One minute slim, attractive Katie has her eye on the good looking new boy, Rick. The next, her friends have dumped her and – even worse – they’re calling her ‘weighty Katie’ behind her back because of her sudden, extreme weight gain.
Katie’s dad thinks sarcasm will encourage his princess to ‘lose the bulge’, while Mr Balls, the tactless P.E. teacher prescribes high doses of ridicule and exercise to change her.
But the truth is that only one person can really change Katie’s life…
A sharp, witty story that will make you cringe, laugh out loud and think twice about how you treat the ‘big’ issues.
Keep smiling, Katie the overweight twelve year old encouraged herself as she listened to the sniggers of the other children. Clenching her fists, she kept her eyes firmly on the approaching double doors at the end of what seemed like a never-ending corridor. Katie pictured her mum as she recalled her familiar advice of, ‘laugh with them, they’ll soon get bored and move on to someone else.’ Easier said than done, she thought, just moments before the next onslaught came.
“Oi, Weighty!” shouted Mary, the dark haired girl from Katie’s tutor group. “Mrs Bing didn’t show up for my Maths lesson today, you sure you didn’t get hungry and eat her?”
Katie winced at the raucous howls of laughter coming from the packed corridor of children. Their snide looks and cruel cackles seemed to ricochet off each wall, hitting her again and again. With glaring looks, they watched as she lumbered her way along the blue painted corridor. The faster she went the more she seemed to sway from side to side.
Savouring the moment, they waited to see how the fat girl would react.
Katie felt as though she were a lone gazelle, featured in a nature programme (although a hippo would have been more appropriate, Katie wasn’t sure if a pack of hyenas would even attempt to attack a hippo). Sticking with the image of a gazelle, Katie imagined herself wounded and lame, desperate to escape the pack of merciless, relentless, bullying hyenas that were hunting her down. All the while, painfully aware the whole incident was being observed by onlookers; other students who remained to the side staring in silence, as though a camera crew filming the whole gory episode. Together they watched as the bullies ganged up to take down the weakest, Katie, and seemingly immune to any fear she might be feeling, the students remained out of harms way, allowing ‘nature’ to take it’s natural course.
Fear constricted Katie’s throat making it difficult for her to breathe. The lack of oxygen to her brain created a sensation of dizziness.
At last Katie felt the cool breeze coming from the double doors, which stood a few metres before her. Katie knew she was only moments away from the stuffy hold of the corridor and into the relative safety of the playing field where she could find a quiet corner to sit in.
Eyes fixed ahead, she read the familiar graffiti scrawled on the doors.
“Hey, Weighty,” shouted another child. “Why don’t you roll down the corridor? Give your legs a break.”
The surrounding children laughed aloud, some of them retrieving gear from their lockers.
Katie’s vision blurred through the tears pooling in the rim of her lower eyelids. Still the children sniggered.
All that is except Brenda, another girl from Katie’s tutor group who looked on pitifully at the whole sorry incident.
Brenda, who only six months earlier had been known as Brenda Rear-Ender, due to her massive bottom, had now been renamed Slender Brenda by her fellow students. Admired by all for her achievement and commitment to lose weight, Brenda looked a million dollars thanks to a wonder diet she’d been on.
To make matters worse for Katie, only six months before, she had been the exact weight Slender Brenda was now.
How had things changed so much?
How had Katie gone from being the bully to the bullied in just six months?
Six months earlier
Sally caught up with her best friend by their lockers. “Hey, Katie what are you going to wear to Julie’s birthday disco on Saturday?”
Katie grinned at Sally, secure in the knowledge that she was going to be the prettiest girl there by a mile and with no shame of bragging she said, “My skinny jeans and a really cute, dark pink top that has a heart shaped diamond on the front of it.” Still grinning, Katie drew the shape of a heart onto her chest with her index finger, before confidently adding, “I won’t lie to you, it looks great on me.”
“Nice,” Sally replied as she waited in vain for Katie to take an interest in what she was going to wear. Pride often restricted Katie from showing an interest in anyone other than herself. It was only when a person’s failings served to highlight her good looks and achievements, that Katie would pay them any attention. An opportunity to do just this came along in the form of Brenda.
“Oh for goodness sake. Look at Brenda Rear-Ender. What a state!”
Wearing an over exaggerated look of disgust and quite unashamedly looking Brenda up and down, Katie tutted before shouting, “Here, Sally, what’s the difference between Brenda Rear-Ender and a whale?” Sally smirked at Katie and then looking in the direction of the already self-conscious Brenda, she replied in a loud enough voice for everyone to hear,
“I don’t know, Katie; what is the difference between Brenda Rear-Ender and a whale?”
Pausing for a moment to make sure that she had the attention of those around her, Katie bellowed: “Brenda Rear-Ender doesn’t have a blow hole.”
Both girls burst out laughing, satisfied that the other children within earshot had also found their cruel joke very funny.
Brenda opened up her locker, drew in a deep breath and shut her eyes momentarily, before bending over to reach inside for her textbook.
