A Day in the Life of a Lima Bean
Where I grew up, there was a small creek just a few houses down from mine. I would lie on my belly with my legs up, just staring at the water; jealous of the way its shimmering made my reflection look almost princess like. The way my image would ripple with the small waves as the summer breeze blew around me was almost hypnotic. I never wanted to turn away from that image. Instead I wanted to fall in and become one with it. Ripple me and real me bonding together to take on all of life’s problems. I loved it there, it was the only place on earth I felt safe. I couldn’t even tell you who lived in that big, dumb house by the creek and to be honest, I hardly cared. To me, it was my sanctuary and sometimes even now as an adult I can close my eyes and smell it. A mixture of rushing water and rotting wood, blended with a hint of honeysuckle, sometimes it comes to me in my dreams.
I hate the long walk to my school with a passion! For one, it is a long walk, I mean seriously way too long of a walk. I have to leave my house at almost 7:30 to get there in time for the homeroom bell at 8:15. That’s forty five minutes of walking. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal to many people but I’m not a big fan of physical activity so yeah, my life pretty much sucks every single morning. That’s not even the worst part.
“Look its Fatty Fatterson!”
That is the worst part.
“I thought I felt a mini earthquake, it’s just fatty walking past us. Good morning Fatty!”
I rolled my eyes at the stupidity of some people. Not that it was ‘some’ people it was always the ‘same’ people and it happened every morning just before I crossed the little bridge that led up the long hill to my junior high school. Yes, it wasn’t bad enough that the walk took forever and a year, but after the bridge, you had to climb Mt. Everest and the payoff was school…oh joy and a half!
“There she goes, hold onto your shorts gentlemen or you just might fall over from the ground shaking under our feet.”
I hate my life, I really do, but I walked right past the boys and never even acknowledged their presence. My grandfather would have been so proud of me. He always told me to ignore the stupid people because when they die they will get lost on their way to heaven and end up in Kansas. My grandfather for some reason equated Kansas with hell, not sure why. He had never even set foot outside of New York, well besides Sicily which is where he ‘escaped’ from as he called it.
As always, once I pass the boys they end up following me for the rest of our trek to school. Usually I could care less but for some stupid reason I found myself wearing white corduroy pants. This would not have been a big deal except for the fact that I also felt those all too familiar cramps. So now I was paranoid that at any moment my white pants would turn a dark shade of crimson thereby giving the jerkalopes behind me something more to make fun of.
I decided to take my jacket off and wrap it around my waist, just in case. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with this stuff today! I barely wanted to go to school at all. I begged my father to let me stay home but he said…okay he screamed, “Lima get your ass out of that bed and get to school!” thus making my day just start off fantastically.
Glancing at my watch, I noticed that if I didn’t pick up my pace, I’d end up being late. I do not enjoy being late for things, and school is one of those things. Ugh! Have I mentioned how much I hate my life?
“Look, fatty is flying now…flying fatty! Get a look at that, have you ever seen something so funny!”
Translated from their native tongue of stupid-ese, they meant I had started to jog which I can’t believe either. There was no way I was going to be late though, I had a record to keep. In the three years I had been in this God forsaken school, I have never missed the first bell. Seems like such a trivial thing to be proud of but I’ll take what I can get. Of course I’m also one of the smartest kids in the school, but considering the people behind me are my competition, are we surprised? I think not.
Much to my surprise I made it up the hill pretty quickly, not bad for a fatty fatterson, I guess. By the time I got to my locker and took a seat in my homeroom the bell had just rung, my record still in tact I threw my arms up in the air and said “Wahoo!” to of course, a few stares.
I had gym during fourth period and on this beautiful spring day, my gym teacher who really didn’t want to be a gym teacher, decided that we should go on a nature walk. Who brings a bunch of eight graders out on a nature walk? The answer is simple, someone who is a gym teacher that doesn’t want to be. This woman drives me batty! She hates me; I’ll tell you that much and it’s mostly because of the way I look.
Big girls are discriminated against in gym class. This is probably a proven fact somewhere. I’m sure there’s been some kind of study. If I looked hard enough I can offer up evidence, proof of my claims, but for now my word will have to do.
“Lima, keep up with the rest of the class.” See? Even though I am not the last person in line, it’s me she feels the need to nag at.
