I've always been overweight, ever since I was a little girl. My father, mother, brother and my sister and I, we would always call ourselves The Chunky Monkey family. So it was safe to say that being heavy, ran in the family, it was in our genes. Or so I thought, when my sister decided to go on a diet and join the local gym.
Sure, I’ve had my ups and downs of being overweight, my bouts of depression and being taunted in school by skinny blonde cheerleaders who said that I would never get a boyfriend with my fat ass. Being a teenager and 80 pounds overweight wasn’t exactly a smooth ride but I learned to muddle through middle school and most of high school. I am a senior this year, so after this, I didn’t have to deal with ignorant skinny people who got their jollies off tormenting fat people. Soon I would be in the real world with real people and real problems, some like mine, some worse.
“Annie, are you coming?” My sister Molly asked. Molly and I are both 18 and yes, twins. Thank God, we didn’t look alike, I could only imagine the name calling that came with fat twins. We both have Dad’s crystal blue eyes. Molly inherited Mom’s button nose as I inherited Dad’s long straight nose. We both have dark brown hair. Molly’s is long and wavy and mine, short and pixie.
“Yeah, yeah.” I groaned. I hated winter. Today was our first day back to school from our Christmas vacation. I used to love going back to school after the holidays, to show off my new clothes and jewelry. But this year I didn’t. I wasn’t happy that I was now officially wearing a size 2x shirt and size 18 jeans. Molly wasn’t as big as me. Of course it helps when you’re not vertically challenged like I was, which makes me look even bigger. Molly had at least a good 3 inches on me which helps her conceal some of her fat. But unlike me, who is shy and self-conscious. Molly was the complete opposite. She loved life and everything about it. She even managed to become friends with some of the classmates who used to torment us in middle school. And while Molly was off running to parties and sleep overs, I was home alone in my room either reading or writing.
I climbed into the red Dodge Dakota pick-up that Mom and Dad had bought for my Molly and I. Why they would buy us a truck that I had to use a ladder to get into was beyond me. I grab the handle on the inside roof and struggled to pull my weight into the passenger seat. Molly didn’t seem to have a problem getting in. Having the 3 extra inches in height was a blessing for her.
“UGH!” I grunted as I sat in the black leather seats.
“I’m serious Annie, you really need to start going to the gym with me. There is a new Zumba instructor there and he is HOT!” She exclaimed. I shook my head, rolling my eyes at her as we pulled out of the driveway.
“I’ll think about it.” I said, knowing full well that I would think about it for a total of three seconds.
“Seriously, this Zumba really works. I’ve already lost ten pounds and I feel great.” Molly said excitably. I turned my head to look out the window so that she wouldn’t see me rolling my eyes at her again. Her losing ten pounds was all I’ve heard about for the last two days.
We pulled into the school parking lot, considering that we only live ten minutes away. I groaned in disgust when I saw that the parking lot was already full. I couldn’t wait for school to be over so that I wouldn’t have to see these people’s faces ever again. I was looking forward to summer. I was moving from this small town of Clearfield to Maryland to live with my Aunt Kelly. Molly had enrolled into a local college, to study nursing. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life yet. All I knew was that I wanted to get out of this stinking hell hole.
“Hey Annie! Hey Molly!” My friend Natalee Ramoni hollered as she stood by my locker waiting for me. Natalee has been my friend since the 3rd grade. She was the only girl, besides my sister, that I trusted with my life.
“Hey Nat, did you have a nice Christmas?” I tried to sound cheerful but I was feeling self-conscious about my 2x shirt. I felt like everyone was staring at me, that there was a big glowing tag flashing on the back of my shirt reading XXLARGE. I knew that this was just my imagination but I still felt like everyone was staring at my fatness.
“Oh yeah, it was the best. Looky what I got!” She cheered holding her hand up, waving a shiny white stone that cover her whole finger. I grabbed her hand, snapping it closer to me.
“OH MY GOD! YOU’RE ENGAGED!?” I looked up at Natalee, her face was glowing with pride.
“Yep, Tommy asked me to marry him. Can you believe it?” Tommy Held has been her boyfriend since the eighth grade. He was in tenth when they started dating. And for the last four years, he’s been working at a local lumber company, saving money to buy her a house. I envied Nat. She has everything that I ever dreamed in a man. He was sweet and good to her and he loved everything about her. Even though Natalee wasn’t fat like me, but she wasn’t exactly the skinny type either. And yet, Tommy treated her like she is the most beautiful girl in the world. I could see it in his green eyes when he would look at her that he genuinely loved her as she did for him.
