Authors: Kelly Martin
Big is Beautiful
by Kelly Martin
Published by Astraea Press
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
BIG IS BEAUTIFUL
Copyright © 2013 KELLY MARTIN
Cover Art Designed by AM DESIGNS STUDIOS
To all the girls out there who don’t feel like you fit in.
You are BEAUTIFUL!
To God for making us all special and unique.
And to my husband for loving me just the way I am.
The seven worst words ever spoken came out of my mother's mouth during breakfast. "I signed you up for math tutoring."
I coughed, nearly choked on my biscuit, and tossed the remaining part on my plate. It took a second for words to form between my full lips, and when they did, it was a mumbly, "I don't need math tutoring."
My mom glared.
I forced the remaining biscuit down and tried this again. "I don't. My grades aren't that bad."
"Sure." She took a sip of her coffee. "If it's opposite day."
It was my turn to glare. My mom, ever the comedian. "Why now? It's February. Do you know how late it is to have tutoring? I'll probably fail anyway."
My mom's brow rose like the sun over her mug. "Thought your grades weren't
Apparently, she woke up on the sarcastic side of the bed this morning.
I sputtered and thought really hard on a comeback. Unfortunately, I didn't inherit my mom's wit, nor did my adoptive father's rub off on me. Knocked down but not defeated, I leaned back in my chair and crossed my arms like the good defiant teen I wasn't. "I'm not going."
"Yes. You are." No question. No break in her voice.
"No. I'm not."
"Yes. You are."
"No…" This was going nowhere. "Mom," I huffed. "When will I ever need geometry?"
She sat back in her chair, matching me with her arms crossed. Only she had a smirk on her face. Mom's smirk never meant good things were coming to the smirk-ee. "You need it right now. To pass this class so you won't be a sophomore forever."
"I like being a sophomore." I pouted then squinted my eyes at my mom to see if it worked.
"I don't. I'd like you to, you know, graduate."
I shrugged and let out a short sigh. "Graduation is overrated."
"Brittany." Mom's tone had changed into the voice she used when enough was enough. If that didn't work, I expected the overly raised brow followed by the tilted head… then the lethal stare.
"I guess I might want to graduate someday."
She smiled and her jaw relaxed. "Good to hear."
I wasn't finished. "But geometry? Mama, it's a hard class. I get shapes. Remember in preschool, I got the Star Student Sticker for knowing all eight of my shapes before anyone else?"
My mom's body twitched, but an eep of a snicker came out anyway. "That was eleven years ago, Britt. One has to move on. Grow. Learn new things."
"Yeah, right angles. Acute… obtuse…" I knew all about obtuse angles and obese as my doctor liked to tell me. Who cared if I weighed thirty pounds more than
? Who invented normal? A normal person?
"You're stalling." Mom got up and put her plate in the sink. With her back to me, I saw the tension in her shoulders as she slumped against the counter. Water ran from the old (antique was too kind of a word) faucet into the cream-colored basin. The kitchen oozed 'country chic' without the chic part. Faded yellow walls held up off-white wooden cabinets with black paint-peeling handles.
We weren't exactly poor but had no money to put into renovations since my mom had gotten laid off, and no time since Dan worked hundreds of miles away in Panama City, Florida, three out of four weeks of the month. He wouldn't be back for two.
"Did you hear me?"
She sighed and turned off the water. With her back still to me, she picked up a dish and started washing it. I heard the familiar slush of the water and clang of the plates as she washed each one and placed it in the black drainer to the right. The dishwasher died six months ago, right around the time Mom got laid-off. "You start tutoring today. After school."
A syllable rushed out of me before I could stop it. It started with an
and would have started her name in a very whiny voice.
"Enough, Brittany." She put a plate in the drainer harder than I figured she meant, so I clamped my mouth shut. "It's all set up. Instead of riding the bus at three, go back to Ms. Bennett's classroom. She has a tutor all picked out for you."
I stood up, defeated, scraped my newly unwanted food into the trashcan and put it in my mom's soapy hand. "Then what?"
"Then, I pick you up at four. In between, you learn something."
I took a deep breath and leaned my back against the counter next to her. When I felt the cold water running from the drainer on the small of my back, I rose up and bit my tongue before I said a word my mom definitely wouldn't approve of.
She laughed, not even trying to hide this one, and put a glass in the damp, black kitchen aide. "It's wet."
"Duly noted." I prayed my jeans weren't soaked. Kids at school made fun of me enough without adding 'peeing in my pants' or in this case 'crapping them' to the list of
make fun of and exploit.
My mom smiled a genuine smile and wiped her hands on a kitchen towel with a rooster on it. "I know you don't want to do this, but it'll help. You'll see. And who knows, maybe you'll get some hot guy to tutor you." She bumped the side of her hip on mine, nearly knocking me into the trash can.
"Yeah, if only."
If only it could get any worse.
Hot guys, as my mom call them, and I didn't mesh. Normally, they only wanted me for my brain, which usually worked except for geometry- when my brain shut down and left the country. Plus, what would I ever say to one?
"Hey, good lookin'. Wanna come over and nibble
my double chin?"
Mom winked and looked past me to the clock on the little yellow wall separating the kitchen from the mud room, a.k.a. the laundry room, a.k.a. the shoe room, a.k.a. the place to hang our coats. "Seven fourteen. Bus'll be here in a few minutes. Better not miss it."
