Caitlin and Nutra by K.G. Delmare

Caucus by Robert Rauschenberg (1997) via Chicago Art Institute

Content Warning: internalized fatphobia

          Several months into working for Nutrisect, I could easily spot the people that I was meant to target. I saw them almost every day, riding the train into the office. They tended to sit in the corners, their large bodies pressed firmly up against the edges of the seats to avoid the humiliating act of having to fit themselves between other passengers. They folded into themselves, ashamed of their size and never wanting for attention. In other words, they were clearly trained in the fine art of everyday living that I had adapted for myself long ago.

            I spotted one sitting in the restaurant, holding her purse tight to her body as she looked around the room. She had a large, baggy dress on, one of those unflattering draperies that were often left as the only option for women of our shape. Her makeup had been artfully done, no doubt to distract from the glaring flaw of her body.  She had a distinct look of worry on her face, as if she was running late for something or had left the stove on.

          I knew for a fact that she had never been one of my customers. I didn’t recognize her from the other end of the video screen that sat on my desk where I took my calls. I wondered if she looked at me and saw an ally in the fight, a comrade who understood what it was like to be so heavy so publicly.

            Before I could continue to gawk further, a small beep emanated from my pocket. I took out the small, smooth pink disc that I knew wanted my attention. “Hi, Nutra,” I said, my eyes scanning the room to see if anyone was watching me. Typical restaurant behavior.

            “Hello, Caitlin,” said Nutra, the disc glowing with her words. “I hope you’re having a good evening. My geolocator has indicated that you’re in a restaurant. Want me to check out the menu to find the healthiest possible meal?”

            “Not now,” I said, my voice verging on a whisper. “I’m actually waiting on a date.”

            “That’s great!” said Nutra. “All the more reason to watch what you eat tonight. Make a great first impression!”

            “Right,” I said, still looking around the room with an almost frantic stare. Restaurants, cafeterias, food courts, they all had a way of putting my nerves on edge. Even talking to Nutra couldn’t take the edge off. My gaze went back to the heavyset woman a few tables away, who was now giving her order to a waiter. I noticed the single, empty chair across from her and felt a trickle of pity. I wasn’t certain if I’d ever feel comfortable going to a restaurant alone. I felt a renewed sense of gratitude that I had someone on the way.

            “Caitlin,” said Nutra, “don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Remember that hydration is vital to your health and can help flush out extra pounds. Just a friendly tip!”

            I nodded, and took a sip from the elegant glass I’d been given upon my arrival. I felt an urgent need for my date to show up, lest I come away looking like that woman. I felt the hot anxiety that came with public appearances, the type of shame that I’d learned from a young age in my irregular body. I took another drink and hoped for salvation.

            I had never been blessed with the serenity that seemed to come with a small body. Even as a child, I had been scolded for my typical youthful appetite for the sweet and tempting, told that I had a natural propensity for gluttony by virtue of my size. I had never known a world where my body was not my enemy, this great rotund thing that inspired an array of unwanted, unpleasant emotions.

          My uncomfortable relationship with my very form had been the reason why I had hesitated to apply to Nutrisect. I couldn’t help but assume that, should I land the interview, I would be laughed out of the building. But I had been laid off from my previous job, replaced by a droid far more efficient than I could ever be, and I was desperate to work again. When I had been informed that I would indeed have to meet face-to-face with my prospective employers, my body again became a source of great anxiety.

          When the day of the interview came, I wore my nicest clothes, the ones intended to slim me down into something smaller than what I actually was. I sat in the waiting area of the large, industrial building that was Nutrisect headquarters, watching trim, glamorous employees flit about in front of glossy photos of company-made food. I couldn’t help but feel like I was at the center of a grand mistake, that I’d tricked the HR department into considering someone who had no business being a part of their machine.

          As the actual interview occurred, however, my suspicions were quickly put to rest. In fact, the managers who had come to question me seemed downright enthused by my presence, peppering me with invested inquiries about my past experience and what had drawn me to Nutrisect. By the end of it, I was feeling almost jubilant with how things had gone. Clearly, I realized that I’d gotten the company all wrong — they weren’t about to dismiss me on the basis of my size, and I’d been quite silly to assume so. And of course, most important of all, I seemed to be knocking the interview out of the park.

          “We’re very pleased with your background, Caitlin,” said one of the managers conducting the interview. “We just have one more question about this position that we’d like to ask you.”

          “Of course!” I said, eager to please.