“Rear-Ender,” shouted Sally. “Don’t bend over too much or you’ll block out all the sun.” Brenda pictured everyone’s gaze fixed on her bottom as she listened to the giggles and taunts coming from behind her. Brenda hated the way Katie treated her, just because she was fat. What have I ever done to deserve being treated like this by that horrid, stuck up old cow? She thought to herself. Ever since she first laid eyes on me, I’ve had to put up with her relentless hate campaign against me and for what? Just because I’m not gorgeous and slim like she is, it doesn’t give her the right to be so unkind and hurtful.
The two best friends, Katie and Sally, watched as Brenda hurried to find her science book. Their attention however was taken off her when they noticed Dan and the new boy Rick approaching.
Awestruck, Katie said, “Oh my goodness, look who it is!”
Both girls cooed as the two approaching boys headed their way and leaning into Sally, Katie spoke in a low, quiet voice as she said, “They are so fit, aren’t they?” Sally nodded in agreement, her gaze fixed firmly ahead.
“Hey,” said one of the boys. “What you up to?”
“Nothing,” said Sally, followed immediately by an uncontrollable giggling that can so often overcome a girl when a good-looking boy pays them any attention.
“Are you going to Julie’s disco on Saturday?” Katie asked Rick, finding it almost impossible to keep eye contact with him without blushing.
Rick flashed his straight, white teeth in a friendly smile as he said, “I got an invite. Are you going?”
Katie could feel the warmth in her cheeks winging its way towards her heart, the heart that she would so willingly give to Rick the moment he was sure to ask for it. She tried to appear casual as she said, “I was thinking about it.”
Sally was surprised and slightly confused by Katie’s dismissive answer and she said, “But you just told me what you’re going to wear to Julie’s disco.”
Katie laughed nervously at her friend’s blunder, and nudging Sally, who was clearly unaware that she didn’t want to appear too keen or even desperate, she said in as cool and laid back voice as she could muster, “I said that I might go.”
Rick smiled, holding eye contact with her for more than a moment. He couldn’t help but notice how attractive she was. Her long, dark hair highlighted her piercing blue eyes. As he was studying her face, so she was his.
Cor, you’re gorgeous, she thought to herself. We would look so good together at the disco; me the prettiest girl and you the best looking boy. Katie’s heart jumped at the thought of it.
Suddenly, an opportunity popped up for Katie to show Rick that she wasn’t just pretty, she was also funny and popular. Katie had caught sight of Brenda over Rick’s shoulder and pointing her out to Rick and Dan she laughed vindictively as she said, “For goodness sake, Rear-Ender… tuck your shirt in. I can see your flab from here.”
Rick and Dan looked as the flustered girl frantically tucked her white school shirt into the waistband of her pleated, blue skirt. Dan continued staring at Brenda whilst Rick turned back towards Katie.
Beaming, she looked into his eyes. I think I’ve shown him that I’m not just a pretty face, I’m funny as well, she thought, smugly.
As Rick held her gaze he was thinking, What a shame that such an attractive girl can have such an unattractive heart. After all, he thought, looks only last so long, whereas the heart lasts forever.
Seeing her through different eyes, Rick’s demeanour changed from friendly to frosty.
“You know what?” He said. “I don’t think I will be going to Julie’s disco. I’ve just remembered there’s something I’ve got to do on Saturday.”
Rick turned around, slapping his hand down onto Dan’s shoulder to get his attention and without as much as a goodbye or a ‘See ya,’ the two boys walked off.
“Shame,” Sally said, trying ever so hard not to grin. “I thought you had him for a moment then.”
Katie smirked back at her friend as she said,
“I’m not finished yet, Sally.”
The sound of the lunch bell signalled two things to Brenda, HUNGER and DREAD. Puffing and panting she eventually reached the dinner-hall where she joined the long queue of waiting children.
The smell of chicken nuggets and pizza wafted under their nostrils.
As the line moved forwards, Brenda was accidentally pushed by the child behind her, shoving her onto the child in front.
The boy in front manoeuvred himself around to face her as he snapped, “Steady, Rear-Ender.” He then looked Brenda up and down, as though she were worthless, adding, “Blimey, I can hardly move because you’re taking up so much room.”
Having intimidated her, he then went on to humiliate her. “Mind you, at least I’m in front of you,” he said smirking, “because if I was behind you there might not be anything left for me to eat.”
Brenda bit her top lip as she felt everyone’s eyes upon her and jammed in between the horrible boy in front and the queue of children behind her, Brenda heard the quiver in her own voice as she said, “Sorry.”
“I should think so,” snapped the boy who seemed to be enjoying every moment of Brenda’s suffering. “You nearly squashed me then, Fatso. Be careful.”
Brenda felt the heat in her cheeks as her whole face turned red with embarrassment, knowing that the harsh, loud-mouthed boy had made sure everyone else could hear his insults.
Shame and self-loathing burnt like an acid in the pit of her stomach and desperate to get the attention away from herself, Brenda repeated her apology, promising to be more careful in future.
Before reaching the serving hatch, Brenda picked up her cutlery along with a slightly chipped, cream coloured plate. As she looked down at the selection of food in front of her, she became painfully aware that the children in the queue behind her were watching her every move.
