Eight Bites (Machado)

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Eight Bites
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman underwent a weight-loss surgery and transformed her body. She struggled with her self-image, her relationship with her daughter, and encountered her discarded fatness as a separate entity in her house.

A woman struggling with body image and self-esteem issues scrutinized the dusty, tourist-dwelling town she lived in, lamenting the winter solitude. She recalled the dramatic transformations her three sisters underwent after bariatric surgery, their shift from excess weight to svelte figures. After the realization that limiting herself to eight bites per meal, a notion proposed by her late mother, was insufficient for her, she decided to undergo the surgery herself.

The Narrator — narrator; a mother who underwent bariatric surgery; was overweight and became obsessively thin; conflicted, regretful.

I could not make eight bites work for my body and so I would make my body work for eight bites.

Despite warnings about the irreversible nature of the procedure from both her doctor and her frustrated daughter, the woman went through with the operation.

Cal — the Narrator's estranged daughter; critical and angry; conflicted about her mother's choices.
Dr. U — the surgeon who performed the bariatric surgery on the Narrator; plump, calm, confident.

Post-surgery, she felt in control and satisfied with her eight bites per meal, relishing her transformation and the praise that came with it.

However, she gradually started noticing an unsettling presence in her home. First thought to be inanimate objects or pests, the mysterious figure later revealed itself to be a formless reflection of her old self that she aggressively rejected.

“You are unwanted,” I say. A tremor ripples her mass.

The entity remained with her, leaving benign offerings around the home and reminders of her past that evoked a mix of shame and grief.

The woman lived until she was seventy-nine, woke up one day with chest pain but remained conscious to take in her surroundings one last time. As she was about to pass away, the formless entity gently cradled her. The woman felt a poignant regret for having abandoned who she once was and asked for her old self’s forgiveness, unwittingly surrendering to the immortal embodiment of her past self.