          “As a leading name in the diet products industry, I’m sure you can imagine that we’re always on the cutting edge of technology that can change the way people see their food,” he said. I nodded. He held up a palm-sized pink disc then, turning it to and fro to give me a three dimensional view of the little thing. It was delightfully plain, with a row of buttons along the bottom curve.

          “This is Nutra,” he explained, “the next big thing in Nutrisect’s dietary programming. We’re currently in the testing phase, and we think that you could be the perfect candidate to give it a spin.”

          I stared at the disc, unsure what to make of it. Still, if these affable, well-meaning people wanted me to participate, it had to have some merit.

          “What does it do?” I asked. I couldn’t help my curiosity at this cute, diminutive device.

          “It’s, well…” The manager paused for a moment, looking to the ceiling in thought. “Think of it like a new friend. It’s outfitted with the finest artificial intelligence to make sure that you make better decisions for your health and your body, with a warm, welcoming tone.”

          He pressed the disc into my hand, and I continued to eye it. I couldn’t help but wonder how this simple, anonymous device could shape my health. He held up a matching wristband, in that identical powdery pink color. “You just slip this onto your wrist,” he explained, “and Nutra will keep a close eye on all of your health metrics.”

          I stared at it for just a moment, wondering if I ought to be signing on to new technology so very quickly. Still, Nutrisect was a trusted brand. Recommended by doctors, their ads claimed. So I followed his instructions and wrapped the band around my wrist.

          “Please press the largest button,” he instructed, and I followed. A small chime sounded then, and the entire disc began to glow in a way that came across as rather comforting.

          “Hello,” said the device, in a soft, feminine voice. “I’m Nutra, your nutrition guide. What’s your name?”


          “Nice to meet you, Caitlin. I’m looking forward to our journey to better health together.”

          When I looked back up at the manager, he looked positively delighted that I had been so open to this little experiment. And why wouldn’t I be? How often did one get the opportunity to test out some top-notch artificial intelligence?

          “So,” I said slowly, “does this mean I got the job?”

          He smiled, wide and proud. “As long as you’re using Nutra, you’ve got a home with Nutrisect.”

          My date was twenty minutes late. Normally, I wasn’t one to get caught up in the minutiae of any given situation. Sometimes people were just late. But this was my first date in many months, and my first since learning a new way of living with Nutra. I found myself under immense self-imposed pressure to succeed at this particular venture. I’d downed an entire glass of water during my time anticipating this man’s arrival, and I was partway through a second. Nutra sat before me on the table, glowing as she was wont to do.

          A smiling, well-dressed waitress sidled up to my table, evidently not sensitive to my plight, and held her pen and pad at the ready. “Can I start you off with a drink?” she offered. “Maybe an appetizer?”

          I flushed with the sense that I was committing some great social sin, a plump woman out on the town with no companion to prove her worthy of public existence. I had to resist the urge to shout that I was expecting a date, that I wasn’t a lonely fat thing like the woman just a few tables away. Instead, I attempted to placate her with the first thing that came to mind: “I’ll have a pinot grigio.”

          That seemed to do the job, as she jotted down the request and headed back towards the kitchen. Nutra, however, had heard just as readily and a familiar chime greeted my ears.

          “Caitlin,” she said in an uncharacteristically stern voice, “I’ll have to recommend against that glass of wine. Remember what we talked about before: alcohol can add excess calories to your diet that can contribute to unsightly weight gain.”

          We had indeed talked about it before, many times over. As the waitress came back to the table, the incriminating glass of wine in hand, I felt like I’d committed a sort of betrayal. I stared at the wine, flaxen in its hue and glistening temptingly in the low lighting of the restaurant, I thought back with some fondness to the nights where I’d come home from long shifts working retail, reclining on my apartment’s beat-up couch with a glass and an indulgent television show. The bubble of nostalgia popped rather quickly as I was abruptly reminded of how I was even larger in those days, in the time before Nutra.

          Still, the waitress was not satisfied: “Are you sure I can’t get you something to start with? We have an excellent lobster bisque today.”

          I wondered if she was dangling these opportunities in front of me because I was one of two fat women occupying space in the restaurant. I tried to remember that she was a waitress, that this was her job, not everything was trying to punish me for my weight.

          “That’s alright,” I said, trying to paste on a polite smile. “I’m still waiting on my date.”