I hate being in this class, none of my friends are in this class with me. They got the cool gym teacher, the one who actually loves his job. At least the plus side of this little nature walk of hers however, is the fact that I did not have to put on the hideous gym uniform. Mine is different from everyone else’s because of my size and believe me, some of these girls, most cheerleader wannabe’s, make sure to point that out. Oh maybe not maliciously, because they know that would get them into trouble. No, they are far too conniving and clever for that. They say things like, “Lima Bean…” My nickname from hell, “I wish I had your gym shorts. I hate the logo on mine. Yours are so unique…”
I know what that really means. “Too bad your gym shorts have to be specially made from a parachute to fit you.” They might as well come out and say that.
I found myself giving one of those girls a mean look. Her name’s Jenny and she by far is one of the most popular girls in this school. Nothing is wrong with this girl that I can tell anyway. She’s nice, funny, smart, and beautiful…gah! I hate her! She’s never really done anything wrong to me, but she’ll laugh along with the other ones when they say things like that. At least she waits until I walk away to do it though. People seem to think that once you are five feet away from them, you aren’t able to hear things they say. I never understood that.
“Hey Lima,” Jenny walked over to me and gently whispered into my ear, “You’re leaking through your pants. You might want to wrap your jacket around yourself.”
Not knowing what else to do besides bury my head in the sand and stay there for ten years, I smiled at her and nodded as I wrapped my jacket around myself. The afternoon was going to be a long one because of this. How the hell was I going to get through the rest of my day?
Jenny smiled once more before going back and joining her band of friends. There were giggles and whispers a plenty but she wasn’t the one doing it. Instead she turned and smiled at me once again, making me feel guilty for melding her into the same category as everyone else.
“Did you hear what I said Lima?”
“Yes,” I lied to my gym teacher.
“Okay then, repeat what I just told the class.”
I looked at her once more and than at all the expectant faces of the other girls standing around. The ones who didn’t have soiled pants, “I need to use the bathroom.” The answer brought about lot’s of laughter. She was not amused, but then again neither was I.
“You’ll have to wait until we get back to school.” Luckily, she decided to drop the harassment and went back to blabbering about whatever it was that didn’t hold my interest in the first place.
I wanted to cry, suddenly feeling so self conscious and alone. When these feelings crept up on me I never quite knew how to handle them. I’d be fine, almost happy then all of the suddenly there they’d be like huge bricks to my heart. It hurt physically, when this kind of sadness hit me. Really, when people say ‘oh so and so died of a broken heart,’ even if it’s meant metaphorically, I have a feeling it feels something like the way I was feeling right in this moment.
“Are you okay?” I glanced up from my thoughts to once again see Jenny standing there with her hand on my shoulder. “You look like someone just killed your best friend.”
“I don’t have a best friend.” I confessed.
She looked at me awkwardly then and I could tell she was thinking I was some kind of freak, “Oh…well you just seem sad, is everything okay? I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings by telling you about your pants.”
The sincerity in her blue eyes made me trust her. “No, I’m just having one of those days I guess.” I admitted, trying my best to shake my mood off of me and leave it on the dying grass that we were standing on.
“Those kinds of days suck.” She winked at me and in that moment I knew we’d be friends someday.
Lunchtime at South Junior High School is a joke and a half. There’s barely enough room for all of the kids that are crammed into the cafeteria. The line for lunch is always out the door and if you aren’t quick enough, by the time you actually get your food, the bell rings. The only good thing about lunchtime is it means that the school day is almost over.
I know I’m making it sound like I hate school, in all honestly it’s not true. I love learning, always have and most likely always will. It isn’t the school I hate but the people who populate the school. Nothing makes that hate more clear then lunch.
The fat girl never eats lunch, ironically enough. She has no money and her father never thinks to give her any so she just uses this time to sit along the huge benches of random, moody teens like herself and put her head down on the table and just take a little nap. Whispers can be heard during this time. I like to call it quiet time. Just two seats away from me, I hear my friends Amy and Paul, flirting with each other. They both say they aren’t interested but you can instantly tell they are just by the slight elevated inflection in their voices as they joke about politics. They know to leave me alone when I’m in my quiet time, especially if it involves a bowed head.