"Nope. Not like I can come home on it this evening." One more attempt to get out of it. Just one… more… try.
"I'll be outside school at four."
An extra hour of school. Every girl's dream. "Fine. I'll go to tutoring, but don't expect me to be happy about it."
"I'd never dream of it." She threw her arm around my shoulders and squeezed me tightly. At five-two, I came up to her chin. She only had one.
I hugged her waist. She kissed my forehead then let me go. I felt my shoulders slump as I went back to my chair at the scuffed up, round four-seater table. A little more warning about tutoring would have been appreciated. Maybe I would have gone to bed earlier… or called in a favor from God.
"See ya later." I kissed the back of Mom's head.
"I'll be there with bells on."
"Yay." I deadpanned as I stopped in the mudroom for my new white coat, the one my mom saved up months for. It originally was supposed to be a Christmas present, but she got behind on payments. She'd given it to me last night, probably to suck up for today. Did she think I could be bought?
Apparently, I could be. Throwing the coat on, I tossed my backpack over my shoulder and pushed the screen door open. The cool February air hit my face hard, and I saw the bus coming around the curve to my house.
The cold, the bus, school, tutoring… it promised to be such a wonderful day. At least I had on my new warm coat.
Easton High School sat on one of the few semi-flat pieces of land in Carter County. Known for its rolling hills, Carter County sat about thirty minutes from the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Its claim to fame included a 2A football championship this year and a country singer who made it big on a TV reality show in the early 2000s. Easton was the county seat as well as the biggest town, which only meant it had three red lights instead of two. One of those lights hung in front of Easton High, right across from the grocery store.
My bus followed all the rest behind the school on a narrow access road between the building and the football field. Easton High looked like a typical southern high school: brick, two stories, lockers in every hallway, and idiots around every corner. Though
could be in any region of the U.S., southern ones tended to either have more sass in their actions or more venom in their fake sincerity. Unfortunately for me, my biggest tormentor had both.
The second Monday in February seemed like all the others I had survived, save the extra hour I'd have to stay in this horrible place. My usual plan of attack consisted of forcing my head up, my shoulders back, and walking through the halls like I belonged there as much as anyone else did. Except I didn't belong.
Most days I wanted to crawl into a hole, a large, plus-sized hole. Either that or transfer to some sort of fat farm until I got rail thin like Kendra Moses — the girl with no problems, who was as beautiful on the outside as she was mean on the inside.
Okay, so maybe she had
The bus dropped me off at the same time it always did: 7:50. Same morning time, much later and much more embarrassing afternoon time. All because my mom signed me up for tutoring. Technically, I supposed, since I was the one who couldn't do geometry, it was my fault.
As if I didn't have enough going against me, now people… well, people who cared… would know I stunk at math. Ugh.
After I stepped off of the bus, I slung my backpack over my shoulder. Feeling the cold morning chill pelting me, I zipped my new coat higher around my neck and tried to cover every bit of exposed skin I could. I must have slowed or shifted or done something to tick off the guy behind me because he decided to take it upon himself to yell loudly and with much annoyance, "Move it, Big. I know you have a lot of blubber to carry around. Give the rest of us a break, would ya?"
And there it was. The first use of my nickname today. It wouldn't be the last. My name at school was Big like Jillian's name was Jillian and Kendra's name was Kendra… well,
people called Kendra other names besides Kendra, but never in front of her face, and never with a crowd around.
Of course, like always, snickers followed. You'd think my peers would get tired of it by now. It had been the same thing, the same taunting by the same jerks since I was in eighth grade and got a little bit on the chunky side. I'd never be a supermodel, but I wished they would give me a break! My entire life didn't revolve around eating. I didn't eat fast food every night and sit around like a log. Grandma Duke on my mom's side had been big boned, and I supposed I inherited the dreaded gene from her. Having never seen my biological father nor his side of the family, I had no idea if I'd been doubly cursed.
Man, I sounded like a whiner.
"Big!" Caleb, the guy behind me, tapped me hard on the shoulder like I was deaf. Guess he thought I was too fat to hear. Guess I'd start walking slower… guess it was on purpose. Oh, to have the control.
"Move it! I have a class to get to." He pushed me out of the way so hard I slammed against the brick wall. It was enough force to scuff the top of my right hand. Little droplets of blood beaded out of the scrapes.
"Can you even fit through the door?" He laughed, not taking a second look back at the girl leaning against the building in shock. I'd been made fun of before, laughed at, shunned, but I'd never been pushed. Never had physical evidence.
A steady stream of my fellow students walked by me, some giggling and some just ignoring me. Others looked sad for me, which strangely was worse. I felt a hand on my shoulder, which surprised me. My head shot up, and when I saw who it was, my mouth went instantly dry.
I couldn't make my lips work. Matt Taylor, senior football star (
was too little of a word. Matt was a legend at Easton, leading the team to the first ever 2A championship in December) stared down at me. His pale blue eyes were soft. "Are you hurt?"
I still hadn't spoken, just stared at him like I'd never seen a guy before in my life. I'd seen them before, had seen Matt before, but I'd never talked to him. Finally, blood ran back into my brain and I shook my head, forcing myself to stop acting like a stupid groupie. "Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry to block your way."