          Then, I saw it: the tiniest twitch in her face, the little shred of doubt that I’d grown used to long ago. She didn’t believe me for a second, and why should she? I was again grasped by that urge to shout, to tell her that I used to be even bigger, that to even be in that body, at that time was a measure of progress for me. But instead, I let her walk away, and I felt the familiar emotional craving that made me want nothing more than to melt into my seat.

          When I first started working for Nutrisect, I was stunned by the sheer size of everything. I had known that the company had enriched itself quite spectacularly with its empire of frozen meals, but seeing the scope of it in such tangible ways made it all the more apparent. I happened to be employed at the company’s headquarters, right in the heart of its business dealings, and I was afforded the opportunity to work in a cushy cubicle where I could comfortably hold telephone conversations with desperate women seeking the respite of a better body.

            I didn’t start using Nutra until my first day. That morning, I put on my best work clothes and wrapped the pink band around my wrist, ready to be my very best for the Nutrisect team. Nutra chimed cheerily as I gave myself a final once-over. “Good morning, Caitlin,” she said as I looked out for missed wrinkles or a run in my stockings. “Let’s work together to make today healthy and happy!”

            My big debut at Nutrisect hadn’t been all that eventful. I was acquainted with the machinations of the place, shown my office space by my manager and coached through my first handful of calls to the portly women who made up our clientele. I’d gotten a hold on the whole process rather quickly, and I was at risk of being quite proud of myself. I was nearly beginning to believe that, even with the disadvantage of my weight, I could be a star in this new position. “I’m detecting an uplifted mood,” Nutra corroborated in that soft voice of hers. “Keep it up!”

            It had all been going well until lunchtime arrived. I’d been so preoccupied with my other preparations that I hadn’t packed a safe, homemade lunch that had been carefully curated from the sparse contents of my fridge. At my old job, lunch hour was a humiliating affair that saw me seated on a cramped break room toilet, meandering my way through a soggy sandwich at the risk of being seen by other human beings. Nutrisect’s approach was a little different, with a sprawling cafeteria that was fully accessible to all employees. I soon found myself frozen at the threshold, staring at the expanse of tables and chairs where some of my new coworkers were socializing.

            Contrary to what one might expect, Nutrisect’s culinary offerings for employees were quite different than the meals they sold to their customers. The tiny portions of freeze-dried protein and veggies were foregone in favor of indulgent helpings of foods that had been forbidden by our company’s diet program. Buttered potatoes, thick, warm slices of bread, and gooey helpings of macaroni and cheese were just a few of the high-risk offerings I found waiting for me where the food was served by smiling workers.

            I hadn’t been prepared for this. Being asked to eat in front of others was already a tall order for someone of my appearance. To do so with such rich foods, surrounded by svelte coworkers who only exacerbated the fault of your body, was downright cruel. I approached the buffet line tentatively and cobbled together a salad, but nothing more. I ended up looking around in a roving survey of my surroundings, my eyes shifting this way and that as I made my way to an empty table and tried to be inconspicuous in my all too prominent form.

          I stared down at the vegetables, so crisp and fresh and ready for consumption, and found myself stock still in my seat. Before I could stop myself, thick tears pooled in my eyes and began to roll down my cheeks in shame. I felt as if every eye in the cafeteria had been trained to me, and I couldn’t escape the mark my size had put upon me. I had been foolish to think I could blend in at Nutrisect. I had been foolish to think I could evade this great, unwanted thing that had haunted me since I was small enough to reckon with the burden of size.

          Then, at the height of my distress, a chime sounded. I went into my purse and found the small, pink disc, aglow in my hand. “Good afternoon, Caitlin,” said Nutra. “I’m detecting some emotional distress. Is there anything that I can do to help?”

          I sniffed, having entirely forgotten that I had been carrying her along with me. “Um,” I said, unsure how to address a diet robot, “I’m a little stressed out right now about food.”

           “I’m so sorry to hear that,” she said, and I could detect actual empathy from this little pink circle. “But I’m here to help you with everything related to your dietary health. Tell me whatever it is that’s on your mind and I’ll do everything I can to make things easier.”

           I stared down at the small, glowing device, offering me a warm helping hand in this time of such distress, and I began to explain my pain away to the little microphone receiver on its center. I could feel the congestion of shame and sorrow eating away at my voice, spewing all those long-held pains about my shape and size that seemed to be ever present in the most private crevices of my mind. I was in public, still, with those beautiful coworkers all around me. But someone, housed in this little device, wanted to listen. And so I spoke.

