Tess looked down at her burgeoning waistline in despair, how could she “love herself” when every time she looked in a mirror her confidence crashed.
“Mummy, mummy! We’re going to be late!” Taylor’s insistent fingers pulled at her skirt. Self recrimination would have to wait; a sixth birthday party would start in half an hour. Grabbing the car keys and shoving the present under one arm she bustled out the door.
It was the usual chaos, kids yelling and screaming, laughingly unaware of the grim facts of desertion or the realities of trying to hold a family together when half of it was missing. She looked with envy at their host, her size ten jeans still housing a “tight ass” no wonder her husband had stuck around. It was her own fault Steve’s eyes had wandered.
They were serving cake now – to take or to abstain? What was the use, she may as well indulge, what difference would it make? Biting down on chocolate fudge she was disturbed as a large posterior squeezed onto the bench beside her.
“Sorry,” the voice was touched with humor. “I seem to take up all the room these days!” the ample frame was brightened by a friendly grin.
“Tell me about it!” She gestured to her expanding rear end and they both laughed.
“You’re still indulging then,” he gestured to the cake.
“Why not, nothing seems to work anyway.” He laughed pointing to his own chocolate mound which looked like it had faced major attack. They talked for some time easy in each others company till the games ended and two chocolate faced munchkins headed in their direction.
“Can I give you a lift?” the easy repartee faded, he looked slightly awkward.
She waved her car keys, “no thanks, I have my own.”
His smile dropped for a moment then resurfaced. “I’ll see you around then,” he said.
Taylor looked up. “We live in the white house on the corner of James St.” he chimed in.
Tess coloured. “You’re welcome to drop by…” she mumbled. “Yes, come by, me and Jess could play together!” Taylor chimed in loudly. Tess’ tinge turned to scarlet but Ed was smiling.
“How’s about tomorrow night about 7?”
“Sure…” she wanted to sink through the floor, “if you want to…”
“Of course I want to,” Ed beamed, “it’s not often a guy like me gets to talk to a pretty woman.”
Tess looked anxiously at the door. The bell rang. Ed stood there with a bunch of flowers in hand.
“Thought it might be better than a box of chocolates!” he joked. He was making it clear he was interested.
“That’s so good of you! I haven’t had flowers in a long time…”
The evening went well, so did the Saturday meet up at the park. Finally he mustered up the courage to ask her out to dinner. To her astonishment he ordered salad. Flustered and not wanting to look like a pig she poured over the menu.
“Now you order what you want Tess,” he grunted, “I like you just the way you are, but I want to look good for you. There was no reason to stay in shape after my wife died, but now…” he paused embarrassed.
Tess smiled, “I think I’ll have salad too,” she said.