself).

No need for resolutions when the resolve is already there!: Helen’s Facebook post on 1 January 2017, recipient of the highest number of likes she’s ever received, 212, accompanied by selfie on treadmill at Body Blast, most machines behind her empty, considering.

Overweight (2): Helen still, at 25.7, according to the BMI image Helen has Googled and downloaded as her laptop wallpaper, replacing old movie image of Hugh Jackman’s aching, above-average turn as Jean Valjean in Hollywood adaptation of Les Misérables.

Lucky Brand Bootleg Princess Jeans, size 6 (2): Still-unfitting jeans that simultaneously affirm BMI’s correctness and Helen’s resolve.

Granola bar; one glass orange juice; four slices whole grain wheat bread, two on sandwich and two toasted, unbuttered; three slices shaved turkey; one slice reduced-fat cheddar cheese; Cortland apple; medium-sized banana; bagel with cream cheese; can store-bought chicken noodle soup; two squares Hershey’s milk chocolate bar: Full caloric intake for 5 January 2017, just under 1,200. Minimum amount of food Helen figures she can consume, an assumption she discovers in weeks subsequent to be untrue.

Third-pound Golden Cheesy Burger with fries: All Helen can think about during Cinderella dress rehearsal.

How her Drizella costume still hugs her torso and hips, this repugnant dress that should droop wickedly, she should look comedic in it, a thin girl in abnor-mally baggy clothes but all she looks is fat, why would a Prince Charming ever want this: All Helen can think about during Cinderella performances (seven) the week of 8-14 January 2017, causing lackluster performance and abundance of stink-eyes from Gina.

Drizella’s Fat Foot: Reason why Prince Charming cannot, with much exaggerated force, cram glass slipper onto Cinderella’s stepsister, even after much finagling by Wicked Stepmother, confirming Drizella’s falsity as love object in question on previous night’s escapades.

Helen’s own disgusting, disturbingly obtuse Fat Foot: Why Helen cannot enjoy her only scene with Xander, her chance to really turn it on but there he is, on his knee in front of her, hand grasping the Fat Foot, face so convincingly horrified his disgust can only be real.

Helen’s Heart (2): Beaten, bruised, battered, trampled and stomped on, broken but hopefully not beyond repair (see DO YOU REALLY WANT THIS?).

Going to the gym again?: Elise’s question posed to Helen after final Sunday matinee performance.

Yep: Helen’s terse reply.

Okay, but come right home after. Dad’s making pot roast. Now that the play’s over, I was thinking we should get back to family dinners: Elise’s earnest and softly spoken plea to Helen, her common matronly speech pattern (see Elise’s Dominant Behaviors and Traits) that makes her both more endearing and easier to ignore.

Hey, Helen. You look great today: Helen’s first verbal compliment on her newly formed body, delivered in school by Vince Belfast, underclassman from Cinderella chorus to whom she has never spoken, to whom she has never before given a second thought.

Yeah, thanks: Helen’s abject reply, the compliment itselnot carrying the inspirational heft it should, not validating treadmill hours upon hours, knee aches and near-constant fatigue (see Exercise Side Effects, Negative), because shouldn’t the bigger fish be noticing by now, shouldn’t someone from cast, shouldn’t Xander.

Death (1): Inevitable end of life, reached by many due to unfortunate and unforeseen early circumstances (see Before His/Her Time), by others under more expected and lengthy but no less unfortunate circumstances (see Lived a Full Life), that this realization feels like.

Exercise Side Effects, Negative: Abdominal cramping; wheezing; dizziness bordering on fainting; sweating, amounts ranging from minute to excessive, so much that body excretes salt on shoulders; significant pain in the ass; shin splints; near-constant fatigue; bile burning up throat; acid dripping into stomach; papery, wafer-like feeling of arms and legs; knee aches; going on and on so much that body, with little else to do, convulses and threatens entire shutdown.

Exercise Side Effects, Positive: Relatively less self-loathing; pleasant disappearance of monthly period; loss of appetite; relatively less blubber under fingers while pinching; reduced bowel movements.

120.0 lbs.: Weight of Helen Trudeau on 9 February 2017.

Overweight (3): No longer Helen’s classification on BMI scale, now sliding into Optimal range, though still just below the line at 24, not far enough for comfort, considering Optimal ranges from 18-25, leaving much room for improvement.