“Ahhhh….when is the date?” Molly squealed when she saw the diamond ring.
“This October, I told Tommy that I WAS NOT wearing a wedding dress in 90 degree weather. I laughed when she said this. Natalee hates summer. She would rather be freezing her ass off than bake in the sun.
The rest of the day went by quickly. Listening to Nat talk about her wedding plans was more enjoyable than listening to Molly talk about Zumba and the ten pounds she lost.
“So are you going to go to Zumba class with me tonight?” Molly asked as we pulled out of the parking lot. I groaned under my breath.
“Only if you promise to quit talking the rest of the night.” She laughed, then stopped when she glanced over at me and saw that I was serious.
“Do you mean to quit talking to you or everybody?” Her blue eyes were wide when she asked me this.
“Me.” I said. Although I would have loved for her to not speak the rest of the night but I knew that would be physically impossible for her jabber jaws.
“DEAL!” She squealed.
“What the hell am I supposed to wear?” I mumbled under my breath as I looked at the clothes that were scattered all around my room. I didn’t want to wear sweatpants and sweat my bloody ass off. I didn’t want to wear shorts so that everyone would see my thunder thighs. My purple t-shirt made me look like a grape. “Ugh!” I felt disgusting as I looked in the mirror. I really didn’t have any other choice but to wear my black t-shirt and grey cotton capris that didn’t do any justice for my fat ‘rolls’. I gave up and walked downstairs to the kitchen where Molly was waiting. Mom and Dad and my brother Shane had already left to go watch his basketball game. I would go once in a while to watch him play but after a half hour of sitting on those hard bleachers my ass and legs would always get numb. There was nothing more embarrassing than standing up and walking like an 80 year old lady because your fat body can’t sit in one position for too long.
“I’m so excited that you are coming with me. You are going to fall in love with Cory.” Molly expressed excitably.
“Shhhhh.” I shushed, reminding her of her deal. She laughed and turned to look at the road as she drove us to the other side of town.
“Whose Cory?” I asked, thinking about the name that she had just mentioned. I was pretty sure that I never heard her say that name before. She pointed at her pressed lips, hinting that she wasn’t allowed to speak.
I laughed. “Okay, just tell me who Cory is and then you can shut up.”
“He’s the Zumba instructor. He is tall dark and handsome. He is the type of guy you envision when reading a Harlquin book.” She gushed. Molly wasn’t much of a reader like I was. She would only read the Harlequin book, only because they were smutty. Molly was a fan of smut. I shook my head and laughed at her. That has remained to be seen.
“Good evening ladies.” I could hear a male voice greeting each woman, young and old, skinny and fat as we stood in line at the gym, waiting to get in. I held my towel and water bottle close to my stomach hoping to conceal some of my fat.
“MOLLY! So glad to see you.” The young male voice sang. I gingerly lifted my head to look up at this tall man. I gasped when I saw that Molly had been telling the truth. He is tall dark and handsome. His dark brown hair was short and feathered to the sides. His skin was a bronzed matching perfectly with his dark brown eyes. Two dimples formed around his perfect mouth when he smiled. I slowly glanced down at his perfectly trimmed body, his perfect muscles ripping under his white tank top and black mesh shorts. I could feel my face flushing not because he was hot but because I was obese. I looked like a tubby tooby girl standing next to this perfect handsome body.
“Ahhh…who is this?” He asked Molly. My head snapped up when I realized that he was asking about me.
“Cory, this is my sister Annie.” She tugs at my arm, pulling me closer to the two of them. The smell of Coast soap tickled my nose when I stood beside him.
“Annie, that’s a beautiful name. I’m so glad that you’ve come to join us. I want you and your sister to stand up front.” He smiled and then turned to the young lady standing behind me.
“Oh my God, he wants us to be up front.” Molly gushed. Great! I could feel my face getting hot at the idea of standing in the front row so that everyone behind us could see me trying to move my fat body to the rhythm of the music. What a jerk? Was he using us as an example? That they’ll look like me if they don’t exercise?
“Are you fricking nuts? I’m not standing up front. You can, but I’m keeping my ass in the back.” I bellowed as we walked into the next room.
