Read Beauty Online

Authors: (Patria Dunn-Rowe), Patria L. Dunn


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Copyright © 2012 Patria L. Dunn (Patria Dunn-Rowe)

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My life has been in a free fall ever since I can remember. I was not that happy childsmiling for every picture taken,orthat girl that blossomed from a scrawny gangly tween into a drop dead beauty.Norwas Ithat college bound young woman with the hopes and dreams of the world strapped firmly on her shoulders. I was just me: EvelynReneeBarns.


On the outside, I always seemed happy. Why shouldn’t I be? That was the question my parents always asked when I complained. But I never complained anymore. I’d stopped long before experiencing the evilness of high school, and even before the bullying that started in middle school.At home, my mother’s constant nagging about my weight only made things ten times worse. When birthday and Christmas presents started turning into diet pills, weight loss books and work out videos, I knew that they were embarrassed by me -embarrassed to be seen with me; probably even embarrassed that I was their daughter. By the time I graduatedhigh schoolI was at the heaviest I’d ever been.

Six feet under kind of screams iswhat college introduced me to.

Those firstfew months…It was thenthat I laughed and I smiled and seldom cried. It was as if life had finally paid me a favor.I’d found who I was meant to be, or so I thought.I was no longer friendless. Myroommatesspoke to me. They included me. They didn’t comment on my weightor what I ate. I was just Evelyn, the sweet, kind girl that lived onfloor six.For once I began to let myself think that it was finally over.But it never really goes away:self-loathing.It was little things that brought it back atfirst: whispers behind my back, being good enough to be a study partner, but never good enough to be invited to the latest party… Their indiscretions werelimitless when pooled with all the othergrievances I’ve suffered over my lifetime. For them I continued to smile, continued to be themeI was forced to be: sweet, kind Evelyn. But on the inside…

Perhaps I should just start from the beginning so you can really see what brought me to this point: suicidal by default.

Chapter 1*

Those six feet under kind of screams I spoke of…They’re silent today. Well almost… Muffled is more like it considering the day I’dhad already. The last day of final examsand I’d been awaken by incessant banging on my door at 4am. June, one of my other suite mates had pulled an all nighter, cramming for Economics without success. She needed me, and I needed sleep. I also hadmylast two exams today, but I never said that. I saw the way her red rimmed eyes slid over my rumpled plus sized night dress when I opened the door, a flicker of disgust in her features as her gaze movedover my bulging rolls and up to my tired face.She was still beautiful, and of course skinny.I suddenly wanted to makeherfeel better aboutmyappearance. Silly right?

No, not when her opinion as well as thetwo other girls in our suite, mattered the most to me. Me ushering her into my bedroom at this insane hour was my way of asking for forgiveness for not being as rail thin or as pretty as she was. It didn’t matter that they’d skipped out on me last Friday night, going to a party while I stayed and watched a movie alone. I wasn’t invited. It also didn’t matter that they’d labeled all the sweets and junk food in the kitchen with post-its baring my name. None of that stuff was mine, but they couldn’t risk anyone else knowing that they binged almost daily, throwing up a whole stomach full every night before bed. I kept their secrets, and they…Well…Theyuse to tolerate me. NowI was a door mat, only called upon whenthey needed something, like this morning. Bleary eyed, and desperate to hurry up and get back to bed, I typed up an answer key for June. It would be easy enough to email it to her phone. She’d get an A, and I would hopefullyget a few more hours of sleepbefore I had to be across campus.

So thatwas my morning. Two exams laterand I avoided going back to the dorm. Most of the students would be leaving tomorrow. Summer break had officially started, and I’d opted to stay on campus until fall semester. There was nothing back at home waiting for me. I could be depressed anywhere.

While most everyone else was getting ready for one of the many parties happening on campus that night, I was parking my car at the Sunnyview Residental Nursing Facility. I’d fulfilled all of my required volunteer hours months ago, but I kept coming back anyway. I would never admit it to anyone else, but it made me feel better seeing people who were worse off than I was. At Sunnyview,I was considered young and pretty. Pitiful that the old perverted geezers living here were the only ones checking out my ample body.Still,I came for the compliments.

“Evelyn…” Nurse Mars greeted mewith a wide smileas I stepped into the foyer.

I gavea half-hearted wave towards the reception desk before heading down the hall to the rec room.She’d always been nice to me, but I wasn’t in the mood to chat it up today. The last thing I needed was someone else asking me for a favor.

My nose curled at the smell that seemed to be imbedded in the walls here. It was more than just the stench old age seemed to wrap around its victims. It was shit and piss and mushy food all combined into onegod awful smellthat gave the air a scentyou couldn’t forgetor get off of you for hours afterwards. It made me feel good to pity someone else instead of myself. For a few hours I could relax here and forget about how patheticmy lifewas.

