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Growing up, Marsha was always on the large side.  She was raised by a working single mother who’s idea of feeding her child was McDonalds or Pizza Hut.  Not only was it bad enough for Marsha being the heaviest girl amongst her classmates, but when she entered third grade her sight turned so poor she needed glasses.  She wore state-issued horn-rimmed glasses with thick lenses that made her eyes appear three times smaller than they actually were.  Her skin was pale and her hair was frizzy and reddish orange.  She was the constant butt of her peer’s insults.

When Marsha entered junior high things got worse for her.  During gym class, she played soccer without wearing her glasses and ran face first into the goal post.  She broke her nose and chipped her front tooth.  The tooth chipped in half diagonally.  Her mother could not afford to fix her nose or tooth, so from that day forth, Marsha faced the world with a bumped bent nose and a triangular space in the middle of her mouth.  To add to her misery, her years of eating greasy junk food had caught up to her and her complexion became riddled with acne.

By the time she turned fifteen, Marsha, after years of ridicule, quit school and became a recluse in her mother’s trailer.  At first her mother wanted Marsha to find a job, but Marsha showed her that she could earn a living by buying and selling items on the internet.  In fact, Marsha turned out to be quite the entrepreneur.  She would buy items in bulk and then triple her investment by selling the items individually.  She had a knack for finding deals on merchandise that was in demand.  Her first year buying and selling earned her over thirty thousand.  When she was eighteen, Marsha was earning over a hundred thousand a year.

Marsha shipped to her customers via the local Fed-Ex.  That was where she met Perry.  Perry worked at Fed-Ex to save for his college tuition. He was a polite young man who was courteous to Marsha.  Not more than he was to any other customer, but Marsha did not know this.  Marsha thought that she had a chance to be Perry’s girlfriend.  After all, why else would he talk so nice to her.  No one else did.  And he lived in the same trailer park!  If she brought her packages for shipping at the end of his work day, Perry would give her a ride back home.  This simple kindness confirmed Marsha’s belief that she could be his girl.

Marsha maintained a routine on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of taking her packages to Fed-Ex and accepting a ride home from Perry.  These were the only days she saw him, although her other four days were filled with the anticipation of their next encounter.  This went on for several months until she happened upon Perry with another girl.  She had stepped out onto her porch to retrieve the weekend circulars that were distributed at everyone’s home and she saw Perry walking across the street with his arm around a young lady.  She was thin, shapely and good looking.  Everything Marsha was not.  Perry noticed Marsha and cheerfully waved hello.  Marsha returned the wave as they walked out of her sight, unabashedly enjoying each other’s company.  Marsha was crushed.

Back in the trailer, Marsha stood in front of the bathroom mirror and really looked at herself.  She was five foot four and two hundred pounds.  Her face was covered with blackheads and red pimples.  Her glasses and bent nose gave her a piggish appearance.  Her long orange hair frizzed out from her head in a giant clump.  Marsha hated everything she saw.  “Why must I be look like this?” she cried.  “I’m so damn big and ugly.”

And at that moment something magical happened.  An inner voice, one she had never heard before, spoke up.  It was her mouth that formed the words but they came from someplace deep inside her.  Someplace that she never knew existed.  The words that she spoke to herself were, “So quit being so damn big and ugly.  Change!”   And she knew that she could.

In that instant, her future appeared to her.  A future where she was thin and pretty.  She had the money.  She could get her nose fixed.  She could have her teeth fixed.  She could join a gym and exercise to lose the weight.  She could even get contact lenses or perhaps Lasik surgery.   A dermatologist could assist in clearing up her complexion.  Yes, it was all possible.  It would take hard work, but she could do it.  And Marsha vowed to herself that she would change.  She would transform herself into the perfect woman for Perry.

But Perry could not see her transfiguration in progress.  Marsha decided to avoid him until her metamorphosis was complete.  She would have to do her Fed-Ex business during Perry’s off hours.

