Chapter One: Reality Hurts
By: Queen Beryl
"As you can not do what you wish, you should wish what you can do." -Terence (Publius Terentius Afer)
I was fat. I don't mean horribly obese, but it went a little beyond pleasantly plump. I was laughed at behind my back, called names as I walked down the hallway at school, and not at all popular. I only had one friend, and I wasn't even sure she was my true friend. She'd talk about me behind my back right along with the rest of them. Even my mother and father couldn't look at me the same way. I was never skinny, but I was cuter when I was younger. I guess my upcoming senior year in high school was the final straw.
"Jessica, we need to talk." Mom sat down at the oak kitchen table, her lean, heart-shaped face worried. Dad was already sitting there with the pretense of reading the morning paper, but I saw that his eyes behind his rectangular wire-rimmed glasses were stationary. I knew that the moment my mother called me Jessica that something was up. I inwardly cringed at the formality and sat down between both of my parents.
Sunlight filtered through the window that was just above the kitchen table. It spilled like orange juice across the napkin holder and placemats that matched the rest of the decor in the kitchen. It was warm and soothing, lulling me into a false sense of security. It was warm for eight o'clock in the morning, but that was to be expected as it was mid-June. School had let out just yesterday, and I was planning on having a nice summer. I was completely wrong.
"Talk about what?" I asked, grabbing a piece of toast and taking a satisfying bite.
"What are you planning on doing this summer?" Mom asked casually, putting her soft blonde locks behind her ears. I swallowed hard; Mom was never honestly casual when she put her hair behind her ears.
"Oh, you know, going to the library, hanging out with Tabitha, whatever comes to mind." I shrugged, polishing off my toast and reaching for another. Mom grabbed my hand and held it between both of her manicured ones. She patted my hand in a motherly way and I knew something was going to be said that I wouldn't particularly like.
"Well, not this summer, love. We've signed you up for a class." Mom smiled at me, her blue eyes shining with glee.
"What kind of class?" I demanded, narrowing my eyes suspiciously.
"A fitness class. You'll get your own personal trainer, gym access, swimming lessons-"
"I already know how to swim!" I interjected.
"-and aerobic exercises!" Mom finished without missing a beat.
"I-I-" I stuttered, not precisely knowing what to say.
"It's a good idea, Sport." Dad finally spoke up, laying his paper down and pulling off his glasses. A smile was prominent on his face, but surely not sincere, seeing as how it didn't reach his gentle azure eyes.
"But Dad-" I sputtered in indignation.
"Your father is right, Jessica." Mom relinquished her "calming" hold on my hand and arose, the essence of beauty and class. "You start tomorrow."
Dad nodded as Mom glided off. I glared down at the plate of toast in the middle of the table as if it were set there to spite me. I looked over at my father for some form of moral support.
"Don't worry, Sport, everything will be a-okay." Dad stood up, ruffled my hair, and left resoundly to his office on the other part of the house. I sat at the table for a few more minutes before deciding to take a walk. I slipped on my shoes at the front door; Mom never let anyone wear shoes in the house, and scuttled outside, attempting to get away from the unwelcome news.
A personal trainer? How can they do this to me? Oh, the looks they gave me! I think that hurts me the most! I let my thoughts alternate from surprise, to sadness, to anger, and back to surprise again. I was so lost in thought I became careless and didn't know where I was going. I ended up ramming into someone. I, of course, being the bigger one, completely knocked the other individual off their feet.
"I'm so sorry." I apologized, holding out my hand to my latest victim. It was a tall, lanky boy that I recognized from school. He gazed up at me, his dark brown eyes looking startled. "I wasn't paying attention to where I was going."
The boy nodded and accepted my hand without a word. He nodded again, and I could see in his eyes that he was grateful.
"You're Kaleb Spencer, right?" I asked, noticing he didn't let go of my hand even though I let my hand slack. He nodded, blinking as he did so. I smiled in compassion. Kaleb hadn't spoken since last year; just out of the blue, too. Even though he became a mute he still remained one of the most popular males at school.
"You probably don't know me, but I'm Jessica Edley. We go to the same school." I finally pulled my hand away and stuck it into the pocket of my jean pants. Kaleb shook his head, making his black hair casually swish about his head. He half-smiled down at me and slightly shook his head again.
"So, you do know me then?" I asked hopefully. He nodded once and half-bowed.
"That's good to know." I lowered my eyes, remembering just why and how people knew me. I was "that one fat chick" that everyone made fun of. He patted my shoulder reassuringly, and I raised my eyebrows back up at him. He squeezed my shoulder before winking at me and walking off. I stared after him, a small wistful smile on my face. He definitely was one of the kinder people I've run into.
