by Tameko L. Barnette
Odessa lived next door to Bernadine. Odessa used to weigh over three hundred pounds almost five years ago. Ever since she lost the weight with one of those popular weight loss programs, she has watched her friends like a hawk. Bernadine have been friends with Odessa ever since she moved into the same neighborhood as Odessa. It’s been almost fifteen years of friendship, but Bernadine let their friendship go after Odessa lost the weight. Bernadine weighed in at two hundred fifty-seven pounds. The same weight she was when she moved into that neighborhood.
In Bernadine’s eyes, Odessa was starting to act like she was better than her ever since she lost the weight. Always flaunting herself up and down the sidewalk in their neighborhood wearing two piece exercise outfits that had one of those G-string bottoms that Bernadine despised with a passion. Everytime she and Odessa would get together for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Odessa would watch Bernadine eat and make smart remarks about what she ordered to eat.
“Bernadine, now you know you shouldn’t be eating all that sauce on your pasta. That stuff will kill you, girl. But I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, except for me. Once I started having problems breathing all the time and couldn’t walk three steps without losing my breath didn’t nobody have to pull my arm to make me change my mind. No ma’am, I got sense enough to know what’s good for me.”
Bernadine would stare at Odessa with a scornful look on her face. “So are you saying I don’t have any sense because I’m eating sauce on my pasta, Odessa?” Odessa would look surprised at Bernadine’s sudden anger and say, “Oh no honey, you know I’m your friend, I just want what’s best for you. But if you’re okay with being two hundred fifty-seven pounds, I’m behind you a hundred percent.”
Bernadine would stay quiet throughout the rest of their meal together. She hasn’t spoken to Odessa in a few months.
Odessa would stop by once in awhile to say “hello”, but Bernadine would pretend not to hear her knocking at the door. Bernadine didn’t want to know about her plans of losing weight. Odessa was too uppity for her anyway. She wasn’t a very supportive friend. So Bernadine decided to lose the weight on her own.
* * *
Odessa watched from her window every morning around 5:30 wondering where Bernadine was going all the time so early. While Odessa sipped her morning coffee, reading her newspaper, and mentally preparing herself for a long day’s work she watched Bernadine get into her car and drive off every morning. She wanted to go over to Bernadine’s house on the weekends and casually inquire about where she’s been going but she knew Bernadine wouldn’t let her in the house. Not after the way she’s been treating her. Even Odessa had to admit she was wrong about the smart remarks.
* * *
Bernadine walked into the YMCA every morning around 5:45. She would make her way to the locker room to change her clothes, just an old pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. She would carefully put on her sneakers and make her way towards the treadmills. After four months of working out, Bernadine’s routine consisted of using the treadmill for forty-five minutes, a few minutes of stretching, and then she made her way to the weight room. She would do two sets of twenty bicep curls and two sets of twenty push-ups, of course without the weights. Everyday she would walk out of the YMCA feeling proud of herself. She could feel her energy level rising with everyday of working out. She had been working out and eating properly for four months straight. This is a whole new way of life for me. I don’t need Odessa’s little fancy behind bragging to me about her body and wonderful, new way of life. I can make it on my own, Bernadine thought to herself.
Odessa saw Bernadine getting out of the car in her sweatclothes and wanted to know so badly what was going on with her. She noticed a change in Bernadine. Her face looked smaller than usual, her waist was beginning to shrink slowly, but surely, and Bernadine’s legs were beginning to look very sexy and shapely. Odessa could see the muscles developing in Bernadine’s legs through the sweatpants. “Hey Bernadine!”, she yelled.
Bernadine turned around to see Odessa smiling at her. “What?” Odessa hesitated before saying, “You look real nice, girl. I told you that exercise and eating right is what you needed. Good job, Bernadine.”
Bernadine smiled while being suspicious of Odessa’s intentions all of a sudden. She turned towards Odessa again. Odessa looked anxious to hear a response from Bernadine hoping this little chit chat would spark a new flame in their friendship.
Bernadine grabbed her workout bag from the backseat of the car, turned towards the front door of her house, and pretended Odessa wasn’t even there.