Marla turned up the volume on the radio and danced around the kitchen as she measured out the coconut flakes, dates and cherries for breakfast. It was the first day of the new diet and this time she was going to get it right. In between humming along to an old Monkees song, she popped a date into her mouth, slugged down some orange juice, and nibbled on a bit of bread.
‘Thought you were on a diet Mum. Isn’t that what you’ve been boring us with these past few months? February 1st is D day.’
‘Hello sweet. Yep. Starts right now and I’ll be beach ready before you know it.’
Marla filled the bowl and sat down beside Joni, her daughter, slim and tanned in her crop top and cut- off jeans. While Joni tapped away on her phone, Marla spooned the food into her mouth and flicked through Slimmer’s World, pausing to pop some bread into the toaster.
‘You can’t have that Mom. Diet remember?’
Marla frowned and scratched between her breasts.
‘The pieces are small. Besides, I won’t be having lunch and I’ve got a lot of heavy lifting to do at work. You know what Sam’s like. Never lets you sit down.’
Marla loaded her knife with some butter, scraping it onto the bread until every millimetre was plastered. As she bit into it, she closed her eyes and sighed.
‘I’ve calculated on my phone that you’ve just eaten 622 calories. You can only have another 600 max for the rest of the day.’
‘Don’t be silly. Coconut is as light as a feather. It can’t weigh that many calories and dates are fruit. They are practically calorie free!’
‘And the toast and butter?’
‘I ate it really fast so probably halved the number of calories. It’s like when you’re running out of juice in the car. Drive faster and it uses less.’ Marla wiped the butter from her chin. 'Or something like that.'
She glanced at the clock above the new exercise bike. She’d planned to walk the mile and a bit to work but she’d run out of time. Today she’d drive then tomorrow start the exercise. Not a good idea to overdo things, she told herself, tugging at the elastic waistband of her trousers.
‘Where did you get that mad idea from? You’re just kidding yourself.’
‘Nope. I read it somewhere.'
Joni screwed up her face in disbelief.
‘What are we having for dinner? I can make a chicken salad then we can go for a walk?’ she said hopefully.
‘Sure. Time you got off.’
When Marla was sure her daughter was on her way to college, she threw open the cupboard doors and stuffed a slimmer's chocolate bar, a big cookie stuffed with berries which made her feel better and an apple into her bag. Snacks to keep her going.
‘How’s the diet going,’ called Amy as Marla arrived at work clutching her chest.
‘Starting tomorrow,’ said Marla, disappearing into the backroom to make her sugary coffee.