Well, this might excite some of the die-hard fans of Fifty Shades of Puddin’. I truly thought Puddin’ would be a one-and-done adventure, but I’m just not sure I can do that. I really grew attatched to Ambrosia during the writing process. Now, I don’t think I can stomach reading two more of the Grey books to write those parodies, but I had an idea pop in my head and I couldn’t let it be.
It only took about an hour to let my idea flow through my fingers and into a file on my computer. It’s a prequel to Puddin’, taking place a few years before poor Ambrosia stumbles into the Thunderdome kink of Curtis Brown. This is a look at her struggles with weight the summer of her 15th year. This is The Hunger Camp. I’m posting the first 5 pages below to see what you think. It’s obviously a parody of The Hunger Games (a book I actually liked), but I thought it would be a fun place to take Ambrosia. Give it a read and see what you think. If you like it and want more, let me know. I’ll start posting chapters like I did with Puddin’. Some free Southern fun.
The Hunger Camp
I wake up and realize I’m not all squished up against my bedroom wall like I usually am. There’s no fat, hairy elbow stuffed in my face or hundred pound leg wrapped over mine. Where’s my brother? I sit up in bed and realize he’s fallen out and is sound asleep on the floor. He has his own bed, but he’s been getting nightmares a lot and keeps sneaking into my bed at night. He’s 4 years older than me, but his brain didn’t come out quite right. Levon is more like a toddler than a nineteen-year-old man. I’m not surprised he had a nightmare last night. Even though he’s a half-wit, he knows today is the trimming.
I don’t want to think about it, so I get out of bed and slip on some clothes real quiet like. I squeeze on my house shoes, cupcake jammie bottoms, and put a bra on under my tee shirt. I may only be fifteen but the boob fairy visited me over the summer, and I can’t go running around without something to keep these things under control.
I tiptoe to my closet and reach into the pockets of my winter coat hanging in the back. It never gets cold enough in Mississippi to need the coat, so it makes a pretty good hiding place. I pull out a pack of pink Snowball cakes and stuff them under my shirt. There’s a package of squished Zingers in the other coat pocket, so I grab those too.
I hear a loud “quack” and it about scares the piss out of me. It’s Levon’s pet duck, Bitterweed. She’s pretty much the ugly duckling if the duckling never turned into a swan. Her feathers are mangled and she has a bald patch on her ass. She’s cross-eyed, too. I think her feathers are supposed to be white but Levon feeds her a lot of mustard so she’s pretty yellow. She craps in my shoes and I pretty much hate her, but I can’t get rid of my half-wit brother’s pet no matter how much I want to drop her off behind Mr. Chow’s Chinese restaurant.
I rush past Bitterweed. The sun is up and I don’t have much time to enjoy it, so I creep out the door, making sure I don’t wake up my dad. He wouldn’t be happy about what I was sneaking off to do. He’s been working really hard to reverse all the “bad” he thinks staying with my mom did to me so he can keep me safe from the trimming this afternoon.
The trailer park is real quiet since it’s a Saturday and the beginning of August. There’s only four weeks left before school starts up again. I’m sure there’s other kids sitting inside their trailers feeling just as nervous as I am, but I can’t let that keep me cooped-up. I’ve got some last minute fun to have with my best friend before my life possibly changes. Wasting this day moping around our trailer park that’s known as the Crack by most people on the account of it being considered the butt crack of Hattiesburg, doesn’t float my boat.
I hurry off to the old wooden fence lining the trailer park. It’s really tall and everybody pretends it’s there to keep us safe from rabid skunks and drunk hitchhikers, but I think we all know it’s so the people who commute from the fancy subdivision down the street don’t have to see us and can pretend we aren’t so close to them and their perfect lives.
There’s a loose board right where one of the local kids tagged the fence with some jacked-up gang sign he made up. It looks like that fat rooster, Foghorn Leghorn, wearing chains and drinking a forty. I pry up his left leg and squeeze through the gap. I almost get stuck. I guess I didn’t realize exactly how much weight I gained staying at my mama’s the last couple of months. Maybe my daddy really does have a reason to worry.
