The Sova Brodas are starting to pinch. Are you fucking kidding me?
Leigh strode up the boulevard this sunny spring day, her Vuitton Neverfull bag tucked smartly under her arm. Cars purred soothingly nearby, birds could be heard in the trees, and pedestrian traffic was dense enough to make the city seem prosperous, sparse enough to enable one to get around without undue conflict. She could still taste a smidgen of mustard-shallot vinaigrette behind her premolars, a bright and small souvenir of the lovely lunch with her friends.
If only it hadn’t been ruined by that horrid old man.
Three lovely women had been parked around a white iron table, arrayed just like a scene in a movie. Beside them was a manicured hedge, and on the other side of this was a haggard, leathery man, panting at them. Literally breathing from his mouth: rheumy eyes blinked from within folds of weather-beaten skin, and the tang of urine slowly spread throughout the still midday air.
He only stood there, staring, wordless, panting. One of them began to demand what it was he wanted; another waved her off and tried to hand him a ten dollar bill, which he made no move to take. It was Leigh who made that comment, a titch louder than sotto voce, wishing he’d trudge on back to his home on the L train (voted least-hygienic by the Straphangers Campaign in 2015). The other women laughed, but the old man slowly turned to her and extended his arm. Beyond conscious thought, Leigh found herself reaching out to catch what he offered, which was a folded piece of paper. When she finished reading the lines of crabbed script on it, the old man had disappeared.
And now her jeweled, studded sandals were beginning to clamp down on her feet. These were fucking expensive, she thought, stalking purposefully back to the boutique from which they came.
She was greeted by the same simpering old queen; he even recognized her and remembered her name. He radiated sympathy as he listened to her story. “I’m quite sure we sized you appropriately last week,” he soothed, “but let’s have a look, shall we?” She plumped her narrow butt into a velvet chair whose arms were too close, and she extended her slender leg to his ministration.
Gingerly he turned her foot and ankle beneath his scrutiny. “I’m quite sure I made no error, but there is no mistaking: you need one size larger.” He unfastened the elegant foot gear and examined the sole. “These have seen some wear,” he noted, and a chill spread through Leigh’s chest. But his eyes smiled at her. “You’ve been such a good customer, Miss Leigh. It would be my pleasure to simply exchange these at no cost to yourself.”
“Thank you so much, uh, Mr.−” She blanked on his name, but he had already hustled to the back room momentarily, returning with an identical pair and a sunny smile. These were fitted to her feet, she paced the boutique experimentally, then thanked him quite warmly and went back out into the afternoon.
It only happened again, an hour later. She could see the straps biting into her flesh. Had Mr. Shoe Boutique duped her somehow? Was she retaining water… was she pregnant?
When she returned to the boutique, Mr. was less receptive, more accusatory. He would not replace these shoes for free but could give her a discount on a Bianca Patent Calf… in her new shoe size.
That started a fight. Leigh barely managed to wrangle the shoes from his wormy little grasp while hurtling epithets at the top of his head. He wasn’t tall, and she wasn’t short, but Leigh couldn’t help notice she was over a full head taller than he was when she came in today, whereas he’d been eye-level with her jaw last week.
She clomped up Lafayette, her indignation and embarrassment slowly cooling down. After all, she had just won a small skirmish with that snooty shop-keep, hadn’t she? And you could certainly do worse than these classic glossy pumps. She grinned, turning her heels up to her observation, and just like that, they clenched the entire perimeter of her feet.
Shrieking, she pried them off right in the middle of the sidewalk and stormed up to a goddamned Aldo.
“Worthless!” She slammed the new heels on the counter with a startling report. Her mood was worsened by banging her head on the surprisingly short doorway. “Someone needs to get up here and serve me right now!” Customers leered at her like frightened horses, and two clerks engaged in a quick staring contest, the loser of which had to serve her.
How could he help her, a tall and pudgy young man wanted to know. No, he couldn’t take the Louboutin as a trade-in on new shoes, he’d never heard of such a thing before. No, he didn’t know they cost as much as round-trip tickets to Bali, and what was it exactly she wanted from him. Leigh saw him turn slightly to shoot a sullen glare at his coworker, who smirked as she attended to two old women.
“Look, I just want…” She strained to peel the Neverfull from her shoulder. It was awfully small to be called a Neverfull. “Forget the pumps. I just want something nice to wear today so I can make my way home and put this cunt-shitting day down with 750 cc of Cabernet. Do you think you can swing that?” She thrust her face at him: he seemed much taller next to his coworker, a little woman Leigh perceived around her own height, but in this moment she was eye-to-eye with this guy. “I just want some nice shoes,” she said, her voice curling into a slight whimper.
She took a seat and wondered what it was with shoe stores and too-small chairs. The young man lapsed into hustle mode and retrieved a variety of brands and styles for her. Leigh was concerned with how they went with her dress, but the clerk was more concerned with the size of her foot.
“I’m a five-and-a-fucking-half, how hard can this be?”
He looked as though he was putting a lot of effort into not saying another word.
To his credit, after a dozen failures, the big guy was able to find a Roger Vivier T-strap sandal that was not only her size, but ran less than half the cost of the pumps she came in swinging like a mace. Small consolation, but it would do. He ran her card, she ignored the titters in the back room, and she headed to Canal St. before anything else could go wrong.
Riding the M northbound, Leigh collected her wits. She still had the Louboutins, she had some nice Vivier sandals. On her smartphone she transferred a grand from savings, so that was taken care of. She took a deep breath and pointedly ignored the fact that each of her buttocks required its own injection-molded plastic seat. These were really cute sandals, after all…
The buckle around her ankle exploded like a gunshot. The straps across the toes tore, their decorative plate flinging off to the side and striking a young thug in the ankle. He looked around, glaring at Leigh uncertainly before resuming his cocoon of indifference. Leigh clamped her palm to her mouth. The decoration lying on the grimy floor blurred as tears welled in her eyes. What the fuck is going on? She stumbled out of the train, staggering up the stairs that dumped her by Rockefeller Center, where she knew another Aldo waited, but she collapsed in a bus shelter, sobbing, and the denizens of her city had the good taste to leave her to it.
She stuffed the broken sandals into the Neverfull (now hanging from her shoulder like a handbag) with her pumps. Despondently she rooted around for the Aldo receipt, when the scratchy, grimy folded note scraped against her wrist.
The note! Leigh snatched it out and unfolded it, studying it one more time.
My name is Malvolio Acerbi, and with this scrip I do curse who shall read it. This is the curse of largess: you, who lacked charity, shall grow larger at your own happiness.
With every pleasure you shall enlarge until the world is not enough to contain you; yea, with every joy, you shall become grander, until the world may no longer satisfy you further.
This is not an analogy. Any time you feel contentment or relief, any form of pleasure, you will grow physically larger, bit by bit, until you’re miserable and suffering.
You will accrue mass and height. Impossible by our current laws of physics, but nonetheless, this is exactly what will happen to you. More meat, longer bones, greater blood volume, all of it. You’ll be a giant, a monstrosity amid the normal-sized world.
I’m not being abstract or metaphorical. This must be interpreted absolutely, precisely literally: you’re going to be taller, fatter, and heavier in every proportionate physical dimension. These will increase any time you feel any form of happiness.
Happy = bigger, for you. Every time. Literally.
She turned the paper over in her hand, and again. What could this mean?
[Based on an idea by Giantess Ainsley]