Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.
May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others and
a love within recall that alters you.
Harris dashed down the stairs hearing a train pull in. He hoped it was his.
When he got home Harris stood in front of the mirror. Something he rarely did for longer than it took for him to shave. He looked to see how the haircut had changed him, how knowing about this curse has manifested itself physically beyond getting him to cut off his ponytail.
He pulled off his Jetsons tee shirt. The bruising on his ribs was pretty much cleared up though the ribs were still sore if he pressed hard enough. What had the doctor said – about how his body fat had acted as amour or he would have had broken ribs instead of slightly fractured ones.
Yes, he was fat. Not merely heavy-set. Compared Alex, Harris saw that his body had no shape at all. He was a lump. No muscle tone except in his forearms from all that toiling away over a keyboard at the pixel mine. As if that was a real work out. As if that was muscle tone.
He grabbed soft ripples of his saggy stomach and pulled them away from his body. Looked full, felt solid but this was empty flesh. Substantial but with no content. No use. His body was essentially a useless shitting machine. The work he did at dE.tail was merely encouraging people to spend money on becoming more content shitting machines.
He got out the weight scale from deep in his bedroom closet. A gift from his folksr that was supposed to spur Harris on to slimming down. Yeah like that was going to happen. After all, thanks to the curse, he was getting hit on often enough that he believed he was attractive as he was. Why worry about the weight when the women couldn’t keep their glands off you.
He stepped on. 230. Nah that can’t be right. He stepped off and removed his sweat pants. As if that’d make a difference. 231 this time. Fuck he weighed more when he was undressed. That couldn’t be right.
On line he located a weight/hight/age guide and he was almost 50 pounds over what was considered healthy. He was lucky to be alive! Yeah, what did they know about healthy anyway. 100 pounds was too much. 50 wasn’t that bad. Fuck how did he let himself go like this. It wasn’t as if he set out to become a fat slob.
So this is what’s its like to be aware of my body. For the past thirty or so years all he consisted of was his head. All he ever paid attention to was his face and his hair. Even his hair was merely there – to wash and keep out of the way. And his feet, that got hot easily. Perhaps if they weren’t carting all this extra weight around they wouldn’t have to work so hard.
He pressed his ribs again to make himself feel something in his body. Was pain the only way to get that awareness.
What was that old joke – the male body is an inefficient life support system for the cock.
Harris woke without his usual sense of foreboding. He couldn’t recall the last time he had gotten up feeling this light. Recent events couldn’t be altered but he didn’t feel as trapped by them. For a change he looked forward to the day.
He tried another of cereals Jodis had given him and it was okay. Not what he used to but not a tasteless punishment inflicted in the name of good health either. He took the old boxes of cereal out of the cupboard and emptied the contents into a plastic bag, collapsed the boxes for recycling. He wonder if the cereals could be composted. Where they safe to feed to the birds and squirrels. Did birds suffer from cholesterol or could squirrels get diabetes.
He showered and, for a change, shaved. dE.tail didn’t have a dress code and because scraggly was acceptable there he’d shave as often as every other week. Was it time to get his hair cut too. It wasn’t as long as it had been but the ponytail was too hot when the weather was this muggy. Shorter could get rid of that hair grease streak that marred his tee-shirts. A stain that took two or three washings to get out. Though if he washed his hair more often that wouldn’t be a problem either.
Yeah, he’d skip lunch and get coiffed. Not as short as Alex’s but shorter than usual. He’s try a stylist and not trim it himself as he had for as long as he could remember. Dusan’s hair always looked good. Yeah, something like that only without the Scottish accent.
He pulled out all clean clothes for a change too. No point in wearing the same duds three of four days in a row. Adults did laundry. He could do laundry. His little unit could do a decent enough load in about an hour from wash to dry. An hour every other day this week would empty his hamper and keep it empty. No more sniff tests to see if a tee-shirt was okay for another day.
He checked the weather on his cell. Another heat-warning day. As long as the a/c at dE.tail was working he’d manage. He left his apartment with a smile on his face. He didn’t shrink in his seat on the subway fearful of setting off the curse, the gift. The run in with Kate showed him the effects of the curse in her life was positive.
The morning at dE.tail sped by to the pounding, clicking, bird calls and coffee machine gurgling he was used to. At lunch he went to Clip Trip to get his hair styled.
“How long have you had it this long.” The stylist asked.
“I can tell. Looks like you usually cut it yourself too.” She wrinkled her nose.
“A quick snip when the ponytail gets too long.”
“Honey, let me tell you, on a man a ponytail is always too long. How short can I take this?”
“Leave me something on the top.” Harris laughed.
“Yeah, why not, Hair grows.”
“Good I’ll take you into this century. How about bronze highlights? They’d work with your hair color.”
“Go for it.”
Harris closed his eyes and floated away listening to the clips, buzzes and the final blow dry.
“So, how does that work for you?”
“Wow. I look like an adult.” he turned his head in the mirror. It was shorter than he expected. His ears weren’t as large as he thought they were. “The highlights are definitely light.”
“They’ll tone down after a washing. Let me show you some product that will help your hair. It felt like you were washing with dish detergent. Not a good thing unless you want to be bald in a few years. And promise me never to cut it yourself again.”
He left the salon with a bag of product that he wasn’t sure he’d have the time to use every day. He did grab a couple of Mamma pizza slices on his way back to dE.tail. But only slices not the medium with the works he often had.
On his way to his cubical Lin stopped him.
“Looks like I need another one.” He held the two halves of a key board in his hands. “Took me a whole week to do this one in.” He grinned widely.
“What school of karate are you using on them?” Harris joked.
“I get …. carried away.”
Harris went with Lin to the equipment cupboard. There were no spare keyboards left.
“I’d give you mine but …”
“No you need it to make sure Santa’s pecker look okay.” Lin laughed.
“I hope I’ve seen the end of that, for this year, any way.” Harris didn’t know that anyone other than Tavi knew what clients he dealt with. He didn’t know what any of the others did either except in a very general way. They didn’t stand around the coffee station taking about work, only about samples.
“What are you working on?” he asked.
“Oh, top secret.” Lin laughed. “But it deals with online gaming in China. A very big market you know. Very big. That’s why I am so hard on the keyboards. Each dialect has different characters. It gets frustrating.”
“Let’s think. Who might have a spare.”
“I do.” Lin confessed. “I had to talk to someone. It seems odd that we work here all day and hardly speak to each other.”
“I suppose were all a little screen shocked.”
“So it as good to talk to you Harris. Some day we’ll do lunch.” Lin headed back to his cubical.
“I don’t see why not.”
Harris went back to his cubical wondering what that was all about. He glanced at his cell to see if he had missed a text from Tavi telling them to boost office moral in the name of productivity. There was nothing.
Toward the end of the day Jodis stopped by his cubical with another box of cereal.
“Harris did you try the Oatex.”
“One of them. The one with mango tasted great.”
“You see …. ” she pointed to a couple of small figures on the back of the box. “This is me at the Olympics. Wrestling with Simone Louisa from Bolica. I won the match which got us the silver that year. I get a life time supply which is ten boxes a month. Who can eat that much cereal? Not me.” She giggled. “So I can now share them with you. You know, the 1952 Olympics were in Norway. I was a nigh on a child but got bitten by the gold bug.”
He decided to get out of the office before Dusan asked him anything.
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