“Annie, he’s never asks anyone to stand up front. This is HUGE!” She explained. “Well then go ahead, dance up front. But I’m staying in the back.” I persisted. I walked to the last line, setting my towel and water bottle against the wall. I stood there with my arms crossed waiting for the stupid Zumba to start. Molly sighed heavily and threw her bag down beside my towel. I knew that she was pissed but I didn’t care. I wasn’t about to make an ass out of myself just because the instructor was dreamy.
Sweat was pouring off my body as I pushed myself to keep up with the routines of the Zumba music. A couple of times Cory danced his way towards the back of the line, encouraging everyone to ‘Move those muscles. Feel the burn’ I kept my eyes peeled to the floor when he came over my way. I gasped when I felt his warm hand on my shoulder. I turned to look at him, to see him smiling from ear to ear, showing his perfect white teeth.
“Okay ladies, let’s take a ten minute break.” He spoke in a normal tone. I was shocked to see that he wasn’t out of breath or breathing heavy like I was. I felt like I was going to pass out as I leaned against the wall to wipe the sweat off my forehead. I bent down to grab my water bottle when I saw someone snatching it before I could get to it.
“Here you go.” Cory said in a polite tone, handing me my water bottle.
“Thanks.” I could barely talk, as I tried to catch my breath. I had to tilt my head to look up into his dark eyes.
“Are you feeling okay?” His eyebrows scrunched together when he asked me this.
“Uh..yeah..I’m just not used to this kind of exercis….
“I begged her to come with me when I first started coming here.” Molly interuppted. She leaned against Cory, trying to get him to look at her.
“Excuse me, but where is the bathroom?” I asked either one of them. Molly pointed towards the opposite direction of the large gymnasium never taking her eyes off of Cory.
“Over there in that corner.” Cory said in a low voice. He gave me a strange look as I walked away. I grabbed my towel and water bottle and quickly walked towards the far corner of the room. All the other ladies were standing around talking and drinking their water. Some of them were gazing at Cory. Now I understood why so many women came here to exercise. It wasn’t to get in shape but to ogle over the instructor, Cory.
I walked over to the mirror and gasped in horror. I knew that my face was hot with sweat but….not like this. My face was beat red. I looked like I was ready to have a heat stroke. I quickly began splashing cold water on my face, trying to cool myself down. I can’t go back out there, not like this. I could feel tears pricking my eyes as I sat down in a stall to go to the bathroom. I hated Molly. I hated myself even more for agreeing to do this. I could hear the music starting again as I pulled my capris back on. I needed to get out of here. I walked to the other end of the bathroom to see if there was another exit. Shit! The only way that I could leave here was to walk back out into the gymnasium where everyone had begun exercising again, where Cory would see my red lobster face again.
I stood against the door, peeking to see if anyone was looking. The exit door was near me but I would have to make a mad dash to get to it and make my great escape. But with my fat body, dashing was one thing that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish without making a fool of myself.
I could hear Cory yelling something over the loud music but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. I stood beside the door, contemplating on my escape.
“Annie! Are you okay?” I gasped when I heard Cory’s voice just outside the door. I quickly took a few steps back so that he wouldn’t see that I was standing just inside the door.
Clearing my throat, “Uh yeah, I’m just a little lightheaded.” I spoke truthfully. I was feeling lightheaded…..earlier.
I gasped when I saw him standing before me. He quickly grabs my shoulders, looking down at me. I had to shake my head so that I could look up to focus my eyes on him.
“You’re not sick are you? Do you feel like you’re going to pass out?” I could see the worry in his dark eyes.
“Uh…no. I just need to cool down.” I bowed my head down towards the floor so that he couldn’t see my red face. But he gently takes his fingers under my chin and tilts my head to look at him. He stares into my eyes as if he was examining them.
“Come with me.” Before I could object, he quickly grabs my towel and water bottle, pulling me alongside him. We walked out of the restroom and through the exit doors. I sighed in relief when the cold winter air began cooling my skin. It felt like heaven on my over-heated body.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have pushed you too hard tonight.” He said sympathetically. I sucked in a sharp breath when he said this.
“What? No! This isn’t your fault that I’m not in good physical shape to handle a little Zumba. In case you haven’t notice….I’m fat. Fat girls tend to get out of breath a little easier when exercising.” I said. Why was he blaming himself? I shook my head in disbelief.
“Annie, you’re not fat…..just pleasingly plumped.” He said, flashing another gorgeous smile.
“OH SHUT UP!” I hated this guy. One minute he seemed genuinely sweet and the next minute he would say something so fricking stupid that it would piss me off.
“What? What did I say?” He looked bewildered.
