Monday, April 01, 2013

Into the big sleep

Fat, I think
Cynthia Timmons was the youngest of a missionary family's second set of twins, both adopted. Her family came from California. Her dad worked for World Vision—a development organization that my family judged as being too rich—proved by the vicious monkey he kept chained in their driveway. He'd adopted the chimp young and it turned cruel later. When we went to visit their house, we had to sprint from the car to the house. Cynthia and her identical twin were different, also, aliens among us, if I feel like making excuses for her. Filipina by descent, adopted as an infant, she bullied me on the playground—really a park attached to a pool, accessible to us because of the apartment our missionary cooperative rented as a schoolroom. I remember the crucial moment when she convinced me, cornered me. She was casually, unintentionally cruel.

Fatso,” she said.

I didn't know enough to let it lie. I chased her, first one side of the littorea bush, then the other. She was dark, lithe, small. I was chubby and easily winded, the girl always sitting in the corner reading, the girl who walked with an open book in her hand along the soi to recess. Cynthia dodged and laughed.

Fatso, fatso, fatso,” she said, as if discovering that word's power. As if discovering the magic spell that would hold me in thrall for the rest of my life.

Fat, I think, looking in the mirror. Fat, I think, putting my body through cleanses and fasts. Fat, I think, gaining it all back. Why couldn't I just let her run away?

No comments: