Chapter 1The curse began one month ago. A very literal curse. Evie entered her car one morning and drove to work as she usually did. It was an uneventful drive, just morning rush hour traffic with a hint of rain. She pulled into the car park, packed with her colleagues' cars and found her usual space. She reached for the door handle to leave, but a force, like a strong arm or severe wind blew the door shut. She tried again, to the same effect. She tried the passenger doors, the back doors, the boot, even tried to crawl out of the window, but something pushed her back in and kept it closed.
This was a very frightening experience for her at first. She drove away from work and went back home, so nobody could see her freaking out. This lasted days, it had become less frightening and now just worrying. Then it lasted for weeks, this was becoming annoying. Now at a month, it was just boring. It was incredibly boring and lonely. She was trapped inside her little red Ford Focus hatchback, sports edition with the tinted windows.
Most nights she called her friends or family, but never mentioned to them what had happened. She also never told her employer. For all they knew, something big had come up and she was just very busy on a project, maybe out of the country. She let anyone who asked what she was up to fill in their own story. She could not tell them the truth, it would just seem like a lie or maybe a nervous breakdown.
This was her life now. She woke up in the morning exactly one month after the curse began. She stretched and yawned, slightly sore from another night sleeping in the back seat. She had parked in a deserted car park for a mountain trail, where nobody would find her sleeping. She had a constant fear that people were going to come up, knock on her window and ask what she was doing.
She squeezed her way through the middle aisle of the car and sat down to watch the squirrels and birds waking up with the dawn. She picked up her phone and saw her face in the black reflection. Her skin pallid from lack of sunlight and make up. Her blonde hair had become frizzy and greasy with nothing to brush it or wash it with. She tied it up with a piece of thread she had pulled from her clothes and turned the phone on. It took a moment to load and was nearly out of battery, she needed to get the car running soon to be able to charge it. But she just spent a moment, drinking the cold remnants of the coffee she brought the night before, with the window open a little to let cold fresh air in.
Her situation was stable for the moment, but was set to worsen. Payday had come and gone, but nothing had been added to her bank account. No job, no money. She could scrape a small amount together for some food and a bit more petrol, but thinking days ahead, the cash will run out and then she’ll be stranded. Forced to ask for help or just leave herself to perish in some obscure layby, where nobody would be likely to find her.
Right now at least she needs food. Her stomach rumbled, she looked down and squeezed it, to keep it quiet. Sitting up, she had to pull down the zipper a little more for comfort. For the last month, she had no means of exercise and had survived entirely on fast food from drive throughs. These were the only options for food she had. For the first time in her life, her usually flat stomach had softened into a small stack of rolls. She did not care that they had appeared, there was too much else to worry about. But she did curse to herself that she went to work that day wearing a well fitted white blouse and a smart, but figure hugging skirt. If it was a trip to the shops or her friend's house and she was wearing jeans or even sweat pants, life would be a little more pleasant. Either way, the skirt had not been able to close comfortably for over a week and every day, she needed to loosen the zip just a little more.
Glancing around the car, she saw the rubbish pile up a little. She kept the burger boxes, soda cups and napkins around for toilets, a disgusting necessity, but the reason she kept all the trash. Anything she could bring into the car had the potential for use.
Starting the engine, she left the car park and drove away. The dash computer showed only a hundred kilometers of petrol remaining. That was enough to get herself away from the quiet wilderness and into a town, but she did need to fill up to get herself somewhere else tonight and maybe enough to see some new scenery.
Coming into the narrow country road, leading towards the motorway, she turned on the radio. She was not able to listen to pop music anymore, it was too upbeat and repetitive, even her favorite songs had begun to grate. Now she was in the habit of listening to talk radio. Either the national or the local stations, there was something vaguely soothing about hearing voices in the car, almost as if they were company.
"Now, hear me out." said the voice of a stern, Northern woman. "You might be thinking these girls on the internet taking their clothes off might be empowered or whatever it is you say. But they're degrading themselves and scamming poor naive men."
Evie rolled her eyes. More controversial non-issues filling the airtime.
"I never said I was empowered." replied a soft, more kindly British woman's voice. "I said take control. In my day we waited for hours in cold rooms, doing uncomfortable poses for some strange man to take photographs for a sleazy magazine. Now the girls can make an account and record themselves from their own bedroom and sell directly to the consumer. It's independence."
The woman from the North snorted. "Well that makes it too easy to do now. Within five minutes I, no, My daughter or my granddaughter could start an account and trollop themselves to these simple men for their dirty money?"
"If you or they want, Mary. That's my point. It's the woman's choice. They don't even need to be naked if they don't want to. It can be tasteful, erotic and beautiful. They can do it in private from their bedroom, but even the beach, or sat in their car if they want."
Evie coughed under her breath and kept driving.
"But they are exploiting themselves and men. I don't know why you think this is all fine, maybe some of us just have basic morals."
The kinder lady protested. "I am not immoral."
The male host awkwardly interjected. "Perhaps she means in a general sense. Not directed at you."
"I know exactly what she means, Dermot. I want her to answer how these men are exploited. It's ridiculous."
"They're scam artists. You know what I heard. These sites have girls begging for food and clothes like tramps and they actually find men stupid enough to send it to them."
"And what is wrong with that? Do you want them to go hungry? unclothed? Is that the Christian way?"
"Ah these girls just lie around getting fat on takeaways and then have the audacity to get the same men to buy them new clothes when they're bulging out the seams."
The nice lady paused then protested. "I... I don't know quite where you're getting this example from, but yes, why not? Everybody is beautiful and if that's what they want to do, then its no different. I think you just have a problem with women being independent."
Mary made a noise but the host stepped in. "What a fascinating debate. But that's all we have time for right now. Thanks to our Guests Mary O'Shaughnessy from the virtues committee and to Prunella Chambers, former page three model. Tomorrow, we'll be talking to..."
Evie turned the radio over to a music station and drove on, her stomach rumbling more.
Magical Realism Feeding/Stuffing Helpless Female Straight Weight gain Friends/Roommates Graphic novel
20 chapters, created 7 months , updated 3 weeks
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