Lose 10 Pounds in 3 Days – Melissa Llanes Brownlee

Day 1

Breakfast: black tea or coffee, 1/2 a grapefruit, 1 piece of toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, you are only twelve but your mother insists, and you have to follow the rules exactly or you won’t lose any weight, your pants and skirts no longer fitting your once straight but now widening hips, but at least there is peanut butter, you think, as you wish for some guava jam to go with it, your mother sitting next to you sipping her black coffee, grapefruit pith clinging to her painted fingernails

Lunch: black tea or coffee, 1/2 a cup of tuna, 1 piece of dry toast, you can’t even have mayo, and you remember the time your mother stretched a whole can of tuna across an entire loaf of bread for lunch for the family with almost half a jar of Best Foods, and your drool moistens that sad piece of toast right up as your mother nibbles on hers

Dinner: black tea or coffee, 3 ounces of lean meat, 1 cup of green beans, 1 cup of carrots, 1 small apple, 1 cup of vanilla ice cream, your mother steams some chicken for you, opens cans of green beans and carrots, the only fresh food is the tiny red apple you wouldn’t even give a teacher, at least you get some ice cream even though you wish there was some chocolate Magic Shell on top, your mother making sure you eat everything on your plate before finishing her own

Day 2

Breakfast: black tea or coffee, 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 piece of dry toast, 1/2 a banana, you don’t want to wake up, you want hot cocoa and not Lipton, again, you want eggs and bacon and pancakes, your stomach feels so empty as you try to pick up non-existent toast crumbs from your empty plate, stop that your mother scolds as she chokes down her egg

Lunch: black tea or coffee, 1 cup of cottage cheese and six saltine crackers, you hate cottage cheese, but your mother watches you eat every spoonful, the dry and salty crackers standing at attention waiting patiently for their turn next to the photocopy of the Military Diet your mother got from her friend at work

Dinner: black tea or coffee, 2 hot dogs, 1 cup of broccoli, 1/2 a cup of carrots, 1/2 a banana, 1/2 a cup of vanilla ice cream, you are excited for hot dogs but there is no ketchup or mustard or relish, your mother says your lucky to even get two, that’s too much food for you, but you must follow the diet exactly or you both won’t lose the ten pounds and you look at your body and wonder where the ten pounds will come from as you pinch only skin

Day 3

Breakfast: black tea or coffee, 1 small apple, 1 ounce of cheddar cheese, five saltine crackers, you love cheddar cheese and slice your apple and cheese thinly, place them on each one of your five saltine crackers, pretend it’s a sandwich at a fancy tea party in a cute little dress your mother would never buy for you, not at home in your t-shirt and shorts, sitting at your plain brown dining table, your mother doing the same

Lunch: black tea or coffee, 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 piece of dry toast, you wish you had saved some cheese for lunch, you dunk your dry piece of toast into your Lipton until it falls apart, drinking your black tea and bread soup, your mother’s eyes never leaving your hands, her own wrapped tightly around her coffee

Dinner: black tea or coffee, 1 cup of tuna, 1 cup of carrots, 1 cup of cauliflower, 1 cup of melon, 1/2 a cup of vanilla ice cream, you are so happy it’s the last day that you don’t even mind the cauliflower, you mix the melon and ice cream, imagining it is a sundae, your mother pushing her tuna around on her plate

Day 4

You get on the scale in your mother’s bathroom and have gained five pounds. Your mother is angry and yells, you cheated, you ate something else, didn’t you, and you swear you never did and your mother gets on the scale and you are too scared to look and the next day she puts you both on Slim Fast and you know this will never end

Melissa Llanes Brownlee

Melissa Llanes Brownlee (she/her), a native Hawaiian writer in Japan has work in SmokeLong Quarterly, Reckon Review, Five South, Cotton Xenomorph, Best Small Fictions 2021, Best Microfiction 2022, and Wigleaf Top 50 2022. Read Hard Skin (Juventud Press) and Kahi and Lua (Alien Buddha). Tweets @lumchanmfa. Talks story at www.melissallanesbrownlee.com.

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