Zelena felt her physique did not match her name. Whenever she fantasized about what she would look like if she matched her name, she imagined a svelte, sophisticated, and tall woman with an athletic and muscular figure. When she glanced in the mirror, she saw something quite different. A small advertisement for a remote medical treatment for guaranteed weight loss at first made her laugh, but eventually did its job: she made an appointment and booked a flight to the remote Cambodian waterside village.
As soon as the commercial plane landed in Phnom Penh, Zelena regretted her decision. She and two other women were directed to a small prop plane; the flight out into the bush was frightening. She felt as though they had spent the entire trip leaning at a 35 degree angle. The landing was less than optimal, particularly since they could have used another 50 feet to stay on what was supposed to be the tarmac. Her legs were shaky as she de-planed, but she quickly gained her composure when she noticed the handsome man standing next to a state car, holding a sign with her name on it. She was treated like royalty for the 40-minute ride into the forest.
Once the car broke the clearing, she again regretted her decision. Before them stood a house on stilts with a sign:
The driver unceremoniously dropped her and her baggage at the dock, got back in the car, and left quickly. No one came to greet her, save for the smell of offal and the buzz of flies. She grabbed her valise and made her way up the stairs, only to find a room full of woefully thin women. She moved to the one closest to the door. “What’s going on here?”
The woman lifted her head with difficulty. “The lord of this place will make you better.”
Zelena was suddenly too alarmed to think straight. “This is the medical weight loss facility?”
“Yes,” the weak woman replied. “We all just completed the third week of Step Two.”
“How many weeks is each step?”
The woman furrowed her brow for a moment. “Step One, the binge, is four weeks. We eat all sorts of wonderful delights.” She coughed but quickly regained her composure. “Step Two is the purge, which lasts six weeks. If you live.”
Zelena suddenly lost her grip on reality and wondered if the boats down below were sea-worthy, not that she had ever sailed on anything but a luxury cruise. “Can you tell me what the sign says out front?”
The woman looked up sadly and nodded. “Yes, the lord explained it to us when we first arrived. It translates to ‘loser’*. Here, let him tell you. Zelena turned to find that a man in robes had silently come up behind her, flanked by two heavily armed guards.
Yeah, okay. So that took a weird turn. But gimme a break: it’s my first time joining the Hop, and these are my 475 words and you should expect no less from me. Check it out for yourself and link up with your tale…
*Translation to Khmer provided by English-Khmer.com.