Take Five


She picked at the pastel frosting on the pastry in front of her.

How do people eat this shit?

Dana, her best friend of nearly 10 years, plopped down across from her in the school cafeteria, her lunch tray clattering on the table.

“Hey, Shelby! You will never, never guess who asked Cathy to Homecoming. Go ahead, guess! Brad. Crazy, right? Are you gonna eat that?” Dana chattered on at lightning speed as she reached for the donut. Shelby watched as she pulled it into two pieces and placed half of it back in its original location. Her gaze was drawn, almost magnetically, to the tiny shards of dried frosting that went skittering across the table as Dana shoved a piece into her mouth.

Dana was blessed with what seemed to be the metabolism of a fruit fly. The girl could eat obscene amounts of food and never think twice about it.

Me? Not so much. Shelby thought. All I have to do is think about food and I gain weight. So not fair.

She picked up her fork and pushed the small side salad around on her plate, ignoring the greasy french fries and the poor excuse for meat that was sitting cockeyed on a now soggy hamburger bun. Dana was still rambling about the latest school gossip, oblivious to the fact that no one was really paying her all that much attention.

105 this morning.

Shelby speared a piece of dressing-free lettuce and slid it into her mouth.

Just five more pounds. I know I said that five pounds ago, but this time? This time I mean it.

She chewed slowly, watching Dana’s frantic gestures as she voiced her disbelief at yet another perceived social atrocity occurring inside the walls of their school.

Fat, fat, fat. Five more and I’ll be happy. I can be happy. Once this fat is gone.

She picked up her water bottle, drowning the nagging voices as she poured the cold liquid into her mouth.

Dana was now in the process of dipping her french fries in mayonnaise.


Shelby noted the dimpling in the thick mayonnaise. Noted that that is exactly the way it would appear on her thighs if she ate it.

There. That pretty much took care of her appetite.

She set her fork down, avoiding Dana’s curious gaze as the girl stopped mid-chew and observed her full tray of food.

“You feeling ok?”

“Yea,” Shelby muttered, forcing a smile. “I’m fine. I ate a big breakfast, so I’m not really that hungry.” The lies came so naturally now.

Dana shrugged. “If you say so.” She popped the last of the donut into her mouth as the bell signaling the end of lunch resounded throughout the room.

The two girls stood with their trays and joined the herd of students jostling their way to the front of the cafeteria.

One tray empty, one tray full… polar opposites of their respective carriers in so many ways.

This post is a work of fiction written in response to a prompt by The Red Dress Club.

This week’s prompt is simple: write a piece, fiction or non-fiction, inspired by the delicious shot.
Word limit is 600.


About Caitlin's Concepts

Mom to 4 boys and drowning in a sea of testosterone!
This entry was posted in Fiction, Red Writing Hood, The Red Dress Club and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Take Five

  1. Kir says:

    I liked the dialouge, the way it just flowed right out of Dana and Shelby.
    Her thoughts were concise and well formed, I felt all the emtions with her, the jealous at her best’s friends metabolism, the disgust with her (even if 105 is super duper skinny)
    I loved the last line: “One tray empty, one tray full… polar opposites of their respective carriers in so many ways.”
    showing us as human beings how different we are from each other inside sometimes.
    Great piece.

    • I wasn’t entirely sure that all the meaning I intended would come through or not and actually struggled with the idea of the last line before coming up with something I thought fit the way I wanted, so I’m glad you picked that part to love.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂

  2. I wasn’t entirely sure that all the meaning I intended would come through or not and actually struggled with the idea of the last line before coming up with something I thought fit the way I wanted, so I’m glad you picked that part to love. 😉

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting! =)

  3. I have to agree. The last line really pulled the entire piece together. It gave a nice closure to what seemed to be an ongoing internal conflict. I loved it.

  4. Lydia says:

    I really liked this. The dialogue rings true for their age and I love how you show Dana popping donut into her mouth without a second thought while Shelby struggles so much with it. “The lies came so easy now.” Perfect sentence to describe an eating disorder.

    • I wanted the piece to be kind of subtle, but at the same time scream out the ED with her thoughts, etc. I’m glad you picked up on some of those things. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  5. Diana says:

    Well-done! You have described so well – and so subtly – one kind of ED. NOT the kind I’ve dealt with most of my adult life. I wrote (even more subtly, I’m guessing!! as it may not be obvious to anyone but me…) about the that other kind with my contribution this week. Each detail added another fine layer to this well-described internal conflict. One conversation going on externally; a far more complex one going on inside. Thank you

    • Thank you! I was hoping it was subtle, but still obvious.. if that makes any sense. I think to some it might just appear as an image-obsessed teenager, but I wanted it to resonate with a bit more than that. Thank you for picking up on that, and thanks for stopping by to comment!

  6. Shell says:

    A fabulous last line. “Tying it up with a bow” English teachers call that. 😉

  7. So well written.
    And so true.
    Girls at that age are into themselves and gossip, not each others issues.
    Well done.