"Flirting with Kaleb, huh, Jess?" Tabitha came up out of nowhere, grinning excitedly. I blushed profusely and stuttered.
"N-no! Heh, I ran into him and sorta knocked him to the floor."
"Oh." Tabitha laughed. "Whatcha doing out here so early in the morning?"
"What about you?" I countered.
"I always go jogging in the mornings." Tabitha sniffed airily, as though everyone jogged... always. I rolled my eyes when she wasn't looking. "Oh, is that Ralph? Oh, Ralphie!"
I gazed down the street to see Tabitha's friend Ralph, a happy-go-lucky popular boy. He grinned boyishly and waved, walking a bit faster. I hung back, not wanting to draw unnecessary attention to myself; he was one of the leading assailants in the campaign against me.
"Tabby, baby! How ya doin'?" Ralph nonchalantly slung his arm around Tabitha's shoulders and kissed her on her hairline by her temple. He glanced fleetingly in my general direction and I cowered against my better judgment. "Hey, Fatty."
"Hi." I replied, trying to pretend like it didn't hurt to hear that word. I noticed suddenly that Kaleb was back and another one of Ralph's friends, Skylar, had tagged along. I suddenly felt sick to my stomach; please, no more taunting.
"Look, it's the Chubbs! Hey, Chubbs!" Skylar laughed, punching me on the shoulder playfully. I smiled half-heartedly and made some noncommittal noise. Kaleb frowned at Skylar.
"You going to the party tonight?" Ralph turned his attention back to Tabitha.
"Of course I am. End of school bash... I wouldn't miss it."
"You comin', Chubbs?" Skylar asked me. What was his problem? Why won't he leave me to crawl into the shadows?
"Of course she is!" Tabitha interjected before I could even open up my mouth. Why do they do this to me? I'll only be the laughingstock. Wait... that's probably why they want me to come....
"Awesome! We're gonna have a live deejay, alcohol, and... food!" Skylar punched my arm again, only harder this time. I nodded with a fake smile on my face. Kaleb nudged Skylar with his elbow. Skylar looked startled then shrugged. "I was just trying to convince her to come. It'll be awesome."
I looked around, hoping, praying to a guardian angel to help me get out of this predicament.
Fate was cruel.
"So, Chubbs," Skylar started before Ralph cleared his throat. All fell silent and all eyes turned on him.
"We gotta go, Tabby, but see ya tonight, yeah?" Ralphie hugged Tabitha and waltzed off, not waiting for an answer.
"Bye!" Tabitha waved with enthusiasm. Kaleb followed silently, like he always did, and Skylar waved like a hyperactive moron.
"That was nice of them to invite you." Tabitha declared, turning back to me when the boys could no longer be seen. "You should have at least said thank you or something."
"I didn't know there was a party." I offered. I really hadn't. Even if I'd known, I still wouldn't have normally been invited. Maybe the mime they scheduled to show up cancelled and I was to be the entertainment. I swallowed the lump in my throat.
"Well, that's beside the point. You should be grateful." Tabitha clucked her tongue and suddenly decided to continue her morning jog. "See ya at the party!"
"Where is it?" I asked, making it seem like I was actually going to go.
"At Skylar's!" And Tabitha was out of sight. I sighed in relief; at least she'd be out of my hair for the rest of the day. Her snide looks were starting to annoy me already.
The rest of the day passed in gloomy annoyance and I ended up eating away quite a few of my sorrows. I avoided my parents as much as possible, and they seemed to have the same agenda; partly because they both left to work, but before they did I stayed out of their way.
About half past eight I was lounging on the couch, channel-surfing when my doorbell rang. I hesitated but decided I might as well answer it. I opened the door and stood there for at least a minute in shock. Finally, I shook my head and snapped out of my dazed state.
"K-Kaleb?" I asked stupidly.
"And Skylar." Skylar pointed out as he appeared out of nowhere. I nearly jumped out of my skin.
"Aren't you supposed to be manning your party?" I asked skeptically.
"We came to pick you up, Chubbs. What would a party be without you?" Skylar winked. I groaned inwardly; I'm sure they were fun... that's why they happened all the time without me.
"Go change." Skylar commanded, leaning against my doorjamb.
"No." I said flatly.
"Fine, you can come in that." Skylar grabbed my arm and dragged me to his car. He was one of the strongest boys I'd ever met, which was probably why he was sent to retrieve me. "Lock up the house, Kaleb!"
