The Grape-Face

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by S.A. Leavesley

My yoga instructor, Tammy, hasn’t said a word yet. She doesn’t need to, I see her frown. I imagine her tongue twitching like a serpent’s as I lift a small chunk of chocolate to my lips. I put it back down. Its sweetness pokes teasingly from its purple wrapper. I shove it in my pocket — out of sight, out of mind. Unlike Tammy.

“Think about your dream figure, Tina.” Tammy smiles as she sits at my table with the same elegant poise that graces her yoga movements. “That two stone you’ve got to shift.” Only Tammy can place that much weight on ‘two’ and ‘stone’, stretching the syllables like a cobra unwinding. There’s a snakelike sibilance behind everything she says, to me at least.

Forcing myself to ignore this, I pick a purple grape from the fruit bowl Tammy’s holding out. I pop it in my mouth and crunch hard. The flesh bursts from its skin with a satisfying squirt.

Perhaps Tammy really is trying to help me — fitness and health are her livelihood. Maybe she believes that what works for her should work too for the rest of us. Her deeper disdain is quickly masked. I think of it as her grape-face — a fleeting facial expression like her mouth tightening on a repressed ‘oh!’ The reaction’s gone almost as soon as it arises, before most people would notice.

But I’m not most people. I still remember her as ‘Fatface Tammy’. Whenever the others taunted her at school, she’d pull their anger towards me, her stick-insect classmate. Then and now, it’s the grey-lake coldness in her eyes, the slight sneer when she thinks I’m not looking.

“We are what we eat!” I’m not sure if Tammy’s still talking to me, the small group of ladies from the class who’ve gathered around our table, or to herself. I envisage her as a stick of celery, rough-edged and dipped in salt, when really she could do with sugar. Rigid too, for all the seeming suppleness of her Bow and Crow poses.

I’m an expert though at the Tree and Seated Twist. It’s a comfort to have flesh softening my bones after years of painful jabs. I relish the plumpness of my breasts in Tim’s hands, and how much he loves me, whether I’m insect-thin or softly rounded. Ten years together since Tammy dumped him for being chunky, then tried to change her mind. Too late.

I take another grape, suck the juice out slowly, delighting in the delicious tang on my tongue. I wonder if Tammy has dreams as well as dream figures, counting pounds and calories. Does she even have or know her own tastes?

This evening, I’ll savour grapes, chocolate and wine, then enjoy how sweetly my body and Tim’s melt together, like cherry ganache.


S.A. Leavesley is a fiction writer, poet and journalist, who loves swimming, climbing and dance, as well as outdoor cycling and walking. Her favourite foods include sangria, fruit smoothies, zucchini fries and chocolate, but not grapes. A novella, Always Another Twist, has just been published by Mantle Lane Press. She runs V. Press poetry and flash fiction imprint. Website: www.sarah-james.co.uk.

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