(Edited by Omar J. Sakr)
Bo Peep lit the end of the hand-made cigarette in her left hand. Her vermilion cupid-bow lips sucked heavily on the lumpy paper tube. Loose strands of tobacco ignited and the red glow raced crackling towards her tongue. She couldn’t get the tailor-mades since government taxes had driven the tobacco companies to the wall. No more Hope or Peace. Now it was all imported black market weed she rolled herself. Rice paper worked well. She drew in a lungful and pushed the smoke out of her mouth, inhaling it over her upper lip into her nostrils, time-lapse water over smooth stones. The nicotine was burning into her alveoli and being absorbed into her bloodstream within seconds.
Smoking, though socially unacceptable, was not yet totally banned. Like many of the older cosplay girls she was addicted but there was a tolerance for eccentric behaviour here in Yoyogi Park that didn’t exist in other parts of Japan. She was 25 now, but still quite slim. The cigarettes helped.
Her right hand held the white satin-wrapped shepherd’s crook, the symbol of her Character. Her hair was dyed blonde and permed so that curls cascaded from under her pink polka-dot bonnet, her small breasts flattened even more by the white silk bodice.
It was then that she saw the Fat Girl. Deviation was accepted here on the weekends. It was a relief-valve for the high-pressure conformity of the machine called Tokyo. Without it, the entire apparatus might explode into its component parts.
But this was going too far.
The Fat Girl was no more than seventeen. She wore a tiny black micro-mini skirt. Tiny in length but massive in width, her two adipose buttocks trembling as she ambled through the park. Her corpulent dimpled thighs wobbled in waves with each step, ripples reflected from a swimming pool’s edge. But above was worse. Her bikini top did little more than cover her protruding nipples, the pendulous breasts drooping down like soggy soap hanging in a net bag. Her midriff exposed, the expansive belly overflowed the straining belt, overhanging her skirt like some repulsive fleshy verandah.
Obesity had almost been wiped out in the 2020s. Occasionally unfortunate overweight individuals with glandular dysfunction could be seen on the fringes – sometimes the homeless from the nearby camps who were unable to afford liposuction. They skulked in shadows, ashamed but well-covered.
But here she was – young and brazen – flaunting her fat for all to see, head erect, clear eyes firmly ahead, well-padded jaw held high. And for the briefest of seconds Bo Peep felt herself attracted to her, fascinated by the sumptuous sensual flesh as The Fat Girl sashayed through Yoyogi Park, a supersized belly dancer.
Perhaps it was to assuage her own guilt at seeing beauty in this abomination. For whatever reason, it was Bo Peep who picked up the pebble from the edge of the gravel footpath at the hem of her blue ruffled bloomers and aimed it at the confident face. It bounced off harmlessly, but the shocked hurt in Fat Girl’s eyes burned into Bo Peep’s brain. For the rest of her life she would remember that it was she who had cast the first stone.
Bo Peep’s pebble was closely followed by other stones which became fist-sized and more frequent as the beautiful cosplay girls showed their distaste at the gross interloper who had polluted their public catwalk.
The Fat Girl fell to her knees, assumed the foetal position like some monster embryo pummeled unconscious by this hard rain. No one knows at what particular point she exhaled her final breath.
According to officials, there was no one person responsible for her death at the premature age of seventeen. After a brief investigation, no charges were laid.
The mob soon forgot the incident and the young girls returned to what they did best – looking young, fresh and innocent.
rob walker has always been fascinated by language and its multiplicity of forms. In between his time as an educator in Performing Arts around Adelaide and teaching English to Junior and Senior High students and adults in Japan, rob has also found time to write a children’s musical, essays, short stories, poetry reviews, co-edit a poetry anthology and produce three poetry books. With hundreds of poems being published online and in journals and anthologies in the UK, US (including The Cortland Review, Illya’s Honey and Red River Review) and Australia (including Best Australian Poems, Australian Poetry, foam:e, Quadrant, Rabbit Journal, Divan, Mascara, 21D and Unusual Work), rob also enjoys collaborating with other artists (eg Max-Mo, Zephyr Quartet and ccmixter.org). He currently divides his time between grandchildren, a small farm in the Adelaide Hills, travelling and writing. His next poetry collection Tropeland will be launched by Five Islands Press in June 2015.