Delighted wo win ‘best dialogue’ for this one

Sweet Revenge

An awkward silence unfolded between them. Polly hadn’t meant to drop the bombshell this early on in their meeting, but her resolve snapped the moment she saw Dexter enter the restaurant. She recognised him instantly. That same self-assured swagger. The same smarmy smile at the waitress showing him to his table.
 His eyes lit up as he approached her. ‘You must be Polly. Hi, I’m Dexter.’ He held his hand out to shake hers.

   ‘Hi,’ she said, hoping her nerves didn’t show.

She studied him as he took his jacket off, shook out the creases and placed it on the back of his chair before sitting down. His hair was greying around the temples, there were a few wrinkles around his eyes, and he was bulging out of his shirt in a way he hadn’t done thirty years ago, but otherwise he had changed very little.
He poured himself a glass of red wine without asking if she minded. She found his confidence galling.

   ‘So, Polly. I guess this is where we tell each other something interesting about ourselves and see if the computer was right. Ladies first.’

She took a large gulp of wine. ‘We’ve met before.’

   ‘Oh? Have we? Well, you definitely have the advantage over me there. I don’t want to seem rude, but you might need to give me a clue. Don’t take it personally, I’m just useless at putting faces to names.’

   ‘We knew each other at school.’

   ‘Really? God, that’s going back a bit. Are you sure?’

   ‘Yes. How many Dexter Zolinskis are there?’ 

   ‘True. I still don’t…’

Polly gripped her wine glass and fixed him with her steely blue eyes ‘Roly Poly Polly. How’s that for a clue? I think you were the creative genius who came up with that highly original nickname. Hats off to you though, it stuck. Remember me now?’

Dexter shifted in his seat. Polly enjoyed watching him squirm as the silence settled between them. She was an introvert and comfortable with silence. Dexter on the other hand, was nowhere as near comfortable with it. He looked away, fiddled with his shirt sleeves, loosened his tie, and ran his hand through his hair, but to his credit, he blushed.

   ‘I didn’t recognise you. I mean…Sorry. That wasn’t the best thing to say. I’ve never been known for my tact.’ He paused and took a large gulp of wine. ‘Jeez Polly, what can I say? I’m sorry, truly I am, but that was so long ago. I was a cocky teenager and probably said lots of things to lots of people, not just you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not excusing it, but I was a different person back then. We all were.’

   ‘Don’t worry about it. You probably did me a favour.’

He frowned. ‘How so?’

   ‘If it hadn’t been for you bringing my fatness to everyone’s attention and humiliating me so publicly, I might never have done anything about it. So, cheers for that.’ She raised her glass to him.

Her cheeks burned and her insides churned at the memory of the taunting. The jeering. The cutting remarks. As a child she had developed a coping mechanism of staying in the background and had managed to go virtually unnoticed amongst her peers, until year five, when Dexter Zolinski, the most popular boy at school had noticed her. Most girls would have been flattered.

   ‘Well, that’s one way of looking at it I suppose. You look fantastic by the way. I really wouldn’t have recognised you.’

She hated these back-handed compliments. You look so much better. You always had such a bonny face. Even her own father had said I always knew there was a thin lass waiting to get out. Ironically, she was also addicted to them. Where once she was addicted to food, she now thrived on expressions of admiration on her fantastic achievement and appearance. She felt disappointment when none where forthcoming and resolved to try harder. Eat less. Do more exercise. Make people notice.

   ‘So. What now?’ Dexter broke the silence. ‘I’m guessing this date isn’t just a good computer match? Is it some sort of revenge thing?’

   ‘No! It was pure co-incidence that your name popped up. Obviously, I knew it was you and I was curious, that’s all. It’s no big deal,’ she lied. This wasn’t about revenge. This was about looking her tormentor in the eye and making her own peace. She’d read about it somewhere, although right now, inner peace felt a long way off.  

   ‘Let’s order some food. I’m starving.’ She changed the subject.

Dexter relaxed and signalled for the waitress. ‘Sounds good to me.’

   ‘I’ll have the fish and chips, mushy peas and bread and butter, with sticky toffee pudding and ice-cream to follow,’ Polly told the waitress.

Dexter started to say something but stopped himself mid-sentence. ‘I’ll have the same thanks.’ He refilled their wine glasses.

Polly ate quietly, focussing on the mechanical process of eating. She cut her food into small chunks and chewed each mouthful ten times before swallowing. Her stomach heaved as the heavy, greasy food mixed with the wine. The first few mouthfuls were always the most difficult, but she knew, if she took her time, she could force more down. She would deal with it later.

Dexter didn’t seem to notice. He droned on about himself, his work, his hobbies, occasionally pausing to check if she was listening. Polly had a mastered the art of zoning out of a conversation whilst appearing to listen.

   ‘Polly?’ She looked up to see Dexter staring at her. ‘If you don’t mind me asking, how did you err…?’

   ‘Lose all the weight?’ She knew what he was getting at. Where she had once eaten in secret, she now took great pleasure in eating copious amounts of food in public. She enjoyed remarks such as Where do you put it all? A tiny thing like you. You’re one of those lucky people who can eat whatever they like.

   ‘Ate less, moved more.’ She drained her glass.

   ‘Right. Err…Another wine? Or how about a coffee?’

She shook her head. ‘I have an early meeting at work tomorrow. I need to get back.’

   ‘Okay. Well maybe we can do this again?’

She stood up and gathered her jacket and handbag from her chair. ‘I’m not sure Dexter. Maybe. I need go.’ She left him to pay the bill as she headed out to hail a taxi.

The voices started as soon as she stepped into the cool, stillness of her flat. You’re pathetic. A failure. You’ll get fat. You can’t even diet properly. She reached the bathroom just in time. The saliva rushed into her mouth and she felt relief wash over her as she vomited every last morsel of food she had consumed earlier.

She washed her mouth out with water and set the timer on her phone for thirty minutes, when she could safely brush her teeth. She noticed the message on her phone.

Well, that was different. Fancy meeting up next week? D

She blocked the number, deleted it from her contacts and lay down on top of her bed. The voices silenced for the moment.

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