“Do you need glasses? You worry about your muscles and your tan so that you look good for the ladies but you don’t take care of your eyes. Go get an eye exam will you.” I snapped, grabbing my towel and bottle from his hand. I started walking towards the truck when I felt his hand on my arm. I turned around to look up at him.
“What?” I snapped. He gazed at me for a long moment, not saying a word.
“What the hell is your probl….” Before I could finish my sentence he bends down pressing his warm lips to mine. I was so befuddled, so shocked by his action that I dropped my white towel and water bottle in the muddy puddle beside us.
We both gasped when he pulled his lips away from mine. I stood there speechless for a moment, not knowing what to make of this. My mind was a pile of mush. I couldn’t think. I didn’t know if I should have been pissed or blown away or both. Leaving my towel and bottle on the ground, I turned to walk away from him. I was too confused to react any other way.
“Annie, wait.” I heard Cory say my name but I just kept walking towards the truck. I could hear his feet splashing in the puddles as he came running up from behind me. He stopped in front of me just as I was about to pull on the door handles to the truck.
“Annie, I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened back there.” He said sympathetically.
“Yeah, whatever! You like screwing with a girl’s mind. You probably have kissed every girl in there.” I accused, pointing towards the building.
“No, you’re wrong. I’m not like that at all. Annie, you’re a beautiful girl and…..and…I don’t know what came over me. To be honest I want to kiss you again….and again.” I could feel my cheeks blushing when he said this to me.
“Well that’s not going to happen. You better get inside, your fan club is probably wondering what happened to you.” I snapped.
“Uh…yeah, you’re probably right.” He started to run towards the building but then he stopped and ran back. He wrapped his solid arms around my waist, pulling me towards him as he plants his lips to mine. I struggled weakly in his arms at first but then I found myself standing on my toes to so that I could wrap my arms around his neck. He bends down lower so that I could reach him better. Feeling his hard muscular body against mine caused my heart to beat erratically.
He slowly peeled his body away from mine as we both gasped for air. As I watched him walk away, I realized that I knew nothing about this Cory. How old is he? What’s his last name? Where does he live? I needed to know these things if my heart was going to fall in love with him.
I climbed into the truck, my mind was a foggy haze. I could still feel the warming sensation on my lips from Cory’s kiss and the hot spots on my skin where his hands had been touching me. I stared blankly at the silver Mustang that was parked in front of me as the memory of Cory kissing me played over and over in my mind like a broken record. I began to shiver when I realized that I was sitting in the truck without jacket on. I leaned forward to open the glove compartment, searching for the spare key that Molly and I kept in case of an emergency.
I started the truck up and turned the heat on full tilt. After a few minutes the truck was beginning to warm up. I glanced over at the tan building to see the side door fly open. The women from the Zumba class were walking out in a steady line. Many of them were younger who were already in great shape. You know the type, the blonde, tan skinny women who wore the tight spandex and the tiny tank tops. I was certain that they only came to the classes to show off their hot bodies in front of Cory, hoping to get his attention.
There were a few older heavy set women who came strolling out. I could see their reason of being here, trying to lose the baby fat from carrying their children for nine months. But I didn’t have an excuse, although I sometimes wished I was pregnant just so I had an excuse for being fat. I knew I couldn’t keep blaming it on my family’s genes. Only I was to blame for the spare tire that I carried around my waist. It was my bad eating habits and lack of exercise that gave me my extra rolls. I knew I needed to change and I have tried but eventually I would give in and fall back into my same old routine of sitting on the couch every night eating Cappuccino Crunch ice cream and watching Dr. House.
“Where the hell were you?” Molly snapped when she crawled into the driver’s seat. She threw her Twilight bag on the floor beside my feet.
“I wasn’t feeling well, so I came out here.” I said truthfully, even though I was excited about my first kiss. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tell Molly. In truth, I was embarrassed to tell her that my first kiss was with Cory. Cory the HOT looking Zumba instructor. Cory, whom I also had just met and knew absolutely nothing about. My mind began racing with a thousand different thoughts. What if he’s a player and he was just taking advantage of me because I am fat and naive? Naive? GAH! I could feel my face flushing red with embarrassment and anger at the thought that he’d only kiss me because he thought that I was naive.
“Annie, guess what?” Molly’s bitter tone suddenly turned sweet with excitement. I sighed heavily in disgust before turning to face her.
“What?” I mumbled. Frustrated, I began twirling my hair as I thought about Cory’s kiss and the real reason behind it.
