THE OTHER girls drift back to their own cubicles, but I hang around with Lael to talk about the diet we’re starting tomorrow.
“No doughnuts for us tonight?” I ask as she changes into her nightie and gets into bed.
“No. We don’t need them because this isn’t a starvation diet. We’re allowed to eat as much as we like. Tomorrow we can wake up and eat a huge breakfast.”
I still can’t quite believe this. “Really and truly?”
“Absolutely. High-protein diets have been proved to work. Tomorrow morning you can have as many eggs as you like, as much bacon as you like, and all the sausages you can eat. And I’ll be having beef sausages and turkey bacon, seeing as I don’t do the pork thing. As long as we don’t have any toast or orange juice, we’ll be fine.”
“And all that fat? Isn’t it a problem?”
“Not at all. The only enemy is carbs. We have to cut out carbs completely.”
“So that means no fruit and veggies either?”
“Not to sound like my mother here, but what about vitamins? Aren’t we going to get scurvy or something?”
“I’m going to be taking one of my Brand New You vitamin pills every day. You should too. We’ve still got practically a whole bottle left. Oh, and we’re allowed some salad every night. Just lettuce, but we can put as much dressing on as we like.”
“Well, that doesn’t sound too bad.”
I go to bed feeling quite cheerful, and dreaming of the day when I’ll be 4 kg lighter. Lael has never steered me wrong yet. Okay, that stupid Brand New You diet nearly killed both of us, but that was her mother’s idea, not hers. And we did actually lose weight on it. If we’d been able to stick to it, we would have lost even more.
Of course, that single kilo I lost went back on after just three days of normal eating, so I’m now back to exactly where I was before I started this dieting business. But the Drinking Man’s Diet sounds really good, so I’m feeling optimistic.
I wake up the next morning with a little flutter of excitement in my tummy. I’m really looking forward to breakfast. My normal breakfast is a bowl of Weet-Bix, with some orange juice and toast. If I’m really hungry I might have a boiled egg as well. But today I’m going to splash out on a full cooked breakfast and not feel guilty about it.
Lael and I are practically the first ones down for breakfast. We load up on hot food and make our way smugly past the girls who are tucking into slices of melon or All Bran Flakes.
“You have to drink that black,” Lael warns as I stretch for some milk to put into my tea. “And sugarless or with sweetener,” she adds as I reach automatically for the sugar.
I can’t help pouting at the thought of black, sugarless tea.
“Why don’t you have rooibos instead?” she suggests. “It’s not bad if you drink it black. We could have cream in our tea or coffee, because it has a higher fat content and fewer carbs, but of course there isn’t any.”
“You two are just one slice of bacon away from a heart attack,” Sophie comments from across the table. “What is this – national cholesterol day?”
“No, we’re just hungry,” I say shortly.
Her eyes sharpen. “Hungry, huh? Hmmm.” She chews on her muesli for a while, staring off into the distance. You can almost see the wheels turning inside her head.
“So who’s looking forward to Gossip Girl tonight?” I say, trying to distract her.
Before anyone can answer, she puts her spoon down with a clatter.
“I’ve got it! You’re doing the Atkins Diet, aren’t you?”
“No.” Lael shakes her head firmly. “We’re not.”
“Absolutely not,” I confirm.
“Well, some other kind of high-protein diet then?”
We look down at the table.
“I knew it!” she crows. “You should be careful, you know. Those high-protein diets are very bad for your kidneys. You can even die from them.”
“Rubbish, Sophie,” Lael scoffs. “You’re just jealous because soon we’re going to be slim and gorgeous.”
“I don’t need to be jealous because I’m slim and gorgeous already,” she says, running a hand down one lean hip.
And the horror of it is that she’s right.
The huge breakfast carries me happily to lunch, at which I eat a huge pile of cold meat. And then at supper I have three chicken breasts and some more Rooibos tea. This is the easiest diet I’ve ever been on. I’m never hungry and I get to eat as much as I like. It’s a total win.