          Once I had regurgitated all the bile that had built up in my mind from so many years of unkind deeds, once I had gotten rid of all of those folded up insecurities that had been secreted away like so many unwanted things, Nutra said nothing. I began to worry that I had overloaded the system, inundating it with my problems. But soon, she began to glow in that reassuring way.

          “Right now, you’re feeling nervous about eating that food,” she said, “but you don’t have to eat it at all. Abstaining from food for certain amounts of time can actually be beneficial to your health. If it’s causing you such distress, why not avoid it entirely? Be good to yourself in more ways than one.”

          I swallowed, taking in the warmth of her voice as she said these guiding words. I pushed the plate away from me, rejecting its pain. “Thank you for listening, Nutra,” I said.

          “Don’t worry, Caitlin,” spoke Nutra with great kindness to her words. “We’re on this journey together. I’m here for you.”

          My date and I had met on an app, one of those newfangled ones that claimed to use the utmost in technological advances to bring you to your romantic destiny. I’d been made to answer a storm of questions about my goals, my interests, my desires in a partner. When he failed to show up after a half hour of waiting, I had assumed based on years of experience that I had been stood up. Years spent occupying a fat body had made me used to such things. But, contrary to my long-held insecurities, a willowy, windswept man made his way into the restaurant and sat across from me.

          “Hey,” he panted as he settled in. “Sorry I’m so late. The bus was running way behind.”

          My would-be life partner worked with computers, a software analyst or a data guy or something like that. I suspected that we had been drawn together by the companies under our names, both leaders in their field who were constantly innovating. We had engaged in a sufficient amount of small talk to warrant an in-person meeting, and it had been a source of great anxiety for me. Still, Nutra had helped to make me smaller, and in doing so had made me feel more worthy. I felt as if I was, for the first time ever, starting to win the war that my body had been waging against me all my life.

          Fittingly enough, my date was rather taken with Nutra. Ever since that first day in the work cafeteria, I had been loathe to enjoy a meal without her guidance, and this date was no exception. I had been eating alone ever since Nutra had entered my life, so I had admittedly worried that her presence would cause at least some degree of awkwardness. But, rather to the contrary, my date had been fascinated by Nutra. It only made sense, of course, that someone who tinkered with gadgets all day would be interested in some cutting edge technology, and I was relieved to not have to explain away her presence.

          “This is really something special,” he said, looking down at the little disc. “I’m serious, this could really change a lot of lives for the better.”

          I smiled, feeling an odd sense of pride for this thing whose existence had nothing to do with me. “It’s definitely changed my life.”

          And it had. After a lifetime spent in a body that never felt like home, I was finally being liberated.

          “I’m not gonna lie,” he said, “I’ve never really dated a woman of…” He looked me up and down, and I felt heat burn my cheeks. “…your size before. No offense.”

          I felt that old shame taking hold. “None taken,” I lied.

          “But hearing about all the progress you’ve made, seeing you use this neat little thing, it really shows me that you want to take care of yourself. And I appreciate that a lot.” He paused, looking down at Nutra, who continued to glow. “You know, not everyone wants to be so proactive.”

           He quickly nodded his head behind him, where I could see the heavyset woman working her way through a bowl of pasta. I felt a dash of superiority zap through me, owed to the modest salad I had ordered with Nutra’s guidance — no dressing, naturally. Still, even without being the intended target, something about his words seemed to sting me too.

          In the face of this humiliation that I knew like one knows a lover, I felt compelled to please, to corroborate his disgust: “I know what you mean.”

          “I don’t mean to be cruel,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. I just think it’s kind of sad when people don’t seem to care about themselves.”

          I could feel something more potent and callous than everyday awkwardness. “Right.”

          “I understand your frustration,” said Nutra in her oh-so-polite voice. “But I can assure you that Caitlin is dedicated to her health and wellness.”

          My date smiled knowingly at me, as if we were sharing some little secret. “I can tell.”

          I swallowed, suddenly feeling very much like that woman a few tables away, a novelty who could be pointed to and commented upon, with no justification for fighting against it. Even as my date looked upon me with kind eyes, thinking me to be beyond the gluttony of my peers, I couldn’t help but feel something disdainful hidden just behind his stare’s affections. I couldn’t help but feel how my dignity hinged on his understanding that I was aware of my inferiority, that I was fighting tooth and nail against it with Nutra’s diligent help. I was only as good as the bruises on my ego, one forbidden indulgence away from being a castigated undesirable.

