Archive for May, 2010

May 26th, 2010

Excerpt from Goodbye Muffin Top

by G. P. Hobbs, Learner, Writing Workshops

Jeff runs down the subway station stairs, trying to ignore the parts of his body that are jiggling.  There are soft, blubbery areas that weren’t there even last week.  Above his low-riding belt line is a particularly bouncy strip of fat.  “What the hell?” As he nears the last step, he sucks in his gut and flattens it with his left hand.  The subway doors close just as he reaches the platform and the train rolls on without him.  The underground air feels thicker than usual.

Jeff leans against the grimy wall, catching his breath.  “When did I get so out of shape?” he wonders.  He pulls the front of his shirt from his sticky chest and looks down.  “How are my legs still so damn skinny?”

The platform soon fills up with fellow commuters: suit-wearers, students, administrative types, and at least two people talking to themselves in angry tones.  Everyone looks trapped, unsung and beaten down.  Jeff wonders how many are thinking of jumping in front of the next train.  “A few, for sure,” he decides.  He’s never considered himself suicidal, but the option has crossed his mind, of course.

Standing there, waiting, he visualizes his disproportioned body hurtling over the stippled, yellow safety line.  He runs a quick internal slideshow of his own flesh and bone being smashed, twisted and streaked along the tracks.  He wonders, “how long it would take for the TTC cleanup crew to swoop in and remove all traces?”   He shakes himself free of the picture show.  “Coward.  You’re a Goddamn coward!”  Now he too is talking to himself.

The train arrives and a tide of commuters funnels aboard.  But Jeff backs off against the current and turns around.  By the time the doors chime shut he’s charging up the escalator with the urgency of a surfacing deep sea diver.

The clear, bright morning hits him like the Technicolors of Oz.  He takes two deep, deliberate hauls of the outside air.  His heart slows.  He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pack of extra-light DuMauriers.  Looking at the Health Canada warning image of a blood-clotted brain, he feels the pinch of a strained pulse in his head. He scratches at his scalp then tosses the cigarettes in the trash.  “I feel a little better already.”

It’s still early enough to get bumped straight to voicemail.  He flips open his phone and speed dials his boss.

“Hi.  Linda.” He forces a cough. There’s plenty of phlegm in his throat to make it convincing. “It’s Jeff.” A truck squeals at the Bloor lights.  He cups the phone with his palm. “I can’t come in today.  I’m really not feeling well.”  He pauses before ending the call without a signoff.  Ordinarily he would have said that he’s sorry, that he’d be checking email, and that he’d work late tomorrow to catch up.  But he’s not at all sure of any of that.