This really is based on the true story of my life. Peoples' names have been changed for their protection and it has been tweaked in a few places, but for the most part, it is true. I hope you like it.
A/N- I edited the first two chapters a little bit, but not enough to change the plot of the story. However, it might make more sense if you re-read the first two chapters. Sorry!
xoxo Daphne xoxo
Chapter One- Something has to change
Starting out her day the same as every other, Helen stepped out of the shower, dried herself off, and looked despairingly into the mirror. Even though her appearance obviously did not change very much on the day-to-day basis, her stomach seemed to sink lower and lower with every passing day that she glanced at her reflection.
To put it nicely, she was overweight. To put it frankly, she was on the verge of being obese. Standing at 5'8", she already weighed close to three hundred pounds. Every stretch mark and every fat roll was a reminder of her failure, of her inability to rid herself of the marking that proclaimed her a disappointment to the world.
But, despite its harmful effects upon her psyche, Helen could not help but stare at the fat roll under her chin, the flab that hung limply from her arms, and the bulge that was supposed to be her stomach. As she continued to stare in disgust, hatred, and partly in fear, she felt a headache coming on from the tension she created by refusing to allow herself to cry.
She knew she was an utter failure. She knew that it was all her fault, because she lacked the willpower to stop eating. She also knew that she was caught in a deadly cycle that would consume her if she didn't find a way to escape. But, the more she thought about being trapped, the more depressed she became, the more she ate, the more weight she gained, the more she felt trapped, and so on.
She forced herself to tear her gaze away from the accusatory mirror and focus on getting dressed. She put on deodorant and slipped on her undergarments and clothes. She glanced at the mirror one last time, hoping against hope that her reflection would look better if it was hidden behind layers of clothes, but all she saw was a lump that was trying to disguise itself—and failing miserably.
She sighed quietly and went down the short hallway that led to her mother's room. She opened the quietly creaking door and poked her head in.
"Mom?" Her mom's eyelashes fluttered, but she did not even move. "Hey, mom," she said, somewhat louder, causing her mom to stir slightly. "Mom!" she yelled, making her mom sit up in bed.
"What?" her mom asked groggily, rubbing her eyes blearily.
"It's time for me to go to school. I'll be ready in just a few minutes."
"Ugh. Okay," her mom said, her voice coated in tiredness.
Helen walked out of her mom's room and went up to her room to go put her sneakers on. Then, she leaned forward in front of the mirror that sprung from her dresser and made sure her hair looked passable.
By the time she was completely ready, her mom was dressed and ready to drive her to school. They both climbed into their white minivan that was on its last leg and drove off to Helen's high school.
When Joyce, Helen's mom, pulled the van up in front of the school, Helen got her backpack and her purse and got out of the van. Right as she was about to close the door, her mom said loudly, "Bye, honey! Have a good day at school!" just as she did every school day.
And, just as she did every school day, Helen quietly responded with, "Bye, Mom. Love you."
"Love you, too."
And with that, Joyce pulled the dusty van away from the curb and headed home, probably to go fill out more job applications.
Helen walked towards the school, keeping her eyes on the ground. She was a few feet from the concrete steps that lead into her school when she heard a girl's voice say, "Hey, Helen!"
She glanced up. "Hey, Patti! What's up?"
Patti shrugged. "Not much, you?"
"Yeah, not much here, either." Helen flashed a quick smile at Patti before opening one of the red doors and walking inside.
Helen and Patti had once been really good friends. They had gone to the same church for years, had often passed notes to each other during eighth grade, and had even been in the same Girl Scouts Troup. But, once Helen stopped going to church and had become more withdrawn, they stopped being quite so close. They still said hello to each other and chatted briefly once in awhile, but for the most part, they could only call themselves acquaintances now.
"Hey, Helen!" she heard another voice call out, as she tried to maneuver herself through the throng of students standing near the high school's entrance. She quickly made her way over to the corner that her group hung out in and smiled at her friends. She was friends with all of them, but she really never hung out with most of them after school hours. She hung out with Mandy pretty often and Natasha occasionally... but, for the most part she was only friends with them at school.
"Hey, Mandy! How's it going?" she greeted her best friend, the one who had called out to her in the first place.
"Eh, it's school," was Mandy's only response.
Helen greeted the rest of her friends with, "Hey, guys. How's it going?"
A chorus of 'fine's and 'not much here's rang out.
"So..." Helen's voice trailed off as she saw a girl walk by. She was short with long, straight black hair tucked behind her ears. Her face was heart-shaped with light-colored skin and gorgeous dark eyes that peered out. She was really thin and wore a black tank-top and tight jeans that show-cased her petite form.
Helen's heart all but stopped beating. She didn't know her name but she had seen this girl around the school before. Even though she knew she'd never have a chance with someone that beautiful, that girl still had the same affect on Helen every time.
"Um, Helen?" she heard Natasha say.
Helen returned her attention back to her group of friends. "Huh? What?"
