Pregnant Without a Cause by Wilshire Lewis
It really annoyed Callie Scharf when know-it-alls blabbed about how children suffer from a divorce and blame themselves. Sure Callie suffered, but she knew who was responsible. Her father got 75% of the blame for being a selfish brute, and her mother 25% for being a hysterical twit. But herself? Zero percent. In fact, Null Set. She had other problems. School started Monday.
Callie walked down the main breezeway of Cholla Vista High School from the gym to the parking lot, the single sheet of her new class schedule waving in her hand with an immeasurable weight, an outline of her dread. The buildings and campus sat deserted and huge, baking. And waiting. Callie imagined the same sidewalk as it would be on Monday: crowded with students bumping shoulders, oozing attitude, shouting stupidities. Her peers.
So was she ready for school? She did the rundown. Massive thighs? Check. Hideous clothes? Definitely. Zits galore? Well, there was still time.
The sidewalk was speckled with dots of gray, green, and pink gum, dried and flattened into pepperonis on the concrete. Callie sighed. Could the idiots in this school possibly keep their gum in their sodding mouthes? She turned the corner and stepped out into the full force of the sun. Naturally it was hot. Phoenix. August. What else would it be but hot? Her mother’s car—complete with mother, code name Michelle—stood waiting at the edge of the frayed, empty parking lot. Callie opened the door and slid in. At least the air conditioning was already on. One brief shining moment in her day. She clicked the seat belt into place.
Her mother smiled at her with a cheerfully determined expression against which any and all complaints would be pulverized into little puffballs. “Well, how’s it look?”
Callie pulled the car door closed and stared at the massive school. She didn’t want to talk about it, she just wanted to go home. “Not bad. I got Photo. And Zam’s in it.”
A cell phone made a soft tinkle in the purse on the floor. Callie knew that in her mother’s condition it would be a struggle to reach that far, so she bent to retrieve it. Her mother put up her hand. “No. It’s only Edouard. This week it’s nearly always Edouard.”
“Because of the show?”
“Of course,” she sighed. “What else?”
Edouard was her mother’s on-again, off-again, off-again, off-again boyfriend. Not one of Callie’s favorite people, nor, she had thought until a few days ago, one of her mother’s. But then Edouard and Michelle became finalists on Fat Chance. And now they were definitely on-again, again. So Edouard would be back in Callie’s life. What a bonus.
Her mother started the car and drove toward the parking lot exit. “Admit it, are you excited for school?”
“Excited!” Bollocks cheerful! Callie needed to make her see how awful this year was going to be. “I do not want to go to school, Mom. At least not this school.”
“You don’t have to.” The determined look hardened. “Not until Monday.”
Not until Monday. So amusing.
Her mother smiled. “You are smart, pretty, friendly, funny.” All she needed was pom poms. “You have a lot going…”
“What I am is a great, fat cow.”
Callie got that from BBC America, her choice of bad cable channels this summer. On BBC, any female, even a supermodel, could be a great, fat cow. It was funny. But she really was fat now, fatter than she had ever been. Callie knew there were more important things in life than looks. She knew her mother had much more important problems, what with her coming blessed event. But Callie’s selfish, petty problems hurt!
“Well, there’s nothing you can do about that in one weekend. Calories in—”
Callie did not want to hear it. “Yes, yes! Calorie algebra! A in minus B out equals your past, present, and future. Yes, I will remember that when those sodding cows give me a dirty look when they pass, like they are having to walk around the sodding iceberg that smashed the sodding Titan…” She really had to stop it. “I also got band. Marching around in that sod— that uniform will take ten pounds off. All it will be is water weight of course.”
“No, marching is calories out.” Her mother slid her sunglasses up onto her hair like a barrette. “See, that’s problem solving. Like we’ve talked about.”
God, not again. Callie closed her eyes. Her mother couldn’t see how hopeless it was. She had never been a toad. Though chubby, and at the moment big as an Escalade, Michelle had the kind of old-fashioned beauty Callie knew she had not inherited, including gorgeous honey-brown hair with natural blonde highlights.
“You have such a great band.” Her mother smiled stubbornly. “I love to hear you guys.”
“Debbie Arthur graduated.” Callie sighed.
“Who’s Debbie Arthur?”
“The glockenspiel? She’s the reason we went to State. She’s the one everyone cared about.”
“All right, all right!”
They drove in silence through the relentless noontime. The single pedestrian they passed didn’t look sweaty, but you knew he had to be.
“Yeah,” said Callie, still staring out the window. “So by Christmas, I can look forward to just being dumpy again, but not the Pillsbury Doughgirl.”
“Would that be better or worse?”
“Better,” Callie grunted. But her Christmas look wouldn’t help her on Monday. “Hardly anyone has seen me this summer except Zam and Fiona. So everyone will notice that I’m fat. They won’t know my name or anything about me but that here’s this great fat prat of a cow. They won’t care.”
“Callie, dear, attitude is everything.”
“Oh, stow that.” Callie turned away. “And what will I wear?” She shouted at the window glass. “That won’t make me look, A, bloated, or B, like I’m trying to hide my bloatedness?”
“You’ve got some very nice clothes.”
Callie slumped back into the seat, defeated. Oh, for a time machine or some similar miracle to get her to a slim, happy future where people actually liked her.