Once again, I'm posting this on a non-Friday. I missed last one so my plan is to post another tomorrow. We'll see how real life aligns with my plan. Lately they've been on different schedules...
Anyhow, this is Tired Grain. Enjoy!
“I love you, Mere, but I don’t think that I can do this anymore.”
“Of course you can. A promise is a promise, Alex.”
“I know.” I groaned. “But that was before Dad chose Food, Glorious Food for his birthday dinner.” The buffet stretched before us as far as the eye could see. Succulent lobster tails, tender beef filets, and shrimp the size of a household pet. But the only things on my plate were plain whole grain pasta, two scoops of brown rice, and a stupid whole grain bagel from the breakfast section.
Meredith had a bowl of Wheaty-O’s and dark brown, gritty toast. “I know this is tough, but in the end, it’ll be worth it. Bikinis or bust, remember?”
“I remember.” She’d only said it a thousand times since Mom announced the upcoming family cruise. “But that chocolate fondue is looking kind of amazing.”
“Uh-uh.” She shook her head. “Don’t do it, Alex. For the Whole Grain Diet to work, you’ve got to stick to it religiously.”
And stick to it religiously I had, with Meredith’s watchful brown eyes recording everything I ate. “What about one chocolate covered strawberry? Just one?”
“No! This is for your own good.”
Funny, since I was actually okay with not being a waif. But Mere had never liked to suffer alone.
Her eyes went all dreamy. “We could lose up to thirty pounds in thirty days.”
After a week and a half of dry, bland food, all I’d lost was my sanity. “I think that website was bogus.”
“No way. Tons of celebrities are doing it. Look,” she pulled out her smart phone and turned the screen to face me. “Imani Lane lost twenty pounds on whole grain, and now her show’s been picked up for a second season. It’s like she always tells her guests - if you want to be your best, you have to look your best. Don’t you want to be your best, Alex?”
“Yes.” I mumbled my response and twirled another piece of whole grain pasta onto my fork. As sick and tired as I was of eating cardboard, a promise was a promise. And maybe, a little voice added, if I looked more like a swimsuit model, Kyle would finally see me as more than a friend.
“Good.” Mere nodded curtly, and chewed the last bite of her toast before pushing the cereal bowl away. “I am rocking this diet.”
“Meredith.” I frowned. “You cannot eat just a piece of toast for dinner.”
She shrugged. “I’m-”
“No, you’re not. Liar.” People think we have ESP, because I read my sister like an open book; but the truth is, she’s just really transparent. “No full-sized person gets full after eating a piece of toast. Here.” I tilted my plate and shoveled a scoop of rice onto hers. “Eat.”
She poked at the rice with her fork. “I know you think I’m being extreme, but desperate times call for desperate measures.”
“Mere. This isn’t our last chance to rock bikinis. There will be other summers.”
“I know, but…Kyle is moving in two months.”
I dropped my bagel. And my lower lip. Since Kyle moved in next door three years ago, he and I had been thick as thieves, but he and Mere had always butted heads. “What does this have to do with Kyle? You hate Kyle.”
“Well…” She stared at her plate. “Things change. It’s like Imani Lane says. There’s a thin line between love and hate.”
My pulse raced. So much for crystal clear Mere. “Then go back over it!”
She met my eyes. “What do you care? You and Kyle are just friends. You’ve only said so like a thousand times.”
“Maybe I didn’t mean it.”
“Ah ha!” She pointed a finger. “You lied to me!”
“So what? I don’t have to tell you everything.”
The corners of her mouth turned down. “Since when don’t you tell me everything?”
Since you took down all your Power Girls posters and plastered our walls with thinspiration cutouts from Cosmo. Since you decided it was lame to meet me at the mall and pretend that we were strangers, like the plot of Sister, Sister. And since you started wearing liquid eyelines and flat ironing your hair and quoting Imani Lane. I crossed my arms. “This isn’t about me. Since when do you like Kyle?”
She sighed. “Don’t be mad. I was gonna tell you, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. Last week, he came over to borrow the lawnmower and when I answered the door, he gave me this look, like he’d never seen me before. I walked him to the garage, for the mower, and when I turned to walk away he grabbed my hand and touched my hair, like this,” she tucked her long, dark hair behind one ear. “Then he said he was really gonna miss me. It was…kind of magical. I never realized how strong our connection is before.” She shrugged, smugly.
I was dying to wipe that smile off of her face. “What connection? That doesn’t even make sense. Why would Kyle miss you? You’re so desperate for attention that you can’t see the obvious. He thought you were me.” I only hoped that was true. Kyle was actually one of the few people who could tell us apart, but why would he be flirting with Meredith? That just didn’t make sense.
Mere’s face fell, then bounced back a moment later with a sly grin. “No he didn’t. You don’t straighten your hair. And I was wearing a sundress.”
She had a point. My hair was a mass of wild curls, and my wardrobe consisted of neutral colored polo shirts and short sleeved button ups. I responded with a confidence I didn’t feel. “You said he looked at you like he’d never seen you before. He probably just thought I was dressed up.”
“Doubt it.” Meredith lifted her head, but I could see the confidence in her eyes wavering. She pushed back her chair and stood. “I’m going for a walk. Maybe I’ll call Kyle and see what he’s up to.”
“Good luck with that.” If Meredith thought she was going to win this one, she had another thing coming.
“Face facts, Alex. He likes me.”
“The only thing Kyle likes about you is your resemblance to me.”
Her eyes narrowed. “We’ll see about that.”
“I guess we will.” I dug into my rice, chocolate strawberries long forgotten. I was gonna whole grain the crap out of this month. “May the best woman win.”