The mere sight of the scale had set her off. Flashbacks of purging and gorging came uninvited to the forefront of her consciousness. She hid her past well. Married, two gorgeous children. Sure, she had her neuroses, but who didn’t? It was fashionable to see a psychiatrist. She needed to, just to stay even-keeled. She tried very hard to pretend the scale was of no interest to her. In her own house, it was hidden from view. She reapplied her make-up, turned to leave, took her shoes off and weighed herself. Nothing. The scale was broken! After all this anguish and dickering, she was left with only shame and anger. To have succumbed to temptation for nothing!

She storms out of the washroom and finds the host. She asks her in low hushed tones, with a twinkle in her eyes and a laugh in her voice “What’s with the broken scale in the washroom?” The host pauses – “Ha! It’s electronic, you need to set it by applying a bit of pressure, just a tap of the toes to the surface. Don’t you have one of those? It saves the batteries’ energy.” “Oh, ha, ha, ha.” She gives a strained little laugh and waves a finger at her. “You had me fooled, there, for a minute. I thought you were trying to pass it off as a work of art.” Both women laugh, in that high-pitch falsetto that passes for comradery and good times in a party. Someone grabs hold of the hostess “The food is splendid, and so are the waiters! Who is catering…?”

She slinks off to try again. An informal line has formed, snaking down the hall. Helpfully, she points people to other washrooms, this way and that. It is a large mansion, there are 5 powder rooms, strategically located within it. One person goes in search of another washroom, but, maddeningly, the others stay put, chatting and joking around. They are in no hurry. She waits, anxiety slowly building up. Everybody has a drink in their hands, everybody stays forever in the washroom. It is beautiful, with a full-size Roman bath, gilded apparatus… and a state-of-the-art scale.  She looks at herself in a mirror – something else that has been banned from her home. Her emerald dress sets off her freckled skin and red hair. She sees the martini in her hand, and calculates the calories. She holds it for effect, does not drink alcohol. She is slim and gorgeous, her husband tells her. He even said she could afford to put on some weight.

She smiled sweetly at him, gave him a peck on the cheek and answered, “I love you too.” He is infatuated with her, thrilled of her trophy wife who slid in place to replace his previous trophy wife. He had a ready-made family. The kids were at an adorable age, and he held on to them. The switcharoo with the wives happened discreetly, a small wedding of 200 close associates. He did not want to make a big deal out of it. She held her own, though the days and hours preceding the big event had been nerve-wracking. She was in hysterics, looking at her slim body in the gorgeous white dress with despair. “I am fat, fat, fat and ugly.” He did her best to reassure her, but her eyes held daggers and she spit her venom. He had put it down to nerves. The event went without a hitch, Angelina being the flower girl, Billy bringing the rings on a cushion.

She has a knot in her stomach. It must be the canapes.

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