Brenda weighed up her options, as she thought to herself, If I go for the salad, they’re going to laugh at me, and if I go for my favourite meal, everyone’s going to think I’m a pig. Stuck between these two judgements, Brenda decided that she might as well enjoy her lunch, so holding out her plate towards the dinner lady, she asked for chicken nuggets and chips.
“There you go, Luv,” said the well-meaning dinner lady as she gave Brenda an extra big portion.
“No wonder she’s the size she is,” said someone from within the queue.
The dinner lady smiled pitifully at the overweight girl as she thought to herself, Poor kid, she’s such an easy target.
“Ignore them, Luv,” she said, “you can’t help being big-boned.”
Brenda forced a smile and then yelped within as she heard a child behind her saying, “Big boned, more like big all over.”
The dinner lady’s misjudged act of kindness was immediately turned into a vicious joke for the whole dinner queue to enjoy, as in ‘Chinese Whisper’ style, each child turned to the one behind, repeating all that had gone on at the front of the queue.
Conscious that everyone was eyeing up her plate, Brenda walked over towards the empty table she’d spotted earlier. She could hear their judgemental whispers as she passed by.
“No wonder she’s so fat,” she heard one child say to another. “There’s enough food on her plate to feed an army.”
“I know,” said another. “You’d think the dinner ladies would help her and give her a smaller portion or something, wouldn’t you?”
Relieved to be sat down, Brenda was grateful that the table created some sort of barrier between her and everyone else in the hall. Head down, deliberately avoiding eye contact with anyone, she slowly started to eat.
Halfway through her meal, she was interrupted by an unfamiliar voice.
“Can I sit with you?”
As she looked up, Brenda was taken by surprise to see the new boy Rick standing at her table. Eyes locked onto his, Brenda suddenly became very aware that she was chewing on a chicken nugget.
Rick asked again, “Can I sit with you?”
Shocked by his request, Brenda nearly gagged on a chicken nugget as she said, “You’re the new boy aren’t you?”
“Yep,” he said and fed up with waiting for an answer, he pulled out a chair to sit down opposite Brenda.
A blanket of silence smothered the earlier vibrant chatting of the other children around her.
Brenda imagined a great big neon sign above her head, which read: ‘For goodness sake, someone rescue the good-looking new boy, he’s accidentally sat down opposite Rear-Ender!’
Nervously she asked him, “Why do you want to sit here? There’s loads of room on the other tables.”
Rick smiled at her as he replied, “Why not?”
Brenda began to feel cross that Rick was drawing yet more unwanted attention onto her.
Oblivious to her growing anxiety, Rick took a slurp of his drink before asking, “Were you saving it for one of your friends?”
“Oh, so that’s it, is it? You want to poke fun at me for not having any friends.”
Rick felt desperately sorry for her as he said, “What none at all?”
His gentle manor and the tone of his voice, encouraged Brenda to stop feeling threatened.
“Nope, not one,” she said frankly. “I’m about as popular as a weeping cold-sore on prom night.”
Before she knew what she was doing, Brenda winked at Rick in jest. No sooner had she done so, her expression froze at the realisation that she had let down her guard.
Nobody at school knew that she had a great sense of humour, because nobody had bothered to find out. She had become accustomed to not using it.
Rick playfully went along with her self-berating joke and gasping he covered his mouth with his right hand declaring, “I can’t believe you just compared yourself to a weeping cold-sore.”
As he did so, Brenda noticed he was wearing a little red and gold lapel pin badge with the letters, ‘W.S’ on it.
Both Brenda and Rick were oblivious to the fact that their every move was being monitored, even analysed from across the room by Katie and Sally.
As the two girls sat together at their table, dumb founded, Sally said, “What do you think they’re talking about?”
“How should I know?” snapped Katie, furious that ‘her’ Rick would even consider sitting with Brenda Rear-Ender; especially as she’d saved a place for him right next to her. “I’m going over there,” she said, gathering up her cutlery.
“Do you think that’s a good idea?” Sally asked her.
“Why not?” she spat, thrusting herself out of her chair. “Wish me luck,” she said, kicking the chair back under the table with her right foot.
Brenda spotted Katie heading towards them. She could tell from the look on her face that she was a girl on a mission.
Rick had his back towards Katie and was therefore oblivious to her looming presence.
“Quickly,” said Brenda. “You’d better leave. Katie’s coming over and I don’t want any more trouble.”
Rick looked over his shoulder at the determined young girl fast approaching their table. He grinned and then looked back towards Brenda, who had the look of a helpless, cornered rabbit, waiting for its predator to strike.
Moments before Katie reached them, Rick leant in towards Brenda and whispering he said, “Don’t ask me why, Brenda, just tell me that you’ll meet me outside the science block before registration tomorrow morning. There’s something I want to tell you about.”
“But…” Brenda started to say.
Rick interrupted her and placing his finger over his lips, he beckoned for her to be quiet as he said, “Trust me, Brenda, please. I promise you won’t regret it.”