The fence leaves red whelps on me from squirmming through and completely flattens my cakes, but I keep trudging across the dirty parking lot on the other side towards the abandoned gas station in front of me. On top of that old building is the only friend I feel like I really have around here—Dale.
I huff and puff and cuss as I climb up the ladder bolted to the side of the raggedly building. You’d think a girl with some meat on her bones would figure out a better place to meet her friend, but sitting on the roof gives us a view of everything and keeps us safe from any kids wanting to make fun of us, or worse, steal our snack cakes.
“Help,” I wheeze, reaching over the ledge at the top. I see Dale sitting down on the opposite side. It takes a bit of effort for him to get up. He’s my best friend, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say he’s a fat ass.
“I got ya, Rosacea,” he moans, wrapping his little chubby sausage-fingers around my hand and pulling me up. My name is really Ambrosia but he turned it to Rose and then decided it was funny if he called me Rosacea like that skin disease his great aunt and other old people have. If he wasn’t my best friend I’d punch him in his jiggly gut for it.
Once I get up on my feet, he grins and almost skips back to where he’d been sitting. “Look what I scored,” he sings, pointing down at an entire box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies.
“No way,” I whisper. This is as good as gold around here these days on the account of parents hiding anything fattening from their kids. “All I brought was this.” I pull out the cakes from my shirt but they look like they got steamrolled or were sitting under Dale’s big butt.
“Looks good. We can ice the cookies with the Snowball fluff.” He groans as he sits back down, takes a cookie out, and tosses it to me. “Happy Hunger Camp, and may the scale—”
“—be on your side,” I finish, taking the cake and plopping down beside him.
We sit and eat like that for a while but it’s hard to pretend that today isn’t today. The trimming is only a couple of hours away and there’s a damn good chance that at least one of us will be chosen and sent off to Hunger Camp. The “trimming” isn’t the real name for what will happen today, but it might as well be because really all it’s about is the public school system of Mississippi “trimming” the fat from its districts.
Mississippi has always been in last place for everything except things like teen pregnancy and being poor—we go that shit down good. But when it comes to health and stuff, we’re always hanging out in the gutter with Arkansas, Alabama, Nashville, and other states. The schools got real tired of always failing the Presidential Fitness Challenge and decided to start doing something about it. That’s how Hunger Camp came around.
It’s not really called Hunger Camp, neither, but it is. It’s a camp on the outskirts of Jackson called the Crooked Letter Physical Fitness and Wellness Camp for Youth or something like that. But it doesn’t matter how fancy the name is because it’s still just a fat camp for the school districts to ship their kids to and get them ready so they don’t fail and look like the poor trash we are to the President. I think it was the year West Virginia ranked higher than us that pissed them off enough to start all this bullcrap.
Dale and me live in school district 12. Our school is one of the poorest around because there’s a lot of trailer parks here. You’d think that being poor would make us all really skinny but it doesn’t. Maybe poor people just have a gene that makes us react to food different than rich folks.
“I know I’m going,” mumbles Dale through a mouth full.
I take another bite of my cookie and don’t say anything because he’s probably right. Last year the school kept tabs on the kids who were looking porky. They sent a letter to our parents this summer to come in for the evaluation, or the “trimming” as we call it. They’ll file all the fat kids into the gym to weigh and measure us. They pick the fattest girl and the fattest boy and ship us off to the camp so we can lose some pounds before school starts.
“Maybe not,” I finally lie. I’ve been away all summer staying with my mamma in Tennessee. I haven’t seen many of the other kids on the list to know if they’ve lost or gained, but Dale has definitely not been sticking to the Special K challenge his grandmamma put him on.
I’m not sure where I’ll be in the mix. Daddy about had a heart attack when Levon and I came home from Mamma’s. I knew my clothes had gotten really tight but I’d tried to tell myself it was just boobs. Daddy said different. He knows my mamma has the sleep eating disorder where she gets up in the night and eats entire bags of chips, dipping them in butter. He’s afraid I have it too, but I don’t know since I’d be asleep when it happened.
