Fat Girl and a Gun
by jowita Bydlowska // from issue 3. Vol. 2
My boyfriend is Idris Elba. You might know him from such TV shows as The Wire and Luther. He’s tall, black and handsome, and in the shows he always carries a gun. It is the gun that turns me on the most—it’s an extension of his characters; it’s a polished, black steel penis.
Idris is not really my boyfriend, obviously. But that’s what I fantasize about, that he is. And my girlfriends call him that. For example, Michelle: “Hey, your boyfriend is doing a voiceover of a buffalo in Zootopia and a snake, I think, in The Jungle Book. He’s such an animal.” Michelle is a mother and she watches cartoons. If it wasn’t for Michelle, I wouldn’t have known about Idris being in cartoons. I don’t care to see the cartoons. There are no guns in cartoons, and his voice alone is not enough.
Recently, Idris broke up with his girlfriend, Nayiana. Nayiana is fat like me, although perhaps not as fat. Fat is in now. I used to go to the gym, halfheartedly, to get rid of the fat, but I always felt watched: I was the silly girl jiggling on a treadmill. Everybody else had muscles; they were there to refine their muscles, become even sexier human machines.
And Nayiana. She is not even fat, not like me. She is curvy. She is probably not even that curvy. I saw Rebel Wilson at the Toronto Film Festival once and she was small: petite, curvy. Celebrities are always smaller than they look onscreen—although Idris is 6’3”, which is the perfect height for a man. Being a big girl, my dream has always been to be able to feel small with a man, which I’d never experienced, especially with Theo my ex-boyfriend who left me a year ago and who is 5’7” and weighs, like, fifty pounds fewer than me. The only smaller thing than me I would be satisfied with would be a gun because a gun is bigger than any man.
After Theo left, I cried for days. I measured my days by no-crying days and crying days.
I bought a book called Healing After Your Breakup, which was written by a woman who had left her husband.
The book gave this kind of advice: “Do yoga!” “Let yourself feel alive, again!” “Practise self-care!” “Take on a lova’!”
Fuck you. The woman who wrote it is happily married, again, and when I read her book I kept thinking how easy it is for her to give all this advice now that she has a new man.
I dreamt of Theo all the time. I’d wake up and his absence was like a presence. I thought of moments like this one: once he ran toward me like we were in the movies and like he just got off the train after a long war. His running embarrassed me then, but after he left I missed it, his goofiness.
After a few weeks alone, I went to a bar and got drunk. A man asked me why I was by myself in a bar; he asked me what kind of music I liked. I pulled out my phone and played Solitaire so it looked like I was texting, like I was busy. The man finally left me alone.
I drank another pint.
I stumbled back to my apartment.
I said out loud to myself, while stumbling, that ignoring that man was a mistake: I was a free woman now! Free to take on a lova’!
I fell asleep drunk and woke up in the middle of the night to throw up. I didn’t feel alive. I felt the opposite.
The next day, the bed was cold on Theo’s side—as always. I wrapped myself in extra blankets, my hand rummaged between my legs. I gave myself an orgasm that was like a yawn.
That is why Idris. A refuge. Idris, Idris, Idris—a sexy chant. Otherwise it would be Theo, Theo, Theo—a dryer full of Theos tumbling inside my head. So many memories of Theo: us walking on Wasaga Beach, us hiding behind a big bush on Toronto Island attempting to have sex in nature but losing our nerve in the end, but giggling about it… His terrible singing in the shower: “I love you in the morning and in the afternoon, Raaachel, I…”
I have to stop now. If I don’t I will spend the rest of my day on Theo and then I will go to the Wine Rack and get myself a bottle of Chardonnay and drink it all and cry and sleep, only to wake up in the middle of the night to more Theo thoughts.
I turn on my computer to watch the first episode of Luther, season four. In the episode a man eats one man’s heart, another man’s tongue, a part of a woman’s brain.
Idris is fabulous in the episode—sulky and sexy—and his gun makes an appearance and I think how cold and interesting it would feel to have it between my legs, the gun.
That “lova’!” part in that stupid book is getting to me again. I don’t want to go on dates, but the book—and now my girlfriends—say I should. Can’t just sit there and re-watch episodes of The Wire or Luther all night long after work, which is the place where I mostly enter numbers into spreadsheets and talk to a woman named Barb about her cat during our lunch break.
I remind my girlfriends that I am not lonely; I have them. And we have coffees and lunches—
Yes, but you need more than that. It’s been a year, the chorus of girlfriends says and, okay, I say, okay.
Go on Tinder, the chorus of girlfriends says. Everyone is doing it. You should at least get laid.
Tinder is an app that lets you hook up with people who want to hook up. You swipe to the right if you like a guy, left if you don’t. If the guy you like likes you too, it’s a match and you exchange a few texts and voilà! A date! Anyway, apparently everybody knows about Tinder exceptme, so I don’t have to explain more.
