It was three days before Thanksgiving, but I was not filled with the holiday spirit. I had gained eight more pounds in four weeks from the prednisone, and I now weighed 136 pounds.
I was fat.
Me. Fat. All because of a stupid drug for some stupid allergies. I stopped taking it and my lips and eyes swelled up. So I took it again, vowing to eat even less. Prednisone was not going to get the best of me.
It was no use. I got fatter.
Everyone knew I had gained weight, they just didn't know how much. Except my mother, who could peg my weight gain to the pound. She was appalled at how I looked and found it impossible to believe that it was just because of prednisone. So she watched every bite I put into my mouth.
She also called the allergist and demanded an appointment, which was set for the next day, two days before Thanksgiving.
Dad, away on a long business trip, called often and asked how my weight was. He talked about willpower and positive thinking. I told him I'd try harder to lose.
And I did try. Only it wasn't working. I was turning into this fat thing.
It was a nightmare. Most of my clothes no longer fit. Just today after school I had made a desperate, secret trip to the mall, where I'd used the credit card my grandfather had given me on my last birthday to buy exact copies of many of my clothes, in a larger size. I hoped against hope that no one would realize they were a size nine/ten instead of a five/six.
And now, as I lay at home in my bed after an hour on the treadmill, two hours of piano, and two more of homework, my stomach growled with emptiness. Breakfast and lunch had both been diet Coke and lettuce. For dinner I had eaten a small, skinless chicken breast, three tomato slices, and half a plain baked potato.
Here it was midnight, and I was so hungry.
But no. I wouldn't eat. Would not. Eat.
I padded to my door and opened it. Mom wasn't home yet from the after-theater dessert party she had catered that evening. Scott's room was quiet.
I could picture the inside of our refrigerator: fried chicken left over from Scott's dinner. Half of a coconut cream pie a neighbor had made. And in the freezer, ice cream. Chocolate Haagen-Dazs, with nuts. Behind it, two jumbo-sized frozen Snickers bars.
Before I knew it, my feet were carrying me downstairs, into the kitchen. My hand was in the refrigerator. I brought a fried chicken drumstick to my lips, and--
No. I wouldn't eat it. Would not. Willpower.
I put it back and turned to walk out of the kitchen.
And then someone who was not me went back to the freezer and took out both frozen Snickers bars. That someone ran with them up to her room.
Whoever she was, she didn't even turn on her light to eat. She just sat there in the dark, like some fat, feral creature of the night, cracking the frozen chocolate off with her teeth, loving the sensation of rich, sweet, comforting chocolate in her mouth, mixing with her saliva, sliding down her throat.
The candy wrappers got stuffed behind her bed.
It wasn't me.From the Paperback edition.
Excerpted from Life in the Fat Lane by Cherie Bennett. Copyright © 1998 by Cherie Bennett. Excerpted by permission of Ember, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.