After supper I feel psyched enough to do something I’ve been putting off for days. I’m going to visit Zach at the Annexe. I’ve got permission from Matron and everything.
I’ve hardly had any contact with Zach since that horrible night of the scholarship dinner. Just a few BBMs and phone calls. When I suggested getting together, he said he needed more space.
Well, he’s had enough space now. You can’t have a relationship with someone if you never see them, so I’m going to force the issue. I’m hoping things will get back to normal if I take the initiative. I can’t go on like this. People are starting to ask why we never spend time together anymore. If it’s all over between us, I’d rather face up to it now.
A few minutes later, I’m slipping past a couple of postmatric guys on my way into the Annexe, butterflies sliding around in my stomach. Then I’m standing in reception, asking the security guard to buzz Zach for me. I hold my breath while he talks into the handset, telling Zach there’s a Trinity Luhabe waiting downstairs for him. I can’t help worrying that Zach might ask him to send me away.
“He’ll be down in a minute,” says the guard, and I let my breath out. At least he’s agreed to see me. That’s got to be a good sign, right?
I almost wear a groove in the thin carpet as I pace up and down waiting for Zach. When he finally appears,
my heart does a huge bound in my chest, stops dead, and then starts racing at about 200 beats a minute. I want to rush over and hug him, but I force myself to stand still and smile at him.
“Hey, babe,” he says, strolling over to peck me on the cheek. “Did we have something organised for tonight? I don’t have anything in my diary.”
“Oh, um, n-no,” I say, hating the stammer that creeps into my voice. “I just thought we hadn’t seen each other for a while, so I decided to come over and surprise you.”
“Right.” There’s a bit of a pause. “Well, that’s nice, but unfortunately I’m in the middle of a study group right now.”
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t even know you’d started one. Is that for A-levels?”
“Yes. With Andrew and Sheldon and some of the other guys. We meet most nights.”
“Hey, I saw Andrew and Sheldon as I came in,” I say, remembering. “They were on their way out.”
There’s another slight pause. “They were just going out for a smoke break. They’re probably back inside already. I really need to go.”
“Oh … okay.” I try to hide my disappointment.
“Hey, but listen. I was going to call you. A few of us are going to Monte this weekend to catch a movie and get a bite to eat. Do you want to come?”
“I’d love to!” I say happily. “But will I be allowed?”
“If you get written permission from your parents, you should be.”
“Then I’ll do that. I’ll BBM you to confirm.”
“Great! Looking forward to it. But listen, Trinity, it’s probably not a good idea to drop by like this in the
evenings. I’m busy with the study group most nights. Next time, call first, and we’ll set something up.”
“Sure. I’ll remember that.”
He gives me a much warmer kiss on the mouth.
“Great! Thanks for understanding. Then I’ll see you on Friday.”
I practically float out on wings of happiness. Zach and I are still together! He is still my boyfriend! The best-looking guy in the entire school, and he’s my boyfriend. He is so gorgeous – so Hollywood gorgeous – you want to pinch his face to check that it’s real.
And he’s nice too. Even after what I did at the scholarship dinner, he’s still prepared to go out with me. We’ve got a date for Friday night! He has totally forgiven me and everything is back to normal, and it’s the best feeling in the world. I knew I was right to visit him tonight!
“Okay, two questions,” I say. “First of all, what am I going to wear tonight, and second, what am I going to eat tonight?”
“Those are both easy,” Lael says. “It’s just a movie at Montecasino, so I don’t think you need to try too hard. I wouldn’t go borrowing one of Sophie’s dresses again or anything like that. Just jeans and a top should be fine.”
“It might be just a movie, but it’s a movie with Zach.”
“With Zach and a whole bunch of his friends,” she corrects. “That makes it a casual date.”
“Okay, agreed. Jeans and a top – a cool, sparkly top that says Friday night.”
“Fine. I’ll help you choose one.”
“Now what about dinner? I don’t even know which restaurant we’re going to. I don’t want to break my diet now while it’s going so well. What if there’s nothing I can eat?”
