By Lydia Kardum
A week later, when the fly on her jeans wouldn’t close, Chloe couldn’t stop the panic from flooding her veins. Tears sprang to her eyes. Confusion clouded her senses. Everything, except for the pounding in her ears, evaporated from the room.
She stood in front of her bathroom mirror, staring with an open mouth at the size of her stomach. Indeed, it appeared softer, almost puffy. Carefully, she stepped onto the bathroom scale.
Chloe was humiliated to discover that, after a solid week of cardio, strength training, and super clean eats, she had gained five pounds. The math didn’t make any sense! How was this possible?
Within minutes, she was on the telephone, making an appointment with her family doctor. Hopefully, once he ran a few tests, he could discover what might be causing Chloe’s bodyweight to fluctuate so drastically. Never in her life had she gained five pounds in a single week. In fact, she should have lost two or three, considering all the work she’d put in over the past seven days. The panic in her heart blossomed into full blown fear when the secretary said the doctor couldn’t see her until three days later.
“Three days! No, I need to see him today!”
“I’m sorry, Miss, but the doctor is completely booked. Is it an emergency?”
Chloe closed her mouth, the heat of raw panic filling her cheeks with embarrassment. “I..,” she began, unable to explain the situation. “I’ve recently had breast augmentation surgery and I think my system might have reacted badly with the pain medication. I’m noticing some strange and rapid weight gain.”
“Why don’t you consult your surgeon?”
“Because at my last check up, he told me I was healing perfectly. I need a second opinion.” It took every ounce of strength Chloe had not to yell into the phone.
The sound of papers shuffling and a computer keyboard clicking wafted through the phone, the evidence of a normal day at work for the secretary. She didn’t seem especially alarmed by Chloe’s crisis. She was going about her business as usual. “I’m sorry but the doctor has no openings until Friday morning. Would you like me to make an appointment for you?”
Chloe sucked in a long, dry breath. For a minute, she thought she might collapse on the floor in hysterics, then immediately felt stupid for the exaggeration. “Okay fine. I’ll take it. What time slots are available?”
“Nine o’clock and eleven o’clock.”
“Nine,” Chloe said with severe rudeness, then caught herself. “Please.”
“All right, Miss Peters, you’re scheduled for Friday at nine. The doctor will see you then.” The secretary’s goodbye was contrite and stoic. When the dial tone sounded in her ear, Chloe couldn’t bare the thought of hanging up.
When she finally did muster the energy to hang up the phone, it rang loudly, filling the room with an stunted, digital beeping noise. She didn’t bother to check the ID screen before yanking the receiver off the kitchen wall. “Hello?”
“Hey, Chloe, it’s me.” Melanie sounded cheerful, without a care in the universe.
“Hi.” Chloe clutched the phone in her sweaty hand, blinking back tears.
“Is everything okay? I haven‘t heard from you in awhile.”
Ever since Nathalia had told her about Melanie’s bizarre, accusatory phone call, she hadn’t had the courage to speak to her twin at all. Instead, she opted for silence. She hadn’t called Melanie since that Sunday breakfast with their mother. Chloe was unbearably tempted to confront her twin about that phone call but she didn’t know where to start. What would Melanie say? Would she deny it? Nathalia wouldn’t lie about something so random. What would she gain from making an accusation like that?
Instead, she aimed for subtlety. “I’ve been working with Nathalia a lot, trying to get my physique back on track.”
“Oh? And how’s it going?”
This would be the tricky part. Should she be honest and gauge Melanie’s response? “Actually, I’ve been running into a few problems with my metabolism.”
Chloe waited a few moments before answering, astounded by the casualty in her sister’s tone. She sounded sincerely concerned. How is that possible? “I’ve gained more weight than normal over the past week and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know what to do. I’ve made an appointment with the doctor to see what’s wrong.”
“That’s so strange. Do you want me to come with you for moral support?”
“No, thanks. I need to do this by myself.” Chloe said her goodbyes and hung up the phone feeling more confused than ever before.