“Half a pound?” Sonya looked into Wendy’s eyes as the older woman wrote the figure on to Sonya’s card.
“Well, yes, but half a pound is still progress. You’ve not gained so there’s no dreaded circle on your card and you’re only four pounds away from another silver star.”
“But half a pound. I’ve been SO good this week.” To Sonya, shifting half a pound a week was as bad as not having lost anything. £4 to lose half a pound, not exactly fair.
“Don’t worry,” Wendy soothed. “Everyone has weeks like this. Be just as good this week and you’ll probably lose more by next Monday night.”
So Sonya had. Everything with more than a reasonable amount of fat went; her favourite crisps, no takeaways or ready meals, just meat, vegetables and fish. She was positively glowing with pride by the end of the weekend.
“Nothing! Seriously? Nothing?”
Wendy shook her head. “I’m sorry Sonya but I’m sure next week…”
Sonya took back her card when offered and rejoined the group. She sat in silence while Wendy gave her talk then plodded back to her car.
Walking into her hall, her tabby cat strolled to greet her.
“Nothing tonight Buttons. Absolutely nothing!”
Taking that as lack of food, Buttons plodded back into the kitchen and out the cat flap, leaving Sonya to sit on the sofa and watch TV until it was time for bed. Buttons re-emerged, ate the offered food then joined Sonya upstairs.
As she walked home from work the next day, she went past, as she did every afternoon, Gregory’s Bakery. Sitting solitary in the window, a pack of four Chelsea buns called her name. Sonya decided that she’d be doing the shop a favour by buying them so they could close up and go home. So she handed over her £1.50 and carried the bagged buns reverently out of the shop and towards the park.
Sitting on a bench by the lake, she carefully removed the pack, folded the paper bag and tucked it into her handbag. “Waste not want not,” she said.
Pulling apart one of the sealed ends of the pack, she put her nose closely to the two buns nearest the opening and inhaled. Fruit and sugar. Sickly but heavenly.
She then stared at the buns. “Well, I’m not going to eat you all.” So pulling the biggest of the front two out of the plastic wrapper, she started stripping it into small pieces and threw them, one by one, into the water causing a rugby-type avine scrum. Spotting a smaller bird missing out, she stood up, tucking the pack under her left arm and threw the remaining pieces of the first bun out to the runt which managed to devour some of it before being enveloped by its larger rivals.
With a smile on her face, Sonya turned round to walk back to the bench when one of the handlebars of a bicycle bumped into her arm knocking the pack to the ground. The second bun flew out and landed on the grass by the bench.
“Watch out!” the cyclist yelled as he whizzed by.
All Sonya could do was growl at him as he disappeared into the distance.
“Never mind,” she said to herself. “Two left. Two more than I should have but it’s only Tuesday. I can work it off. Walk faster. Go the long way to and from work.”
So grass-covered bun number two was ripped into shreds and went the same way as its predecessor.
Sitting down and facing the lake, she pulled out the third bun and was lifting it up to her mouth when she heard barking from her right. She turned round to see a particularly gorgeous-looking Jack Russell-cross heading in her direction. “Ahh…” she said, as it bounded towards her but then screamed as it leapt up at her, grabbing bun number three from her hand. “No!” she and the dog’s owner shouted in unison.
Sonya looked from her empty hand to the teenage girl who was now trying to prise the bun from the dog’s mouth.
“It’s OK,” Sonya said mournfully. “Let her have it. It’s fine. I have another one.”
The girl let go of the now-soggy bun and the dog trotted off, head held high, before slumping to the ground, releasing the bun and eating it at her leisure.
“I’m so sorry,” the girl said. “I’d give you some money but I’m only here to walk the…”
“It’s fine, really. These things happen. I shouldn’t be so greedy and if she’s hungry then…”
“Well, not really. She’s just had her supper but ‘an ever open door’ as my mum says.”
Maisy then reappeared, licking her lips and nudged Sonya’s empty right hand.
“Was that nice?” she asked the dog. Maisy barked and walked back to the girl.
“Sorry, again,” the girl said before putting Maisy on her lead and walking her out of the park.
Sonya looked down at the bag containing the remaining bun. “At least I still have you. And only having you will taste all the sweeter.”
She was then conscious of someone standing next to her; almost next to her, next to the bin to be precise, rooting through it. Staring at the dishevelled man Sonya guessed to be in his sixties, she looked at bun number four then back at the man. “Are you hungry?” she asked. “Sorry, silly question.”
The man just stared back at her.
“Do you like…? Another silly question. Here…” Sonya offered him the final Chelsea bun.
With a whiter smile than Sonya had been expecting, the man took the bag, removed the bun from it and dropped the packet into the bin. Whispering a “thank you” before carefully unravelling the bun, he slowly put the first edge into his mouth and sighed, as if he could hardly remember the last time he’d tasted anything so good.
Sonya wanted to say something else to him but he turned and wandered off in the direction of the bandstand. She then spotted another man, similar in stature but slightly older, sitting on one of the concrete steps. The first man, with bun in hand, sat down next to his friend and peeled another edge from the bun, handing it to him and smiled as he ate it just as reverently.
Sonya watched as the two men finished the bun and sat chatting. Wishing she had something else to offer them, she got up and walked home.
The following Monday, as she stepped on the scales, she thought, please… another half pound, half pound, half pound.
“Four pounds! Well done, Sonya. Another silver star on your card.”
Sonya beamed as the other women in the queue clapped and she thought, ‘four pounds; one for each bun, and I don’t miss them at all.’
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