“Are you serious?” Kaden asks, laughing. He thinks it’s a joke. But it’s not.
I wish I could take it all back. I wish I could melt, or disappear, or sink into the ground. But I, unfortunately, have no supernatural powers, so I’m stuck with my humiliation.
When I make no move to respond, he laughs again, but coldly.
“You think I would have feelings for you? Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” Kaden asks me, but it’s more like an answer to my question. My question of whether or not he has feelings for me as I do for him. It’s so obvious what his answer is now, and I feel so stupid for thinking I had a chance.
And now I’m frozen, like a deer in headlights, unable to get away from this situation. I search his face, his suddenly cold, ocean-blue eyes. I don’t find one trace of the warm, caring best friend I thought I knew. I now understand what all the other girls see. The player in him. The jerk.
“Look, it’s already risky that people see me next to you as a friend. What will they say if they knew we were a couple? I can’t date you. You just don’t reach my standards. I mean, look at me compared to you.” He explains casually like his words aren’t shattering my heart into millions of pieces.
I open my mouth to speak, but the lump in my throat stops me from saying anything. If I do, I know I’ll start crying.
Kaden notices and scoffs. “Are you going to start crying? Gosh, you always play the victim. Stop being such a weakling and grow up.” He seethes since I’m apparently annoying him with my human emotions.
And instead of a snappy comment, instead of screaming at him or slapping him, I turn around. And I walk away. I don’t look back, because if I do, Kaden will see the tears running down my face. He’ll see my broken heart through my chest, and the thoughts of my worthlessness in my head.
Of course, he doesn’t have x-ray vision, but my mind is telling me otherwise. My feet hit the ground loudly, reminding me of the heaviness of my body. The reason Kaden so brutally rejected me.
Through the blurriness of my tears, I make out my group of friends nearby. They probably saw everything that happened. I practically run to them, my face now a mess of tears and snot.
I’m just about to ask them if they can ditch school with me when I notice something that stops me in my tracks. Laughing. That’s what I hear. That’s what my so-called friends are doing.
“I can’t believe you had the guts to do it!” One of my closest friends, Terra, breathes out, still laughing.
“She actually thought she had a chance with him!” Another of my so-called friends screech in between giggles.
None of my five friends make a move to comfort me or even give me a sympathetic glance. I guess all of this was some inside joke. The thing is, I’m the joke. Feeling doubly betrayed and wounded from the people I thought cared for me the most, I run out of school.
I feel the weight of my body bounce up and down, and I hate it. I keep running, sweat already pooling on my neck and back. Half an hour passes and I reach the doorstep of my house. Panting, my hands are braced against my knees.
And I’m angry with myself. I have no stamina. I can’t even run two miles. I had to walk half of the first mile and all of the second mile.
I struggle to get my keys from my back pocket, my hands trembling from either anger or exhaustion. Maybe both. Slipping the key into the lock, I open the door and step inside. Slamming the door shut, I run upstairs to my room and lock the door.
And that’s when I really break down. On my bed, I grab my pillow and hold it to myself, crying into it. First my mom, then classmates, then Kaden, then my friends. Nobody seems to have a heart. All of them tease me about my weight and how I look.
Why do appearances matter so much? And why are people so cruel?
To hide their own insecurities, or just for fun?
My body shakes harder, my crying a choking sound, like an animal lost of breath. My mind begs for food, my usual comfort, the way I deal with my problems. The way I dealt with my parents’ divorce. The way I dealt with my dad not wanting me, my mom only caring about how I look and not how I feel.
I eat my problems away.
I start to sit up so that I can do just that - eat my problems away. But something stops me. Something stubborn, with the need to build my pride back and give me something to be proud of. The need to be a better version of myself.
The best version of myself.
So I don’t get up to go eat food to make me forget about my problems. Instead, I stop crying completely. I stand up and walk to my bathroom, washing my face of the tears and snot and sweat.
And when I look in the mirror, I can feel it. The feeling of being unstoppable. The feeling that tells me I will be strong and nothing will hurt me again.
And right there, in my bathroom, I promise myself that I will never let someone’s words get to me ever again. I promise myself that I will feel and be the best I can be.
I walk out of that bathroom and walk out of my room. My feet thud loudly as I walk downstairs, but this time I’m not angry. Things will change when I change. And I will change, for the better, for myself as much as my pride.
Right now, I just need to be patient with myself.
With that in mind, I do the first big change that I need to make. In the kitchen, I start throwing all the junk food from the pantry and fridge into grocery bags. Other people can eat this junk food, but not me.
Walking out of my house, I walk to my neighbor’s house. A family of five, which I’m sure will go through all this junk food fast. I leave the grocery bags full of junk food at their doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run back to my house.
It will be a nice surprise for them.
And when I’m back in the kitchen, I feel relieved. I no longer have the temptation to eat junk food to get my mind off my problems.
And in my living room, I search for a workout video, and soon, I’m following the workout instructor, nodding my head to the upbeat music.
The workout is hard, and I have to do lower intensity versions of each exercise. But that’s okay. It’s better than nothing.
It’s a basic start, but basic steps are better than nothing.
And at the end of my learning-to-love-myself journey I’m starting, I’ll look straight into the faces of all those who teased and insulted me and tell them, “Look at me now.”