Author: Marie Katrin PM
noun; The synthesis of complex molecules in living organisms from simpler ones together with the storage of energy; constructive metabolism. Series of vignettes, told from the point of view of a young teen-aged girl.Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Friendship - Chapters: 4 - Words: 2,478 - Reviews: 2 - Updated: 11-04-12 - Published: 09-17-12 - id: 3059012
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I am going into the 8th grade. I am an Honor Roll student; gifted, talented, shy, quiet, mousy, in school, at least. I am socially-challenged and awkward, childish around my peers despite my universally-praised maturity by teachers and adults. I have a circle of three or four close friends, preppy, intelligent teacher's pets who share my intelligence and desperate need for approval. I have a larger outer circle that I hang out with, not really friends as much as people who do not make me feel uncomfortable when I compare myself with them. I know one girl who shares my shabby, unfashionable attire, my juvenile sense of humor, and, to a lesser degree, my ambition. She is the overlap between the two sides of my personality, my prep and my pariah-tude, my drive and my social destitution. She is my best friend.
I constantly wear my long blond hair in a low ponytail and I dress sloppily, in jeans and ugly T-shirts that I wear over and over again. It is my Nana, mainly, who buys me clothes, and these less and less as I get bigger and bigger, leaving behind the Kids' Department while still in elementary school.
At this particular moment in time, I weigh 176 pounds. Standing at only five feet and four inches, I weigh much too much. I forget the words that the slim, pretty Asian doctor uses to describe me at my annual well-visit; I remember only feeling like a dog, stupid and clumsy, as she speaks over my head to my mother, instructing her, in a nutshell, to make sure I get more exercise and less soda pop.
To my horror, tears well in my eyes and I stare at my paper gown-clad lap to conceal this from my mother and the doctor. I've always been an easy crier. I've even known myself to enjoy the experience from time to time, to savor the intense maelstrom of emotion and the physical experience of crying, but only when I am alone. I have enough social skills (read: lack of) problems to deal with. Even I, the socially oblivious, know that no one likes a crybaby.
I know I am fat, of course. This is not an unfamiliar concept for me but I have never been told by anyone other than my especially cruel classmates. I am able to deduce that my weight is abnormal all on my own. I judge by my mother's and my grandmother's regretful sighs as I fail yet again to fit into the sample outfits purchased for me, by the way my aunt always warns me against playing too roughly with my older brother, by the way my father can no longer indulge me in piggy-back rides or horseplay. I am hardly a dumb girl. I can take a hint.
Barely able to restrain my sobs, I stare two inches above the doctor's head, glaring two smoking holes in the opposite wall through my tears, suffering the silent indignity, hating her, hating myself, hating my parents for letting me shame myself this way. Tactfully, both my mother and the doctor pretend not to notice my anguish. The doctor, who has noticed my modest amount of acne, offers to prescribe me something for it. Outraged, I rebuff her too loudly. Hatefully, I wonder what else she thinks is wrong with me.
While my mother deals with the issue of the copay and the business of scheduling my next check-up, I escape to our minivan and surrender myself to the shattering sobs that burst from my chest, shaking my torso and tearing my heart. I can no longer flee from the horrible suspicions that have dwelt in my mind all these years, no longer disguise the clinging shame I have managed to squash under tons of denials (I have big bones and a large frame, that's all. I'm perfectly normal for my height.), excuses (I take after Dad's side of the family and my brother takes after Mom's. It's just genetic bad luck that I'm heavier than my older brother.), and other debris. I am fat. The doctor says so.
I stop wailing from the passenger's seat abruptly as the driver's side's door opens. I can feel my very concerned mother's eyes on me, seeking out my own, but I turn away and act like I'm staring dispassionately out of the window, hoping she cannot see the distress on my face.
"Sweetheart, were you crying?" She asks gently, having heard my dying animal wails and knowing full-well what the answer is.
"No," I deny absurdly, refusing, still, to face her. You must realize, here, that through lies and omissions, I have built an image into my parents' minds, an image of me as I wish I could be, an image that cannot be allowed to shatter. I am the tough girl, the smart, no-nonsense girl who cares not what other people may think of her. The bold, clever leader. They know nothing of my painful shyness, nothing of my shamefully empty parody of a social life. They do not suspect that I am not invited to events because I am disliked, not because I scorn them, as I pretend to. They remain ignorant of my clumsy efforts to fit in with my classmates, of my acute longing for better, prettier clothes. The kind of clothes we cannot afford, even if I could fit into them.
I thought we could go back-to-school shopping after the appointment," she says, giving up on coaxing me out of my sullen despair. "Maybe grab a bite to eat while we're out." Clothes shopping, for the both of us, is a miserable event that must be endured once every summer at the very least, lest I return to school looking like a ragamuffin. By unspoken agreement, we have put it off as long as possible, but today is Friday and school starts in three days. We can avoid the dreadful expedition no longer.
I grunt my acknowledgement. I don't want to talk about what has just transpired, though my mother clearly feels the need to comfort me. I try to signal my distaste for the idea by inserting my ear buds and cranking up the music like I see haughty teens do on television all the time. I lean my face against the overheated, sun-stained window, untying my thick golden hair and swinging it like a curtain over my shoulder and between my mother's eyes, pained and prying. Isolated, I begin to cry again, silently this time. I shut my eyes, trying futilely to stop the downpour, but they continue to trickle through my closed lids. The hot glass burns my cheek. It feels good.
I am fat.
We stop at Panera's. My mother orders French Onion soup and a sandwich. I order a bowl of soup and a summer salad with strawberries and chicken. I stare at my food, feeling tragic and misrepresented. I am intelligent, incredibly so. Shouldn't that be enough?
I do not finish my lunch. In fact, I barely eat anything, which is a first for me. For once in my life, I have no appetite for food. I am fat, and something must be done.