A New World
THE ORIGINAL DAHLIA
It was like I really had changed into somebody else.
I went downstairs and left the hotel, wandering out onto the busy street and I truly felt different. The glasses, the hair, the clothes, the shoes: I looked like someone new now and I was out in front of anyone who might care to look as though this really was the new me.
Back in England, when I’d slipped down to Barton in disguise, as much as I’d wanted to pretend I’d changed, it hadn’t really felt like I had. The hair alone had ruined any illusion I could have had because the wig felt like wearing a woolly hat. This wasn’t a wig anymore, it was my real hair! I couldn't help clutching it in my fingers and smiling.
But the physical reality wasn’t the only thing, though it framed everything.
I was a model. In my day I had been a super model. Walking down a street like this a month ago would have seen every eye on me; on my long slender limbs and generous bosom, my long silky hair and my beautiful face; my extravagant tailored clothes.
Now I was anonymous. Nobody gave me a second look.
With the big frames of my glasses and the dowdy hairstyle and cheap clothes I was nobody notable at all. I was just an ordinary woman; one of the masses. The dress did nothing to hide the extra weight I’d gained already. It was embarrassing at first to be so exposed in front of all these people like this with that extra squishiness on display, but really, nobody cared. They couldn’t judge how far I’d fallen because they had nothing to compare me to, and honestly, these people had better things to care about than another bespectacled nobody shuffling along by herself.
I beamed, enjoying the anonymity and so glad now that I’d pushed through with it. I was so grateful I had had Melissa’s support. Without her I might have backed out with cold feet. She’d given me just enough of a nudge to keep going.
There was an ice-cream parlour up ahead with stools arranged around a front-facing counter. I slipped my tongue out and ran it once round to moisten my lips, grinning, and hurried across to it.
A lifetime of dieting and now there was nothing to hold me back. Nothing at all. Quite the opposite. For my fantasy to come true I really had to go out of my way to eat now.
I ordered a tub of ice-cream containing four generous scoops; a variety of flavours. I had chocolate chip and a delicious version of strawberry that actually contained whole real strawberries. With them I had caramel supreme and mint chocolate and over the top I added raspberry and chocolate sauce and hundreds and thousands, plus a sprinkling of nuts.
I tucked in greedily, chomping down the tub quickly and already eying the other flavours I hadn’t tried.
To put on weight intentionally. To get fatter on purpose. That was the plan now. To get fatter and fatter and fatter and fatter and let myself really become Melissa.
I’d already taken on her name. I’d given over all my money.
I grinned to think of her playing along; insisting that I have no control over where we were going to go next. It was so delightfully perfect. I couldn’t have imagined it better myself.
I finished off my ice-cream, toyed with having some more, then instead, continued down the shopping street. There were loads and loads of touristy shops and though much of it was gaudy tat, there were a few items that caught my eye. I considered going in and trying some things on but even as I got as far as the shop threshold I remembered about the exchange of handbags and I realised that I had to be careful now. I no longer had unlimited funds. I couldn’t just buy anything I wanted. Not anymore. I was an ordinary woman now on a cleaner’s salary and with my developing appetite I was going to need what cash I had to keep myself in food.
I checked my purse and deliberated, squinting at the item I'd seen: a brightly coloured summer dress. It was very pretty but I remembered who I was now. I glanced down at the clothes I was already wearing. Something like that wouldn’t suit me.
And if I bought that then I wouldn’t be able to...
I looked back at the ice-cream store. There had been so many wonderful flavours there.
I took one last look at the summer dress then turned my back on it and walked back toward the thing I really wanted.
As I approached it again I heard a bleep from my handbag and, curious, fished out Melissa’s phone. My phone now.
It was inexpensive and of limited use; several years older than the phone I'd handed over in its place. There was a text and when I worked out how to bring it up I saw that it was from Melissa. From Dahlia.
Melissa, it read. Seeing that name gave me a shiver. Have organised accommodation and transport. We’ll be leaving in one hour. Meet in reception then. Dahlia.
I smiled, reading it a second time. She had been quick off the mark and done exactly as she said she would. I couldn’t wait to see where we were going. It made me nervous that she had control now but that surrender was part of the allure and my loins were sparking from the titillation.
I closed up the mobile and put it away, checked my watch then strode the rest of the way to the ice-cream store. I had more than enough time for a few more scoops.