George, the war veteran with no legs and only one arm saw me first, nodding hisbaldhead in my direction as I halted just inside therec room door. The warm afternoonhad brought more residents from their rooms than usual, most of the tables already occupied and covered with board games. But that wasn’t what caused my belly to flip flop on the inside, my palms suddenly sweaty as I threw a weak smile in George’s direction.

Beside George sat Brice, June’sex-boyfriendof exactly one week and four days. I knew he volunteered here, but he hadn’t been back since fulfilling his own required volunteer hours. I’d listened to her cry and moan over him for three full days before she’d gotten over it and met someone else. Brice and I had never really spoken. He was too hot to even be friends with a girl like me. When he came to our suite I either retreated to my bedroom, or left all together. The way he looked at me was unnerving…Kind of the way he was looking at me now.

“George… Brice…?” I murmured as I took the chair George pulled out, beside him and directly across from Brice.

“Evelyn…” Brice murmured, his brow rising in question as my eyes lowered to the monopoly board spread on the table.

“You look lovely today Ms. Evelyn,” George complimented me, hiswrinkledfeatures warming with a wide smile he directed at me and then at Brice.

God I suddenly felt horrendously fat.Normally a comment like that from George would have made my week, but not with Brice sitting just inches away.The ivory peasant skirtI wore billowed around my waist like a circus tent, hiding none of the jigglein my bellyand thighs when I walked. I’d been too tired to work my way into a ‘skinny’ outfit this morning, and so I’d paired it withthe firsttank top my hands landed on, going for comfort rather than style.

“I agree…” Brice nodded, moving the tiny metal shoe on the board four more slots up before meeting my narrowed eyed stare.


Heatflooded my cheeks as I caught the twinkle in George’s eyes, his hand smacking down on the board in excitement.

“See Evelyn…It’s like I was telling you last time…”

“I know! George…” I snapped, interrupting him before he could embarrass me further, the tone in my voice a warning that he should shut up now.

George was always trying to give me advice on love, except he didn’t know I’d never experienced being in love. He’d almost died in the Vietnam war, losing most of his limbs, only to come home and discover that his wife had cancer. She’d died a year after his return, and he’d been at Sunnyview ever since. “Live life to the fullest Evelyn; fall in love; meet someone…You’re beautiful,” is what he was always telling me. He usually made me feel good about myself,but now, here in front of Brice,I felt like a wart covered toad.

At least I’d thought to put on a little eye makeup this morning. Sunshades weren’t allowed in the classroom, and that was the only other option to cover the dark circles I’d woken up with after June’s 4 am visit.It wasn’tlike I was interested in Brice; he was way out of my league. All guys were.

Awkward silence settled between the three of us, me watching them as they resumed their game of monopoly. George started muttering something about being in the trenches, and I blanched cold when Brice snickered. Georgedid that sometimes,wandered off in his mind.IfBricewanted to laugh at someone, laugh at me! At least I was usedto it. I would have said as much had I been braver, skinnier, prettier…

“So what are you kids doing at a place like this on a Friday afternoon? Shouldn’t you be out at your partiesgetting drunk and laid?” George laughed, the trenches suddenly forgotten for the moment.

That’s one thing about the old. They said what they wanted when they wanted and George was no exception. In his hayday I imagined that he was quitethe ladies’man. I’d seen pictures of him before he lost his legs and arm in the war: tall, lean and muscular up top. Ebony skin and straight even white teeth… I could only imagine…

“Well actually…” Bricedrawled as he rolled the dice across the boardagain, his thin lips drawn in a smirk as he looked at me. “That’sexactly what I plan on doing when I leave here.You?”he nodded in my direction.

Ass!He was trying to point out that I had nolife, and would probably neither be getting drunknor laid tonight. I was a virgin, resentfully. But he didn’t know that, and he didn’t have to. After all, who would want to sleep with a fat massive blob like me?

“So a party then?” George smiled, his eyes twinkling as he looked at me too. “You hear that Evelyn…you should take her with you. Lord knows Ms. Evelyn here takes everything too seriously. You need to have some fun…”

“George…!” I hissed, my cheeks flaming as I fought to keep from looking at Brice directly.

How embarrassing!I was being set up by aseventyyear old man.

“That’s not necessary really… I have plans tonight…”

“Really…? Like what?” Brice countered, that same smirk on his face as he movedhis game piece another seven squares.

“Yeah like what?” George piped upwith a tiny grin, snatching the dice from the board.