"N-no! Hey! Don't! Leave me alone!" I struggled until he dumped me face-first into the backseat of his convertible Ferrari. By the time I was coherent and sitting up straight, he was already revving the engine and Kaleb had hopped into the passenger seat without opening the door.
"Operation: Kidnap Chubbs is complete!" Skylar cried victoriously as he floored it down the street.
"You know, residential areas are usually, at the most, thirty-five miles an hour!" I held onto the side of the car for my life.
"Who cares? There aren't any cops here anyway, Chubbs." Skylar made it to his house in record time. Music boomed from the lit-up house, and I suddenly felt very self-conscious about my clothing. I decided that I really shouldn't worry about it because I was going to be made fun of anyway. Kaleb stepped out and moved his seat forward for me to get out properly instead of how I entered the vehicle. I smiled at him, muttered thanks, but still hung back. I didn't want to go in.
"Oh, come on, Chubbs! Let's go!" Skylar dragged me, once again, to his house and made a nice wonderful announcement that, "Chubbs had arrived and now the party could officially start!"
I heard lots of snickering and whispers among the cheers. My first thought was to lean against the entryway wall and not move for a few minutes before making my escape. Skylar, it seemed, had something else in mind. He brought me into the center of the party where Ralphie, Tabitha, and many other of my richly popular schoolmates were chatting away.
"Here," one of them handed me a paper cup, "have something to drink."
"I don't drink." I replied automatically.
"Oh come off it, it's just carbonated water." Tabitha snorted, as though I should have known. I accepted it hesitantly and everyone watched me. I pretended to take a sip; could they be any more obvious? I mean, when you watch someone like that, it's because you're up to no good.
"Drink it." Skylar tilted my cup until some of its contents splashed into my mouth. I sputtered but ended up swallowing; it really was carbonated water.
"See? Trust us." Somebody else said. I laughed and sipped some more to show them I was a good sport.
"Anyway, like I was saying..." Ralphie turned the attention of the crowd back on him, and I backed away slightly. I didn't like Ralph's demeanor when he was sober, and now that he'd kicked back a few alcoholic beverages, I liked him even less. He always had a way of making me feel incredibly inferior without even looking at me. Now that I think about it, maybe it's how he's always never looking at me that rubs me the wrong way. It's like I'm not even good enough to be seen.
"Oh, no way!" Tabitha squealed out. I could tell she was tipsy by the glaze that flashed over her eyes ever now and again. I backed up just a bit further, hoping to make it toward the door. Hands on my back suddenly shoved me forward and I fell to the ground, spilling the contents of my cup all over Ralphie's shirt. He stopped talking instantly and a hushed silence fell over the little group. The music blared around us and other people that hadn't witnessed my folly were continuing to talk and make a ruckus. I swallowed hard and stood up very slowly.
"I'm so sorry, Ralph!" I exclaimed instantly, a blush pouring over my pale cheeks. "I didn't mean to. Somebody pushed-"
I looked up to find Ralph looking at me, directly in my eyes. I think that was the first time he'd ever looked at me in his entire life. There was a disgusted sneer on his lips and it sunk in that he was calling me disgusting.
"I'm sorry." I offered meekly once more. I wrung my hands in front of me like a scared little rabbit. Except rabbits didn't have hands; they had paws... but that was beside the point. I couldn't let my mind wander.
"Tabby, get your fat friend out of here. She disgusts me." Ralph sneered, keeping his icy, steady gaze on me. I could feel the floor sinking away. I started wondering why I wasn't melting under that intensely frightful look of his.
"She isn't my friend." Tabitha announced coolly. My eyes snapped to her instantly. What? Can she just drop me like a hat?
"Why do you hang around her then?" A blonde girl piped up.
"She follows me." Tabitha shot me a nasty look and turned her head away. I rushed to the door, feeling quite nauseated and flushed.
I sat out on the front porch of Skylar's house and let the tears flow. The moment Tabitha completely denied being my friend was the straw that broke the camel's back. I could still hear them laughing, their voices drifting through the closed door and half open windows. I stood up, angrily wiping away the droplets on my cheek. Who cares anyway? What did it matter what they thought?
But it does matter.
I glared at the front yard, as if doing so would make everything all better. I stomped off the porch and started walking home. I cried, despite my reluctance, all the way home. Just like that little piggy. That's what I was: a little piggy.
:| I'm going to try and update about once a week... if I don't... I'm sorry! Anyway, I hope you like it! Please review!
Chapter One: Reality Hurts
By: Queen Beryl
"As you can not do what you wish, you should wish what you can do." -Terence (Publius Terentius Afer)