The Swell Shake

Originally published September 16, 2016.
Contains: instant weight gain and personality transformation.

I owe a lot of people acknowledgements for this one. This was inspired most directly by a piece called Big Jolly Milkshake drawn by futobara as a commission from mysteriesofme. This story is the result of me imagining a plot behind that piece. In doing so, I borrowed a lot from the storytelling style of starbern, another weight gain writer. The idea of a character’s identity and memories transforming to match the transformation of their body is a staple of his stories, and I thought it would work well for this story about an unhappy man becoming less miserable when a special milkshake causes him to rapidly put on a lot of weight.

Derek was miserable. He’d never exactly been the cheery sort, but the recurring hunger pangs from his new diet had left him feeling especially irritable for the previous few months. The diet was working, as he’d managed to shed his freshman 15 and whittle his waistline down to a trim frame. But he seemed to have shed all noticeable cheer as he shed his last noticeable bit of flab.

It was starting to affect his reputation at work. Before he started his diet, Derek and the rest of his team would go out for drinks every Friday after work. Those nights out stopped happening not long after Derek started dieting. Derek thought the team simply wasn’t organizing them anymore, and he certainly wasn’t going to be the one to take on that responsibility. But that Friday, he decided to go to a nearby bar after work, and there he saw the rest of his team, drinking and laughing it up. He immediately walked out.

That Saturday saw Derek driving to do some errands, still nursing the sting of seeing his coworkers at the bar without him. In part, he resented them for excluding him like that, but he couldn’t help but feel like he’d brought it on himself by being such a curmudgeon. The problem was, if he wanted to keep the weight off, he didn’t know how to change his attitude.

It was a question that weighed on Derek’s mind until he came upon a small shop with an ice cream cone decal called The Shake Shack. After months of depriving himself and making himself miserable, he decided to treat himself just this once. Maybe it would help him feel better. Junk food like ice cream seemed to do that way back when he wasn’t being so strict with himself.

Derek pulled into the sparsely-filled parking lot and saw a few people sitting at the nearby tables, eating ice cream with placid expressions. It made him sigh as he walked up to the window, where he was greeted by a young woman in a purple shirt with woolly hair that puffed out past her shoulders. “Hi, what can I get for you today?” she asked in a tone that sounded like she was trying to put on as much of an air of friendliness as she could, which wasn’t much. It didn’t make Derek very optimistic.

“Um… give me a minute to browse,” Derek said, trying and failing to put on a friendly tone himself.

“You know,” he heard an older-sounding voice say from behind the wall, before an older man stepped into view. There was barely any color left in his hair, and he wore an apron with The Shake Shack’s logo printed on it. “We have a special today that’s not on the menu that just might be what you need.”

“I don’t ‘need’ it,” Derek answered defensively. “But… what is it?”

“It’s called the swell shake,” the old man answered, his friendly tone unshaken.

What kind of stupid name is that? was Derek’s initial reaction, but he managed to catch his tongue and instead asked, “Why is it called that?”

“Because it’ll have you feeling swell!” the old man said, his enthusiasm only growing.

“Uh, okay, I’ll have one of those I guess.”

After giving Derek a nod, the old man turned to the young woman and answered, “Could you ring him up? I’ll take care of the milkshake.”

The man walked to the back of the shop with a pep in his step. Derek hoped he wasn’t the owner, since he’d probably skimp on the ingredients if he knew how much they all cost and was footing the bill for them. The woman rang him up and he saw “$4.00” flash across the display. That was less than the cost of even a small milkshake. Now Derek was sure there was no way it could taste good, not if he was getting what he paid for. But he still paid, and still waited as he heard the blender whirring in the back.

Soon the old man emerged again with a medium-sized cup in hand. “There you go,” he beamed as he passed it to Derek. Derek took the shake and thanked the man half-heartedly. He briefly considered taking the shake on the road, but he didn’t have anywhere to be, so he walked toward the seating area. All three of the large wooden tables had someone sitting at them, all of whom ignored Derek as he walked past them and leaned on the nearby fence.

After giving the milkshake a doubtful look, Derek took off the lid and looked inside. The shake was brown like chocolate, and not an especially deep hue at that. At least he hadn’t payed much for it, he thought. After closing the lid and sighing, he took a sip through the straw.

