Making Weight

rating: +20+x

The shape undulates over top of the open bowl that was once my dad. His brown, engorged intestines slip over one another, sucked out of the hole in his gut and into the cavernous mouth of the thing — the thing that looks like a potato sack made of skin with a human skeleton stuffed inside it, its bowels expanding with the addition of pounds upon pounds of excreta.

My stomach aches just looking at it.

"Are you going to eat that?"

I blink several times. Dad sits across the table from me, avoiding my unerring gaze that I only just realize I am giving. I shake my head lightly, and will myself back into the present.

"Yes, Mom," I say.

I turn my eyes back down to my plate. Breakfast. Eggs and sausage. I finger the fork in my hand, twisting it a time or two. This isn't enough, I almost say out loud. Instead, I spear a sausage link, and take a bite. Mom watches me, stationed at the kitchen, washing dishes. Dad wipes his mouth, stands, and takes his leave. I force another bite, and hope that the growling of my stomach isn't as audible to my parents as it is in my own ears.

Once Mom stops watching me, and Dad has gone upstairs, I hunch over my plate and begin to shovel it into my mouth. I have no time to decorate the eggs with ketchup or mix the sausage with syrup. Everything becomes a slurry as it melts together on my tongue, and I can't care less about the taste.

I set my plate back down, satisfied that Mom's gaze was elsewhere. I lick my fingers, and stand. "Okay. I'm off to school. See you."

"Goodbye," she says flatly, then turning to side-eye my plate. "I can't believe you ate all of that."

It wasn't enough, I think. She doesn't listen to me, though. She just returns to her meaningless dishes, thinking no one's noticed she's been working on one glass for the last half hour. I pretend not to hear her breathing strain as I walk into the foyer, grab my backpack, and put on my shoes.

"Wrestling match after school, Mom," I remind her.

"We'll be there," she assures me.

They won't.

The morning passes without event as I consume my box lunch discretely during my first couple periods. I get food from the cafeteria twice and no one notices. I try to ration out the second lunch across my last two periods but can hardly help myself. The kid sitting in front of me in algebra turns around a couple times to catch me eating an apple I have trouble keeping silent, but doesn't rat me out.

When the last bell rings, I'm the first person out the door. The hallways are crowded with students making it to the buses, parking lots, or after-school activities. I, for one, am headed to the wrestling gym, to smell like sweat and hormones in the presence of the rest of the frustrated young men who've decided this is a good way to get aggression out.

Once there, I get very little recognition from the coach or anyone else. Which is good, because I need to make a pitstop. Before getting changed, I walk briskly to the bathroom, and find an unoccupied stall. I close the door, hunch over the toilet, and cough out thick brown blood that slops into the piss-stained water.

It comes out more like phlegm than blood. Coagulated, chunks. Maybe some bits of something or other in it. I can't tell. I just know my stomach fucking hurts, and it hasn't stopped hurting for a week. More than my stomach, even. The pain has crept up and out, so that it feels like my whole torso is painted with chronic, tearing pain.

I stay in that hunched position until I'm sure nothing more is coming out. I rip off a square of toilet paper, wipe my mouth and then my forehead. Okay, I think, that's done with.

I stand, heave for a moment, and then exit. There's a boy at the sink who's pretending not to have heard me, and I give him a look through the mirror to remind him that he's making the right call. I wash my hands, splash my face with water, and I feel ready. I feel pumped.

I get to the lockers, pull my clothes out of my locker, and then locate a spot to change where no one will see me. I strip down to my underwear, and then begin to pull on the black-and-gold wrestling jumpsuit.

"Hrm." I hear a voice to my right.

Shit. I turn, and my fears are confirmed. It's coach. And he's looking at me and my bare chest, shamefully hiding my body from my peers.

He purses his lips, and he doesn't have to say anything.

"I'm eating a lot," I say. He opens his mouth to interrupt me, but I jut in: "I hit the gym every night!"

"How much is a lot?" He pries.

I struggle to keep my temper under control. "A lot!"

"Hey, hey, hey. Kid." He's got that tone he gets, that tone when you can really tell he doesn't give two shits about you. "I'm just worried how you fit with the team, is all. I mean, just last month you were too heavy. I mean, I can't tell if you're taking this seriously."

I silently seethe and turn my head. Not to hide my shame, but because if I look at him, I might explode.

"If I pretend I didn't see this," he gestures to my ribs, "you're gonna get pummeled out there. You can't even make the lowest weight class."

"You weighed me," I plead. "A week ago, I was one-oh-four, you saw it, that's good enough, I can compete."

