When Ostaf and Esra Dral got home from school their father, Balf, was crestfallen. He’d lost another 6 million comrades on the job, the third lot in a week, and could only speculate on his remaining time in this host body. Living in the gut of this body for the past ten years, Balf had worked like a dog, multi-tasking, insulating, storing, regulating and smoothing the 136 kilos of man fat. As a fat cell, this was Balf’s destiny, and he was very industrious.
He’d honed his work ethic by studying the habits of the heart and the thyroid and pituitary glands, vowing never to let this beast of a man fall below his EEQ, (Equalised Excess Quotient) His boss paid spiffs on every kilo the host body gained, and Balf was always the top additioner, earning enough to send his kids to private school and buy his wife, Opil, all the mod cons a fat cell could want. Opil was proud of her man’s perseverance, and on those nights when Balf got signals that the host was in need of energy she’d watch him jump out of bed, make a quick bowl of lard and metabolize what he had stored away into energy for the host body’s use. She knew he was a selfless cell and that all his efforts were for the family, though she couldn’t stave off the loneliness.
On those vacant nights Ostaf and Esra Dral would get into bed with Opil, sticking together to help round out the host’s body that their father worked so diligently to keep distended. As tight as the maternal relationship was between Mum and kids, Balf could never share that bond. It wasn’t that he hadn’t tried. He’d taken them on trips through the circulatory and nervous systems and even had that uncomfortable talk about sex while coursing the fatty genitals of the host. But there was a fundamental reason Balf could never bond with his kids.
The day those greasy little sacs came into his life was the proudest Balf should have experienced. While waiting in the rotund rump of the host for the mitosis that would make a family for Opil and him, the doctor approached with awkward hesitation. Balf’s opened smile and excitement instantly waned. Was there a mutation? Had there been a shift in the nucleotide? The doctor, staring at the fleshy flooring mumbled, ‘Uh, I don’t know how to tell you, Balf. But your children are brown cells.’ Initially aghast, Balf composed his lipid and took it like a cell. He realised he had spent too much time away from Opil, leaving her alone while bulking up his host. When confronted with it, Opil said, weeping, “I’m a fat cell, for Christ sake. I have needs!” There was nothing Balf could do but to accept fate and live with Opil’s infidelity. He knew once the kids got to school he’d cop it from the other parents who’d whisper aspersions in the hallway about the two white cells with brown children. As a soft cell, Balf grappled with this for many years, but his children did what they could to make him feel loved. And in Balf’s mind, this was a start.
As news came through that thousands of cells were dying, effectively shrinking into obliteration, Opil and the kids stayed by their father’s side for support. Word around the gut was that the host had his stomach stapled resulting in Armageddon-like weight loss. This couldn’t have come at a worse time as Balf and the kids had recently gotten Opil through the difficult loss of her brother during a free Zumba session the host body had taken.
Balf’s boss called him into the office, a big suite right behind the belly button. Balf always thought it had a rank smell and tried not to breathe too deeply when he entered. His boss laid it on the line.
‘Balf, our host’s weight is down to 116 kilos, and I’m counting on you as our senior additioner to get us back to EEQ.’
As his boss hammered away at the details, Balf’s life flashed before his nucleus. He reflected on his wife’s pregnancy and how it agreed with her so. He used to say she looked as cute as a cellulite dimple. It was an exciting time for heterosexual cell couples migrating to the thighs while the host consumed hot chips and tempura. Couples came from all fatty areas of the host--young cells in their primes--waiting to split families. If only his family were his own, he thought.
‘Do you understand me, Balf? Balf!’ his boss screamed, red-faced.
‘Yessir,’ Balf replied, shaking himself into the present.
‘I need you to get in behind those staples and jog them free. Our cell pool depends on it! Now gather your troupe, and get to work. Good luck, Captain!’
The night before Balf left, he made passionate love to his wife, not knowing if he’d ever return from this mercy mission. Opil said she’d wait for him, no matter how long it took. But even she was unsure of her promise.
As Balf packed his lipid and shoved off, Opil and the kids bade him farewell.
‘Go get ‘em, you oily bag of fat,’ Opil said. Balf laughed. It was what he called her on their first date.
‘I will my potbellied puss,’ he answered, holding back a tear. With that, he swelled up to ten times his size, closed his eyes and rolled out of the gut. Opil pulled the kids in tight, gave them each a kiss on the head. She too tried not to cry. She hoped Balf could do it, could keep her and the kids as fat as they could possibly be so that they could live long and happy lives. After a moment or two she forced a smile and, mustering up some positivity for the kids said, ‘C’mom guys. Who wants cake?’