We Can But Dream by Claudia Carroll

I was absolutely THRILLED when I won a competition ran by lovely Publishers, Avon, back in December to be able to host an exclusive short story by one of my all time favourite authors, Claudia Carroll. Claudia’s latest novel, Meet Me In Manhattan is available to buy now in paperback or ebook.
A huge thank you to Helena and Avon and to the wonderful Claudia Carroll. 



We Can But Dream….

Claudia Carroll

            ‘Suzie? Come on, enough faffing about. Up on the scales please!’ ordered their instructor, an emaciated woman who’d probably never gone within six feet of a complex carbohydrate in her entire life.

‘Go on then Suze, you can do it,’ her best pal Jayne over at her hissed encouragingly.

‘Easy for you to say.’ Suzie whispered back, ‘you weren’t the one who had the take out chicken tikka masala last night, may I remind you. Bitch.’

‘Ah relax,’ Jayne muttered, so the rest of the class of skinnymalinks they were surrounded by wouldn’t overhear. ‘At least you skipped desert, whereas Bessy Bunter here went straight onto the chocolate pecan ice cream. Compared with me, you ate like bloody Gandhi last night. Now shut up and go get weighed.’

The brisk, disappointed ‘tsk, tsk,’ from their class instructor as Suzie gingerly stepped on the scales told her everything she needed to know. Four pounds up on last week. Surprise, surprise.

Not that poor old Jayne fared much better when her turn came. A mortifying six pounds up in a week. Their instructor almost had to be given oxygen after that one.

‘You know what? This is such a load of horse dung,’ Jayne moaned to Suzie after class, as the pair of them sat in Starbucks, over a miserable zero-calorie herbal tea, that frankly tasted like drinking tepid water, drunk out of a puddle.

‘All that money to join Weight Busters and the pair of us have actually piled it on. Please remind me why we thought this was a good idea in the first place?’

‘Because,’ said Suzie determinedly. ‘You and I are having a joint wedding and the pair of us are going to look emaciated, bony and so, so scarily thin, that we’ll look back on the photos in years to come and think, wow! How did my family not cart me off to get treated for an eating disorder?!’

‘Just keep on telling me that,’ said Jayne, staring longingly at a woman at a table beside them, who was having a full fat hot chocolate with whip and a side of hot fudge cake. Even the smell of it was starting to make Jayne feel violent. ‘Because, hand on heart, I’m this close to cracking and making a bolt for the nearest Indian take-away.’

Thankfully though, Suzie stood firm.

‘Think of the pair of us going to a dress fitting in one of those fancy bridal shops,’ she told Jayne determinedly. ‘One of those posh, designer wedding boutiques where they actually hand you a glass of champagne.’

‘They really do that?’

‘Course they do! Then think about our dress designer fretting herself to nothing because we’re both losing so much weight in the run up to the wedding, that the dresses are hanging off us. Wait till you see, she’ll compare the two of us to Kate and Pippa Middleton! Then think of our joint wedding reception. And the wedding cake…’

‘Which has to be chocolate biscuit cake, with extra thick dark chocolate sauce on the side…’ Jayne chipped in, hand on her elbow, looking like she was ready to start eating the leg of the chair beside her.

‘And think of how thin we’ll both be on our joint honeymoon…’

‘Which I really think should be in the Caribbean,’ said Jayne firmly. But then she’d had this thing about Caribbean honeymoons, ever since reading about five star resorts there that were all inclusive. Meaning you could eat and drink what you wanted. All day, every day. Bliss.

‘Hmm,’ said Suzie suddenly sounding doubtful. ‘But then what if there’s a hurricane? There’s always stories on Sky about hurricanes howling through the Caribbean destroying everything…could you imagine? What about…say…the Seychelles instead?’

‘Do they do all inclusive hotels, with all you can eat buffets?’ was Jayne’s first concern.

‘Well, emm…yeah. I’m sure they do.’

‘Well we’ll have to check. I’m not starving myself for this big wedding, only to go on honeymoon and find out there’s only pathetic bits of mango and watery old salads for lunch. You know my criteria….’

‘Course love,’ Suzie nodded along. ‘Honeymoon hotel must have a minimum of eight restaurants…’

‘With everything from Japanese sushi to Chinese….’

‘To Italian. Gotta have pizza on the beach.’

‘That’s a given! Why else are the pair of us starving ourselves to nothing, if we can’t have pizzas in the middle of the day whenever we feel like it?’

‘And room service. I will be needing rashers, eggs and sausages first thing every morning…’

‘Oh would you shut up, I’m actually salivating,’ said Suzie, starting to get a bit tetchy from hunger by now. ‘All I had today on account of the weigh in, was a shagging boiled egg and a niggardly bit of chicken with the skin gone off it.’

‘That it?’

‘Yeah,’ Suzie relied virtuously. ‘Well, apart from the chips I had after the chicken, that is.’

‘Oh well they hardly count,’ said Jayne encouragingly. Can’t have chicken just on its own. That’s not natural.’

‘How about you?’

Ehh…yoghurt, porridge with low fat milk …’

‘Good girl!’

‘And ehh….a cheese toastie with a box of Pringles.’

‘Did you have to mention Pringles to me? Right now, I’d gnaw someone’s head off for a single Pringle.’

‘But just think how worth it it’ll be. Just think. You and me. On our joint honeymoon. Wearing  tight jeans…’

‘Jeans!! I lie awake at night dreaming about being able to wear skinny, boyfriend cut jeans…..’

‘So just stay strong! We can do this, we can motivate each other, we can starve together! It’ll be SO worth it. Think of the guys!’

‘Our grooms! Our actual grooms….our husbands….so proud of us, looking adoringly at us….’

‘And of course,’ Suzie said triumphantly, ‘after we deal with all the weight loss, there’s only one thing we’ve got left to do!’

‘What’s that?’

‘The easy bit!’

‘Which is…?’

‘All we have to do is go out there and find ourselves two fellas!’




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