Shit!I hated being put on the spot. They both probably knew I didn’t have plans. What is it with everyone picking on the fat girl.I’m Fat! OKAY! I Get it!Nobody wants a fat chick at a party chockedfull of college hotties.

If I could do anything about it I would have already. I’dbeen born chubby, and had continued to bechubby all my life. Diets, exercise, starvation…none of that worked for me. If there was a pill for it, I’d taken it. The only thing that I hadn’t tried was surgery, and that wasn’t going to happen. My parents were middle class enough to secure a few students loans for my college education, but that was about it.

I scowled as they waited, both looking at me expectantly.

“Like coming with me tonight…” Brice smiled at George, the smirk gone from his face as he pulled his phone free from his pocket.

“I…can’t…Brice…and you know why!” I added, my fingers wringing together now at George’s puzzled look.

He was off again, muttering more to himself, but loud enough for me to catch the words hussy and no good.

“Look Evelyn…if this is about June…”

“Of course it’s about June! She’s my friend…”

“No…she’s not,” Brice said evenly, tapping a few buttons on his phone before sliding it back in his pocket. “I broke up with her because she’s fake. Her and her other friends too… You weren’t at the party last Friday…why?” he asked, his eyes rolling as I shook my head.

“How dare you… And it’s none of your business why I wasn’t there. I don’t do parties,” I huffed,my head held a little higher than before.

Shit! He probably thought I was an uppity bitch now…The truth was, with my neck stretched out, my double chin wasn’t as visible, and the reason why I didn’t do parties, is because I’d never been asked. But even if I wanted to, I couldn’t go to a party with Brice… June would…

“Is it because you’re overweight?” Brice pressed, that smirk back on his face again.

Fuck him!

“Fuck you…” I hissed, shoving myself up from the chairin one heave.

My belly jiggled as did my arms and thighs as I fled the rec room in a fast walk. I could feel him watching me as I turned the corner bythereceptiondesk, bursting through the glass double doors and out into the parking lot.

That prick! How dare he call me fat! How dare he….

“Evelyn! Wait!....”

Shit! Hefollowed me! What now…!?!?

“I wasn’t calling you fat… I mean I wasn’t saying that…”

Brice’s wordstrailed off as he caught up to me, a blush creeping into his cheeks as I whirled on him, my skirt billowing around me like a cloud. The pretty boy was flustered. Dark hazel eyes stared back at me, his normalcarefully arranged brown hair now mused as he ran his hand over his head in frustration.

“Look Evelyn…I meant what I said back there…you look nice today…and I would like you to come to the party. Even if it’s not with me…”

“Why? Is this some sort of joke?! Laugh at the fat chick! Make fun at my expense!”

I was shouting now, but it didn’t matter. The parking lot was empty except the two of us, and even if any of the residents had been outside, they probably wouldn’t have been able to hear me anyway.

“What?! No!” Brice protested, grabbing at my shoulderbefore I could back away from him.

I cringed as thewarmth of his hand slipped tothe soft flesh of my bicep; it probably felt disgusting to him.

“Get off me!”I cried, shoving my stiffened fingers into his chestas hard as I could.

“Dammit! Evelyn really? What’s your problem?!”

“You! You’re my problem! And everyone else too!”

There. I’d said it.The screams inside of me grew a little louder,sending my head intoa nauseating spin. It wasn’t fair that I was ugly and he wasn’t. It wasn’t fair that everyone used me as their personal stepping stool and I let them. It wasn’t fair that I hadn’t looked in a full length mirror since my mother had forced me to go to my senior prom wearing a bright yellow gown that made me look like a short yellow school bus.It wasn’t fair that I was stuck being fat for the rest of my miserable life.

“I like you…” Brice blurted suddenly, shattering my inner screams into a million pieces for a moment.

Of course he would say that! He probably needed my help getting June back!

“Sure Brice…uh huh…” I mumbled, turning away before he could see the tears in my eyes.

My fingers fumbled, but thankfully there wereonly two keys on the lanyard I wore around my neck: one for my car and one for my dormroom. My car door was open and I was stuffing myself inside the tiny Jetta beforeBrice thought to jump forward.He caught the door frame just as I tried to pull it closed, a hesitant smile on his face now.

“My place…ten…? I’ll wait until 10:30 if I have to. If we don’t get there by eleven all the good booze will be gone.”


“Don’t…” he interrupted my protest, his hands thrown up in surrender, releasing my door. “Don’t say no right now. Think aboutitEvelyn. You made it through your first year of college…surely you want to celebrate? If you come…I’ll be happy… Ifnot… Maybe another time…?” he asked, but I knew he didn’t really mean it as a question because before I could open my mouth he had turned and headed across the parking lot in the opposite direction.