Derek tasted chocolate in the shake, along with vanilla and a bit of what tasted like cookie dough. It was a strange combination, but Derek was intrigued enough to take another sip. That sip turned into a long drag on the straw as Derek sucked down more, the runny shake going down easily.

When Derek stopped, he held the shake up to the sun and saw that he’d drunk about a fourth of it. He let out a light chuckle at how much he’d drunk in one go before wiping his lips with the back of his hand. His cheeks felt soft under his touch, much like his midsection: not exactly fat, but still plush enough that he certainly wasn’t skinny. He carried about as much extra weight as anyone else, he reckoned. His paunch was mostly hidden by the tee shirt draped over his torso, but when he had to tuck his shirt in for work, his extra flab definitely showed.

The extra weight must have snuck up on him during the busy and stressful period at work he’d been dealing with. He’d thought about trying to lose it, but he reasoned he had more important things to worry about than a little bit of flab. As difficult as work was, he tried to stay on top of things to make his coworkers’ lives a little bit easier. If he could put a smile on their faces too, even better. And if taking a doughnut or two from the breakroom meant he could keep up the positive demeanor that made that possible, he was okay with having a little extra pudge to show for it.

But it was the weekend, Derek reminded himself, and he wasn’t going to weigh himself down with thoughts of work. After a quiet sigh, he took another long sip of the shake. When he finished, he spun the cup to mix the shake and could feel that there was about half left.

Derek let out an “Mmm” nearly as long a his sip, rubbing the top of his hefty stomach in satisfaction. It was a sizable paunch, a reminder of all the snacks and treats he’d grazed on. But Derek didn’t feel especially self conscious about it. Indulgences like this milkshake were just how he treated himself, to keep his spirits up when things were getting difficult. It anything, he saw his round belly as a testament to the fact that he wasn’t uptight about things and could take it easy when he wanted to. And why should he feel ashamed of that?

It was his easygoing attitude, after all, that made so many of his coworkers like him. When things were getting demanding or stressful, Derek kept a level head and reminded his team that all they could do was take their work one step at a time, and things would get done when they got done. It made him a calming presence, and though he wasn’t one to sing his own praises, he felt assured that his coworkers liked him for it.

So Derek felt no shame as he took another long sip from the milkshake. After all, what was life but the simple pleasures? It might have sounded corny, but he believed there was some truth to it. And this milkshake was particularly pleasurable, making it easy to keep going until he had only a fourth of the shake remaining.

After letting out a small burp, Derek chuckled and patted the top of his bulbous belly. He certainly enjoyed his sweets and his treats, and his hefty gut was a testament to his tastes. His shirt was a big enough size to fit over him, but the front still stuck out at an angle away from the bottom of his belly like a circus tent, emphasizing his girth. His belly was big enough that it had its own presence, feeling like it took up its own space separate from him.

But Derek was okay with that. As he often joked, his love of desserts was why he was so sweet. And that wasn’t just him tooting his own horn. When he walked into a room at work, belly bouncing just a bit in his tight button-down shirt as he did, his coworkers lit up upon seeing him. Quite a few had even mentioned in passing that they were thankful when he showed up to an otherwise drab event, as they knew once they saw him that it wouldn’t be so bad.

Maybe that was why so many of his teammates made it a point to tell him when there was food left in the break room. His team knew he liked to eat, and they seemed to feed off of his excitement when he came back with a few goodies on a plate. When his smile could make them smile, it was really a win-win situation.

Thinking about it brought a grin to Derek’s face as he leaned against the fence enjoying his milkshake. He brought the straw to his lips and sipped the last of it slowly, savoring the sweet drink, even though he knew his next treat wasn’t far away.

In fact, when Derek finished his milkshake, he was already thinking about lunch. There was a good pizza place in the plaza where he was going to do his errands, where they made the pies nice and big and loaded them up with plenty of each topping. A meat lover’s pizza sounded good to Derek, and he decided he’d get a large, to reward himself for how hard he’d been working in the office. Sure, it was a lot for one person, but Derek believed that life was too short to not enjoy all the delights it could offer.

After pushing off the fence he was leaning on, Derek sauntered over to the trash barrel to throw away his cup. As he passed the tables, he bade “Have a good day!” to those sitting at them, which they echoed back or replied “You too!” with a wave. He could feel his gargantuan belly bouncing as he walked, the waves rippling up his stomach until they reached his chest. Why he was so aware of them now, he didn’t know; surely his belly wasn’t bouncing any more than it did usually.