“I gave Cory my cell phone number.” She squealed. I could feel my heart dropping to my stomach. “And guess what else? He asked for my home number as well. Can you believe it? Of all those women in the exercise class, he wanted my home phone number.” She squealed with delight as she began bouncing in her seat. I could feel my mouth hanging open as I stared at her. I was dumbfounded. Appalled. Pissed.
Forcing a fake smile on my face, I told her that I was happy for her. So for the next fifteen minutes, until we pulled into the driveway, that was all I heard, Cory this and Cory that. When I got of the truck, I slammed the door so hard that it rattled the windows.
“Geesh, what’s wrong with you?” Molly asked as she followed me up the steps to the front porch. I balled my hands into a fist and turned around to face her.
“DON’T EVER ASK ME TO GO TO ZUMBA WITH YOU AGAIN!” I hollered and then stomped into the house. I kicked off my wet sneakers and threw them at the pile of shoes that were scattered by the door and ran upstairs to my bedroom. With a loud thud, I threw myself on top of my bed and began sobbing uncontrollably. I hated Cory. I hate boys. I hated everyone. Eventually I cried myself to sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, fresh new tears emerged but I quickly wiped them away and forced myself to get out of bed. I tried to walk quietly to the bathroom but my heavy footsteps made the wooden floor creak beneath me.
I stood under the hot shower, lathering my wash cloth with soap. I began scrubbing my body vigorously, wishing that I could wash away all my fat. I stuck my face under the hot water and began rubbing Cory’s kiss from my lips and face. I wanted to be rid of him and the memory of his lips and hands touching me. After brushing my teeth three times, I finally went back to my room. I glanced at my alarm clock and saw that I still had an hour before everyone was to wake up.
I laid down on my bed and grabbed one of the books that was sitting on my nightstand. UGH! I sighed. It was a romance novel. As the matter of fact, all my books were romance novels. I didn’t want to read anything that had to do with romance or anything that had to do with two lovers kissing and caressing each other in all the right places. I threw the book across the room and buried my face into my pillow.
I jolted awake when I heard a soft knock on the door. “Annie, can I come in?” My mother asked. I groaned when I rolled over and sat up on the bed. I noticed the sunlight was now peeking through my window.
“Yeah, come on in.” My voice was raspy with sleep. I was surprised that I had fallen asleep again. I watched Mom peek her head through the door before stepping in.
“Good morning.” I smiled weakly. My Mom, Kathy Powers was a big and beautiful woman, who carried herself well. She was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. She kept her dark brown hair with blonde highlights short and stylish. Her dark thick eyelashes flattered her dark brown eyes. Her lips were naturally plumped and pink and her long acrylic nails were always flashy and vibrant. Kathy was a professional nail technician who had her own little shop here at home.
She came and sat down beside me, giving me her worried motherly look.
“Ann, is everything okay? You didn’t come downstairs last night to eat dinner.” She spoke in a soft soothing tone. I stared at the zebra pattern that she wore on her nails. I knew that in a few days that she would have something different, maybe something bright, like hot pink hearts or yellow smiley faces. She would always beg me to let her do my nails but I would always refuse. I thought it was silly wearing fake flashy nail that reminded me of hookers. But I didn’t dare tell her that, I wouldn’t want to upset her. Although the next time, I might just take her up on it, I could use those long nails to gouge out the eyes of anybody who pissed me off. My Cory….or Molly.
“I’m sorry. I had a bad stomach ache last night.” I lied. I felt horrible lying to my mother but I really didn’t want to get into the whole details of telling her that a handsome boy took advantage of me because I was fat and naive.
“Oh baby, how are you feeling now?” She asked, rubbing my forehead with the back of her hand to see if I was running a fever. I felt like shit. That’s what I wanted to say. I wanted to run away. I wanted to move to Maryland today and say the hell with school. I wanted her to go down to the center and strangle Cory. I wanted a lot of things but I kept my mouth shut.
“Better.” I lied. I stood up from the bed and walked over to my mirror dresser. I grabbed the comb and lightly ran it through my hair.
“Good, I’m glad. Would you like me to make you an egg omelet before you go to school? I already have everything set out. Shane wants one too.” She smiled and stood up to walk to the door.
“No thanks. My stomach still feels a little queasy. I don’t want to take any chances on making it worse.” It was the truth, images of Cory kissing me made was making my stomach turn. I waited until it was time to leave to go down stairs. Molly was standing at the door waiting for me. She never said a word, which was good because I really wasn’t in the mood to hear about Cory or the stupid ten pounds that she had lost.
