Sadie - Wednesday
The sticker reads; Priority seat for people who are disabled, pregnant or less able to stand. Sadie falls into the latter category and feels no qualms about taking the seat, she’s seen plenty of fit, able-bodied people sitting there reading their papers pretending they can’t see her sweating and puffing right near them. She knows the reason none of these fit, able bodied people has ever offered her their seat and it is because Sadie is fat, not just rotund but morbidly obese. She’s had to endure their snide looks and comments for years, particularly if the train is excessively over crowded after a delay or something. It’s usually the women that pipe up with the standard and catty lines such as, “you’ve got more than your fair share of the space”, or, “fat bitch taking up all the room”. Sadie likes to think she’s not bothered by them, but she is. As the years have gone on, Sadie is increasingly worried that one day she will be stuck in the seat or the ticket barrier, and that the bottle neck of people behind her will laugh out loud and in unison sing ‘who’s a fat cow then?’ The worry makes her eat, the guilt of the eating makes her eat, the sadness makes her eat, the loneliness makes her eat, everything makes her eat. Sadie does not have a full up button, she’s tried to explain to her mum that it’s like being really, really thirsty, gulping water to quench that thirst only to find that it’s not enough, it’s never enough. Sadie’s mum wants her to go into therapy, she said she will after Christmas. She knows she won’t.
Sadie’s stop is Holborn today, from there it’s just a short walk to the studio where she is recording an audio book. Sadie has a voice that sounds like melting chocolate, its so rich and smooth that it transports the listener to wherever Sadie takes them. In her previous job as a credit controller for a large carpet firm she was frequently asked out on dates by men she’d never met, she even had two marriage proposals. Sadie never met with any of the would be suitors as she knew one glance at her and they’d be looking over her shoulder hoping their date was the next woman to arrive. She wasn’t presuming, she knew, it had happened before and that was at least three stones ago. At Blind Books Sadie enjoys herself, she’s as close to happy as she can be.
“Aren’t fat girls at least supposed to be jolly?” said a male voice as Sadie walked past the kitchen towards to studio.
“Show her a packet of Bourbons if you want her to smile,” replied another.
“Wankers,” Sadie said calmly to their backs.
Their heads snapped around and Sadie was relieved that they had the decency to blush.
“Only joking Sadie,” said the one in glasses.
“Well I wasn’t,” she smiled back, “you,” she pointed “are a nasty little prick.” She barely stopped long enough for her words to hit their target before she carried on down the corridor, she felt rather pleased with herself.
“Darling,” squealed Doug the producer, who promptly launched himself in her direction and delivered three air kisses, “and how is one today?”
“I’m fine thanks Doug, how’s you?”
“Keep speaking darling, you’re giving me wood.”
Sadie laughed “In any other industry your behaviour would amount to harassment.”
“But darling I’m gay and you love me, you know you do, and you know I’d never lower myself to harassment, I just adore that voice.”
“You Doug, are incorrigible, but yes I do love you, you know I do.”
“Sweetheart, you and I will be forever. We’re both frowned upon, me for my fabulousness and you for your voluptuous body.”
Sadie is glad that Doug finds himself fabulous, although she knew exactly what he meant. Doug started wearing eyeliner years before it became fashionable, and from the eyeliner came the full shebang – he’s more Tootsy than Tootsy was, an ugly skinny man in eccentric clothes with a full face of slap. Sadie adores him. She adores his complicated ways, his shameless two fingers to society, his bitchiness and his complete acceptance of her.
“Shall we darling?” he said handing her the script.
Today Sadie is reading ‘The light between oceans,’ by M L Stedman, a truly splendid story that read by her, will leave no one unmoved.
As they broke for coffee and biscuits, they sat in the studio listening to the playback. Doug turned to Sadie, “have you ever considered a new line of work?”
“Such as?” said Sadie knowing full well that Doug will have thought it through to the enth degree.
“More voice work obviously, but on the phone.”
“Sex chat lines. You’d be fantastic, you’d make a killing. You could still do this, but when there’s nothing doing here you could do that instead.
Save you going back to the market research and those bastards that upset you all the time.”
Sadie laughed, but there was a tiny part of her that thought that, just maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea.
“But you know how I hate perverts,” she said.
“Darling, we all hate perverts, but think of their money, the fleecing you could give their sorry old wallets.”