"You might want to stop drooling and close your mouth, hun."
Helen blushed as she realized that her mouth was hanging open and closed it so quickly that her teeth clacked together. "Erm, yeah. Thanks."
"No problem. Anytime." Natasha and Mandy smiled at her knowingly. They were her two closest friends out of the group and therefore knew that Helen was somewhat unsure of her sexual orientation. Her other friends suspected it but had never actually heard her say anything out loud.
"What were you going to say, Helen?" Jake asked.
"Um, I..." Helen tried to remember what she had been about to say, but simply drew a blank. "I have no idea," she said with a somewhat bewildered tone.
Mandy and Natasha giggled, making Helen's blush deepen in color.
"Have you even found out her name, yet?" Mandy asked.
"Well, I know her last name is Anthony. I heard the basketball coach yell 'Anthony! Run faster!' at her once when I walked past the gym before school," Helen said, mimicking Coach Welsch's voice perfectly. "As to her first name...I'm not really sure."
"Ya know, you could just ask her," Tina suggested.
"Yeah, why don't you just ask her?" Jake asked in a tone that implied that it was obviously the best solution.
"Erm, well... uh..." Helen stuttered out. Fortunately, the bell rang, signaling that they had five minutes to get to class.
The group of friends exchanged goodbyes and each headed off to their respective locker or, in Helen's case, classroom. She never bothered to bring her book to Modern History. They rarely used it, since Mr. Stapleton preferred to give lectures over the material and have them take notes, rather than they use their textbooks.
On her way down the bustling hallway, Helen glanced up and saw her ex-boyfriend, Larry. She quickly focused her attention back on the marble beneath her feet and made her way to Mr. Stapleton's class, desperately hoping he hadn't noticed her. They're relationship... well, it hadn't ended nicely.
Once she had made it safely to her seat devoid of any major mishaps (she didn't count bumping into Keith and pissing him off as a major mishap), Helen sighed a quiet sigh of contentment and pulled her current book out of her messenger bag. For the few remaining minutes before class began, she immersed herself in The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.
The bell rang once again, announcing the fact that class had officially begun. However, Helen was too busy reading to notice the bell or the announcements from the intercom that followed. She did, however, notice when Mr. Stapleton stood directly before her desk, which was in the front row, and bent over to peer down at her.
She glanced up nervously from her book. School had only been in session for a few weeks, since Christmas vacation had only recently ended, and she still did not know anything about Mr. Stapleton. In fact, this was basically the first time he had paid any attention to her.
"What are you reading?" he asked, his smile causing a few wrinkles to appear around the edges of his mouth.
"I'm, uh, reading The Fountainhead."
Mr. Stapleton's eyebrows rose up slightly. "Really?"
Helen nervously responded with, "Erm, yeah."
"Wow. I'm impressed. That's a college level book. You must be an intellectual, huh?"
Many of the students were now studying Helen with a certain amount of curiosity.
"Uh, not really. I, er, just like to read is all." Helen desperately hoped that the warmth she felt in her cheeks was from the classroom's elevated temperature and not the beginnings of a blush. It wasn't that she minded the praise from her teacher or anything. She just didn't like the fact that he had said it in front of her classmates. She wanted people to not mention her grades or her intelligence in front of her fellow students since they seemed to think she flaunted the fact that she was smart and got good grades.
Mr. Stapleton just smiled and walked back in front of the classroom. He sat on the edge of his desk and began talking about the Women's movement. Helen reluctantly put down her book and tried to pay attention, even though she found history to be somewhat boring.
After he was done giving his lecture, Mr. Stapleton handed out a worksheet for them to start on. Helen started working on hers, but she began to lose interest and soon found herself letting her thoughts wander.
She put her chin on her hand and stared out the window closest to her. It was so pretty outside. She wished she could be anywhere but here. Sighing to herself, she started listing all of the places she would rather be at that particular moment.
'I could be at home, playing on the computer or reading. Or in the mall, browsing through Waldenbooks. Oh, or the movies! I could be watching that new Star Wars movie I want to see… Or, I could be at Aaron's house…'
The last thought had raced through her mind before she had a chance to shut it out, causing a short burst of emotional pain to race through her.
'Not now, Helen.' She shut her eyes and sighed quietly. 'Just not now.'
She opened her eyes and forced herself to work on the worksheet, void of any more thoughts about Aaron... or anything other than the Women's movement, for that matter. Once she was done, she put the worksheet in the folder inside her notebook and picked up The Fountainhead again.
And so she retreated once more into her refuge, the classroom around her dissolving as she became involved in the life of Henry Roark.
She had survived many horrible things in her life this way. Her main coping methods were reading and binge eating, after all. But, even as she continued to learn more about the book's plot, Helen knew deep down that she couldn't live her life this way much longer. She knew she couldn't keep hiding behind layers of fat and stories and keeping people at arm's distance to protect herself.
Something had to change. And soon.