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Tempus Fugit, LLC

500 West Street
Camden, New Jersey 08105

Re: The Contest

To Whom It May Concern:

I am literally hungry to win the use of the Tempus Fugitive© for a day.

I took it for granted, food. Before the procedure there was food. Now, all I can think about are the feasts of yore: the mutton, the braised root vegetables, the puddings. Check it: I was a lusty wench wielding one of those enormous turkey legs in one hand and a tankard of mead in the other. Every weekend at the RenFaire, I would replicate the gluttony and fleshiness of a certain class of a certain time. I'd eat good food and drink good drink, and muse that my life was full.

And now it isn't.

I didn't get bariatric, if that's what you're thinking. Hell, my insurance would probably pay for my use of the Tempus Fugitive© before they approved bariatric. (Not that I think I need insurance! I'm sure the Fugitive is completely safe!)

My significant other was getting bored with the RenFaires. All that historical accuracy. His cell phone kept going off at inappropriate moments, such as when the blacksmith tried to shine up Phil's, my sig-oth's, chainmail. Even on vibrate, the phone clanked his metal like a woodpecker drumming a stop sign. (Why did he even need his phone? Whose call was he waiting for?) So he urged me to think about maybe going futuristic, getting into the slimming suits of the Beam-Me-Up conference crowd. Nobody thought twice about a Vrothling on a cell phone, Phil enthused. "And we wouldn't be gnawing on turkey legs every weekend, either," he added, eyeing my ample waist.

I could take a hint.

Men say they like that extra flesh, the thighs that flatten onto diner booth seats like two pillows stuffed into jeans. They tell you they like your appetite, your taste for the 18-Wheeler breakfast, and the fact that you eat in front of them, not like their last girlfriend who withered away (no doubt saucer-eyed, adorable as a kitten) on salads and diet spring water.

They like it just fine until the day some fairer, thinner wench jangles her way into the RenFaire. A "Bridget," let's say, complaining about how hard it is to gain five pounds to fill out her corset, and anyway, this scene's getting tired, you know? The conference hotel rooms are where the real party's at, not some dumb field where ticks bite your ass when you have to pee.

Let's say a certain sig-oth giggled. Let's say Phil giggled. (Look, I know what you're thinking: but it wasn't about Phil. Suddenly this was competition, real competition, not a stupid maypole being circled by prancing, bearded men and their boobs-out sidekicks. But I was going to whittle myself into maypole shape.)

Know how serious I was about my dedication to fit into a jumpsuit, and fast? I signed up for the procedure without even doing a consult. My phone demeanor has been described as airy, and even the receptionist at Well N' Good! asked, "Are you sure?" I was.

The form said, "The possibility exists for complication." I signed it, but how could I know? How can I describe what's missing? It's not--it was never--the weight. I know that now. Everything had gone fine at first in the Wellness Gentle Reduction and Acupressure Chamber: soft lights, sandalwood candles, the slightly uncomfortable electrodes countered by the soothing assistant's thumbs digging into the pressure points on my feet. It was textbook, as far as experimental procedures go.

But she was new, and she did me one better than triggering what she called "my metabolism and weight loss chakras." (East meets West, right?) I don't know how familiar you folks are with the map of the foot, but this new trainee needed some serious foot GPS. She spent about ten hours digging into the quadrant that I later figured was associated with taste. Not, like, the ability to select an appropriate mate (though in truth that area could use some massaging), but literally taste buds, flavors, the difference between salty and sweet, sour and bitter. No matter what I eat--from replicating the RenFaire feasts to pirating the 7-Eleven snack cake aisle--my mouth responds mechanically. Chew and swallow, with absolutely no hint of pleasure, no hint of anything.

I'm starting to forget what things taste like. What it feels like to be satisfied.

Now I stand next to Phil at Gen Con ("The Four Best Days in Gaming!") and we wear our turquoise jumpsuits and prosthetic high foreheads, and he rests one hand on my jutting hip bone and looks around the room. I put my hand on my other hip, the indignant-yet-sexy pose my character is known for, and I miss the feel of my own flesh. I miss my old body more than I'd miss Phil.

I miss the way my teeth closed around a turkey leg, the crisp, salty skin, the juice dribbling down my chin. Drunk on mead, I had never felt so full. I miss the feel of tart cranberry pie lingering on my tongue. I miss the hit of sugar from pear cake icing, even if it was from a can, just as historically dumb as a cell phone.

If I don't win this contest, I figure I'll just keep eating: choke down enough tasteless food to get my own delicious, fleshly body back.

But I'd love to return to life before the procedure. I'd love to be standing next to Phil on the RenFaire Exposition Grounds when he gave me the once-over after giving Bridget the once-over. I really want to taste this bitterness, you know? It would be a waste, the perfectly good honey wine I'd toss into his face. But my waist? That's worth saving.

In anticipation,

Marian Wright

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