I don’t want a relationship, but getting laid appeals to me—my body is hungry for other bodies.
Now, I go on many dates: Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and over the weekend. Some guys are sweet and some aren’t and they only want to sleep with me, slap my ass, pull my hair, talk dirty. I like the dirty talk—Theo was always quiet, although once I asked him to call me names and he said, “Slut?” like he was asking if I bought milk for his cereal.
When I met Six, I knew right away there was something different about him. His bio on Tinder was short: “I’m not here to wine and dine you.” I liked his honesty and I liked that he put his measurements: height 6’3”. He looked a little bit like Idris too. He had a beard.
I dressed up for our first date. Because fat girls are now in, I could easily buy clothes that I couldn’t find before: dresses that clung to my wide hips, my big thighs. Clingy pants.
On our first date date, I wore a tight T-shirt with roses on it, tight jeans, a leather jacket, red heels. I looked like a fat hooker. I turned around to look at my ass in the mirror and did a little jump and my ass moved like two water-filled pillows perfectly rubbing against each other.
Six isn’t talkative. When we meet, he looks me up and down and says, “Nice.” I feel shy around him. I find him attractive, but there is something else about him that I like. But I can’t figure out what it is. Some kind of human umami.
We have sex and he talks dirty: “Right there, right there, right there. Good girl, good girl.”
Afterwards, he falls asleep and I watch his perfect face. His eyelashes are thick and they curl up. I want to kiss him while he sleeps, but I don’t.
Instead, I get up to walk to the bathroom and I trip over his pants.
I bend down to feel what that hard thing is but I know what it is before I touch it. It is a heavy compact thing with a short barrel. A gun.
I feel my throat constricting, my heart rate increasing—if I were to look down at my massive chest, I would see it rising, pumping. There is another feeling, too. I feel aroused, more aroused than I was when Six was saying dirty things to me.
I carefully insert my hand inside the pocket of his jeans to feel the gun. It is as cold as I imagined it would be. I grip the barrel and my eyes flutter involuntarily. This happens sometimes when I get too anxious: my eyes flutter. I can’t control it.
I do not steal Six’s gun. That would be a stupid thing to do because maybe he’d just come back and shoot me with another gun. And this thought spurs a revelation. The revelation is that there might be another gun somewhere out there and it could be accessible to me. That keeps me up at night while I sext with Six. He isn’t great at it, just short sentences about how hard he is…. I write long scenarios of what we could do—elaborate stories about him flipping me on all fours and licking me and so on and he replies, “That’s hot.”
The reason why I bother with the elaborate sexts is because I want to manipulate him, coax him into trusting me, bring him back and ask him the question I need to ask, which is if he could get me a gun.
I want a gun because I want a gun. Some people want an Apple watch, or a flat-screen 3D TV; I want a gun. I want it as much as I want only a few things in life, most recently for Theo to come back to me. But now I’m not thinking about Theo so much—I am thinking of getting a gun.
It takes a few months of mediocre though aggressive sex and my carefully constructed sexting for Six to agree to get me a gun. When I first asked, he laughed. When I asked the second time he got mad and left my apartment, but not before calling me a “dumb ho.”
He came back on our next scheduled night anyway.When my girlfriends ask me about Six, I don’t know what to tell them. I make up stories about going to Ethiopian restaurants—he is Jamaican but loves Ethiopian food, I say, which I think makes my lie more believable. I tell them about going to dance clubs where I am the only white girl. My girlfriends ask me how the sex is and I say it is amazing, best sex I ever had and he once tied me to a railing…. This was something I read about on the Internet on a site that published smut.
Most of the time, Six comes over, screws me—never against the railing—and leaves after he wakes up.
I mention the gun for the third time and Six looks at me with tired eyes and asks why I want it.
“For protection,” I say. “There’s been an increase in violence in the city. It’s all over the news.”
“The mayor was on the news talking about it.”
“He’s a goof,” Six sighs.
“I live in a sketchy area,” I say before I remember that Six lives at Jane and Finch, which is the real sketchy area. It is no Bloor and Landsdowne, which is where I live and where the only evidence of sketchiness left after hipster infestation is Coffee Time on the corner, in front of which there sits a woman with uncombed hair, smoking smokes next to a pile of smoked smokes.
It takes another two months to get my gun. Six and I get into a pattern of two-times-a-week hookups. I wait for the gun.
A few times, I ask if he’d like to come over for supper but he always declines. He shows up after nine and we go to bed. I still don’t know much about him other than he has a mother and a sister and a niece. The niece is nine years old and her name is Stella. He reveals that information reluctantly and clams up completely when I ask questions about what kind of kid she is, does she like Lego, what TV shows she watches. I think Six can sense I am just faking my interest in his life. I am.
