Reader feedback: Thank you so much for your feedback! I agree that Chapter 2 needs expanding so we understand Memphis better. My original intent with this book was to make it a romance novel, but as it evolved it became a more traditional piece of fiction. Chapter 2 will be revised so that we can understand Memphis better. What motivates her?

Chapter 3

by Christina Fisanick, Ph.D.

Spring break started right after mid-terms, and Memphis stayed with her parents as the dorms were closed during that week. She hated staying with them because her dad, who had never been supportive, yelled and screamed at her during the entirety of her waking hours. Thankfully, her friend Lily came over every night after she got off her shift at the call center and picked her up. They would drive around town listening to 80s music and talk about nothing, which was everything. [This section will be expanded to includ more information/backstory about Lily’s family.]

There wasn’t much going on most nights in the quiet river town where Memphis grew up. Sometimes they would find other friends at the local shopping center. A gang of ten or more people would hang out near the grocery store, which was open all night. Memphis both hated and loved spending time there. On warmer than average spring nights, like this one, most people sat out on the hoods of their cards or stood around in a circle and talked. Memphis was dressed for it tonight: blue jeans, long-sleeved t-shirt, and a jean jacket with a hood. She had just sewed a Led Zeppelin patch to the back of her jacket that morning and was dying to show off how cool she was.

Of course, that did not happen. Lily was a natural beauty. Long blond hair, petite, slender body. Green eyes. Just what most men, especially men in their 20s, were looking for. And look for her they did. Ever-popular Lily left with a carload of boys not ten minutes after they got there, which meant that Memphis had no one to talk to but Ed, the 40-something father of four who tried to convince her that he knows Stephen King, and his name is really pronounced Steff-awn, and his friend Noodle, who didn’t really say much at all unless the conversation turned to cars. So, she got back into Lily’s car and sat there bored for a few hours while Lily talked to the guys in the red sports car.

Memphis tried to persuade her friend not to go with them, but she could not talk her out of it. Memphis worried herself to nausea and realized that she had to pee. The nearest place with a public bathroom was the all-night grocery store, but it required a walk of about a half a mile from where Lily’s car was parked. It wasn’t really a safety issue for Memphis, but a long-distance issue. What if Lily came back and Memphis was gone? How would she get back to her parents’ house? She worried about it until she had not choice but to act.

She got out of the car and slowly began walking towards the store. The plaza storefronts were fully lit to prevent robberies, so at least she could see where she was going. About halfway to her destination, five guys in a canary yellow GEO Storm slowly started following her. She immediately wanted to hide. Anywhere. Out of there. She needed to disappear.

She started walking faster. One of the guys in the backseat shouted, “Where are you going, fatty?”

She ignored them and kept facing straight ahead.

“Why don’t you go on a diet?” Another creep from the Storm called out.

She kept walking, the opening to the grocery closer by the step.

“Maybe if you walked that fast all the time, you wouldn’t have such a fat ass!” The same voice called.

She was now in the light of the store windows, and she could barely breathe from her anxiety and exertion.

“I bet if you got screwed once or twice that would straighten you out,” said another voice from somewhere inside the car.

She rushed inside the store and made a run for the bathroom, only to find it locked once she got there. She stood there in both fear and shame under the fluorescent lights wishing so hard that she could disappear. She wanted so badly to simply evaporate. Poof! No more Memphis.

Eventually, a woman and her little boy came out of the women’s room. She rushed inside, pulled down her jeans, and cried. What should have been a fun night out with her friend, turned into a boring, sad nightmare that she wished was over.

After pulling up her pants, she washed her hands and face. She went back out into the store. She wanted to make sure the guys in the Geo Storm weren’t waiting for her outside, so she roamed around the aisles, pausing at one point to pick up a basket to make it look like she was shopping. She stopped by the make-up section and ogled purple eyeshadow that was supposed to be perfect for brown eyes like hers. She stopped in the body wash section to see if they had any of those new body poufs that her roommate and suitemates seemed to have lying around their shared bathroom.

Eventually, she found herself staring at her nemesis: chocolate chip cookies with buttercream frosting. These delights were sold by twos in the bakery section of the store. As she stood there, one hand holding the red plastic shopping basket, and the other hand fingering the five dollar bill in her pocket, she started to feel lightheaded. Oh, how she wanted that sweet delight. She could taste and smell each heavenly bite. No one made butter cream frosting like the ladies at the bakery.

Before she knew it, she had placed a plastic container filled with two cookie sandwiches in her basket and was walking towards the first open register. She paid, put the basket back in its stack, and walked out into the cart return area. She knew there was a bench just to the left of the doors where store workers took their smoke breaks. She looked around, and seeing no one, she crept into that spot, which was dark at 11 o’clock at night, and sat down on the bench. She took the container out of the bag, nearly ripped off the lid, and picked up her first cookie sandwich.

From the first bite, she could feel her brain singing with pleasure. She closed her eyes and let the fear and anxiety of the last few hours float away. Within minutes she was lost in her eating.

By the time she was finished with the second cookie sandwich, she felt sick and ashamed. She had done it again. She had binged on food that would not only keep her fat, but make her sick. Why? Why did she do that to herself?

She walked back into the store, threw her evidence away, and strolled back down to the place where Lily had parked. Lily just got back with the red car guys as she crossed the parking lot to Lily’s car.

Lily looked a wreck. Her hair, which had been perfectly sculpted for the evening out, was messy and bedraggled. Her clothes were halfway off. And her lipstick was smeared on her face. Memphis was immediately worried about her friend, and she walked faster to her side. The guys were laughing and joking about something, but Lily wasn’t. Memphis asked her if she was okay, and she nodded, “Sure. We had a great time. I am just tired.” Lily smiled wryly.

“Do you want to go then?” Memphis asked.

“Yeah, I guess we better. Want to go get some burgers and fries at Mitchell’s?” she asked, meaning, of course, that she had a lot to tell her friend.

Even though Memphis had just binged, she couldn’t wait to ease her mind with some French fries and gravy. “Yeah, let’s go,” she said, getting in Lily’s car and sneering towards the red car guys, who didn’t even offer to say goodbye to Lily.

Memphis wondered, then, what was worse. Lily riding off with a carload of guys for fun, or her running from a carload who threatened to violate her for being fat? Either way, she was sure that she wasn’t interested in either option.

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