THE ORIGINAL MELISSA
I laughed as I drove away from dropping the new Melissa off at her hotel and went on giggling all the way to my hotel. She had no idea what I had planned and I only wished I could be there to see her face when she realised.
Oh yes, I certainly did. But I couldn’t have everything. Just almost everything.
It was incredible how empowered I felt now with our exchange today. When she’d started this swap idea I’d been sceptical, even scornful, but now it was like an addiction. I didn’t want it to stop. Ever. Something had clicked when we traded names and I just didn’t see myself the same way anymore. Nobody knew me here. I could reinvent myself any way I chose. Even the former Dahlia had been left behind in my dust.
The taxi pulled up outside my hotel and I paid the driver a handsome tip, just because I could. The Satine Palace was an incredible place. It had a great semi-circular driveway bordered by palms and a grand entrance. My bags were carried inside by a porter and the check-in was seamless and very respectful. Each activity underscored my new status as a woman of privilege and leisure.
I was famished but I wanted to see my room first.
I rode up in the lift and made my way long the corridor, bell boy hurrying behind. I didn’t have much luggage as yet – there were few Dahlia clothes that fit me – but I planned to rectify that soon enough. I had the money and the will to splurge out on an entire new wardrobe, and why not? It was my wealth now.
I laughed again and the bell boy looked confused. The tip I gave him stopped him worrying too hard about it though.
The suite was splendiferous; really magnificent. The furniture and decor were as opulent as Dahlia’s house back in Nockton Vale and the view was ten times better, looking out over the bay, rocky cliffs and hills to my right and a long stretch of beach off to the left. On the wide private balcony I could hear pool noises from round the corner of the hotel and below I could see more palm trees and rocks and a path down to the perfect beach that was dotted with big free-standing umbrella sunshades. I breathed in the warm sea air, smiling happily.
Had life ever been this good to me?
Of course not. My old life had been deplorable. She was welcome to it.
I didn’t bother to get settled in immediately. Lunch was still being served downstairs. I got changed into a wrap, bikini and sun hat then went down to see what was available.
The dining room had an incredible spread of food. Like at the new Melissa’s hotel it was an open buffet but obviously the standard was far, far higher than that would be.
I took a plate and eagerly began filling it, stuffing on every morsel of food that took my fancy. And so much did! There were local dishes; some of which defied description and looked frankly awful; but a lot of it was food I recognised and craved intensely. More I put on my plate, and more.
Then half way round I stopped and looked down at it and realised what I was doing; why I shouldn’t be doing it. I looked to the heavens and sighed heavily, resenting the situation terribly. But this was the price, I reminded myself; and it was barely a price. It was an opportunity. All my life I had been fat. This was my big chance now to change my ways.
It was a lot of fun to focus on the fun I was having scoring one up on my former employer and setting her down a peg, but there was so much more to this than that. I wasn’t a diabolical villain, existing only to steal a life, even for a while. Deep down I was a fat sad woman who had been depressed for a very long time; who had hated myself – yes, hated myself – for a very long time.
Today was a gateway from the me of the past to the me of the future. Everything could change now. If I put the necessary will behind it. And it had to be now. I couldn’t think that I’d give myself a week off first. Today was the gateway. If I waited a week before starting on my diet then I knew I’d never really start it. Melissa; the old Melissa; was gone now. I was this new person who did have self control; who respected herself finally.
And yes, throwing mud in Dahlia’s eye added a lot of fun to the process, but this was about me. I didn’t really know how long this would go one for but if it did have an end in the relatively near future then I wanted to take away from it a new slimmer body. Maybe I’d never be as slim as she had been; that was impossible; but I could change my shape for the better. I was sure I could.
I left the overburdened plate where I was and went back to the beginning of the line to fetch a clean one, then I started again. This time I chose light items and I didn’t fill more than the inner circle of my plate.
That was better and I saw the huge swimming pool out there. Perhaps I’d go for a swim later. That was it; start the way I meant to go on. Dieting plus exercise: that was the way to go.
I smirked to myself, thinking about her, then I found a table overlooking the pool and settled down to my lunch.