The number showed on the scale, blinking up at Jack, accusing him, shaming him.
303 …. BF 38.6%
“Great,” he thought, sarcastically. “Much better.”
He kicked the scale back to it’s cubby and went back into the bedroom. He was quiet as he chose the pants from the rack in his closet. He had 8 pairs of pants, but only wore two, alternating between them through the week until Friday’s casual attire allowed him one day of reprieve. These were the only two that fit him, at least to the point where he wasn’t pulling at them the whole day.
Scale days made him sullen, and it was hard to hide. As he shuffled out to the living room his wife noticed it immediately.
“I wish you’d stop weighting yourself if it’s only going to depress you,” she said as she made breakfast; oatmeal, banana, coffee, two eggs, orange juice. “It’s not like you’re not trying Jack,” she continued. “You need to give yourself a break,” she said as she looked at him, setting down the brown sugar and milk for his oatmeal in front of him.
“I am not trying hard enough I think,” he mumbled. “I ate potato chips and drank soda last night while watching the movie with you.”
“Oh God Jack, please, not this again. It was one soda. Jesus.”
He put his fork down and looked at her, for the first time this morning, and tried to stay calm.
“That is not helping me, Liz. Telling me that I’m not ‘that bad’ is not the truth and is not helping me deal with this.”
“You have health issues,” Liz retorted as she moved back to the kitchen, her head down and walking briskly. “It’s the cancer you had, it has screwed you up. You need to stop being so hard on yourself.”
His frustration rising, Jack stood up, not touching anything on his plate, and grabbing for his bag. As he slung it over his shoulder he looked at her over the counter and waited until she looked at him. “This,” he started, moving his hands over his body to emphasize his meaning, “is not going to stop. It’s going to to continue until my body completely breaks down and stops working all together. I can’t sleep, I wake up unable to breathe, I only have two pair of pants I am slightly able to wear and I cannot afford to keep buying more. My waist is 52 inches. My knees ache, my feet hurt, my back is always tight. I cannot keep living like this. I am not happy. I need to change, I need everything to change.”
Liz looked back at him. “I’m sorry I don’t make you happy.”
“This is not about YOU, Liz,” his anger now overcoming his frustration. “It’s about my life and what I have allowed myself to become. If I don’t change something I am not going to be around much longer. This has to change.”
“You were fine until you started working at that hospital, now all of a sudden you’re not happy with your life. You just want to be one of them, one of those doctors.”
Jack sighed. “I can’t talk about this stuff with you, Liz. You make it all personal. I’m going to work.”
“I’ll make something good for dinner,” Liz said, calmly. “How about fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and a veggie?”
Jack looked at her, sighed, and turned to the door.
“Fine,” he said, as he walked out.