“There’s always something you can eat,” Lael says. “That’s the beauty of the Drinking Man’s Diet. Even if you go to an Italian restaurant, you can steer clear of the pasta and pizza, and order the osso bucco or something.”
“It’s kind of a meat on the bone thing. Very Italian and all protein, so totally legal from a diet point of view. Hey, even if you end up at McDonalds, you can still just eat the burger patty and throw away the bun. And remember you can have a small side salad, with egg and cheese and stuff like that in it. You won’t starve, don’t worry.”
An involuntary spasm crosses my face at the words “egg and cheese”.
“What’s wrong?” Lael asks.
“I don’t know. It’s just…”
“It’s just what?”
“Well … do you ever … I mean, do you ever find yourself, you know, getting a bit tired of meat and eggs and stuff?”
“No!” she says, too fast. “I mean … hardly ever.”
“I know. Me too. Hardly ever. But just, you know, sometimes.”
“The trick is not to eat exactly the same thing every day. Like, if you’re having lamb the one day, then try to have beef the next, and that kind of thing.”
“No, you’re right. You’re absolutely right.”
“And isn’t it awesome to be able to eat as much as you like at every single meal? I mean, just think about it.
Here we are on diet, and we get to stuff our faces every time we eat.”
“I know, it’s amazing. It’s a million times better than that stupid Brand New You diet. But the weird thing is, I’m not as hungry as I used to be. When we first started this diet, I used to eat four eggs, three sausages, and a whole pile of bacon for breakfast every day. Now I can just about manage one egg and a bit of bacon. But that’s a good sign, right?”
“Oh, definitely.” Lael nods fiercely. “Our appetites are normalising. What will probably happen is that once we go off this diet, we won’t ever need to lose weight again in our lives because we’ll have thin-girl appetites.”
A smile spreads across my face. Thin-girl appetites. I really like the sound of that.
“Okay, so I’ll have some meat and a side salad for supper tonight…”
“And no popcorn at the movie…”
“Duh! Obviously no popcorn at the movie. And I’ll wear a normal, not-trying-too-hard outfit.”
I skip over to my cupboard to check out what I’ve got in there. Not for the first time, I wish I had access to my huge, walk-in dressing room at home, where about seventy-five per cent of my clothes are hanging unworn.
“Zach has already seen every single thing in this cupboard. I swear there is not one top in here that he hasn’t already seen me in. Please can I borrow something of yours?”
Lael shakes her head. “You know my clothes are all baggy on you, Trinity. You really need to get a grip and realise that you’re in a relationship now. It’s not like dating a different boy every week. When you’re in a relationship, the guy you’re with is going to start
seeing you in the same clothes. It’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”
“Okay.” I take a deep breath. “You’re right. I’ll just choose something that Zach really likes. Like this!”
I reach into my cupboard and pull out a black-and-white halter top with sequin detail on the neckline. The last time I wore it, he said I looked beautiful.
“Ja, that’s pretty. Good choice. You’re so lucky your arms and shoulders are so toned.”
“Soon to become more toned,” I say, giving my tummy a satisfied pat. I swear it’s flatter.
“How much did you lose this week?” Lael asks casually.
“A kilo. How about you?”
“Two kilos? Well done! That’s awesome.”
“Thanks.” She flashes me a quick smile. “The book warns that we’ll only lose water weight at first, but I definitely feel lighter.”
“You look lighter too,” I say staunchly, although to be honest, I can’t really see a big difference yet.
“And the best part is that we’re going into the weekend knowing we don’t have to starve ourselves. You can even have a drink tonight if you like.”
“You mean like neat vodka, or whisky, or gin?” I shudder at the thought.
“Okay, I admit that doesn’t sound very tempting, but at least you know you could if you wanted to.”
“And if someone sees me drinking, I’ll be grounded for the rest of the term…”
“True. There is that.”
“I can’t run the risk of not being allowed out with Zach again. Anyway, I don’t need alcohol. He makes me feel dizzy enough.”
My soppy smile runs over into a giggle as Lael starts making vomiting noises.