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Thanksgiving Challenge

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Jurina sat back heavily in her seat, patting her tummy like some kind of shopping mall Santa Claus.

She sighed contentedly, “They said it couldn’t be done.”

“I know, I’m the one who said it,” Paruru, her girlfriend of 8 months was sitting beside her. She stared in disgust at the empty plates where a mountain of food once lay. “How do you feel?”

Jurina put up her index finger in a sign that Paruru knew all too well. “Like a champion.” Then she let out a burp that must’ve lasted ten seconds at least.

“Alright champion, can you get up? Let’s get this over with.” Her girlfriend rounded the table and walked into their bathroom. She came back with the weighing scale Jurina had ordered online for just this occasion. She should’ve known something was afoot when she’d seen the package in the mail back in September. The excuse she’d heard back then was, ‘of course they needed a scale, they were adults now, their metabolism wasn’t going to hold up the same way it did when they were in college.’

It wasn’t until November finally came around that the truth started slipping out. It started with her catching Jurina standing on the scale a few mornings. She’d tried to reassure her that she wasn’t gaining weight—that’s what a good girlfriend would do, right? But Jurina wasn’t concerned about that. She’d said she just wanted to know ‘where her baseline was these days’, whatever the hell that meant.

And then, exactly one week ago, as they were leaving a Friendsgiving at their shared friend Dasu’s place, someone had called out that she “hoped she was getting ready for the Thanksgiving challenge. Wouldn’t want another poor showing this year.”

“What’s the Thanksgiving challenge?” She’d asked Jurina on their way home.

Jurina had looked uncomfortable at first, like she wasn’t sure Paruru was ready to learn about whatever stupid challenge she had going with her friends. But this was where Jurina had severely underestimated her.

Paruru had known Jurina for 2 years before they started dating. Which meant that she’d known Jurina and Jurina’s dumb friends throughout their last two years of college.

She’d been there for the swim across the river buck-naked at the dead of night before the campus police catches you challenge in junior year. She was the one standing on the bank holding their clothes, because there was no way in hell she was risking her scholarship and health for clout.

She’d seen the Edward 40-hands challenge, also known as the strap two 40 ounce bottles of beer to your hands and finish them before the night is over challenge. Once again, no, she hadn’t participated. She was one of the only ones at the party who could actually use their hands and had spent the night opening doors, changing the songs on the playlist and calling taxis for everyone at the end of the night.

And all of that only happened junior year. Once their senior year hit and their final wrestling season was over, all bets had been off. She couldn’t legally talk about many of the things that may or may not have happened that year.

So, in summary, Jurina was dumb. Jurina’s friends were dumb. And they often did dumb things with and to each other that made Paruru question how she fell into their circle of friends and why she was still in it. They were all sweet, sweet people, but oh my god she could probably count the number of braincells on one hand sometimes…

So whatever this ‘Thanksgiving challenge’ was, she wasn’t so much scared as she was just trying to mentally prepare herself for it.

“Jurina. What is it?” She’d given her that look, that ‘cold’ look people told her she had sometimes. It always worked against her girlfriend.

“It’s nothing crazy,” She’d heard that line before. “It’s just an eating challenge.” Jurina had tried to shrug it off—no big deal, right? Paruru waited for the other shoe to drop.

“What are the rules?”

“Rules are you weigh yourself before and after the Thanksgiving meal. Appetizers are strongly discouraged, but who eats appetizers on Thanksgiving anyways, right? Also discouraged is drinking a ton of water or juice or whatever to make up water weight. You have to log everything you eat and the time between the weigh-in and weigh-out. Biggest gains wins the challenge.”

Paruru had taken a moment to wrap her head around this one. She’d stayed quiet all the way home. As they were taking off their shoes next to the door, Jurina had finally caved, “I don’t have to do it, of course. It’s just a dumb challenge.”

Jurina was right, it was dumb. Absolutely. No doubt about it.

But…

“Okay.”

“What?”

“You should do it.”

“Are you sure?” She knew why Jurina was concerned. She’d made it no secret that she hated some of the stuff she did with her friends. Once they got out of college and into the real world—and especially after they started dating—Jurina had mellowed out a lot. She only raged every now and then, but nothing overboard like their senior year from hell.

She was an adult.

They were all adults now, and that meant having insurance premiums that weren’t too kind on frequent emergency room visits.

But… it was Thanksgiving after all.

“You only get to do it if you win. As in, if you don’t win it this year, then you’re out. For good.” The key in their relationship was communication—she had to set her rules, too. “How badly did you lose last year?”

“It was so bad,” Jurina had whined as they settled on the couch for whatever random show they could find on Netflix. “I thought I had it in the bag for sure, but then I forgot that Dasu’s and Kaotan’s families make massive feasts—I’m talking giant turkeys and so many sides their still eating leftovers way into December.”

“Eww.”

“They freeze it, it’s fine.”

“But still.”

And so she had agreed to the Thanksgiving challenge and all that that entailed for their holiday break.

They had a secret plan that Jurina had sworn her to secrecy on. The plan was: they would go eat Thanksgiving with Jurina’s mom in Concord around noon—she had to go into work in the afternoon, so they had to make do with earlier festivities. Then, they would go eat with Paruru’s family in Fairfield—it was technically Jurina’s first holidays with her family, so she was the perfect guest, eating up everything in sight and praising her mother’s cooking to high heavens. Kiss-ass.

Phase 3 of their plan had just been completed. They’d come back home from Paruru’s mom’s house and Jurina had microwaved their Friendsgiving leftovers with a sickening grin on her face. Paruru had been nearing her limit at that point.

“I don’t think you’re going to make it.”

“Just watch me.”

“I have to. I don’t want to wake up in the morning to find out you choked on a turkey bone.”

Jurina scoffs, “As if I would be so weak.”

And, true to her word, Jurina had eaten every last drop off her plate. Paruru had closed her eyes when she started licking up gravy.

“Paru…”

“What?” She had the scale ready. Weigh-in had been at 10 am this morning before they left for Concord, it was currently 11:37 pm. Over 12 hours had passed and Paruru was ready for this challenge to be over.

“… Can you help me up, please?”

Paruru sighed, but dutifully helped up her girlfriend.

“You’re lucky I love you.”

“Thanks, babe. Kiss for good luck?”

“If you don’t get on this scale, I will drop you.”

Jurina pouted but did as she was told. Paruru jotted down the numbers for weigh-out and used Jurina’s phone to message the groupchat she had running for the challenge. She listed the meal she’d just had, the measurements, the time. And finally. Finally! The challenge was over.

“Paru…”

“What is it, Jurina?”

“… Can we go to the bathroom, please?”

 

The morning after started off quietly, but then Paruru was woken up by loud whoops and yelling.

“Jurina, shut up.”

“Paru baby, wake up. Wake up baby, I have good news.”

“No.”

“I won, baby! I won the challenge!”

Paruru cracked her eyes open to see her girlfriend smiling that dumb smile she loved. And honestly… she knew what she was getting going into with this relationship. She knew all about Jurina and Jurina’s dumb friends and their dumb challenges, but she still said yes to that dumb smile.

She was weak, but she was okay with it.

“Jurina?”

“Yes baby?”

“Shut up.”

“Okay.” Jurina flopped back onto the bed, but she never stopped smiling. She knew her girlfriend wasn’t really mad at her.

“Come get your kiss, my champion.”

Jurina was all too happy to comply. Paruru would worry about next year’s challenge some other time. This year’s Thanksgiving was far from over.