Natalee never showed up for school today. She texted me and said that she wasn’t feeling well. She wasn’t the only one. The day seemed to drag. I hated school, well not school in general, just the people that occupied it. School to most of the students here at Clearfield was more of a social event. You were either popular because your parents were considered high society or you were a sports freak. And I was neither to say the least.
“I’m so glad that we got out of social studies today.” Molly sighed with relief. We were supposed to turn in our history papers in today but the school decided to hold an assembly. I personally would have liked to see Molly suffer a failing grade than sit in the dark auditorium smelling the musky seats and dusty floors. It made my eyes and nose water just thinking about it.
We all lined up to walk down the halls towards the auditorium. Some of the boys standing behind me were goofing off, seeing who could punch each other the hardest in the arm. Kenny the tall skinny blond one was punching everyone and laughing. Fred who was tall and husky turned around and told him to knock it off before someone gets hurt. The group of boys just stood there laughing like he said a funny joke. As our line continue to walk down the halls, I could hear them pushing and shoving each other, their laughter echoing in the hall.
“UGH!” One of the boys was shoved into me, causing me to fall forward onto my knees. With all my weight on one knee I went crashing down on the floor. I heard something popped when my right knee hit the floor. “UGH!” I moaned as the pain began shooting from my knee down to my toes. I laid there with my eyes closed trying to keep myself from passing out. I could hear a few of my classmates laughing and snickering.
“Annie, are you alright?” I heard Fred’s voice as he leaned down to help me up. I slowly opened my eyes to look at him. Everyone was standing around me in a circle, staring and gawking at me like I was the fat lady at the circus.
“I think so.” I groaned. Fred lent his hand out for me to take. Even with his tall husky frame, I could see him struggling to pull my weight up off the floor. This caused my face to turn a few shades darker.
“Thank you.” I said sheepishly. “Sure, no problem.” He choked then turned away to get back in line like nothing ever happened. I was heated with embarrassment, even though I was grateful that he didn’t make a big issue of it, suggesting that I go to the nurse’s office or something. But at the same time I was hurt, he could have been more sincere with me, make feel like a human being who has feelings, instead of an outcast. I knew that this was going to be the subject for the rest of the day. Did you see fat Annie crash to the floor? I thought the floor was going to crack. I thought Fred was going to pull a hernia lifting her up off the floor. I could hear them talking now as the tears flooded my eyes.
I limped the rest of the way towards the auditorium. Through my jeans, I could feel my knee swelling as it continued to throb. “Ugh!” I moaned when I finally took a seat in the front row. I sat in front so that no one could see the tears that were flooding my eyes and trickling down my cheeks.
Molly was sitting behind me, her mouth flapping about Cory and how excited she was waiting for him to call. I closed my eyes, letting out a jagged sigh. After about another ten minutes the auditorium got quiet and the principal walked out on stage.
Mr. Stiles was an educated man. He would remind us every day when saying the morning announcement. “Today’s another great day for learning. Do your homework and study hard and whose knows….one of you students could be the next Einstein.” Each day he would say a different name, like Robert Frost or Neil Armstrong. It got to the point that my classmates made a game of it. They would guess which name he was going to say that morning. If you were right then you got to pick someone to do your homework. I of course never participated in their juvenile games.
I stared at Mr. Stiles’ bald head and black rimmed glasses as he continued to ramble about how important education was. Don’t get me wrong education was important to me. I’ve always achieved a grade point average of 3.0. But sitting here in the musky smelling auditorium with my throbbing knee, I really didn’t care about education or anything else except going home and sitting on the couch with an ice pack and maybe a bowl of ice cream.
“As you all know, next week is health and fitness week. We have an “educated” man here today to talk to us about how important it is to eat right and exercise.” I rolled my eyes when he emphasized the word educated. “So let’s give a warm welcome to Mr. Cory Shields.” Mr. Stiles began clapping as he turned to the edge of the stage. The bright stage light turned to a tall dark man as he began walking out to the center of the stage.
“GASPS!” I heard two loud gasps, mine and Molly’s. Although hers was sheer excitement, mine was sheer terror. Oh dear sweet Jesus just take me now. I slid in my seat, hoping that he wouldn’t spot me.
