What goes around comes around (Lily’s Story)

BOOK: What goes around comes around (Lily’s Story)
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What goes around comes around

By

O.C Shaw

 

Text copyright © 2013 O.C Shaw

All rights reserved

Chapter 1

Do you ever have conversations
with people where they remark how they seem to have blinked and an hour has
flown by, or a week, or a year?  This morning I have been having one of those
moments, except that I find myself standing in front of my mirror at home,
looking at my reflection and realising that somehow eighteen years have gone by.
 And I can’t for the life of me really tell you much about it – what I was
doing, what I achieved, what the hell happened.  What I’m most afraid of is
that the next time I wake up, another eighteen years will have gone, and I’ll find
myself fifty-five years old and feeling like somehow I missed virtually my whole
life.  So today, this morning, as I stand there looking at myself, I take stock:
I decide that I, Lily Lambert, am unremarkable, and not in a good way, at least
not in a way I am happy with.  As I examine myself and take in my reflection –
my short stature, heart-shaped face framed by long, dark, wavy (slightly
frizzy) hair, and excessive curves – I figuratively weigh myself (I can’t face
the actual scales) and find myself wanting.  I have reached the grand age of
thirty-seven and awakened to find myself an overweight, married mother of twin
boys, and while I know many people would tell me to suck it up and get on with
it, that I’m lucky to have so much, something I can’t quite define seems to
have clicked inside me.  I have an overwhelming sense that it’s now or never if
I’m going to make any changes for the better in my life.  In truth I’m not even
sure if it’s going to be possible. 
Midlife crisis?
 I wonder.  
Maybe.
 
Maybe I’m already too late?
  It’s a depressing thought.  However, when
all is said and done, the only question that really remains is:
if I’m going
to do it, what the hell do I do? How do I start to change?

Several hours later I find myself walking through the
doorway of the local gym for an initial assessment with my newly assigned instructor,
Stuart. It would be fair to say my considering joining a gym is entirely out of
character, as evidenced by my husband Greg’s derisive sniggering when I told
him over the phone why I was going to be late home from work this evening. However,
it feels like it’s completely in line with my newfound desire to shake up my
world – and frankly, Greg’s disapproval provided clear evidence of that. 
The only thing I could put this particular flash of inspiration down to was too
much time spent listening to the loquacious lady on the morning T.V. before my
shift at work. She had a lot to answer for, and not just this mad foray into
exercise; I have also attempted numerous new recipes at her behest, lured into
thinking it would all be so easy, thanks to the overuse of phrases like ‘all
you have to do’ and ‘just’ strategically placed in front of some improbable
task.  So once again, for a few brief moments this morning, after my epiphany
at the mirror, I had really believed her when she said that I could ‘easily
make changes to my body and in turn my life’, long enough to pick up the phone
and make the appointment for after work. 
Stupid, really, in retrospect
,
I think as I walk into the reception area preoccupied by thoughts of the horror
to come.  In my distracted state, and in line with my innate tendency towards
clumsiness, I manage to trip over the mat which lies just inside the doorway and
send myself barrelling forward into some poor unsuspecting soul who just happens
to be trying to leave the building as I’m arriving. Instead he ends up with my
head in his stomach and emitting a loud “ooof” as I knock all the wind out of him,
before finally sprawling in an undignified heap on the floor.  I flush bright
red as I stagger back to my feet in an uncoordinated scramble, whilst one of
the instructors comes running towards us.

“God, James, are you okay?”  The object of his concern is still
bent double, clearly winded by my unprovoked attack.  I’m mortified, mumbling
my apologies, as I take in the figure before me, now being supported by the
instructor. 
I can see why my head still hurts
, I think, absentmindedly
rubbing it while simultaneously taking in the visible outline of his firm abs
encased in a plain white t-shirt as the person gradually unrolls and tries to return
to an upright position.  When I finally see his face, my mouth falls open and goes
dry. He’s the very definition of ‘jaw-droppingly gorgeous’; ‘made for T.V.’ /
model stuff, sporting dark hair combined with sky blue eyes on top of the finest
body you could wish to see.  He isn’t a youth, either; he looks about my own age,
judging by the small brushes of grey that pepper the hair by his ears, but he wears
it well – far better than I do, if his physical shape is anything to go by.
Curiously he also seems somehow familiar. All of this flashes through my mind
in the moments of his recovery, while the instructor anxiously hovers beside
him.  Mr Abs must have seen me staring and clocked my reaction to him because by
the time my eyes reach back up to his face, he’s returning my stare quite
brazenly and making me blush again.  On seeing my response, he smirks in a way
I find frankly irritating before rolling his eyes and turning to the instructor,
saying: “I hope your public liability insurance is all in order?” and casting a
meaningful nod back in my direction.

I flush yet again,
God, I hardly ever blush normally
,
in part because I’m embarrassed but mostly because I’m pissed off that he didn’t
have the grace to just leave me to wallow in my humiliation and let me creep
away.  I mumble final apologies while trying simultaneously to back away from the
pair of them: 

“Sorry, I’ll try not to hurt you again.  You’ve no need to
worry really, I normally only take myself out with my clumsiness”, before
muttering another last “sorry” to no one in particular and staggering my way over
to the reception desk to book in.  I say ‘staggering’ because I manage to catch
my bag strap round my legs and nearly trip myself again.  I force myself to not
look around this time in an effort to retain some last shred of dignity, hoping
to God they haven’t been watching, but I swear I hear two sniggers coming from
behind me.  My humiliation complete, I feel like turning tail and running for
home before I even start.  But I take a deep breath when I finally reach the
desk and determine, as I have come this far, I really need to see it through. 
Anyway it would have just meant walking past the pair of them again, as they’re
still standing by the door talking and casting occasional glances in my
direction, which would have just been even more embarrassing. 
Anyway,
surely there couldn’t be any further mishaps to face?
  It turns out I was
wrong.