          My salad arrived, plain and healthful, and I found myself feeling very much like that first day in the cafeteria, adrift in a sea of my own making, fearful of my surroundings as if they all uniquely threatened me. If any of this distress showed itself on my face, my date made nothing of it and set about eating a large steak. I pushed the vegetables around my plate and tried to leave the tethers of my body.

          I hit the mark of losing twenty-five pounds just in time for my cousin’s wedding. Nutra was all aflutter when I logged my new weight, praising me heartily and glowing even more magnificently than usual. I, on the other hand, saw little cause for celebration. I was still quite fat to most people, and I didn’t think this milestone was going to spare me any of the public humiliation I was so used to. Still, the wedding was on the horizon and I would be wearing a smaller dress. Surely that had to count for something.

          I couldn’t say that it had been an easy journey to that point, of course. Nutra had put me on a strict regimen of intermittent fasting, saving all my calories for dinnertime, where I would eat a modest meal that she coordinated for me for maximum nutrition in a minimum size. This led to a daily schedule where I sat at my cubicle, stomach growling rather embarrassingly as I detailed the perfectly portioned frozen meals that would deliver our customers from the pain of fatness. It had been an excruciating few weeks, but I accustomed myself to the sting of hunger’s jaws biting at me, and I was getting results. I began to feed on Nutra’s pride in me, to do whatever I could to please her manmade mind.

          My cousin Michelle’s wedding was set to be the family event of the year. I heard for many months from my relatives how much time, money and energy she invested into the thing. For me, it was the first time going out anywhere besides work in a long time. I had adapted some time ago to a life of isolation, too ashamed to brave the stares awaiting me in the public world. Nutra had opened the door, allowed me to step outside of my door again, and I could never thank her enough for that.

          The wedding had been beautiful, of course, and I watched Michelle go from the child I had grown up with to a married woman before my eyes. As they exchanged vows, lovingly eyeing each other beneath a canopy, I allowed myself to dream that I would someday find a love just as authentic as their display appeared to be. I kept Nutra close by, squirreled away into my purse to guide me through the stressors of a wedding’s sumptuous feast, and imagined a world where I wore the white dress and danced the night away, slim, trim and worthy.

          Through the reception, I kept to myself. Even with the pounds I had shed, I still felt afraid of any public display of myself. So I watched the other guests party through the hours, while I checked every bite of food with Nutra before ingesting. She had gently guided me away from champagne and canapes, and encouraged me to mind my dietary patterns even during such a festive time. “Weddings can be very stressful,” she said, “so sticking to our routine is a good way to keep your cool.”

          As alone as I felt in that room, surrounded by people who were gleefully partaking in the indulgent, I felt strong with Nutra beside me. I didn’t care for how odd I looked, seated at my table with the little glowing disc in front of me. She was my superpower, the key to a world I had long been denied access to. Soon, I told myself, these beautiful things like love and camaraderie would belong to me too. Soon, when my body was small.

          After many glasses of water downed to keep myself hydrated per Nutra’s guidance, I found myself rounding off the night in the bathroom. With the cake being doled out and only roughage in my stomach, I was beginning to get rueful. I even entertained the thought of indulging in something as forbidden as dessert. As I stepped out of the stall and into the perfumed insides of the washing station, however, I ran into none other than the glowing bride.

          “Caitlin!” she said, bunches of her dress balled up in her hands. “I’ve been looking all over for you.”

          “You have?” Michelle and I had never been particularly close, despite being very close in age and spending much of our childhood together. In fact, a significant portion of my younger days had been spent getting poked and grabbed by a rather loudmouthed, smaller Michelle. I could vividly remember every insult she had slung at me, every likening to a pig or a cow, and feeling as if I firmly deserved it because my belly was round and soft when hers was flat and taut.

          “Yeah!” she said. She was radiant, her face beautifully made up for the occasion. She had always been gorgeous, especially so standing beside me. She smiled wide, her teeth perfect and white. “I wanted to congratulate you.”

          I blanched. “Congratulate me?”

          “Yes,” said Michelle, “on your weight loss. You look great.”

          I flushed, having quite nearly forgotten that I had lost any weight at all. But just as she congratulated me, my stomach growled longingly for the food I had denied it at my table.

          “Thank you,” I said, feeling rather undeserving. I did, after all, still have many, many pounds left to go before I would deem myself worthy of life’s fineries.

          “You know,” she said, “we used to worry a lot about you. Especially with you losing your job and everything.”

