Endorphins

After checking into Endorphins, a glitzy health and fitness spa, poor, plump Edyth discovers that their guarantee of lifetime weight loss and a happy smile might be more than she bargained for.

May 7, 2010
ISBN -0000889312
Short Story
Genre: Horror

 

Read An Excerpt:

Edyth stood in the shower, hot water thrumming on her aching head, the heat refusing to soothe her tortured soul. “I just can’t do this anymore,” she sighed through the steam. She scrubbed herself with a complete lack of enthusiasm, refusing to acknowledge her loose sagging stomach, her wide cellulite-dimpled thighs, jiggly arms, or her soft, jowly face. Still sighing, she finished her shower and turned off the heat.

As Edyth toweled off, she told herself not to look in the mirror, but she sought out her shame anyway. She stared at her reflection, at the droops and rolls on the stranger staring back at her. The hideous person she had become gawked back, sickened disbelief carved into the fat. How has this happened? she asked herself. How have I become so ugly, so utterly repugnant? But maybe, just maybe, I’ve found a solution. Maybe my luck is about to change.

She turned away from the apparition in the mirror and forced herself to get dressed. She tried not to feel her clothes pinch, tried not to notice her slacks stretch across her hips, her bra bite into her sides and shoulders, or her blouse strain over her bosom. Nothing had changed, she remained trapped in the same disgusting, unforgiving body she had woken in, yet she felt a stirring of hope. A brochure lay beside the sink, promising success with a new inpatient program. She only needed the guts to try it.

‡‡‡

From the back seat of the cab, Edyth smiled as the building came into view. Sleek steel and glass, surrounded by tall trees, Endorphins gave off an air of austere authority and purpose. Edyth clasped her shaking hands and tried to calm her terrified heart. Six thousand dollars, she thought, her mind hammering alongside her heart. Six grand for six weeks, and as much weight as I want to lose. It’s just impossible. No one loses eighty to one hundred pounds in six weeks.

The cab dropped her off at the front door and a pleasant looking young man in white hurried out to take her bag. “Welcome to Endorphins,” he said, smiling. “My name’s Rob and I’ll be your guide today.”

“Thank you,” Edyth said, feeling heat on her round face. How long has it been since a nice looking young man smiled at me? Years? Decades? No nice looking men smile at fat women like me. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she blurted out.

“You’ll do fine.” Rob held her bags with one hand while he opened the door for her with the other. “All our new arrivals are nervous. Let’s get you checked in, then we’ll take a quick tour and get you ready to start the program.”

“Sure,” she said, her hand fluttering over her heart. Plush and modern yet very serene, the lobby area seemed created from light streaming through the windows. The scent of vanilla in the air whispered as softly as her footsteps on the plum carpet. She followed Rob to a wide glass-and-chrome desk and saw sweaty men and women of all ages and hues hurrying down a nearby hall. They looked driven and determined.

Rob nodded toward the group and placed her bags on the floor. “They’re heading to the virtual biking class,” he said. “Edyth Wallstone, right?”

“Yes, that’s right.” Awed at the beauty of the lobby and the enthusiastic dedication of the patients, she barely heard her own voice. This place looks more like a new age hotel than a fat farm.

He tapped a couple of keys and lifted her bags again. “We have you assigned to the Cadence wing, since you mentioned a liking for music on your enrollment form.”

“That sounds nice,” she said, following him through a set of clear glass doors.

“It is nice,” he replied. “All the rooms surround the conservatory. You’re encouraged to play whatever music suits your fancy.”

She blushed, self-consciously smoothing her clothes. “Oh I’m a listener, not a player.” They passed an aerobics class, the students lifting their legs impossibly high and smiling all the while. “Do you guarantee limberness and flexibility too?”

He glanced back at her. “We can. Would you like me to add them to your list?”

She thought for a moment. The application had required her to list two or more results she wanted guaranteed. She’d chosen eighty to one hundred pounds weight loss and a happy smile – both mentioned several times in the brochure – but she hadn’t considered there could be other possibilities. “What other things can you guarantee?”

Rob opened a door and motioned her through. “Nearly anything concerning motivation. We have a few artists and writers here breaking their creative blocks. We have given people patience, a desire to read, a desire to learn, all sorts of benefits above and beyond exercise and weight loss. We even have a special program to quit smoking.”

They walked down a short hallway decorated in lovely shades of muted green. The air smelled of bayberry and sounded faintly of Mozart. A young woman jogged to them, sweaty hair clinging to her smiling face. Like the other patients, she wore a white t-shirt and gray sweat pants, both embroidered with the Endorphins brand name. “Hi Rob!”

“Sarah! I’d like you to meet Edyth. She’s just starting.”

Sarah held out her hand as she caught her breath. “Nice to meet you,” she said, her smile widening even as she gingerly rubbed the back of her leg. “Are you here for the six week plan or the three month?”

“Six weeks. I’m a little nervous though. Does it really work?”

Sarah barked out a tittering laugh. “Oh, it works. I’m on the six week plan myself. Only four days to go and I’m on my own.”

Sarah looked great, fit, toned and energetic, and Edyth could not imagine her ever being overweight at all. “Really? How much weight have you lost?”

Sarah’s smile tightened then she started jogging again. “Seventy eight pounds, as of this morning. I’m hoping to break eighty by tomorrow so I gotta run. I’m here on Cadence too. Nice to meetcha! See you around!”

“Seventy eight pounds in five and a half weeks!” Edyth said as Sarah jogged down the hall. She followed Rob into a homelike suite and almost sighed with happiness. Everything looked perfect, even the daisies on the desk. In five weeks I could look like Sarah. It sounds impossible, but it’s guaranteed!