Welcome all to Open Mic Friday! The format is simple. Every week there will be a featured “reading” in the body of this post (this week, it’s my work, but often it’s a guest post). In the comments, you’re warmly invited to share some work of your own — and it doesn’t have to be text. To keep conversation and creative spirit flowing, please applaud and cheer for others’ offerings just as loudly as you would at a physical reading — by commenting on their work and giving props to everyone.
- Writers, if your work is lengthy, I recommend posting it elsewhere and including the link in the comments (with a sentence of description so we know what we’re clicking for).
- Comments are threaded, which means you can reply directly to each reader by hitting the “reply” button within that comment box. Converse!
This week’s featured reading is my own. It comes from Saraya’s story, a fictional piece I introduced to you last week. I just wrote this particular scene this very morning, and I’d like to open it up to your feedback.
Excerpt from first draft of Saraya’s story by Lisa Hsia
It had been so many years since she’d been fit, but she could still remember what that felt like, and in her current blob of a body, remembering was a mockery. Once upon a time she’d been a water baby, going happily to the pool every afternoon to splash around and race her friends. She had loved her Speedo swimsuit, all blue and green and purple, like a painting of the ocean. Then, one day, while she was suiting up in the locker room, two girls had pointed to her and giggled.
“You look like a whale!” one of them snickered.
“A big blue whale,” the other taunted.
Saraya had encountered these girls before, though she didn’t know their names. Suddenly she saw them differently, noticing that they were taller than her, and so skinny their swimsuits seemed to hang off them. The white girl was wearing a bright pink and blue two-piece with a ruffle around her waist. The black girl, a white suit with black spots and black trim. Next to them, her own suit looked plain.
She could do nothing but stare at them as they laughed and then darted out of the locker room, giggling. She saw for the first time how long and thin their legs looked. Then she went to the mirror and turned the same new gaze on herself. The blue suit she had loved so much now made her feel ugly, when she saw how the roundness of her stomach stretched the green and blue lines into curves around her waist. Her legs were round too, thick and short, sturdy like an elephant’s. She looked into her face and it didn’t look like her face anymore, now that she could see it was almost a pure circle, not a narrow oval like it should be. She saw her squishy chin and cheeks, her meaty arms and thighs, and tears formed in her eyes.
“Sarayaaa!” Kristina came running into the locker room. Saraya saw that Kristina’s legs were as skinny as those other girls’, and her solid navy-blue swimsuit hung off her bottom just like those girls’ suits did. “What are you doing? We’re all waiting for you!”
Those other girls are out there, Saraya realized. They’re waiting too.
“I don’t feel good,” she told Kristina, as she felt her lip tremble and her stomach heave.
Kristina looked at her anguished face, and her impatient expression changed to concern. “Yeah, you look kinda sick. Want me to call your mom?”
“Yes please,” Saraya mumbled, gratitude to Kristina filling all her body. Her fat body, a whale’s body. This way, she wouldn’t have to go out there until Mom walked by her side.
After that day, Saraya wouldn’t return to the swim club, although Mom asked her many times, first in puzzlement and then in annoyance. Kristina and Wendy told her they missed her, but Saraya shook her head every time they asked if she was coming back.
“I miss you too. But I don’t like swimming anymore.”
At recess she still ran around with everyone else, but sometimes, when no one was looking, she stopped and watched the others. She suddenly noticed that Tom had a chubby stomach too, and Jeannie’s face was as round as her own, but everyone else looked so skinny they could break.
The saddest thing about it, Saraya thought in retrospect, was that I was skinny then too. I was just bigger than everyone else, but I wasn’t fat then. Not yet.
Thank you ever so much for reading! I’ve got some guest posts lined up for the rest of the month, but there are still weeks that are unspoken for… will you step up and offer your work?
And now… it’s your turn. The comments are open!