The Family Curse
By Carrie's AJ
The young woman stared in the mirror for the third time that evening as she undressed after work. She studied every detail of her anatomy, looking for signs that the transformation had begun. The family curse. That's what they called it. For as long as she could remember, one by one, the women in her family had all fallen victim to it. And once it started, there was no going back to the way things were before their bodies began a metamorphosis that they could not control.
She remembered her Aunt Sophie
talking to her mother about it so many years before as the older women sat at the kitchen
table over a couple of sweet rolls and coffee.
begun," Sophie declared.
You'll scare the children!"
Evelyn! They should know."
Sophie. Let them alone. They'll find out soon
Eleanor and her younger sister, Veronica, had been playing nearby. They loved to listen
when their mother and aunt chatted during their weekly Wednesday morning breakfasts
together. Eleanor watched her mother sadly
shake her head as she uttered the words that burned themselves into her memory: "They'll find out soon enough."
Eleanor hadn't noticed anything unusual about her aunt. To Eleanor, she seemed to be a beautiful woman who'd just turned 30. Eleanor hoped she'd look like her aunt as she grew older. But her aunt's next words made her wonder just what was in store for her.
started on my arms. Lots of it. There I was,
standing in the full moon in my bathing suit when I saw it for the first time!"
Eleanor ceased her
playing and peeked around the doorframe to study her aunt.
She was wearing long sleeves. No chance of
seeing anything that way, the young girl thought. She went back to where her sister was waiting and
resumed her play. Although the subject came
up once or twice after that, Eleanor never fully learned what to expect. All she knew was
that it happened around thirty years of age, and that so far, no other female in her
family, born in late October, as seemed to be the family custom, was exempt.
In the ensuing years, Eleanor
tried to put the whole subject out of her mind. She busied herself with school and her
social life. Later, there was college, then
her career. Now she was at the crossroads of
her life. She was about to turn 30 on October 31st. She was terrified.
The ringing of the
phone startled her out of her thoughts, and she nervously picked up the receiver.
"Ellie? Are you all right,
"Sure, Mom. I'm fine."
"Are you sure? You sounded a bit anxious when you answered the
"Well, Mom, to tell you the
truth, I was just thinking back to when we were kids and you and Aunt Sophie would have
Wednesday breakfast chats together. I guess it got me to thinking."
"About what, dear? Do you
mind me asking?" Evelyn's voice took on
a bit of hesitation at this point. "Is
there something troubling you?"
curse, Mom. I'm worried about the curse."
Eleanor's voice sounded so scared
that her mother didn't know what to do. Should she deny that there was a family curse? Goodness knows
that it happened to me, and it's still happening. Sophie
has never gotten over the changes that it brought to her life, poor thing. And now my
sweet daughter! What do I do? What shall I
tell her to ease her troubled heart?
Suddenly a piercing scream nearly
made Evelyn drop the phone. "Eleanor!
Honey, what's wrong? Eleanor!"
Eleanor sobbed as she saw that the
time for the family curse to start affecting her had arrived. She heard her mother frantically calling to her
and put the telephone receiver back up to her ear. "M-mom? It's happening, Mom!"
"Oh, sweetheart! I'm coming
over right now!" Evelyn cradled the
receiver, grabbed her wallet and keys, and wasted little time getting to her car and then
off to her daughter's apartment.
Eleanor stared at
herself in the mirror. Just like Aunt Sophie: my arms, first. My legs will be next!
She forlornly sat down on her bed and waited for her
mother to arrive. She soothed herself by
munching on several sandwich cookies that she always had nearby. She took the last swig from a can of soda that was
sitting on the dresser and thought about what her life was going to be like now that her
turn with the family curse had finally come.
A frantic knocking
at the door let Eleanor know that her mother was there to confirm her worst fears. Shakily, she let her mother in and then locked the
door behind her.
The frightened woman slowly pulled
the sleeve of her dressing gown up towards her shoulders so that her mother could either
confirm or deny that the stories of the family curse were coming true.
Evelyn turned her gaze to her
daughter's upper arms and promptly fainted.
"It's true, mother! It's
true!" Eleanor sobbed as she tried to
rouse her mother. Evelyn's eyes slowly
opened. Then she turned her head in the direction of the arms that were supporting her. She fainted again.
"I'm doomed!" Eleanor
cried out. "I'm doomed to walk through
the remainder of my life ever changed by the family curse!"
She picked up her mother's limp
body and laid it on her bed, brushing away the fragments of empty potato chip bags and
nearly tripping over a couple of beer bottles.
She wet a facecloth
and gently brought her mother back to consciousness.
Then offered her a drink of the only thing that she had close at hand: the remnants
of the milkshake that she'd had with her hamburger and fries that night.
As her mother's constitution
improved, she confirmed her daughter's fears with the words that she'd been dreading to
use for almost a lifetime: "It's cellulite!"
Mother and daughter wept softly
into the night.