One evening, Six brings over the gun. That’s it. The gun is here. The gun is wrapped in an oil-stained cloth, which Six throws on my bed after unwrapping it. There is no ceremony to it, no explanation of where it came from, nothing. All he says is that it is a glock, and I owe him $1,500. He shows me how to load it but he hasn’t brought any bullets.
“You on your own,” he says, even though I don’t ask about the bullets. I never thought about the bullets—it did not occur to me that that’s what would make the gun a gun. My bulletless gun is just fine.
After Six leaves I watch a random episode of Luther, and after the episode it’s 3am, but I can’t sleep so I pretend to shoot with my gun. I think of the movie Taxi Driver, the scene with Robert De Niro talking to himself in the mirror, playing with his gun. I don’t do that, no mirror, I am just sitting up in my bed. My hand shakes as I hold the gun—it isn’t that heavy but it’s an unfamiliar weight. I try to keep my hand still but it shakes and shakes. I grip the gun with both hands: bang bang bang!
I’m not sure who I am trying to kill.
I sleep with the gun under my pillow. Every night except for the nights when Six comes over.
He stops coming over eventually and I miss him, but not too much—after the gun, I’d found his presence distracting. I couldn’t concentrate while we were having sex and I’m sure he could tell I wasn’t quite there. I kept thinking about the gun under the bed.
On our last night, Six called me a dumb ho, again, and I shrugged—he was right or he wasn’t right and I didn’t care. He left and never came back. I stopped texting him. He stopped texting me.
Now it’s just the gun and me. Some nights I have violent dreams: heads exploding, bodies sliding red against white walls. I am hoping Idris will show up in my dreams so we can run together with our guns, chasing bad guys.
I have days when I don’t think about my ex-boyfriend, Theo, for hours.
I think about my gun instead.
Coming home, I pull the gun from underneath my pillow and caress it. I think about the gun and my body: I think about inserting its barrel into my body but I don’t do that; it seems sacrilegious. Not perverted but just wrong because the gun is holy; it is changing me; it’s a Jesus.
How is the gun changing me? Firstly, it inspires me: its shape and its potential. I want to be slick and dangerous now. Before, I didn’t mind so much that I was fat—I was always fat. Before, I was resigned to doing spreadsheets at work, watching TV, crying or not crying about Theo, fucking Six. But now that there is a gun in my life, I have become ashamed of my fatness, my lack of ambition.
I go back to the gym. I carry the gun in my gym bag.
I torture my body with various machines while I think about the gun, in my gym bag, in my locker. I also think about Idris: the gun is my Idris.
It doesn’t matter who looks at me at the gym anymore. None of them have a gun, like I do. None of them have a body that intends on becoming a barrel.
When I walk past Theo, he doesn’t recognize me. I recognize him right away because he is the same Theo—5’7”, 125 pounds, slightly pink. I am now 129 pounds, tanned. I am slick. I dyed my hair black. My hair is shiny. I’ve started wearing all black.
I call his name and he looks at me the way men are looking at me now, with longing.
I say his name, again. His eyes go big and he stops as if I had pulled my gun on him.
He stutters, “Wow.”
I laugh and feel my eyes flutter—I had no idea running into him would make me nervous, too, but I guess it does.
Next, we are having coffee.
Next, he emails me the day after, and next, we have dinner.
Next, he comes over the day after that and we go to bed together.
It is not the same. It could never be the same, the thing that was before. People are always trying to repeat the past. Reconcile their relationships, go back to places they grew up, cook food they loved as children…
Life is not still life.
Proof: I was a fat girl and now I am a slick girl.
It is all different with Theo this time because now that he is back I feel disappointed in him breaking his resolve to leave me. He is back maybe because I look better—he never said—or maybe because he is lonely or maybe because he still loves me. It doesn’t matter. I don’t want him.
One night, while he is asleep in my bed, I reach under the bed for the gun. I close my eyes as I hold the gun underneath the covers and I imagine Theo is Idris—Idris is also Idris’s characters from The Wire and Luther—and the gun is his/theirs and I am a girl Idris picked up in a club—now that I am slick, I go to clubs, dance with my black hair whipping in strobe lights.
So here I am, a sexy bitch in bed with Idris, and I find this gun in Idris’s bed and I am surprised by it; wet, I’m all fuck-me-now! My eyes close, my hand clutches the barrel. I squeeze my legs three or four times and I come.
I open my eyes and see Theo.
Lova’ left me.
I slowly move the gun toward his temple. I hold the gun steadily, and my hand doesn’t shake.
I pull the trigger.
Jowita Bydlowska is the author of the bestselling memoir, Drunk Mom. Her short fiction has appeared in various publications such as Hazlitt and THIS Magazine. Her debut novel, Guy, was published in the fall of 2016. She lives in Toronto with her son.