Across from them is Randy, another friend of mine. She’s had a tough life, not as tough as mine though. I win that contest hands down every time. Still, her mother ran away with her father’s ex best friend when she was only five. Her story has a happy ending because her father remarried a great lady, who also happens to be one of the richest people in our little town. Her step mom was also the ‘real’ mom to the most adorable, sexy, gorgeous specimen to ever walk the planet, Mr. Chad Hamilton.
“Did Bean just sigh?” I hear Randy ask Amy.
“Yup, I believe she did.”
At least they leave out Lima and just call me Bean. I don’t mind that. Bean is cute…Lima is weird. Who names their daughter after a bean? Although my father would say, “it’s not after the bean honey, it’s after the city. Your mother always wanted to go to Lima, her dying wish was to be buried there.”
“Why?” It was one of the endless mysteries of the Mynah family and yes it does rhyme with Lima. Why a seemingly logical and smart woman like my mother would name her daughter Lima Mynah remains the biggest unanswered question in the universe. Maybe she wanted people to mock me? Maybe Doctor Spock wrote a book when he was drunk, which instructed expectant mothers to give their children rhyming names or maybe, like my father suggested, she just loved Peru? I think I’d have preferred to be called Sherpah Mynah or maybe Llama Mynah.
So back to Chad Hamilton…
“She just sighed again.” This time it was Paul.
“Wow, lunch is over already? It doesn’t seem like it’s been 45 minutes.” Once the bell rings I decide to raise my head and of course I grimace from the glare of the fluorescent lights.
“It lives…” Were my friends departing words to me as I make it through yet another lunch period…ugh speaking of periods, I need to run to the bathroom.
Chad is dreamy; seriously I melt whenever I see him and fortunately for me, that’s fairly often since we are in many of the same classes together. Besides being drop dead gorgeous, the boy is also smart. I sit behind him in Geometry class and can barely see over him, so I don’t even bother looking at the board. Instead I focus my attention on his long, flowing blonde hair. That’s where I am now, about halfway through my geometry class, only two more periods to go until the end of the school day.
I have to admit that this is my favorite subject this year and it has nothing to do with math. I can tell he uses a soft shampoo on his hair just by the sweet smell. I really have to stop myself from reaching over and petting him as if he was my golden retriever. His hair reaches all the way down past his shoulders. It’s the new look among the hippies, some of the other kids snort. They are just jealous because they could never compete with him. If all hippies were as gorgeous as my Chad, then the world could gladly be a huge mountain of hippies, a veritable plethora of ‘peace, love and joyousness’ from end to end and it would make me happy.
He turned slightly, just so I could see one of his very blue eyes, “What are you humming?” he asks me.
It occurs to me at that point that I was humming, Good lord I’m humming in math class! “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” I smiled at him; I have the worst smile ever! It’s crooked.
“I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.” He sang it right back to me without even missing a beat.
“It’s so nice you both feel the need to break out into song in the middle of my class, but I was wondering if I could maybe continue on with my lesson now?”
I look up at Mr. Tompkins and nod, “Sorry…” I was embarrassed all over again. How many times is that today? I’m afraid I have lost track.
Once Mr. Tompkins walks away and back to the board, Chad turns to me and smiles. He has the whitest teeth ever and as opposed to mine, the nicest, straightest smile one could possibly have. I want to have fifteen of his babies.
He’s the highlight of my entire day, the one thing that makes getting up every morning worthwhile. That may sound really pathetic and that’s only because it is, but it’s not like I have anything else to be excited about.
That’s when I come to a realization, right in the middle of geometry class. One of the reasons I am so drawn to this boy who’s sitting in front of me, is because he isn’t afraid to look me in the eyes. Most boys are afraid to do that when you look like me. It’s almost like they fear if they look you in the eyes, you’ll be able to see through to their souls and how shallow they actually are. I joke about this with my thinner friends, which is all of them. I tell them that it’s one of the blessings of being huge. We can always tell right away the jerks from the good guys. No one tries to impress me, certainly not any boys. None of them put on airs or act all macho around me, because most of them, some of my guy friends included, wouldn’t want me to get the wrong impression. God forbid I might like one of them as more than just friends.
Chad is different. Whenever he speaks to me, he looks me square in the eyes. He’s not afraid to be seen talking with me. I don’t embarrass him. He makes me feel like a woman and sadly, that’s not something I feel like too often. I am not a moron. I know I don’t stand a chance, but even still for that one period of the day, when he’s close enough that I can potentially lay my head on his shoulder, it does something to me.