My new instructor, Stuart, had to (of course) be the witness
to my humiliating entrance debacle.  As he walks me to his private room for my
initial assessment, I could swear he’s deliberately staying a couple of steps
away from me, in case I suddenly try to take him out. He begins to take a
medical history, looking amused as I catalogue my history of minor sprains and breaks.

“I can be a bit clumsy,” I explain a little sheepishly this
time.

“I can see that,” is all he says, while trying to smother a grin,
endeavouring to maintain a professional expression.  He asks me questions about
where I work, trying to assess my level of daily activity, and when I tell him
I work on reception at a doctors’ surgery, he can’t contain himself.  He openly
laughs, telling me how ‘that must be convenient’, in between sniggers.  I want
to scowl at him, but in the end I can’t help joining in and laughing too,
admitting how it’s something of a standing joke at work.  By the end of the interview
I realise he is actually just a nice person, despite finding humour in my
clumsiness.  He even makes the pain of being weighed and measured, and told I
am officially overweight (looking far too close to the obese range for my
liking), less painful than it might have been because he is so utterly
convinced that I can do something to change it.  ‘All’ (
there’s one of those
words again
) I needed to do was regularly come to the gym and follow the
simple programme he has given me, and the weight is bound to fall off, he assures
me.  So, despite hating the scrutiny of the fellow gym users, I obediently trot
around the gym after him as he demonstrates to me how to use the various pieces
of equipment.  Some of the others surreptitiously watch my progress, but at least
I make it through without any further breakages of me or anything (or anyone) else. 
Stuart is great, and he reassures me all the time it will be a simple job to
make the changes I am after.  The cynic inside me tells me he is offering the
kind of insincere reassurance of someone who can only profit, now he has my
membership fee and direct debit details.  He shouldn’t care, I figure, because either
way he wins: if I don’t keep up the visits, he still keeps my money, and if I do,
then he can lay claim to my miraculous transformation.

“I’ve seen worse,” he assures me at one point.  Clearly he believes
this small gift of kindness will make me feel better about myself, but I’m not
sure it does, really. I just feel like a clumsy oaf surrounded by beautiful
people,
like the guy I ran into at the door
,
I think, remembering
those beautiful blue eyes and losing myself for a second in the memory.  

Having said all that, I complete the programme and feel loads
better for it, right up until the point that I’m standing in the shower
afterwards and catch sight of a twenty-something lovely staring at me through
the small gap (where the curtain never quite meets the wall) with an expression
of undisguised pity on her face.   She’s like my complete polar opposite: tall,
blonde, thin, pretty and young.  I think I might actually hate her for being so
perfect.  I can feel the endorphins generated by my gym exertions disappearing
down the plughole of the shower along with the shampoo bubbles, unidentified hairs
and my confidence as I wither under her scrutiny. 

Body confidence has never really been my thing.  Even at my
supposed best, during my late teens and early twenties, I had erred towards
oversized cardigans and baggy jumpers, combined with jeans in an effort to mask
my perceived body inadequacies.  I told everyone else at the time it was
because I didn’t care about fashion, that I wasn’t shallow, but I’m not sure what
I said was entirely the truth.  In retrospect I probably just made myself look
worse than I needed to, but I’ve never really felt any better over the years,
especially after the kids. 

I can feel my shoulders hunching further forward in an
effort to hide myself from scrutiny, as I endeavour to speed up the washing and
rinsing process and escape into the gloomy anonymity of the changing room. On a
positive note, I tell myself, at least she had noticed me – that doesn’t
happen every day.  These days it feels unusual to be noticed by anyone at all,
unless I’m falling over something. Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but it seems as
if I’m reaching an age where people look past me, or through me, to something lovelier
or more interesting beyond.  I know I shouldn’t care so much, that I am being
shallow to even be bothered, and I also know my family would never understand
how I feel.  They think my sole purpose in life is to serve their needs, and (to
be fair to them) maybe it is. 
Maybe I am being selfish. But I have spent
the last 18 years not being selfish
, I decide.

I have reasons to be cheerful today, I remind myself; I have
worked every part of my body in a way it has frankly not seen since I did gym
at school.  Well, not even then, given my tendency at the time to find any
excuse I could to avoid all forms of exercise.  The problem was the less
exercise I did, the worse the problem of my weight (and therefore my confidence)
became, because my appetite was never an issue.  I’m not entirely stupid, as I
think some thin people seem to assume fat and overweight people are.  I do know
the facts about energy in, energy out and the theory of how to keep yourself
thin, but overeating and low self-esteem are a vicious cycle I can’t seem to escape. 
I was constantly told when I was younger that I was ‘chubby’ or had ‘such a
pretty face’, much to my horror, but I have always considered myself too far
gone to feel strong enough to do anything about it.  Until now.  So anyway,
here I am, years later, trying to put right what is possibly beyond saving, as a
first step to making changes in my life.  For now, though, it is time to return
to the real world and Greg, so I pick up my bag with a sigh and make my way out
towards the car. 

BOOK: What goes around comes around (Lily’s Story)
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