#7: You're Beautiful
Whitley did not say much over the course of her impromptu morning jog with Alicia. Not only could she not relate to most of the topics Alicia brought up, but she also could not spare the breath it took to form a single sentence. She did, however, listen as Alicia spoke enthusiastically and at great length about a variety of subjects, including her three brothers (two older, one younger), the armor she was painting, protein stacking, and the difference between udon, ramen, and phở.
Whitley also discovered her new home sat on the outer corner of college town suburbia. As they jogged away from Empire Street, she saw fewer station wagons and sedans, and more minivans and SUVs. Naturally, this meant there was no shortage of people up and about early to gawk at the two girls as they passed by, with one woman loudly declaring "those girls are too big!" Whitley would have replied, had Alicia not promptly launched into a story about her and her brother Scotty's summer adventures at their uncle's cabin in upstate New York.
When at long last they rounded the corner back to their front yard, Alicia finished strong, immediately transitioning into her stretching routine, while Whitley took a few wobbly steps before collapsing onto the grass. Alicia had managed to extend their jog to nearly a half-hour while allowing Whitley to walk for a few stretches. Inevitably, however, Alicia would pick up her pace and Whitley would express her profane disapproval before setting off after her.
Alicia stretched her powerful legs and arms. From her watermelon-sized quads to her washboard abs, Alicia appeared to have packed more muscle onto her frame than should be possible for a 5'7" young woman. Perhaps most astounding were Alicia's almost unnaturally muscular arms and shoulders, which could easily be mistaken for those of an upper-weight class male bodybuilder's. Whitley struggled to accept that the Olympian figure before her was also the president of both her high school and college anime clubs and slept in Hello Kitty pajamas.
"You were awesome. High five!" Alicia exclaimed, walking over and crouching above Whitley with her hand raised. Despite Whitley shooting her the evilest eye she could muster, Alicia waited patiently for Whitley's half-hearted swat to her open palm, before pumping her fist in celebration. Seeing Whitley would not be getting up anytime soon, Alicia dropped down next to her and began her cool-down stretches. Whitley followed suit, figuring that she'd regret it later if she did not.
"So, you gonna move in today?" Alicia asked. "I've got some spray painting to do and a workout around noon, but otherwise, I'm totally open to helping you lift stuff."
"Good. After what you just put me through, I'll need it." Whitley took a breath and reached her arms above her head. "So, just to double-check, y'all are cool with me, right?"
"Way cool. I think you'll fit great at our place." Alicia had pulled out her phone, holding it at arm's length as Whitley shifted out of the camera's field of vision. Alicia pursed her lips and snapped a selfie. Whitley then watched with fascination as Alicia intensely scrutinized her photo before taking several more from multiple angles, changing her expression each time.
Her thumbs danced across the small on-screen keyboard before she gave a satisfied nod and held it up for Whitley to see. Alicia was naturally photogenic, and through the sepia-toned filter, the glow of fresh perspiration made her look radiant. While the photo still captured aspects of Alicia's frame—particularly her shoulders, neck, and biceps—it emphasized her angular cheekbones, broad smile, and bright eyes. Despite being impressed with the result, Whitley found the entire concept of selfies unappealing.
"Why the hell would you post a selfie after jogging?"
"Because I didn't post one before I jogged."
"But, why at all? Do people want to see you that badly?" Whitley felt the question sounded excessively harsh, but Alicia smiled and shrugged.
"Some people do. A lot of my followers like my body, and I don't blame them" Alicia said, stretching her arms upward and rotating her wrists in a self-indulgent displaying her remarkable musculature. "I love my body, and they can love it too, as long as they're polite. But some of my other followers like working out too, and it's my way of encouraging them. I have at least a hundred followers that have lost more than twenty pounds this year by jogging with me every morning...through Instagram, of course."
"A hundred?" Whitley said, in disbelief. "How many followers do you have total?"
"Around four hundred thousand. Anyways, if I don't take control of who I am online, other people will. I'm sure you've already seen that."
"I have," Whitley said with a sigh. Despite having no new content since the end of Whitley's college volleyball career, last she'd checked, the Whitley Valentine's Long Sexy Feet Yahoo Group still chugged along at 211 members. Alicia grunted as she hugged her knee to her chest one last time, before kicking both legs out and relaxing. The two of them laid quietly in the grass for nearly a minute before Alicia propped herself up on her elbows.
"Whitley, do you love your body?"
Whitley scoffed. "No, I do not love my body."
"Why the hell would I? I've been growing constantly since I was fifteen. Right now, as I lay here, I'm growing, and I get plenty of reminders about that. In fact, right now my body is screaming 'hey bitch, you better get you a couple pounds of bacon and eggs. I gots growin' to do!'"
"But, you're so beautiful."
"Oh, I've heard that before. I've also had guys from every continent propose to me over social media. They tell me how 'big and beautiful' I am, and how they want to 'worship me.' I've heard that shit since I was in high school. I'm not nearly as into my being gigantic as many other people are, so why the hell would I invite more of that kind of sh—"
"You're beautiful," Alicia said suddenly, in an almost accusatory tone. Whitley looked up, but Alicia faced away from her. "Don't you ever let anyone tell you otherwise." There was a pause, before Alicia turned towards Whitley again, wearing her usual bright-eyed smile.
"Good," Alicia chimed, giving Whitley a pat on her leg, before hopping to her feet. "I gotta get inside. Krysta will probably want me to move the bed out of her webcam room...or I guess your room now."
Whitley grimaced. "Wait, I slept in the 'webcam room' last night?"
"Oh, you slept in the webcam bed last night!" The shock on Whitley's face made Alicia giggle. "Oh, don't look like that. Krysta doesn't do anything naught—um...nasty in there. If you wanna get bent out of shape about something, think about all the people who were probably staring more at the Pikachu face embroidered on the butt of your shorts." Whitley scrunched her eyes shut and groaned as Alicia trotted up the stairs. She'd started to step into the house before peeking her head out.
"So, same time tomorrow?"
"If you say so," Alicia chirped, before flashing a toothy grin and slipping inside.
Whitley watched Alicia disappear into the house, before slowly lumbering to her feet and heading towards the front door. She overheard Alicia and Krysta in the kitchen and considered saying goodbye, but instead grabbed her sweatshirt, keys, and backpack and headed around back to her car. The soreness from her jog was setting in, and she felt like she'd lost a half-pound of weight in sweat. Whitley needed a hot shower, but before that, she would search for the nearest breakfast diner.
She wasn't joking about that bacon and eggs.