And a belly as big as his was prone to bouncing. Derek wore his love of food proudly on his waist, his mammoth gut sticking out to the side well past the width of his shoulders and in front of him so far he could barely wrap his arms around to button his pants. His rotund girth matched his round face, his cheeks puffing out like little bellies of their own as his double chin draped from his jaw. His arms had to swing a long distance with each step, for his belly was too big to sway as he walked. It was round and solid, a point of pride for him the way a bodybuilder might be proud of how their biceps stick out when the flex.

It was his confidence and his positive outlook that made him so popular in the office. Just about everyone he passed greeted him enthusiastically, largely because he always did the same to them. He was a popular figure because of it, and his team was quite happy to have him as one of their own.

Perhaps it was this popularity that made people so inclined to let him know when food had been left in the break room. Even people who weren’t on his team had picked up on how much he loved food, and were quite happy to knock on his cubicle wall to let him know when there were snacks and leftovers to be had. Getting to see his shameless excitement when they told him was probably its own reward.

After throwing his cup away, Derek saw there wasn’t anyone at the window of The Shake Shack and decided to pay the old man another visit to thank him for the milkshake properly. He strode on over and watched the young woman standing at the cash register light up when she saw him. She seemed the shy type, but Derek always had a way of putting people at ease and putting a smile on their face.

“Hello again!” she said enthusiastically.

“Hello! Is the gentleman who made my milkshake still working?” Derek asked.

“Henry!” she called out, startling Derek a little. “Our friend who ordered the swell shake would like to talk to you.”

In a quieter tone, Derek assured her, “You didn’t have to do that. I just wanted to give my compliments to the cook.”

“Oh he’ll be happy to hear that from you,” she said confidently.

Soon the man emerged at the window. “Yes?”

“I’m sorry if I took you away from anything. I just wanted to let you know that milkshake was delicious. Exactly what I needed right now. Perfect pick-me-up.”

The old man maintained his cheery smile, which admittedly couldn’t get much wider than it was, but looked appreciative nonetheless. “That’s wonderful to hear,” he enthused. “I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. You have a good day now.”

“You too!” Derek called out as the man walked behind the machinery again.

The young woman turned to face Derek again with a smile of her own. “See? Told you.”

“You were right,” Derek happily admitted. “Ooh, I forgot this the first time around,” he said before pulling out his wallet and putting a five-dollar bill in the tip jar.

“Thanks!” the young woman enthused. “Uh, I do want to let you know, for the sake of transparency, that, uh, Henry is the owner, so he won’t be getting that.”

“Oh that’s fine. You deserve some appreciation too.”

After smiling shyly at Derek, the young woman said, “Name’s May, by the way,” and extended her hand out the window.

“Derek,” he returned as he shook her hand.

“Maybe I’ll see you here again?”

“Oh definitely! If the rest of your milkshakes are that good too? I’ll definitely be stopping by here more often. Let’s just say I didn’t get this by drinking kale shakes,” Derek chuckled as he gave his gut some hearty thumps, sending a ripple across it each time before it jiggled a bit.

May chuckled back, a more nervous chuckle as she looked down at Derek’s ample belly, taking her time before she looked up again. “Alright, well, uh, we’ll see you soon.”

Derek gave her a nod and turned to walk back to his car with a smile on his face. Before he got in, he felt his phone vibrate and pulled it out to read a text from one of his teammates:

“Hey! Sorry we missed you on Friday! Everyone assumed someone else invited you. We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen this Friday!”

“No worries, there’s always next time See you on Monday!” Derek texted back before getting in his car. Even with the set all the way back, there was barely enough room for him and his belly. His gut sat an inch away from the steering wheel, and he knew it would have even less space after lunch. But he didn’t stress over it. He just gave his belly a few more pats and told himself he’d look into buying a bigger car when this one’s time was up.

It was the same attitude he took towards clothes, furniture, or anything else he outgrew. A less confident person might have concluded that they’d gotten “too big” and had to shrink themselves to fit, but Derek knew that meant his environment had to grow for him. When his 3XL shirts got too tight for him, he knew that’s what 4XLs were for. And when his globular gut got big enough to fill out those, he’d simply go up a size again.

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