Curse Your Character

Seriously cursed

Has anyone else ever gotten something they’ve longed for forever and then thought, That was IT? Now what?

I shot up to my present height of 5’6” by the time I was 12. Back in Malaysia, the kids at school called me “Satay Stick” or Popeye’s ungainly girlfriend “Olive Oyl.” My aunties lamented my unattractive boniness and my grandmother chided my mother for not feeding me well enough. Not one for idleness, I took matters into my own hands and proceeded to stuff myself as much as I could. Most meals, I ate until my belly ached, believing that if I could just get the scale to tip past 110 pounds, I would finally feel cherished.

Years passed but the weight did not budge.

Then I turned 16 and was lucky enough to go to boarding school in England. In addition to adjusting to a creaky Queen Anne house with a limited supply of hot running water, reading Ionesco in French, and experiencing the baffling European preoccupation with sun tans, I began eating things like mashed potatoes, toast with chocolate spread, pastas drenched in butter, soups made with cream, and dishes centered on thick slabs of meat. At the end of a single three-month term, the miracle happened: I gained five pounds. I couldn’t wait for my aunties’ reactions. Life at 115 pounds, I decided, would be glorious.

The aunties took one look at me and pronounced me F-A-T.


Writing Challenge

Create a scene in which your character fulfills a long-held dream but realizes that life has not changed in the way he has hoped. Use a mixture of observable, concrete details and subjective, interior elements to capture the conflict between external events and internal reactions.


About Mei Li Ooi

Writer. Editor. Diet Rebel.

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