He just raises his eyebrows, and then shakes his head. "It's your choice, pal. I'll let it slide today, but you'd better still be a hundred six next time we check. Comprende?"

He waits for a response. I don't give him one. I pull up the rest of the jumpsuit, and I walk out into the crowd of kids. He has no right to talk to me like that. I'm one of the best wrestlers on the team and he knows it. He's seen it. It wouldn't matter if I weighed ninety.

After some impromptu practice matches that I sit out on, the coach ushers us into the gym. Immediately, we go from the snuffed acoustics of the lockers into the echoing rumble of the crowd. On each side of the gym, parents and friends from different schools sit, chattering away, adding to the thrum that bounces back and forth across the ring. On the opposite end of the gym, the opposing team are lined up in their blue-and-white uniforms.

I put on my ear guards and do a couple stretches while the coaches meet in the middle and talk. The lineup goes from lowest weight classes to highest, so I'm up first. In this suit, from far away, it looks like I could be one-oh-six, and if my opponent is surprised, then that's more advantage for me.

Some announcer does the whole spiel which I can barely hear through the ear guards. I'm not listening. Well, until I hear my name.

"…Kaleo Tweed!" The announcer blasts. My heart pumps. My muscles tense. Pain courses through my trunk like the persistent gnawing of wood-boring beetles. That's strength, I assure myself. I jog to the center, to meet my opponent. I didn't catch his name, but he's stringy. What you'd expect, people of our size. I'm taller, but he's fuller. From the look in his eyes, I can tell he sees that.

We shake hands, as is customary, and then lean down, which makes the pain stab for a moment. Muffled from my ear guards, I can hear the cheerleaders doing something. It's just girl-voice static rising above the rest of the rumbling speech in the gymnasium, another flavor of stimulus and adrenaline.

The referee puts a hand between us, and motions in time with his countdown. Three, two, one…

Head to head, body to body, each of us rush to fill the center like air after a lightning strike, and the contact is nearly just as electric. Hands to his shoulders, his hands to mine. Neutral. Normal. Openings for attack. I reach for his side, attempting to throw him off balance, but he bats it away. He's pushing me back. I scramble for a foothold, but I'm just sliding. Sliding?

When have I seen someone just slide?

He copies my maneuver, taking advantage of my momentary confusion. He accomplishes the same task, pushing me off my balance, but he accomplishes more than just that. As his hand meets my stomach and pushes, my insides churn.

Bubbles of cramp constrict my whole chest, and I lose focus on reality. It hurts. It fucking hurts. In the brief interlude between conscious states, my eyes catch on my opponent's gritted teeth and turn it into a white, shining dream.

Sweat and salt mix in my mouth. Cheers. My heart pumps like it's trying to run away from the hole below it, my muscles scream.

I don't know how it happened, but when I come back to, he's on top of me, pushing me to the ground, keeping me on my stick-leg knees, and he's so heavy. He's stronger. He weighs more. It's not enough, I lament. I pound a hand on the ground.

It's not enough!

His hand, pressed onto the ground in front of my face. His fingers, like little sausages.

More weight, I think, as he yelps. He strikes the back of my head, hard, knocking me to the floor. The referee blows the whistle, shrill, shrieking, ringing throughout my head while the world spins around me, dizzy, disoriented. I'm exhausted. I'm so hungry. I could eat anything.

Someone is yelling at me while I stand up. The opponent is explaining how he struck in self defense. The coach tries to catch me, bring me into the conversation, but I'm running. I'm veering, I'm bumping into things, but I'm running.

I have to get home.

I have to catch the bus and make it to a fridge, or something. Something to fill the hole. At the front of my school, I find a bike by some talking kids on the front steps. Transportation. I mount it and ignore the instant yells behind me, aided by my ear guards, which I remember in time to take off and throw to the wind before careening down the street, homeward bound.

I'm hunched over the handlebars the whole way home, like maybe squeezing my stomach will make it feel less empty.

Eight dizzy minutes and I'm at my front lawn. I dismount the bike and let it roll forwards and fall over on my fence.

My shaking hands have trouble opening the front gate. I walk past the two cypresses flanking the front door, picking the spare key from out of the branches. It's faster than knocking and waiting for one of my dumbass parents to let me in.

The door opens, and I immediately turn left towards the kitchen, flinging the key to the floor and leaving the door open behind me. Priorities are different now.

What I walk in on is… unnerving. Out-of-place enough that even my desperation gives pause to consider the best course of action.

The fridge is open. The freezer, too. Vegetables, fruits, meats, all half-eaten, are spread across the floor, along with spillings of milk, chicken broth, vegetable oil. Butter. Leftover takeout, ice cream. Even the spice drawer has been opened and emptied. Everything mixes into swirling brown puddles on the floor.

