The Crescendo

Sometimes you just can’t help yourself

J.A. Taylor

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Photo by Bappie on Unsplash

As the crescendo climaxed, laughter punched Nate and Mindy’s guts like a box full of trapped cats. Nate tried silence, but it didn’t work. Mindy’s hands flew to her mouth, awaiting the applause to mask her irreverence. They both bit their lips between their teeth, trying to hold the laughter in, but bursts of hilarity flapped from their mouths like air from a loose balloon.

Mr. Farnsworth straightened his bowtie and cast a scornful look across the darkened highschool auditorium. Signaling their condemnation, he silently invited others to join his disdain. It quieted them for a moment. Until the tuba solo. As the bulky instrument rumbled a long, low note, Mindy turned to Nate and whispered, “Excuse me.”

Nate exploded. A string of snot shot from his nostril and Mindy roared with laughter, pointing a finger at him and drawing looks from at least a dozen people. Nate felt the glaring eyeballs and buried his head in his lap, shaking and convulsing until the song ended. Silence. Then applause.

“Thank God, it’s over,” Nate cried. He was sweating. Mindy’s face was a dark crimson. She didn’t say a word, but bobbed in her seat, resisting turbulent guffaws. Before she could get herself under control, the fattest woman she’d ever seen waddled on stage, stuffed into a shiny, white dress like a watermelon in a sock. Nate’s eyes went wide. “It’s…” he giggled, “it’s never over…” his voice turned soprano, “‘til the lady fatter than Mr. Farnsworth sings!” He roared, then caught his breath.

Mindy’s jaw dropped. “Don’t say that!” she hissed, but shaking with mirth. “She has an eating disorder.” For a second, Mindy’s face turned serious, but then her lips creased upward in a smile. “She ate dis order of cheese sticks, dis order of bacon, dis order of wings, and dis order of nuggets!”

Tears streamed from Nate’s eyes as he cried with laughter. His lips felt permanently curled, and he turned his head away from Mindy, trying to catch his breath and not drool on the floor. When he stopped shaking, he glanced at her. “You know her favorite machine at the gym?” Another burst of laughter escaped his lips. Mindy raised an eyebrow. “It’s the one where she puts in quarters and snacks come out.” He cackled and slapped his knee in amusement.

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