But, overall, I feel pretty safe because I know Martha Morgan is around. She’s one of the rich girls and her daddy is the president of the school board, but she’s always been real nice and I think it’s because she’s one of the biggest kids in school. Her family seems real embarrassed about it so they’ll probably volunteer her to go just so they won’t have to be ashamed by her failing the test.
“Time to go,” I whisper, looking at the rising sun. We have to get back home and dress for the trimming. The parents always try to make us look less fat and poor than we are because the newspaper comes and takes pictures. I think it’s humiliating. They’re just making us fat kids feel worse, like we’re a freak show. Our dumb parents just like the idea of being in the paper, because outside of being on an episode of Cops, that’s the only way to get famous around here.
We climb down the ladder and walk back to the fence. “See you later,” I say, waving to Dale as we head our separate ways. He looks like he’s about ready to cry.
When I get home Daddy is already dressed in his church clothes. He’s got on his button down shirt with the sleeves, and his jeans are the black pair that he reserves for special things like weddings and court hearings. He’s even got on his special athletic shoes that I only see him wear when he plays in the trailer park’s horseshoe tournament. Daddy may look real handsome but it makes me mad because I know he’s just dressing up so he’ll feel less humiliated when he waltzes into the gym with his two fat ass kids.
“I ready, Sissy.” Levon comes running into the living room, knocking crap over. He’s all smiles and drool because he doesn’t have a clue about why we’re really getting dressed up. If it wasn’t for his poor messed up brain he’d be too old for the trimming, but he’s still in the 10th grade, so he’s fair game.
My brother is so much bigger than my daddy that we had to go to the thrift store to buy him something to wear today. His pants flood about three inches up his ankles, showing his white socks and lime-green, fake Crocs. He’s wearing a hideous Hawaiian shirt tucked into his pants.
“Uh…tuck in your trunk, baby elephant,” I say. Levon has a habit of leaving his pants unzipped and sometimes things just slip out the barn door.
“Pmmmfffhhhhhh!” Levon makes an elephant sound and starts laughing. Thankfully Daddy steps in to get everything put back where it should be.
I stomp off to my room to get dressed. There are clothes laid out on my bed. My Daddy has obviously dug through some of my mama’s old stuff that she left behind. These clothes are from before Levon was born and she got really fat. In fact, Mama used to teach aerobics down at the YMCA using some Richard Simpson guy’s tapes.
The clothes Daddy picked out for me must have been from those times. The pants are hot pink, shiny, and really tight. I can barely breathe when I get them on but the fabric feels really slick and kinda nice. I’ve never touched anything like it before. I put on the top next. It’s a grey sweatshirt that’s been cut up so that it hangs off my shoulder. Across the front it says “Let’s Get Physical.” Next is a pair of thick pink socks that look like the toes were cut off. I put them on and realize they’re those things I’ve seen ballet dancers wear. I look stupid.
Daddy knocks before he comes in my room. He looks like he’s about to cry. “You look real nice there, Ambrosia. Just like your mama.” He comes over and adjusts the sock things, squishing them down. “Now you’ll look like you’re taking your losing weight seriously. Like you can kick butt and take names.”
I just look at him like he’s as dumb as Levon. “People are gonna laugh.”
“Not if we fix your hair.” Daddy marches out of the room.
I made the mistake at Mama’s of listening to some of her friends about how to turn my hair blonde. I put lemon juice and peroxide in it every day. It pretty much looks like a head of crispy Barbie doll hair that got peed on by a cat. I wish Daddy had let me buy some hair dye before today.
“Here ya go.” Daddy walks back in the room with a brush and some weird looking plastic thing. He brushes and tugs at my hair for a while. “There! I knew your mama’s old banana clip would come in handy for more than just a chip clip.”
Banana what? I look in the mirror and want to cry again. Now I look like I have a mohawk of hay on the side of my head.
“Alright! Time to go.” Daddy marches out the door and I follow, feeling like I’m about to puke crème pies all over my mama’s ugly ass clothes.
Happy Friday! That’s just a little sampling of the first chapter. Let me know if you’d like to see another Ambrosia adventure. I miss her and I had a lot of fun posting the chapters.
Wicked wishes- Ash