“Good afternoon guys and gals. My name is Cory Shields and I am the new fitness instructor down at the Civic Center. First, I would like to tell you folks a little about myself. I am 22 years old and originally from Florida. I graduated from Penn State University with a degree in nutritional science. When I first started college I wanted to major in journalism but as you can see I changed my mind. I didn’t always used to have this body. It took a lot of work and dedication to create these bad boys. ” He chuckled, putting his arms up to make a muscle.
My heart began racing as I listened to his deep soft voice. I watched as he walked back and forth across the stage. He is thick dark hair feathered on the side and his dark brown eyes squinting every time he smiled at the audience. He was wearing light blue jeans and a navy blue sweater that clung to his hard chest, exposing the contours of his muscles. His tan hands clenching white as he held the microphone to his mouth. My heart fluttered when I saw how close his lips were to the microphone as he spoke.
I slid further into my seat as he walked across the stage, closer to where I was sitting. I was suddenly wishing that I had gone to the nurse’s office instead of coming here. Oh God, could this day get any worse? I closed my eyes and silently prayed, that’s when I decided that I would slip out of here and go see the nurse. After all I had a good excuse, a swollen knee.
I waited until Cory faced the opposite direction to make my escape.
“Can I get a volunteer to come up here and be my sidekick?” I heard him announce just as I started up the aisle. I could hear Molly screaming from her seat, “ME! ME! PICK ME!” My knee was throbbing like a bad toothache as I tried to walk quickly as physically possible.
“You? The girl in the aisle, would you care to join me?” Goose bumps shivered up spine when I realized that he was talking to me. I could feel all eyes staring at me as I stood frozen in the middle of the aisle. I wanted to run but I was pretty sure that I would look like an ass with my gimpy leg. A couple of girls snickered as I turned around to face Cory on the stage.
He stood there with his handsome smile, waving at me to come join him. “Come on up. I promise I won’t bite.” He chuckled lightheartedly. I glanced over to see Molly sitting in her seat, her mouth hanging open and glaring.
I wanted to die. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me right now but I didn’t have that kind of luck. The only luck that I was capable of having was a lifetime of humiliation.
I slowly limped back down the carpeted aisle and to the wooden steps that were adjacent to the stage. Cory was standing on the second step waiting to help me.
“Annie!” He sounded excited when he said my name. I glared at him, slapping his hand away from me. He smile quickly faded as he looked confused. I could feel my face getting hot when I noticed that he was staring down at my knee.
He grabbed my elbow and gently guided me up the steps. I could feel his eyes on me as I kept my eyes peeled to the old wooden floor. Never letting go of my arm, we walked to the center of the stage where there was a long table set up. The audience was quiet as they watched us carefully. I could feel beads of sweat on my forehead at the bright stage light shined on the both of us.
I glanced at the table to see all kinds of fruit and vegetables on display along with a pile of pamphlets. Cory waved his arm out towards the audience. “Guys and girls, this is Annie. She is my new assistance for the day.” Cory said my name with such pride that it made my face blush. I could hear a few light chuckles from the audience.
“Annie, do you like to eat fruit?” Cory turned to me. I nearly choked when he asked me this. I swallowed the hard lump in my throat and slowly looked up to meet his dark eyes.
“SHE EATS ANYTHING!” A male voice hollered from the crowd. A roar of laughter echoed through the auditorium. Tears instantly covered my eyes as turned my back away from them.
“WHO SAID THAT?” Cory yelled. I didn’t look up to see his face but I could hear the anger in his voice. There a few people pointing their fingers at one of the seniors. I peeked over my shoulder to see who it was. Chris Hurd was the one who made the comment. I didn’t care too much for Chris. He considered himself the class clown and held the title respectably since the third grade.
“What’s your name?” Cory asked in a deep agitated voice. I turned my head to stare at the pamphlets that were scattered perfectly on the table.
“My name is Chris.” He laughed and so did a few others of his friends.
“Well Chris, you can be my other volunteer.” My head snapped in Cory’s direction. Was he serious? I wanted to walk off this stage right now but I was scared, frozen. I was already humiliated enough, I was afraid to make it worse. I crowd started roaring with laughter as Chris stood up and began walking towards the stage.
“Your job is to run around this auditorium fifteen times and then come up on stage and tell us how you feel.” Cory said with a deep authority. I turned my head to look at him and saw that he was smiling as he winked at me. I could feel a small smile growing on my face as I quietly chuckled under my breath.
“What? Are you kidding man?” Chris whined.