Roll call for Grease, released 17 February 2017:

Danny Zuko: Xander York

Sandy Olsson: Renee Henrich

Kenickie: Vince Becker

Frenchie: Gina Forseth

Vince Fontaine: Johnny Larson

Betty Rizzo: Helen Trudeau

At her name: Where Helen stops reading.

Excess weight she was in process of losing, was going to lose, was sure to lose goddamnit, by Grease opening night 31 March 2017: Only plausible reason for Helen losing starring role to Renee Henrich, Renee again, that pampered little bitch gets everything, even another lead beside Xander, a decision Mrs. Bing will ultimately regret, because one way or another Helen will reveal who she is now, it doesn’t have to be in pink jackets or tight black leather, she’ll show Mrs. Bing.

Come on, Hel, this is great! Sidekicks are way more fun to play anyway: Gina’s encouraging but ultimately uninspiring words to Helen.

Gina’s Dominant Behaviors and Traits: Trilling like a bird with delight over small life moments; wearing 1990s boy band concert shirts purchased on eBay; chewing spearmint gum; stating harsh but true words in a brash but ultimately enlightening tone; jumping rope; receiving passable grades in every subject with minimal effort; playing the heel; watching pornography to poke fun at storylines; smiling.

Quit, instead of wasting another minute being underappreciated: What Helen would rather do.

I don’t like this new you: Gina’s more forceful words upon Helen’s declaration.

You know what? Fuck off. You’re just jealous: Helen’s spiteful words straight to Gina, the friend who has always been by her side, who slept over endless nights and taught Helen samba and hilariously tested the limits of Helen’s best toys, Barbie dolls and science kits and numerous Easy-Bake Ovens, before Helen tramps off in opposite direction.

Who has time for silly plays when you’re crushing out mileage!: Helen’s Facebook post 17 February 2017, recipient of the fewest likes of all her exercise-related posts, causing Helen to cease posting altogether.

Third-pound Golden Cheesy Burger with fries; pounds of fettuccine draped in buttery Alfredo sauce; fried cheese curds dipped in ranch dressing; potato chips of any variety; bucket of fried chicken, breasts and wings and thighs and drummies, the whole damn chicken; movie theater popcorn; cola, any brand, a gigantic, massive cola; whopping dollops of whipped cream atop New York vanilla ice cream, scoops upon scoops, too many to count, chocolate sauce and strawberry jam drizzling down the sides like a sweet fountain, all atop entire sheet worth of thick fudge-swirled brownies cut into squares salaciously, seductively moist: All Helen can think about that night in bed.

Lake Noquebay: 2,398 acre freshwater Wisconsin lake located between Crivitz and smaller townships of Middle Inlet, Wausaukee, and Loomis. Lake of surprisingly shallow depth excepting a few areas (51’ maximum). Fish include panfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, trout, and walleye. One of many Wisconsin lakes containing yearly “itch” phenomenon loosely related to bacteria in goose feces. Residence of significant boating and sporting activity in summer (fishing, skiing and tubing, jet-skiing, pontooning, alcohol consuming) and winter (ice fishing, alcohol consuming).

About 25 miles: Perimeter of Lake Noquebay taken on meandering paved and unpaved roads, distance achievable on Helen’s Northwoods Springdale 21-speed hybrid bicycle, though not without significant pain in the ass (see Exercise Side Effects, Negative).

Immense fatigue coupled with a jittery fever: Helen’s state post-bike ride, indeed her state after most workouts, the only solution for which is eating something, but Helen knows that’s not really a solution at all, that’s what fat people do, they solve their problems with food.

Slight pain in stomach: Reaction of Helen’s body when she eats right away anyway, which is just trading one problem for another.

Most Important Meal of the Day!: Socially accepted misnomer (see Common Weight Loss Misconceptions) applied to breakfast, but also occasionally misapplied to lunch or dinner, the most healthy meal plan involving small caloric intake six or more times daily, making the Most Important Meal of the Day! actually a succession of reduced, responsible meals akin to practiced snacking, the irony lost on most, in that snacking itself is often pegged as the culprit of, not the solution to, weight issues.

Skipping breakfast and lunch: Not preferable but possible, given enough devotion to mantra (see DO YOU REALLY WANT THIS?).

Numbers numbers numbers: What comprises much of Helen’s life, weight and calories taken in and calories burned and mileage and percentages and meters, now that she has decided to be healthy.

