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  • Big Girl
  • Lee Smith
    Winter 2003

How did this happen?" the woman asks me so soft I have to lean up in the chair to hear. "When did it start?" A good question. But when does anything start? How far back do you have to go? I was a big girl, now I'm a big woman. My life has been different because of it. Many avenues of opportunity are closed off to a big girl. You can't be a [End Page 56] majorette, for instance. You can't be a cheerleader. You dress and undress in the shower stall at gym class. You stand in the back for group pictures. If you ever get elected to anything, it's always treasurer. I never had a date in high school. Boys didn't even notice my big breasts because I was big all over, like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, remember him? On the packages of pizza mix and cake mix? I have opened a number of those packages in my time, I might as well admit it. Obviously I'm not a picky eater. Everybody has to be something, I reckon, and I'm a great cook. I tell you that in all honesty. I'm known far and wide for my cakes, my three-cheese lasagna, my chicken and biscuits, and especially my chocolate pecan pie—Billy's favorite.

Used to be his favorite, I should say! During the first six years of our marriage, Billy gained forty pounds, which he complained about, but he didn't really mean it. He needed to beef up some. He looked better than ever, in my opinion. Maybe I should have paid more attention last spring when he went out and bought that diet stuff at the Whole Earth Store in the mall and said he was going to get back in shape, but I just thought, isn't that nice? A man has got to do something, after all, even a man that has got hurt and laid off, and they say walking is good for anybody, though it makes me short of breath, personally. I worked overtime while Billy walked. He walked all summer long.

It never occurred to me to wonder if he had a destination.

"Mrs. Sims, when did you start doing this?" the woman asks again. Her name tag says Lois Rubin. She's one of those skinny flat chested women who wear turtleshell glasses and pull their hair straight back with a barrette and go around writing on clipboards. She's not from around here. I bet she grew up rich. She's rich now, big square-cut diamond ring plus a nice chip-diamond wedding band on her left hand. She's just another do-good rich lady down here at the jailhouse [End Page 57] occupying herself while her surgeon husband screws a nurse. Oh, Lord! Now where did that come from? As a big girl, I'm used to hanging back and not just saying whatever pops into my head, the way I keep doing ever since they brought me in here. I swear, I don't know what has got into me!

Billy always said he was going to get me a diamond but he never did. Though he had the best intentions in the world, poor thing, I still believe this. But life can snatch you up and mess with you in many different ways. Sweet, sweet Billy Sims. None of this is his fault, you can count on that.

I take full responsibility for everything.

"Mrs. Sims—Dee Ann—" Lois Rubin looks down at her clipboard. "High school graduate, good grades, student government, excellent work record in a number of positions. What happened to you?"

This is the same question asked earlier in the day by my preacher, Rev. Buford Long. Then he laid his hand on my forehead like Jesus and announced he has revved up the Prayer Chain for me. "Thanks but no thanks," I said. "Get him out of here," I told the deputy, who did it, grinning. This deputy's name is Sam Hicks. Rev. Buford Long was just sputtering and spewing all the way...


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