“No, I’m not kidding. I want to demonstrate how a young energetic man like your self can handle a strenuous exercise. Unless….you’re not up to the task?” Cory interrogated him. Even though my knee was aching terribly and I was embarrassed as hell standing up here in front of everyone, I was enjoying the look on Chris’s face as he Cory pressured him into running the fifteen laps around the auditorium. Deep down, I was hoping that he trips on the carpet and falls flat on his face. It would serve him right.
“And if I pass this test with flying colors? What will I get?” Chris asked sarcastically. Cory tilted his head back and laughed. He had a cute laugh, not too loud and not too soft.
“Well if having the satisfaction of knowing that you did it, isn’t enough then you can have some of the fresh fruit and vegetables that’s up here on the table.” Cory continued to chuckle. He looks over at me and smiles even wider, exposing his two dimple when he sees that I was smiling too.
“Deal.” Chris said. He walks over to the far right corner and bends down like he is getting ready to run a race. “Hey, is there a time limit?” Chris hollered.
“Yeah, you got fifteen minutes. I will set my stop watch, starting……..right….NOW!” He takes off his watch and hands it to me.
Winking at me, “Keep an I eye on this bad boy, cause I’m pretty certain our boy isn’t getting any fruit.” He snickers, his dark brown eyes gleaming as he smiles at me with his perfect lips. I could feel my heart beating rapidly through my chest.
“Okay.” I whispered, so that the audience couldn’t hear me.
While Cory continued to talk to the crowd about eating fresh fruit and raw vegetables, I kept my eye on the stop watch and Chris, silently praying that he falls on his face.
“Does anyone here know what is the healthiest fruit to eat?” I knew the answer but I wasn’t about to volunteer the answer. I took a quick glance at the audience. No one was raising their hands. Cory turns to me. “Do you know?” He smiles warmly showing his perfect white teeth.
His smile nearly took my breath away as I choked, “Watermelon.”
“Yes, that’s right.” He wraps his arm around my shoulder, hugging. The smell of Coast soap and his cologne tickled my nose.
“Watermelon is the healthiest fruit to eat and does anyone know why?” He didn’t even bother to look at the crowd instead he turned to look at me. I swallowed another hard lump in my throat when I saw that his face was inches from mine.
“Because it contains 92% natural water.” I answered not sure if that was the correct answer.
“Yes, you’re right and we all know that water is the healthiest drink for you.” He gave my shoulders one more squeezed before letting go. He stepped back and grabbed a pamphlet, holding it in the air. Just then the stop watch timer began beeping, letting up know that Chris’s time was up. I was too busy watching and listening to Cory that I had lost track of how many laps Chris had made.
“Tsk Tsk Tsk, Chris…my man. What happened to you?” Cory teased. Chris slowly walked up to the front of the stage. He bends over, grabbing his knees as he continues to breathe heavily while trying to catch his breath. The audience broke out into a roar of laughter, I included. It was nice seeing someone else being laughed at instead of me or some other fat kid.
I stood back at the far edge of the stage as Cory invited everyone to come up and grab a pamphlet and eat some fruit and vegetables. I watched as it was mostly girls who came running onto the stage, Molly included. Now was the perfect time to sneak out and head to the nurse’s station while Cory was busy talking to a group of pretty skinny girls.
I slowly limped backwards until I could feel the stage curtains against my back. I quickly turned around and walked towards the exit door that was located at the far end of the stage.
“Where are you going?” I gasped when I turned around to see Cory standing behind me. I could feel my heart slowly dropping to my stomach as I looked up into his warm dark eyes. I inhaled a jagged breath as part me wanted to feel his lips on mine. I wanted to feel his warm muscular arms around my waist. I wanted that burning sensation that it left when he let go of me.
“To the nurse’s office.” I turned around to push the door open but he blocked me with his arm.
“Let me see.” He said in a stern voice. He got down on one knee and began gently massaging my knee cap.
“UGH!” I groaned as I jerked my knee away from his hand.
“I think you better go to the emergency room and have it check. You might have a cracked knee cap. There is fluid building up around it.
“So what you are a doctor now too? Let me guess, a nutritionist and a Zumba instructor and a doctor? I said sarcastically. “Jack of all trades, master of none, right?”
“Hahahaha….you are absolutely right. But please don’t tell anyone.” His dark eyes gleamed when he put his fingers to his lips, swearing silence. I wanted to be mad at him for taking advantage of me, for stealing my first kiss without asking me but his smoldering eyes and gorgeous smile was making it too damn hard.
“What the hell is all this?” Molly hollered.