Helen’s Dominant Behaviors and Traits, pre-1 November 2016: Acting in school plays; clicking tongue; Netflix binge-watching; playing devil’s advocate; thumbs-upping friends’ posts on Facebook; reciting lines from previous roles at hilariously snarky times; finding adventure in everyday situations; attempting to impress Xander York; listening; tossing salt over shoulder for luck; baking sugar cookies from scratch; enjoying her parents’ company; snacking when hungry.

Helen’s Dominant Behaviors and Traits, post-1 November 2016: drinking > eight glasses of water a day; never eating < three hours before bed; seething with self-doubt; running, biking (around Noquebay if clement weather, on Body Blast recumbent if not), Stairmastering, rowing, or other activity that burns quantifiable calories; attempting to gain Xander York’s attention with new body; eating less and less each day as a way forward; desiring to quit; dreaming of food.

Daily Schedule, 26 February 2017: (see similar entries for 27 and 28 February, most days March, even weekends extracting class portion of nos 3 and 5):

1. Wake up

2. Skip breakfast

3. Dream about Xander, food during morning classes

4. Skip lunch

5. Dream about food during afternoon classes

6. Body Blast for workout

7. Dream about food while stomaching portions of Elise’s dinner in bedroom, alone

8. Immediately catalogue from Julia’s Calorie Bible, down to the crumb, day’s food intake, drawing a hard double-line underneath to keep from eating more

9. Writhe through restless, dream-filled fits of sleep where fantasies of food and Xander York disturbingly coalesce, where Xander compliments Helen’s body while forcing endless supplies of increasingly grotesque food combinations down her throat, barbecued meats deep-fried in donut batter, ice cream topped with grease-slathered bacon, chocolates coated in dripping ketchup-mayo combination.

Lucky Brand Bootleg Princess Jeans, size 6 (3): What Helen considers trying on again in front of The Mirror, but then that’s not really the point anymore, getting back to what she used to be, the point is being better, improving, becoming the thin, beautiful, healthy woman she’s never before been.

112.1 lbs.: Weight of Helen Trudeau on 2 March 2017. Final measurement on at-home scale, the next test being the sliding-metal physician scale in high school exercise facility, out in front of everyone, for all to see.

Helen’s eating excuses to Elise, to get her the hell off Helen’s back, various dates February and March 2017:

1. I’ve been snacking a lot at school,

2. I just ate a huge lunch,

3. I think I caught that stomach bug again, and

4. I took down a sub sandwich just before you got home.

Helen’s Acting Resume: Betty Rizzo (Grease); Drizella (Cinderella); Madame Thénardier (Les Misérables); Chorus Girl (Little Shop of Horrors); Ensemble (Wicked); Townswoman #4 (Beauty and the Beast); Caterpillar (Hungry Little Caterpillar); Pig #2 (Three Little Pigs).

Opening Night, front and center: Helen’s chosen seat for Grease on 31 March 2017, in support of Gina but also, as a bonus, a way to showcase new body each time she rises and struts out of theater (seven before intermission, four after), feeling all eyes on her, even Mrs. Bing’s; and tell her, Mrs. Bing, who would look better clad in leather and a punk hairdo, serenading and chastising Xander York that he’d better shape up, because she needs a man, and her heart (see various entries for Helen’s Heart), of course, is set on him.

Renee’s ass (2): Pretty good in the leather, sure, as she turns from her ovation, a standing one, the crowd’s jubilance exaggerated, over-the-top, she wasn’t that good, Xander mostly carried the duets.

Kyle, Theo, two Vinces: males, both under- and upperclassmen, who compliment Helen after the play.

A bit forced, each tinged with comparison to the past, their subtext saying not you look great but you look different, comparing Helen to that hideous former version who still exists if they look close enough, still pads her thighs where they refuse to separate, still folds over her bra straps: The compliments.

Helen’s Perpetual Love Object: Xander York, the heart-throb, the incomparable, who has yet to compliment Helen.

Common Weight Loss Misconceptions: Eight glasses of water a day; “straight to my hips and/or thighs”; – 200 calorie intake + – 200 calories burned in exercise = – one pound per week; BMI as indicator of general health; skipping meals; specific areas of body targeted for weight loss; carbohydrates and/or fats and/or proteins excised entirely from diet; calories eaten < three hours before bed stored as excess fat; 80/20 rule; weight loss pills; Most Important Meal of the Day!; the Food Pyramid; vibrating abdominal belts; diets.

I think you need help: Words earnestly and softly spoken from Elise to Helen, morning of 3 April 2017.

Are you kidding? I’ve never felt better. You’re just pissed because your time has passed: Helen’s defensive response.

