Skinny Latte


Lucy teased Andrew for weeks. When he followed her through the halls, she would drop her Trapper Keeper, let him race over to pick up her papers. One night when he was lurking outside her house, she took off her tank top and – oops! – forgot to pull down the blinds.

A phone call on a Saturday morning – she was all by her lonesome and sooo bored – and he was on his bike, racing over.

When she was fat, Andrew and all the other boys stayed away from her. That was before her mom found her stashes of Mallomars and Cheetos.

She’d made Lucy eat them all until she vomited. Then put her on a strict diet of flavorless salads and whole body cleanses. That was Mom – controlling every moment of her life.

A knock at the door. Lucy put her wet hair up, slipped on a bathrobe and went downstairs.

“Took you long enough,” she said.

“Got here as fast as I could.”

She went inside and he followed. Like a good puppy. “I made espresso.”

“Oh, I don’t drink that stuff.”

She smiled, displaying her adorable dimples. “You do now.”

She poured the espresso into two mugs, added the skim milk that was simmering in a saucepan. She thought about the way Mom would look if she found out Lucy had a boy over. How her facial muscles would want to move but couldn’t – thanks botox! – how that vein in her neck would get taut like a piano string. Delicious.

Andrew’s eyes followed a single drop of water rolling toward her cleavage.

She said, “You know how I got like this?”

“What do you mean?”

She caressed his forearm with electric blue fingernails. He trembled. “Don’t be so polite. You know what I mean. How I lost weight. How I got hot. You remember those nicknames they called me, right? Lard Ass and Rosie O and The Beached Whale –”

“They shouldn’t have –”

“Done that. I know, but I don’t care. It’s all in the past cause of Mom. The workout regimen she put me on – well, let’s just say none of the boys on the football team could have survived. Of course, I could never be as fit as her.”

“You’re way hotter than her. You’re a goddess.”

“That’s sweet of you,” she said. “You know, I think she’s jealous.”

“What do you mean?”

She leaned in, whispered, “Last week, when you walked me home from school, she said I had to stay away from you, from all boys, until I was eighteen.”

“That’s insane. What are you, Mormon?”

She laughed without feeling, then kissed him once, for a long time. No tongue. Not yet. She took his hands, gave them a squeeze.

They hadn’t touched the mugs. “Fuck this,” she said. “Let’s go down to the basement.”

He stammered and she pressed a finger against his lips. “But I have one condition.”

“Anything. Name it.”

“Come with me.”

She led him down to the basement and flipped the light switch.

“I told you a teensie weensie lie. I don’t really have the house to myself. Dad and Nick are at the basketball tournament.” She pointed at the body splayed out on the blood-stained berber. “But Mom’s still here.”

His eyes bugged. “What did you do?”

“Don’t be scared, Andrew.” She ran a hand through his curly hair, rubbed the back of his neck. “I could take never having cake on my birthday and the thousands of sit-ups. But when she wouldn’t let me use what I worked so hard for – that was too much.”

He slipped from her grasp. “I gotta go.”

She pulled the tie on her bathrobe and it fell to the floor. Damn, she loved being naked. “Really? Cause I think you’re going to stay.” She stepped over her mother, lay down on a worn leather sofa. “You know this is your only chance, right?”

He stammered and an erection pressed against his shorts.

“On one condition, of course.”

“Fine. What is it?”

“I’ve been good for a long time.” She pulled out a package from under the sofa. “So you’re going to feed me Mallomars.

~ fin ~

Chris Rhatigan is the editor of the crime fiction quarterly All Due Respect. He is the author of more than 50 short stories and the novella, The Kind of Friends Who Murder Each Other. He lives in northern India.