I slammed the door with more force than was necessary for my raggedy old car. The hinges were barely holding on by the rust that had taken over the entire body. Gentle treatment was what had kept her going this long, but I was too mad to care. My foot slammed on the accelerator as soon as I got it started. First, second and then third gear squealed through my fingertips as I shifted with a vengeance, dodging my way in and out of Friday night traffic.

Brice Honeycutt had just asked me on a date… Sort of…

It would take more than a cute smile to convince me that he was a chubby chaser. I was not going to that party, and June would be the first one to know what had happened today. She was my friend.

Chapter 2*

I couldn’t stop watching the clock. 8:30 I’d walked into my room and collapsed on my bed, my emotions up and down as I replayed the conversation with Brice over and over in my head. When thetears started to come again, Iswiped them away and stomped off to the communal shower, thankful that I seemed to be the only person in on a Friday night. I usually tried to time my showers as early in the morning as possible.If you weren’ta resident advisor there was no privacy in these dorms, and I usually left the bathroom with my clothing drenched from undressing under the soaking wet spray. Having to hang them up to dry every day was better than the riskofbeing seen naked by any of the girls that lived on floor six with me.

9:00, I’d stood in front of my closet for twenty whole minutes playing a game of: if I were going to the party I would wear this…or this…or this… Except, there had been nothing hanging in there that I’d wear to a party. Every dress that I owned was made for hiding my round body as much as possible,not showing it off. Sexy was not in my vocabulary or my wardrobe when it came to‘going out’.

9:30 I slammed the closet door closed angrily, jumping back when the sheet I had covering the full length mirror jerked free and floated to the floor. There stood me, in all my round glory, an extra large beach towel barely covering what I didn’t want to see. Panic shot through me as I bent to retrieve the sheet, closing my eyes against the hideously fat girl reflected back at me. She was more than just fat, she was ugly! A double chin and pudgy cheeks jiggled back at me in the mirror as I stretched on tiptoe to tuck the sheet back over the top of the closet door. One side covered, and the towel slipped. The floor rumbled and I screamed, my arms flailing as I lost my balance diving for it, my body practically bouncing when my wet shower shoes slid out from under me.

I was no longer watching the clock. My eyes were fixed on the massive blob in the mirror. Legs skewed, belly heaving, I looked like three layers of beach balls piled on top of each other. Dull browneyes met mine in the mirror, and I cringed as thetears finally escaped. The only pretty thing about me was the shoulder length hair on my head, blonde highlights gracing dark brown locks. I’d donated more than ten inches of hair the summer before I started college, and my mother had insisted on a new look for my new beginning. She was right. The highlights did bring out the tone of my skin. Sun kissed despite my efforts to stay out of the sun and keep as much of me covered as possible. That little thought made me cry harder. Pretty hair did nothing to dull the pain I was feeling. Why me? Why wasn’t I born skinny? Why did I have to besofat? So ugly…?

I hadn’t seen myself naked in years. I closed my eyes when I dressed, and I was always carefulnot to let myhands smooth over my body. Looking in the mirror now, I felt sick, my eyes traveling from the tiny rolls in my neck, down my thick arms and over my swollen belly. I couldn’t even see my womanhood without leaning back and spreading my thighs, and even then the unkempt mass of curls between my legs hid what I refused to acknowledge unless I was on my period. I was too fat to reach down there and shave it off like all the skinny girls around here did. Some of them even shaved each other, not at all embarrassed if you walked in on them doing it in the communal bathroom.

“Who would ever want you?!” I sneered at the mirror through a snob, my eyes closing on the pathetic looking blob splayed on the floor.

Those six feet under kind of screams I mentioned earlier… They were back with a vengeance now, my body curling into a fetal like positionas I lay downon the carpet, my head against the closet door. I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t do it anymore. But I needed the pain to go away. I’d promised myself the same thing last week and the week before that, but still I reached for the box hiddenbetween the closet and my desk. I didn’t need to look to pull out what my fingers sought. Pain shot through my hand, and I didn’t even flinch as I pulled the shiny razor free, bright red blood already trickling from the quarter inch slice on my index finger.

This was new. I’d never watched myself cut before. I usually waited until I knew everyone was in bed, and the lights were out.But no one was here. They were all out celebrating.I could barely feel it in my handit weighed so little. My chubby fingers handled it expertly,turning the blade so that it was positioned in between my thumb andbloodyindex finger.Onmy elbow,I heaved myself into a sitting position, my tears shooting downward instead of sidewaysnowwith the sudden change in direction.

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