          The reddening of my face deepened. I couldn’t help but wonder who constituted “we,” and how long my status had been a source of contentious debate among my family.

          “Really,” I said, unsure of what else I could offer.

          She nodded. “But looking at how much you’ve changed the past few months, I can really see how hard you’re working to get your life together. It’s really impressive, Katie. I’m jealous, it took me ages just to lose five pounds to fit into this dress.”

          The warm glow of shame changed into something like pride. My beautiful, glamorous cousin, on this most beautiful, glamorous of days was offering me her admiration, something I had never been privy to before in our many years spent together. My stomach roared, still craving something more substantial than lettuce, and I decided then that I would most definitely continue to deny it.

          My date and I amicably parted ways without so much as a goodbye kiss. I wasn’t surprised. I knew better than to expect the privilege of physical intimacy being the size that I was. I took what little I had been given and was grateful for it, and returned to work that Monday looking back on it with something adjacent to fondness.

          The week began with a big company-wide meeting, all of the employees brought into the building’s large auditorium to unveil our next big thing: Nutra. Our work was to pivot from the selling of frozen meals to introducing our nifty new tool that would make fatness a thing of the past with space age technology. I began to hock our miracle device with ease, vouching for it off of my own experience to our customers.

          It had been rather easy. They saw me as one of them, and surely I would never lead them astray. Nutra sat on my desk, glowing as she always did. All the while, my stomach whined as it always did for a lack of sustenance. It was only after many calls, many successful sales and much talking up of Nutra that I ran into her: the woman from the restaurant, with the beautifully made up face.

          “I’m calling to find out about the new little robot,” she said. I saw the unmistakable mark of dried tear streaks on her face. I could read the situation for what it was: something, someone had just wounded this woman, and she, like so many of our customers, was seeking respite with a diet.

          “Is it true?” she said, speaking in hushed tones as if we were exchanging secrets. “Can it really make me thin?”

          My training and my past experience alike dictated to me that I ought to tell her yes, that Nutra was the savior she had been looking for — that she had indeed been mine. But something about this woman gave me pause. I knew the pain in her eyes, knew it so well that I could feel its contours with my fingers. And as I looked into those eyes, I knew deep in my soul that Nutra would not, could not save her.

          Nutra offered something, yes, but it was the same something we’d known all our lives, a process of shame and denial that would supposedly bring us to a place of safety, to the serenity of a small body. And I had been a piece of that great shame she had bore on her shoulders, judging her in that same way everyone had judged me.

          Before I could answer anything, the woman began to weep. As sure as anything, I could detect the scent of what had wounded her so. I had surely experienced something similar before. And instead of offering up Nutra as her fix, I sat and let her cry. And I began to cry with her, slow tears rolling down my cheeks as Nutra glowed on the desk beside me.

          When she finished her weeping, I spoke: “I’m sorry.”

          I was sorry for many things. I was sorry for her pain. I was sorry for being a cog in the machinery of the cruelty heaped upon her. I was sorry that we had both shed these same tears.

          “What am I going to do?” she said in a soggy voice. “I can’t be like this anymore.”

          I swallowed. I wondered if Nutra could detect my distress. I wondered if I cared. “Listen,” I said, feeling the words building deep inside of me, “someone may have told you that you’re less than. Lots of people might have told you. But I want to tell you that they were all wrong. You deserve to be able to exist. You deserve that much.”

          “Oh,” she said, dabbing her eyes with a tissue, “I’m not sure if I can believe that.”

          “You have to,” I said, feeling an urgency to impart this. “You have to or you’ll never truly live.”

          I recalled when our eyes met in the restaurant. I wondered if she remembered me at all, remembered the invisible alliance that had tied us together. I felt it strongly then, even if I had pushed it away when she first attempted to link us.

          “Thank you,” she said in that wet voice, “so much.”

          The call came to an end, with Nutra going unsold. I looked at the glowing disk beside me, and stood up from my seat. I picked up my things and walked out of the office. I walked out of Nutrisect’s bowels and into the great, open maw of the outside world, ready to test the familiar instinct that told me I was unworthy. I would hear no voice that told me my body was wrong. It was mine, and I was going to live in it.

K.G. Delmare is a Brooklyn-born writer who loves game shows, iced coffee and going to the movies. Their work has previously appeared in The Colored Lens and Flash Fiction Magazine. They live in New York City alongside plenty of stray cats. They can be found on Twitter at @KGDelmare.

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