For the first time in hours, I just stand and breathe. I take a wide angle to get a better look into the fridge. Entirely empty, as expected. I walk over some plates that seemed to be shattered in the crossfire, along with that one glass. The one Mom was washing.

I look at the ground. There are footsteps coated in the grime, and there's a knocked over chair in the hallway before the stairs. Several smears of the kitchen mixture coat the first two steps, and little dots trail upwards.

I try listening, but all I can hear is the ringing in my ears and my pumping heart. There might be some kind of rustling upstairs, but it's just as likely to be the swishing of blood in my head. "Mom?" I hear myself say, to no response.

I plod my way to the bottom of the stairwell, and look up towards the door to my parent's bedroom. "Dad?"

A brief eternity passes, and then I find myself taking my first steps up the stairs. The door is open, and there's light coming from inside. I keep my steps light and quiet, hoping to sneak up on whatever has happened. As I approach, it becomes undeniable. Some noise is emanating from the room. Squeaking floorboards, the taps of shoes and hands on wooden surfaces. And something worse. Something wet.

As I reach the top of the steps, my eyes can finally see over the landing and into the door. I stop my ascent immediately.

Mom is on the floor, and it looks like she's retching, faced away from me. She shakes, and shifts weight unexpectedly, jolting and twitching, combined with a lot of heavy breathing and some mashing wet noises.

I just watch her for a moment. Then I take the final steps, and see just what it is she is hunched over.

Once my sole touches the inside of the door frame, her whole body jolts and her head snaps back to look at me, like I am a fly who has just landed in her web. My eyes drift to her bounty, and my empty stomach howls.

I masticate on air, and a string of drool escapes from my bottom lip and trails down my chin. Back to Mom. She hasn't moved.

It happens so fast, I can't tell who strikes first.

We tumble into a tangled ball on the floor, each of us then scrambling to get our limbs into a defensible position, footholds and handholds on the wood, and I guess Mom gets there first, because all of a sudden, her hands are on my neck.

I cough at the pressure on my larynx, and the cough makes things worse because nothing can come up, nothing makes it past her iron grip. Her eyes stare daggers into mine, her breathing pushing saliva and blood through her bared teeth to spray down onto my face, while I try in vain to grab at her forearms and push her off of me. She opens her mouth, wider than anyone should be able to, and instinct kicks in. I pull back my arm, and punch the back of her throat.

By instinct, she bites down, but the damage is done. She retches as I fumble and then take hold of her uvula, ignoring the pain in my forearm. She coughs, and gags, and then eventually her body gives up, and she hunches over, expelling blood onto my face and chest, letting go of my arm. The strength goes out in her grip, and one swift jab to her inner elbow sends her onto her side and off of me. I take the advantage, standing up and delivering a kick to her head.

She yelps at the damage, but grabs my leg and tugs me into a horizontal position again. She tries to take the opportunity to regain her position over top of me, but I quickly push away, rising to a kneel, and lunging back at her instead. Now, the roles are reversed, but I don't use my hands, I use my knee. Her throat, crushed under my leg. But I can't give her any amount of respite. While my hands are free, I find her eyes.

She would scream if she had the air to do so. Blind and immobilized, her legs kick out frantically, and she sinks her nails into my exposed calves, but I withstand. I take the risk of lifting my knee for one second, only to bring it down with force.

I think I feel something crack. That's what I was looking for.

I stand up, and remove myself from striking distance. She flails and wheezes, getting onto her knees but unable to summon enough strength to stand, looking but not looking through her punctured eyes, aqueous humor mixing with blood and crying down her cheeks. I scramble to a corner, and wait it out, trying to contain my breathing as much as possible.

For a whole minute, she crawls around the room, her attempts at breathing coming out closer to the bray of a dying donkey, bumping into furniture and walls. Then she slows, and looks down, and coughs blood, and slumps, and falls, and stops.

I'm left with the ringing in my ears and the thumping of my heart. I win, I think to myself. Food, I think next.

I try to walk, but my strength gives out. I feel hollow. A hand goes over my stomach and presses down on the center of pain, only to find that my skin has give. It's springy. Like there's nothing underneath.

I almost chuckle. Bigger problems, I think. I yield to dragging myself to Mom's dinner. Dad's half-eaten corpse, his legs sloppily gnawed to the bones and his lower abdomen started on. I can feel the pain from my torso beginning to eat at my extremities, the beginnings of my arms and legs, and I stop being able to move forward. I fall down next to Dad's arm.

His fingers, like sausages.

While my body eats itself from the inside-out, I at least have food, because fuck, I am starving.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License