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The numbers spun on Marlon Yolk’s scale. It had been placed in front of the mirror so he could better see if over his bulging midsection. Gazing into the glass, Marlon mentally flipped the numbers he was seeing to decipher his weight today: 290 pounds. He sighed. What else should he expect, though? He was between diets and certainly wasn’t exercising. Why should that number tick down without any change in his habits? On the other hand, why must it be so hard for him? That certainly didn’t seem fair.

While this internal discussion was happening, time had passed.

Marlon stepped off the scale and began his daily routine; brushed teeth, fed dog, ate a little too much breakfast, drove car, worked, ate a little too much lunch, worked, drove car, walked dog, sat down, stood up, sat down, ate a little too much dinner, fed dog, brushed teeth, went to bed. Marlon had finished his daily routine.

Go to sleep. Wake up.

Once again, Marlon found himself resting his feet on the roulette wheel scale that spun mercilessly. Once again, He looked over his gut at the reflection, flipped the digits in his head, and once again, the number was 287…. Wait. that’s not right. He repeated the process and found, that his calculations were correct. he had indeed lost three pounds over the course of a day. “But when?” he wondered. Had he forgotten to eat a little too much a breakfast? No. What about lunch or dinner? No, he had definitely eaten a little too much there, too. Somehow, three pounds had evaporated from his body. I guess he was lucky!

Leaving the scale behind, feeling a little perplexed, Marlon returned to his daily routine, which I won’t bother repeating because it was pretty much the same as before, but three pounds less.

Go to sleep. Wake up.

Today was Saturday, so Marlon got to sleep another half hour before his body refused to let him lie in bed any longer. Stepping on the scale, he noted that today, he had lost an additional 6 pounds, leaving him at 281. Because there was no work today, Marlon spent a considerable amount of time examining his body to try to find out where the weight had vanished from. After all, 9 pounds is how much a big baby weighs. It had to have left from somewhere. Unable to discover a culprit, Marlon Yolk decided, on the off chance that his body elected to shrink, to take extensive measurements to remove subjectivity from his body image. He didn’t think he looked any different, but it certainly didn’t make sense that he was getting lighter without getting smaller.

His uncle had left a tape measure in the garage when he’d come to visit last month. Really, Uncle Hank was there to sleep with a woman he’d met on the internet, but that woman had turned out to be a group of 14 year old boys who thought they were funny. Uncle Hank’s tape measure was brought to measure apartments for rent. He wanted to make sure his antique organ would fit in the doorway in case things had worked out with “Lisa” (Brandon, Jules, Kyle, and Ed). Things obviously did not work out, and the tape measure was thrown into the garage, where it broke a small statue of a lamb, and tumbled into the dust.

Marlon wrapped himself in the metal strip and wrote down detailed numbers on the back of an envelope with a golf pencil he’d found in the couch.

He spent the rest of the day thinking, caring for the dog, and eating a little too much.

Go to sleep. Wake up.

Today was an interesting day, because today was the day that Marlon turned from being unjustifiably proud of his pound shedding, to justifiably worried. He’d lost an additional 14 pounds overnight. Since he had the time, Marlon once again took detailed measurements of his puffy body. The numbers on the envelope remained unchanged, but he could feel with each step the change. It was less of a struggle to sit from laying, and to stand from sitting, and to walk from standing. This was a nice reprieve from the usual strain, but the ease in his flesh was replaced with a biting anxiety in his heart. He plugged up the flowing river of nervousness with Cool Ranch Doritos and bacon bits.

Go to sleep. Wake up.

Go to sleep. Wake up.

etc.

A month had passed since Marlon Yolk first saw a decline in the number showing on the scale. Physically, he’d actually gained volume, while losing mass. He attempted to eat to compensate for his hollowing body, and that coupled with the reduction of calories it took to move his weightless limbs, caused him to billow. He no longer stepped on the scale in the mornings. If he had he would have seen the scale reading 23 pounds. He tried to make the best of an alarming situation, enjoying simple pleasures he’d forgotten about; jumping, cartwheels, standing on chairs. He would go out to the supermarket to fill his pantry, and continued to work, but had begun to wear heavy shoes, and put change in his pockets for fear a breeze would launch him into traffic.

Go to sleep. Wake up.

On October 22nd, Marlon awoke to find himself floating with his head in against a portrait of his mother that hung from the wall. He’d rolled over in his sleep, shaking off the sheet, and the slight momentum had pushed him into the air. He had reached perfect equilibrium in his current state, and as he slept, his large, soft body had gracefully bounced about his darkened bedroom. Startled to find himself in such a state, he began to flail his arms to swim back to his bed, and catching hold of his comforter, pulled himself back into the linens.

He managed to pull on some corduroy pants, and filled the pockets with change in order to anchor himself to the ground. It was too odd for him to work today, and decided that his current state was an acceptable excuse to miss a day at the office. It was difficult to type the email, as each keystroke required the weight of a finger to execute, and Marlon had no weight in in fingers. But with time, and momentum from pushing off the ceiling, he managed a brief message:

Floating away, can’t come to work.

Marlon

Marlon attached the leash to his dog, and directed the animal to the door, while he was pulled behind like a balloon. He held on to the tether as they broke into the fresh air. It was a beautiful day. His dog looked up at him, and went along the streets sniffing and scratching with Marlon drifting behind. The dog spied a pigeon at the other end of the block and took off in pursuit, yanking the leash from Marlon’s chubby hand.

Slowly and steadily, Marlon began to ascend. He decided he liked this feeling, and it was a nice day, so he didn’t bother swimming to light pole, or traffic signal or tree. He just allowed his body to travel up. and up. and up.

Soon, the textures of the earth began to bleed together. He could see the colored roofs of his neighborhood lazily shrinking. He turned to see the horizon. Another round figure was afloat about a block down, traveling in parallel. “Hello there!” he shouted and casually waved.

“Why hello!” a woman’s voice returned.

“It is a lovely day, isn’t it?”

“It is, indeed.”

Marlon thought to mention how odd it was that she was floating away, but didn’t want to embarrass her, so he kept silent, and felt the warm sun on his face as he left the world behind.

Andy Junk is a great man without a biography.

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