    • I was actually a little worried that it wouldn’t ring true since they were supposedly best friends of 10 years and, well, friends should just know these things, right? After so long of knowing someone? I’m glad that you thought it did. It was interesting to get in touch with my self-centered teenage self again. 😉

  8. I really liked the scene and the dialogue. I can totally picture it and the internal dialogue was spot-on.

    I personally don’t think you need the last line. Let the readers come to that conclusion on their own. It’s clear Dana is more “normal” and Shelby has some major issues. You’ve portrayed them so, so well the last line is superfluous.

    • I was really hunting for a way to use the trays as a metaphor for the two girls… I wanted to use it both to end and tie everything together, since the conflicts within were (apparently) obvious, though unspoken. I struggled with it, but couldn’t come up with anything other than what’s there. =\

      Thanks for the concrit! Sometimes it’s hard to interpret things the way your reader would. I appreciate it! 🙂

  9. Jessica says:

    I think you used dialogue seamlessly to move the reader through this piece and I know that is not easy to do. I agree with Cheryl, I don’t think you needed that last line because you had already illustrated it so well but I do understand your need to tie up the story with an ending line. Great piece.

    • Yes, I definitely needed a tie-up line, but I really wanted to end it metaphorically with that particular comparison.

      It may not have been necessary, per se, but I really do like the metaphor. Suggestions on how to work that in are welcome! 🙂

  10. Jack says:

    I thought that the piece was good, strong ending. Shell is right, really tied it up nicely.

  11. Well written! I definitely saw the two girls, their differences. Shelby’s disgust with food was a hallmark sign of an eating disorder. And Dana was everyteen.
    I loved the first half of your ending line, the second seemed um, overthought?

    • Hey, thanks! 🙂 It probably was a bit overthought considering how long it took me to find a way to phrase what was in my head. 😉 I’m not sure how else to word what I was wanting to express. Suggestions?

      Thanks for the comment and concrit!

  12. Maybe simply say they returned their trays, one empty, one full. ….and then just leave the rest unsaid.

    But you captured their voices, their personalities and her inner struggle without beating us up with too many details. Well done!

    • Having dealt with the ED issues, I really wanted to make the metaphorical connection between the empty tray and how empty Shelby was inside, both physically and emotionally.

      I don’t want to weigh the story down by being redundant, though, so it seems sort of a draw. *sigh*

  13. Andrea says:

    I was reading the comments and thinking, oh no. I’m the only one who is going to suggest changing the last line. Oops. But I see what each commenter is saying. I actually have the same suggestion as the last person, I think it would have been a better feel to say: “One tray empty, one tray full…”

    And drop the rest. Again, just me.

    You lost me for a split second when you dove into Shelby’s mind, because it said something like, Me? … and then I thought, wait, whose mind are we in? Or are we just watching these two girls? But it ironed itself out after that. I really enjoyed this, and I feel so much for her. I could see myself with my best friend, who had her own eating related issues, and I did see them (when we were older) but know how much of it I missed for so much of our time together at the same age as these girls. Great story. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Thank you for the concrit! I’m still not sure dropping it would say everything I want the metaphor to say.. but at the same time, I wouldn’t know what to put in its place to give it the angle I was aiming for. If that makes sense?

      I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment! 🙂

      • Andrea says:

        I definitely get what you mean. I just feel like it totally would have said it without that extra part. So what I mean is that I think you actually are saying what you want to say w/o those words, that make sense?

        You’re saying (and I had to read the rest again to get that the remaining words actually meant it as well) that the tray Shelby has is full, whereas she is empty, and Dana’s tray is empty, but she is full. Right? I got that from the first part, and when I read the rest it seemed too wordy, so that’s what I meant by cutting it. But I do totally get why you want it to stay. I think either way it was a great piece, and thank you for writing and sharing it.

  14. Mandyland says:

    First off…I really think you nailed the tone and the inner though process of a teenage girl with an eating disorder. So much so that it seemed non-fiction.

    I loved the way the friend chattered. The sad part of an ED is that people don’t often see until it’s too late. At 105, she may just look thin, not sick.

    Great job on this!

  15. Kim says:

    Well written! I think you portrayed this struggle so well…how unfair some people’s metabolisms seem to those of us who have slow bumbling ones.

  16. omg! we both wrote about eating disorders…i thought your piece was fantastic, especially the dialogue. it was so real. and i think you nailed the anorexic girl’s thoughts. the lettuce, the 5 more pounds, etc…wonderful job!

  17. Elena says:

    Great job with this prompt! Great dialogue between the girls, you did a great job of giving good visuals during the story, etc. I loved the ending “One tray empty, one tray full… polar opposites of their respective carriers in so many ways.” Awesome piece!

    • Thank you! There’s been a bit of controversy involving the last sentence, but I haven’t had the time to sit down and find another way to word it, so there it sits… I’m glad you liked it!

  18. Jackie says:

    You did great with the conversation between the two girls! Even though we aren’t that age anymore it’s easy to slip back into that kind of conversation again.

    I enjoyed the whole thing! And… oh… to be 105 again!

  19. Dawn says:

    I hope you’re not feeling badly about the ending line because of what some wrote. It was poetic.
    Worry about the comments from people that use punctuation properly!!

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