After Tom took the sleepy girls off to their room, Kristi sat up from the couch, eliciting a small grunt of pain. Looking down at her slightly stained shirt, Kristi winced as she futilely attempted to cover up her distended stomach with the ill-fitting fabric. She couldn't even stretch the shirt down past to her pants before began making small tearing noises. Giving up, Kristi stood up, stretching her arms high above her head, causing her gut to be uncovered once again. Giving her shirt yet another tug downwards, Kristi slowly walked towards the kitchen, her overfull stomach bouncing slightly with every step.
Susan stood at the counter, wiping it with a wet rag despite it being perfectly clean beforehand- she just really wanted something to do while she talked to Kristi. As the young girl made her way into the room, Susan couldn't help but stare at her partially bare stomach. Was Kristi really that oblivious to the poundage she had gained? Susan knew when she had gained even a few pounds, and always had the willpower to lose it, and she didn't even really need to- Tom had made it very clear that he would always love her, but Susan felt it was part of her family duty to stay in physical shape, if for no other reason than to be a good role model for her girls... Something Kristi clearly was not. The college student had absolutely ballooned, and although her girls hadn't gained weight yet, Susan knew just how much Kristi meant to them- and she couldn't have an unhealthy role model in their lives!
"Kristi, feel free to sit down- I only need to talk to you for a minute." Susan said in an even tone, attempting to keep herself from sounding too nervous, which she was. "I, uh... How are you?" Susan stumbled awkwardly into the conversation, already feeling less confident than she had in the car, when she was all riled up.
"Oh, I'm great! The girls have been really awesome about letting me get my homework done, which means I usually have time to watch some TV with them before they go to bed! Although tonight TV time went a little long... Sorry about that." Kristi said with a small giggle. "Sometimes we just lose track of time!"
Susan nodded, before asking, "Well, how about... Other activities? Do you three play around the house or anything?" Susan was trying her best to be gentle when asking these questions- she knew how sensitive some girls could be about their habits.
However, Kristi was apparently oblivious to what exactly Susan was hinting at. "Oh, yeah, sure! Just today we played some hide and seek... I gotta admit, those girls are good at that game! Always squeezing into little places that I can't- I mean, they know the best places in the house." Kristi cut herself off awkwardly- The other day she had almost gotten stuck behind an old dresser in the basement when her much wider hips had become wedged- She had escaped by wiggling enough to scoot the dresser outwards a few inches, but she didn't really want Susan to know that, especially since she had fit fine behind it in a previous game a few weeks back.
"Ah, I see... And what about food? We see an awful lot of pizza boxes... And soda." Susan said, the disapproval leeching into her voice.
"I'm... I'm afraid I don't know what you're getting at. When I got the job, you said..." Kristi began, before Susan cut her off.
"We said you could get take-out: we wouldn't expect you to cook for our kids on top of everything else you're doing for us. But we didn't expect you to order pizza every single night, which I know for a fact you have been!" Susan had managed to keep her voice mellow for the conversation, but her frustration was truly beginning to show.
"I, uh... The girls always ask for it, and I don't want to upset them..." Kristi began, her voice sounding much quieter. In a way, it was true, the girls really did love pizza, but even Kristi had to admit that lately they seemed to be growing sick of it. Just the other night Tiffany had asked if they could order something else to eat along with the pizza, and Marcy almost never finished her slice anymore.
"Kristi... Marcy and Tiffany have both told me they asked you to get something other than pizza. Are you just ordering pizza because it's what you want?" Susan said sternly, her eyes not leaving Kristi's face.
"What? They haven't said anything like that! Look, if they don't want pizza, we won't get pizza anymore- there are plenty of other places to order from, and..." Kristi began exasperatedly, feeling hurt that the girls had complained to their mom, after all, they should both know they could tell her anything. The truth was, Susan had lied- neither of the girls had said anything, but she had a feeling that if she used them as leverage, she might be able to keep Kristi from ordering the greasy food anymore.
"How about this: I'll do my best to make meals for the girls before we leave, that you can heat up or something- if you get hungry, feel free to rummage through the pantry. Or bring your own food. The point is, I'd really like it if you stopped getting the girls pizza. Once in a while is fine, but they're eating it every single day, and as their mother, I need to put my foot down. I hope you understand." Susan said firmly- It would probably do Kristi some good to not eat pizza every night as well... Although Susan wasn't convinced she would be losing any weight.
"Yeah... I understand. I'm gonna go now... Have a good night." Kristi said quietly, doing her best to not tear up in front of Susan. Before Susan could even respond, Kristi had walked out of the room, grabbing her sweatshirt and book bag before hurrying out the door, not even noticing Tom making his way towards her to say goodnight. Kristi shut the door a bit harder than she intended, which tipped Tom off to the fact that the talk hadn't gone entirely well. Making his way into the kitchen, he approached his smiling wife.
"You better not have hurt that girls feelings." He said, anger creeping into his voice. "You know damn well that she's doing nothing wrong- her weight is none of your concern. If we need to find a new babysitter because of you, it's your responsibility." Susan's smile fell, but before she could retort, Tom had already made his way back to their bedroom.
Driving home, tears fell fast and hard down Kristi's face. It wasn't fair- so what if she had gained weight, she had done everything right watching the girls, and she still got this stupid speech about... About nothing! Susan was just being a bitch! Kristi felt bad as soon as she thought that, but couldn't help herself- the frustration of being called out on ordering pizza, and the fact that the girls hadn't even talked to her about wanting something else, and gone straight to their mom? It really hurt Kristi's feelings. And as she drove back to her apartment, she couldn't help but notice the bright neon sign on the side of the road:
"Fresh Pizza, 24 hours a day!"