Fiction, Health and wellbeing, Melbourne, Opinion, Writing

It’s not just a number

Despite a healthy diet, and a huge reduction in alcohol intake, Bertha is struggling to lose kilograms.

Weighing in at 99kgs, she is worried. In no way does she want to weigh a number with three figures. And damn those idiots who say, ‘it’s just a number.’ They’re usually the same type who say, ‘it’s only money.’ Those phrases are baseless; they hold not a scintilla of sense, or truth. In her world, anyway.

Bertha steps off the scales, despondent. Opening her internet browser, she Googles weight loss. A new meal program is first up, called Losing/Gaining. She clicks and she’s down the rabbit hole. Before she knows what’s happening, she’s created an account and paid for six months worth of meals: lunches and dinners.

She feels a spark of hope. Smiling, she takes a shower and chooses an outfit: a pretty floral dress with a wide A-line skirt that falls just below her knees. It’s flattering, comfy, and the best bit…it has pockets!  She nearly skips to the kitchen; her phone’s ringing.

‘Hello, Bertha speaking,’ she says.

The stilted, synthesised voice on the other end tells her this call could be recorded for training purposes, and to press 1 if she’s opposed to this. After ten or so seconds, she’s transferred to a real voice.

‘Bertha Roberts?’

‘This is she,’ Bertha replies.

‘I’m just going to confirm your details.’

Bertha is infuriated, but calmly answers the questions.

‘There has been some unusual activity on your credit card this morning. A payment of over $600. I need to confirm that this was made by you.’

‘Yes, it was.’

‘Great. Unfortunately, though that payment has taken your credit card over the limit. You’re going to need to make a payment of $250, before next week. Can you please confirm that you will do this.’

Bertha’s heart takes up all the space in her chest. ‘Yes, I can do that,’ she lies.

‘Thank you. So you’ll make that before the 24th, yes?’

‘Yes.’ Her breathing is shallow.

‘OK, Bertha, thank you for your time. You have a good day!’

Bertha politely mumbles a response. In her head the noise is loud, frightening. She’s screaming her pain to the world. She goes back to the website, cancels the meals she’s just ordered and arranges a refund.

She lies on the couch with her emergency giant bag of chips and watches Netflix.


Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash


5 thoughts on “It’s not just a number”

      1. Yep, I’ve been back to 86 kilograms earlier this year and I’m now down to 80 kilograms. I just have to keep trying to lose weight to get back down to 75 kilograms.

        Liked by 1 person

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