“But my mum, after, well you know,”
“Darling, rapists do it anyway.”
“What if I turn one on, then he goes out and attacks someone?”
“It was just an idea, your voice is a gift and I hate to think of you going into that call centre with those savage tongued bastards.”
“I’ll think about it. This book is amazing, I can hardly wait to get it recorded and out there,” she said to change the subject.
On the journey home that evening Sadie was squashed into a fabulously good looking man, she mulled over what Doug had suggested. On the plus side was the money, the not having to get the tube, she glanced around as if to prove to herself that it was not an enjoyable experience.
The blue eyed stranger she was pressed up against gazed up towards the ceiling, he was miles away with his own thoughts, she followed his gaze and noticed his perfectly formed left hand, the strong grasp it had of the red bar, the expensive watch poking out under the crisp cuff linked shirt. This man was so handsome that suddenly terror grabbed Sadie in her gut. She averted her eyes immediately for fear that he had noticed how much she was staring at him, and God forbid noticed how erotic she was finding him. He hadn’t. Relief. Then terror again as the girl nearby had, her face was sneering, she was obviously being possessive of the handsome stranger, her chances so much better than Sadie’s even though Sadie was the one he was pressed against, the one who was near enough to smell his aftershave. The bitch remained unnoticed and peeved.
At the next stop, the seat directly between them became available, the handsome stranger gestured with his hand that it was Sadie’s if she wanted it. She did, but so did many others. Thinner people that had more right to it than the fat blob that would hang over the armrests into the neighbours quadrants. The handsome stranger body blocked from his side to allow Sadie the opportunity to claim her prize.
“Thank you,” she said.
He just nodded. There was no shock at the sight of her, for the first time in months there was no first reaction to her. He simply let her have the seat and then continued to stare up at his own hand. Sadie could love this man. Maybe if Sadie were to picture this man as each and every caller, maybe she could provide the chat line service Doug suggested. Maybe it was fate that had put him in her path today, maybe just maybe there were kind men, apart from Doug in this world.
As night fell and Sadie looked in her fridge again, she was brought back to reality, a reality where anger and pain lived. She was angry at herself again, angry that she’d eaten so much, angry that there was nothing left. If Sadie wasn’t afraid of the dark she would go out to the corner shop and buy some more crisps and coke, but she was afraid of the dark. She was afraid of being raped, like her mum was. Her mum had been on her way home from an office cleaning job, a job she had to support herself through college, a job she hated but needed in equal measure. It was 1975 and people like Rita didn’t go to university, they got jobs at Fords in Dagenham until they got married and had a baby. That was how it was for everyone in Rita’s street, except Rita had ideas of grandeur according to the neighbours and her school friends and their parents. It was those ideas of grandeur that got her in to trouble, that made them all allow it to happen and then be hushed up. One night after a skin full in The Lamb and Flag, a few of the lads thought it was a good idea to knock Rita down a peg or two. They surrounded her in the street, pushing her, poking her, calling her names, then one of them kicked her legs out from under her and she fell on the hard ground. Whether it was meant to happen or not, none of them intervened as one of them, she never named him again after the police sent her packing, one of them climbed on top of her and raped her. When she arrived home crying and blood soaked, her mother put her in the bath. The following morning the two of them went to the police station. They didn’t tell her father, he heard it at work. It was after that his drinking got worse.
Sadie was born nine months later, a happy, healthy, bouncing baby girl. Her grand parents had tried to love her, but she was the product of the rape of their only child. It was a conscious effort to remember to love Sadie, sometimes they forgot and the look was there. Sadie found out she was a rapist’s daughter in the playground. Maureen O’Donal’s parents had told her to give Sadie a wide berth as she was made of half perv, soon the whole school was giving her a wide berth. Sadie hated lunchtime the most and ate her food slowly, often having second helpings to put off the inevitable torment of outside. It was there that her love-hate relationship with food started.
Fatness had its benefits, at around a size 18 Sadie was almost invisible; she could walk past building sites without fear of hecklers, she could wait for a bus safe in the knowledge that the curb crawlers would crawl on, she was free. Unfortunately, her current size made her as visible as a celebrity, head snapping, blatantly starring, comment provokingly there. She longed to be bland again, ignored and left alone, but her appetite was too big. She was doomed and she knew it.