The next day, Marsha made an appointment with her primary care doctor for consultation.  She would garner from him the names of the specialists she would need. Then she went to the neighborhood Planet Fitness and signed up.  She bought workout pants and a sweatshirt and walked on the treadmill until she tired herself out.

For the next week, while waiting for her doctor’s appointment, Marsha went everyday to Planet Fitness and walked the treadmill.  Her diet went from fast food to salads and fresh fruit.  She was determined to lose weight.  In one week, using the scale at the health club, Marsha went down from two-hundred three pounds to one-hundred ninety-four.  She had lost nine pounds in seven days.

When she finally saw her doctor, he gave her the contact numbers for a dermatologist, an otolaryngologist, an ophthalmologist, and a dentist.  She asked about a doctor for lap-band surgery but she was advised to continue exercising and dieting.  If, after a couple months, that proved unsuccessful, then they could revisit the possibility of having a gastric band implemented.

The following week she saw the dermatologist for the first time.  He used a tiny spoon shaped/needle eyed device to extract the puss from most of her pimples and then he rubbed dry ice quickly over her entire face.  This caused the outer layer of her skin to shed.  For the next few days her face was beet red.  When the redness went away, Marsha saw a definite improvement in her complexion, although it was still quite a way from flawless.  She was now using cleansing soap and cream the dermatologist subscribed.  Her weight was down to one hundred eighty-nine.

A few days after the redness left her face, Marsha sat in the dental chair and had a mold taken of her teeth.  A cap was to be made for her front tooth.  He also found a cavity in her back molar and repaired it.  Two weeks after that, she had her tooth capped.  Her smile no longer shamed her.  Her weight was down to one seventy-five.  She had lost twenty-eight pounds in five weeks.

Her time at Planet Fitness was split between the treadmill, the rowing machine, and the elliptical.  Everyday a different machine for a half hour or more.  The more she exercised, the longer she was able to exercise.

Marsha still contemplated having Lasik surgery. In the meantime, she had contact lenses made.  The lenses were tinted and made her eyes a beautiful shade of blue.  She was at one hundred sixty pounds when she was able to view her pudgy face without glasses.  Her crooked bumped nose would be next.

She weighed one forty-six when she had her nose fixed.  It was done as an out-patient and even with the prescribed pain pills, it still hurt like hell.  Her eyes were swollen and black from the surgery for over a week.  In the end, it was well worth the temporary pain and discomfort.

On her last visit to the dermatologist, she weighed one twenty-nine.  Her complexion was now clear.  The doctor told her no more appointments were necessary unless she happened to have a flair up.

Five and a half months after she had began her transformation, Marsha stood on the scale at Planet Fitness and was amazed that she had reached her goal of one hundred and ten pounds.  She went home and locked herself in the bathroom.  She stripped off her sweats and underwear and stood naked before the mirror.  With a critical eye she determined that she was indeed a slim well shaped lady.  She also decided she had a pretty face.  She still needed to do something with her hair.  As soon as she could get her hair styled properly, she would be ready to present herself to Perry.

Two days later Marsha entered Willow Springs Hair Salon.  This was her first time in a salon and she was assigned a stylist named Shelly.  At first Marsha thought she knew Shelly from someplace, but then realized that Shelly resembled that singer Taylor Swift.  That was why she appeared familiar.   Sitting in the chair at Shelly’s station, Marsha was asked what she wanted done.  Marsha had no idea.  She asked Shelly for suggestions.

Shelly gathered Marsha’s hair and flattened it on the sides, exposing Marsha’s ears.  Shelly said, “You have really pretty features.  Have you thought of going short?”

Marsha replied, “I haven’t thought about it one way or the other.  I’m really sick of my hair being so frizzy and so orange.”

“Well, we can change the color and straighten it.  Did you want to keep it long?”

Marsha replied, “I don’t know.  What do you think would look good?”