Just come home right away from school, okay? I made an appointment with Dr. Samson. Just to talk: Elise’s second attempt, even softer and more earnest, if at all possible.

Fuck that! You’re just a jealous bitch!: Words too harsh even for Helen but there they are, she’s said them, and now she’s out the door, on her way to school and finally, finally, to high school exercise facility afterward.

During varsity baseball team’s workout: When Helen will go.

Hel, I wanted to—: Words spoken by Gina to Helen as they cross in the hallway after final period, words that Helen ignores entirely, just before entering locker room.

ASICS Gel Kayana shoes, blue and green, size 5.5; FILA Sport Vibrant Workout Pants, black, size XS; Nike Dri-Fit Mesh Racerbank Tank Top, electric pink, size XS; no socks, no underwear, no bra: Helen’s never-worn and punctiliously chosen workout attire, modeled countlessly in front of The Mirror, tight-fitting and accentuating in the right places provided she keep peerless posture, breathe sparingly, and refrain from vigorous exercise of any sort, not today, today is only for show, a mild walk and then straight to the scale.

High school exercise facility: Dingier than she’d expected, dark and smelling of piss and old leather, much less appealing than Body Blast but then the atmosphere matters far less than present company.

The stares: What Helen receives from the baseball team, even Coach Gannon, though they fail to meet Helen’s expectations, less flattering and more something on which she cannot put her finger.

Xander’s compliment: Words that, after wading through the team and other lone underclassmen, Helen finally awaits to adorn her, to hug her body like the form-fitting workout clothes, to simultaneously validate her every mile run, her every calorie counted and discarded, her very being these past months, and also provide motivation to continue on, to never go back to that hideous thing she was (see multiple entries for Overweight).

Are you okay?: Words spoken from Xander to Helen.

Thanks Xander, I. . . : Helen’s non sequitur response, Xander’s voice crashing against clanging plates and rhythmic treadmill stomps, and even his face, his beautiful face blending with the swaying crowd, arms and legs stretching out like stalks on some vast, never-ending field of flesh and fat and bone and

Remainder of day 3 April 2017, morning and afternoon of 4 April 2017: This entry has not been verified.

Blip blip. Blip blip. Blip blip: Distant noise, replacing exercise facility’s harmonious blur, of Helen’s heartbeat monitor as she wakes in hospital bed, 4 April 2017.

Helen’s Heart (3): Thundering in her chest, every palpitation palpable, every pump strenuous.

Multiple tubes punctured into arms; oxygen mask across face; straps securing arms and torso: Various medical devices imprisoning Helen to bed, impeding speech, movement, or much else than blinking.

88.8 lbs.: Weight of Helen Trudeau on 4 April 2017, recited by Doctor Samson in forbearing voice to Elise and Trent, the eights echoing around the bleached room with ghastly yet not entirely unpleasant symmetry.

Intravenous Feeding: (see also Parenteral Nutrition) Reason for the tubes, the only way that Dr. Samson believes Helen can absorb sustenance and begin to gain back what she’s lost.

Severe anorexia nervosa, symptoms: Fatigue; hair loss; dry skin; constipation; elevated liver enzymes; brittle nails; low blood pressure; consecutive absences of menstrual cycle (female only); loss of sexual drive (both sexes) leading to impotency (male only); abnormal blood counts; dehydration; seizures; death.

Severe? I think we’d know if our own daughter was that bad: Words offered by Trent, a heartfelt and unsurprising defense, though more of himself than Helen.

Death (2) ?: Only word spoken by Elise to Doctor Samson, her voice also resonating through the room, ghastly but with no hint of pleasantness.

112.1 and Renee’s ass and Body Blast treadmills and water and 28.5 and Mrs. Bing’s disappointed face and Third-pound Golden Cheesy Burger with fries and sliding scales and Gina’s stink-eye and 147.7 and water and Elise’s concerned face and leather pants and feeding tubes and 25 miles and water and Xander’s smile and the extra extra extra folds of her body: Images and words flashing in Helen’s fever dreams as she drifts from Dr. Samson and her parents, as she closes her eyes to the world.

Joseph Rein’s short stories have been appeared in Ruminate MagazineThe Pinch Literary MagazineLaurel Review, and Iron Horse Literary Review. His most recent publication was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Joseph has had two screenplays produced into award-winning festival films, and he was a finalist for the PAGE International Screenwriting Competition. He is also co-editor of Creative Writing in the Digital Age, Creative Writing Innovations, and Dispatches from the Classroom. Joseph is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.