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The Food Baby
by Esmi Rowan
She hadn't wanted to but he pressured her. Afterwards, they went out for fries and a milkshake at the Dairy Dream, the two of them sitting in a booth, both on the same side, his right arm draped around her shoulders like swag. The discomfort she felt earlier dissipated in the warm glow of being out with him in public. Everybody would see them together.
She wanted to prolong the moment so she ordered more from the menu, picking items that would take a while to prepare. That way the two of them would linger and more people would see them and know they were a couple. She leaned her head back into his arm, closed her eyes and smiled, unaware that he was looking past her at his friends and smirking.
After a double cheeseburger, a basket of onion rings and a banana split, she put her hands on her stomach and groaned. He placed his left hand on top of hers and announced, "You're not eating for two, are you? Hope it's just a food baby!" The place erupted in snickers.
She flushed at his words. Did he have to be so obvious? Suddenly the smiles around them stretched into knowing leers. She grabbed her purse and pushed his arm away as she scrambled out of the booth.
Inside the restroom she perched on the toilet, fully clothed, and passed her hand over her stomach again. She felt strange, but it was way too early for for any symptoms. And after all, you didn't get pregnant the first time. The food baby kicked and she felt the gas explode into a burp that tasted of onions and fried batter. She just wanted to go home.
Three months later she was still feeling funny, still hungry, still eating for two and determined to bury herself in layers of fat. They weren't together and she didn't want anyone else coming near her.
At nine months she kept waiting for the contractions to start, but the only pangs she felt were hunger along with an occasional gnawing sensation. Eating on the hour every hour overcame both.
At ten months the only way she could keep the gnawing at bay was with more sugar and more fat every waking moment. If she wasn't chewing, she was swallowing. Instead of friends, her phone had takeout food and pizza delivery on speed dial.
At eleven months, alarmed that their daughter had doubled her body weight in less than a year, her parents signed papers to have her hospitalized. When the ambulance came, she fought off the attendants, swinging one beefy arm while shielding her stomach with the other and yelling, "It's my baby! You can't take it!"
But when they loaded her onto the gurney she started hemorrhaging, staining the white sheets with barbecue sauce, chocolate sauce, ketchup, mustard, and caramel sauce. She arched her back, her screams intensifying as her water broke. The paramedics gagged at the sudden gush of blood and condiments, ice cream toppings and partially-gnawed organs. The smell of fried onion rings was overpowering as whatever was erupting from between her legs began to crown.
mark211 - There's quite a powerful emotional core to this that caught my attention but the story also feels a little shapeless. The ending - where the foods come out intact and undigested - is quite intriguing but (to me) doesn't seem to go anywhere.
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