This flash fiction has to do with the continuous body shaming that our society tries to disengage from, but falls short. It is a short fiction about the constant struggles woman face when they just aren’t the ‘right size.’ Though I am an outsider looking in, I wanted to write from a new point of view. I hope I do it justice.
Heat Wave by: Rose Clifford
In the New York City heat my my neck and forehead perspire like oil in the midday sun. My bronze thighs chaff as I saunter in my new waist-high shorts, the ones I recently bought at this one consignment shop on 56th and 9th. In high school, everyone would tease me for wearing shorts like this. Now, I just don’t care. Since moving here I have this newfound confidence, something my friends refer to as my little secret aura.
Soon, I begin to curse myself for walking about on this miserable Saturday. I wipe my forehead hard, suddenly realizing a city summer is worse than anything I had experienced down South when I was growing up. People around me trudge through the air as if it were transparent smog – clear, but heavy with humidity. Shops don’t even have their doors open a crack, because they most likely don’t mind running up their bills with the AC.
I’m afraid people are gawking at me, yet no one seems to pay me any mind. But, then again, usually everyone stares off into another direction whenever I’m around. People can never look me directly in the eyes as if my overweight presence is contagious. Don’t acknowledge the fat girl, they think, she may read my mind – she might know I think she’s fat. Pay me no attention, but either way I know it rolls through your mind.
I’m aware of my body as much as I am aware of my ignorant surroundings.
But, right now I don’t concentrate on their faces. Instead, I focus my energy on my steps and my breathing. Left. Right. Left. Right. I need water as soon as possible or I might faint. I have a history with fainting from the heat. I never thought it would happen again, not up North at least.
Three more blocks and I will be home. Left. Right. Left. Right. Two more blocks. Left. Right. Left. Right.
That’s when I hear it.
That’s when the teary-eyed laughter and pointing comes flashing back.
I stop dead in my tracks to listen, even though I know what is going to happen next.
“Don’t you think you look a little too big to be wearing those shorts?” Sneers a man.
Ice water pummels down from the balcony above me. With my goosebumps protruding, and my sopping clothing – I shiver the last block home.
Not even my eyes are dry.