The walk home at the end of the school day is usually a little longer than the one in the morning, maybe because I’m exhausted or maybe just because with every step I realize its school that makes me happier than home. You’d think by now I’d just naturally know this but yet it always comes as a big surprise at the same time everyday.
At the bottom of the hill is a line of cars, all full of parents taking time out of their busy schedules to greet their children and take them home. I do not have this same luxury, so I pass them by and smile to some of the ones I recognize as I continue over the small bridge.
It’s a lot hotter than it was this morning, so I find myself wanting more than anything a drink or at least a paper fan to dry my sweat stained face. I am also becoming more self conscious about the way I may smell, what with the heat and sweat and all. I am pretty paranoid when it comes to body odor so of course I want to smell my pits to make sure I’m not going to kill any small animals that happen past me. It is of course at that exact moment that the jerkalopes from the morning once again make their appearance.
“Hey look! Fatty is smelling herself. Are you frying fatty? Look guys we have a frying fatty here!”
The other idiots think that’s the funniest thing they have ever heard. They laugh like cartoon hyenas as I pick up my pace and walk away from them. One day, I’ll turn around and confront them. Maybe walk up to the leader of the pack and spit on his shoes. Part of me thinks I don’t fight back because inside I secretly agree with them and it’s that thought that stays in my head as I end my long walk home.
I stand outside of my house for a few minutes before deciding to turn and walk the other way. Home is not where I feel like being right now which is kind of funny considering it’s all I’ve thought about since I woke up this morning. No, instead I find myself walking towards the sound of the running water. There it would be nice and cool and most importantly, it would be free of human contact.
I get there and take my usual spot, by a bent tree, its leaves dangling in the water as they are brushed by the current. Little by little the leaves are forced from their spots as they float along with the flow of the water. ‘I probably should have at least gone inside and changed my pants before coming here,’ is a thought that briefly crosses my mind.
The water is angrier than usual today. The small guppies seem to be jumping in and out of the currents trying to break free from the rage of the creek. Glad to know I’m not the only one having a bad day I guess.
Grabbing a small patch of grass from the earth, I can’t help but feel the need to suddenly jump into the water and let it take me away from all of these feelings. I’m sure if I just let myself float along with the current I’d end up in a happy place. Somewhere that fathers are waiting for their daughters to come home, so they can be bathed in love. Somewhere that mothers live to see their daughters walk down the aisle. Somewhere that allows people like me to be happy.
I even take my shoes and socks off and get closer to the edge. That’s when I hear muffled laughter, so I look downstream a little further. It’s hard to tell who they are from this far away, so I squint. This reminds me that I need to bug my father to get me a new pair of glasses. Like that’s going to happen, who am I kidding?
Even though I can’t really see them, the laugh I hear is unmistakable, I’d know it anywhere. Normally this would excite me, but it only makes me feel worse. Maybe if he wasn’t giggling with someone else, but he is and as they come closer into my view there’s no mistaking who the other person is, of course, why would it be anyone else?
“Hey Lima, we thought it was you.” Jenny and Chad are holding hands, there’s no mistaking it. They are a couple; it would have been nice if Randy told me this.
“Hey,” I say staring at the ground. I was afraid to look up because I knew he wouldn’t make eye contact and that would just about kill me right where I stand.
“What are you doing out here?” The way she’s speaking to me, you’d think I was a lost little child or worse yet, her charity case. Maybe that’s why she was being so nice to me, because she felt sorry for me.
“I always come here.” I felt bad for my snappish reply; she recoiled at the sharpness of it.
“I don’t blame you, it’s nice here. We’ve just discovered it.” He wasn’t saying anything at all. I wanted him to speak, maybe hum a few bars of the duet we sang earlier when he used to be the one thing I looked forward to, but not anymore.
“I should get back home.” She said after a few minutes of uncomfortable silence.
I nodded at her and smiled, she did the same, and he acted like I wasn’t there. It made me sad that even though my pants said otherwise, I no longer felt like a woman. There was a small splash in the creek and I could see that one of the branches of the sloping tree had finally stopped struggling against the weight of the water and broke in half. It floated past me pretty quickly.
I didn’t stop and think, all rational thought left my mind as I walked to the edge of the creek and jumped in after that branch. The water felt cold but oddly comforting as it sucked me underneath and pulled me along to what I hoped was a happier place.