“You have high cheekbones.  If I looked like you, I’d go short to highlight my face.  You’re very beautiful.”

Marsha blushed, “Wow.  I never heard that before.”

Shelly wasn’t sure to believe her, “You’re kidding, right?  Have you been hiding from the public?”

“Actually, I have.  Six months ago, I weighed over two-hundred pounds and had a different nose.”

Shelly was impressed.  “I would never have guessed.  You look amazing.”

“Thank you.  So you think I’d look good with short hair?”

“Yes, I do.  But it’s up to you.”

Marsha took a moment to think before she said, “There’s only two things I want; another color and non-frizzy hair.  You’re the stylist so I’ll trust you to cut it to whatever style you think will look best on me.”

“Okay.  I was thinking about coloring you brunette with burgundy highlights.  How’s that sound?”

“Sounds better than orange.”

“Let’s get started.”  Shelly then washed Marsha’s hair and applied a straightening solution which she blows dry.  She then uses a flatiron to straighten Marsha’s hair.  Next she rinses the hair and applies a conditioning mask.  After a minute she rinses the mask out and blow dries.  Looking in the mirror at her reflection, Marsha cannot believe how straight her hair has become.  Then Shelly applied the coloring.

Within the next hour, after sitting under a drier, Marsha returns to Shelly’s stool and is amazed at the results.  Her hair is now brunette, straight and long, past her shoulders.   She likes the way the long hair looks on her.  She is reconsidering going short when Shelly begins snipping with scissors.  The long hair that she had just begun to enjoy having is cut above her ears and at the nape of her neck.  Marsha watches wordlessly as her hair falls free to the floor  Shelly has rough cut the shape around her head.  She then uses a comb to pull the hair perpendicular for additional cutting.  With skill, Shelly cut fades Marsha’s hair up from her ears and the base of her neck.  It isn’t long before Marsha’s hair has been cut short, a quarter inch at the sides and back tapering up to a three inch length on top her head.  Upon completion of the haircut, Shelly puts a cap on Marsha’s head.  The cap has holes where Shelly uses an instrument to pull tufts of Marsha’s hair through.  She then applies the burgundy highlight to the exposed hair.

When all is complete, Marsha examines her new look  The top of her hair stands up and curls back similar to a man’s pompadour.  Her new look is a man’s hair style yet it looks completely feminine on her.   It feels strange to Marsha when she touches the short cut and at the same time, invigorating.  She is totally pleased with Shelly’s work and tips her accordingly when paying the tab.

The following Monday, Marsha takes packages to Fed-Ex for shipping.  It is the first time in six months that Marsha will see Perry.  He waits on her and pauses after a minute and stares.  He says, “Marsha?”

She smiles and says, “Yes.  It’s me.”

“My god, you look great.”

“Thank you.”

“So this explains why you haven’t been coming around.”

“Yeah, I didn’t want anyone to see me until I achieved my goal.”

“I can’t get over it.  I almost didn’t recognize you.”

“Do you think I look good enough for you to date?”

“You certainly do.  Too bad I got married last month.”

Marsha’s heart sank.  “Married?”

“Yep.  I married a wonderful gal.  You have to meet her.  I think you’ll like her.”

Marsha politely completed her package transactions making small talk and turned Perry down when he offered her a ride home.  When she left Fed-Ex she went to a nearby local bar.  She wanted a drink to forget this unfortunate turn of events.  This was the first time she ever went into a bar.  She ordered a margarita and when she tried to pay for it, the bartender told her it was already taken care of.  A man sat down in the stool next to hers and said hello.  She asked if he had bought her the drink and in fact, he did.  She was enchanted when the man started flirting with her.  This was another first.  Then a second man took the stool on the other side of her.  The two men clamored for her attention, complimenting her beyond belief.  At that moment Marsha decided it was okay to have lost Perry.  She was now the belle of the ball, the new hot babe of the local watering hole.

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