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The Christmas Story

August 15, 2021

The Bump

"Let's go in," my mom says while getting her mask out of her bag.


"Why not? You just told me you've been staring at it for the past week. Let's check it out."

I slip my mask around each ear, cover my mouth and open the door. I've been staring at this dress every day for the past week. I first spotted it while walking Sweet Pea one early morning. I wasn't a dress I would normally choose, but something about it had me. It gave off strong "let me tell you about my trip to the Caribbean" vibes, and even though I'd never been, I figured it would help make me feel like I was doing something in my life. 

I walk into the story and the clerk spots me right away. I'm her victim. My mom elegantly floats around the room, touching only the dresses that catch her eye. My sweaty summer hands are on everything. Everything I touch, the clerk immediately chimes in with her must-know fact about the item.

"That dress we also have in olive green."

"Oh and that shirt is made out of organic Italian cotton."

"This bag can be flipped inside out - it's so versatile"

I'm exhausted while her facts. Half of my underwear has holes in it, so she's clearly talking to the wrong person.

I nod politely while drowning out her voice. All I can think about is the dress. I didn't want to approach it right away, I wanted it to feel my presence like a deer being hunted. My hands slowly reach towards the dress, clutching the fabric in between my fingers I let out a sigh. And for a moment I understand why the rich don't shop at Forever 21. 

"Do you want to try it on?" she asks quickly.

"Sure," I hand her the dress and follow her to the change rooms. 

I take off my black and white polka dot dress and slip on the dress of my dreams. I open the curtain and look in the mirror, twirling around, checking myself from all angles.

My mother is standing there, observing me. "What do you think?" I ask her.

"How do you feel?" she replies. I know what that means. 

The clerk starts talking, only this time I listen. "This dress is highly versatile. You can wear it to work, going out, and pregnant." 

I look at my mom, asking her through my eyes, did she just say pregnant? My mom shifts in her stance, I think she meant it like if you were pregnant.

"Yes, and since you're pregnant, you have plenty of space to grow."

I look at my mom again, mom she thinks I'm pregnant. My mom's eyes get big and she quickly turns to a clothing rack for comfort. 

"Anyways," she continues, "It's not easy for women, like yourself, to be pregnant in this heat, so this dress will cool you down. You'll have a great pregnancy in it."

How many times does she have to say the fucking word. What the fuck do I do? Should I say I'm not pregnant? Fuck, I don't fucking know. 

"Great," I reply. I walk into the changing room, my eyes, watery. I take off the dress, staring at my naked body in the mirror. I scan every inch of myself, pointing out the spots of fat that I've been trying so hard to lose. Staring at the areas of myself, that, if didn't exist, I would maybe see what Nate sees in me. I move from one side to the other, grabbing my stomach fat, holding it in my hands, feeling myself shrink inside. 

I slip on my dress, walk out of the change room, "can I put this on hold?" She asks for my name and phone number, but I know I'm not coming back. When I get home, I close the door to my bedroom, releasing the tears I tried to hold back. 

Alex opens the door, "I heard some woman thought you were pregnant."

"Thanks, Alex."

He places his hand on my shoulder, "You don't look pregnant."

"Thanks, Alex."

My dad enters the room, leaning on the doorway. "That woman is an idiot. You don't look pregnant, she just has no class. But it does look like you're retaining water. Your face is a little bloated and you did gain some weight. But you definitely don't look pregnant."

My mother calls out from the kitchen, "come eat dinner." My brother and father quickly head to the kitchen. Alex turns around, "you're not coming?"

"I'm not hungry."

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