Lisa figures out her problem...
The next three weeks of school didn't go very well. Somehow I managed to make it through each day, but that was only because of Joe. Every night, we would call and check up on each other. If it weren't for Joe, I don't know what I would've done. Maybe I would've tried to run away or something.
Ever since we had arrived in New York, I had been feeling sick on and off. I kept getting these excruciating headaches and spells of dizziness. My mom was really worried about me. I tried to keep my symptoms to myself, but I wasn't so good at hiding it when I was in a lot of pain. The worst part was that I had been getting terrible stomach pains lately. Yesterday, I had gone flying out of math class and ended up vomiting all over the bathroom. Thank god that nobody had been in the bathroom at that point of time or else I would've been screwed!
But wait, even the stomach pains weren't the worst. For some reason, I found I looked like I had gained five pounds. Seriously, what was up with that? I didn't think I had been eating more since we had come to New York, but maybe I had done it without knowing what I was doing. I had heard that some people turn to food for "comfort" or whatever when they're struggling with life and stuff. But seriously, that just didn't seem like something I would do. Why else would I be getting fat though?
The last straw for me was lunch on Wednesday. I was still following Ashley's little clique around and we had just settled down at one of the school lunch tables. Ashley had pulled out her little bag of carrot sticks and celery for lunch while Brittany peeled her orange. I had a sandwich in my bag, but I didn't feel like eating it. I wasn't very hungry and all food was going to do was make me gain more weight. Right now, I had to concentrate on losing weight!
Ashley noticed I wasn't eating. After taking a big chunk out of her carrot stick, she turned to me and sighed with relief, "It's about time, girl! I was wondering when you were going to start realizing that you should go on a diet. Do you want some dieting plans and stuff? I could make some up for you if you wanted."
My face blushed tomato red. This was really bad if even Ashley had noticed my sudden weight gain. Actually, it wasn't exactly sudden. It had kind of creeped up on me during the last month. Trying to keep my embarrassment under control, I frowned and asked, "Is it that obvious that I've gotten fat?"
"You're not exactly fat, honey," Ashely stated, looking me over in the most undesirable manner. "You've just gotten a little chubby around your stomach and stuff. It's weird because the rest of you looks completely normal. Usually when people gain weight, it spreads out across their entire body. Not just their stomach."
I didn't reply to that. I didn't really appreciate Ashley giving me a summary of what my body was like and how unnatural it was. But the truth was, Ashley was right. It looked like all my weight had gone right to my stomach. How weird was that? Suddenly, I felt my stomach twist painfully and I felt the need to throw up.
Without warning, I jumped up from the lunch table, grabbed my school bag, and ran for the door. Instead of going to the bathrooms that were on the opposite side of the school, I ran through the hallway at top speed and rushed outside. I didn't look behind me to see if anyone was watching. I just ran behind the bushes, emptied my stomach, then flopped on my back on the ground, completely exhausted. That was weird too. Why would I be tired? I was almost never tired. But nonetheless, here I was, putting off the torture of just having to stand back up. God, I was turning into a lazy bitch!
Just as I was telling myself that I should probably stand back up and go back to class, a face peered down at me from above the bushes. Feeling kind of embarrassed to be found lying on the ground on my back, I struggled to my feet and smiled sheepishly. I recognized the guy as the other "new kid" who I had found ditching school a month ago. Since then, I hadn't really had time to talk to him. Sure, we saw each other in the hallway and waved at each other once in a while, but that was all.
I could feel butterflies in my stomach as I looked up into his soft, brown eyes. Today he was wearing a dark blue tank top and jeans with holes in them...and he was wearing that absolutely irresistible smile. Sounding a little breathless, I greeted him, "Hi!" He smiled back at me and replied, "Hey there. What are you doing out here at this time of day?"
"I...um...wasn't feeling well," I answered honestly. The guy's smile instantly disappeared and he looked at me with concern, "That's not good. What are your symptoms? How long have you been feeling this way? Have you seen a doctor yet?" I held up a hand to stop his stream of questions.
"One question at a time please!" I laughed, leaning against the side of the school because I felt like I was going to collapse at any moment, "But seriously, before I answer any of your questions, you really should tell me your name. I feel stupid not knowing who you are."
Blushing, he answered, "Oh sorry, didn't know I hadn't told you. Anyways, I'm Steven. So answer my question now?"
"Steven," I tried the name out. "Hm, I like it. It really fits you. And fine, whatever, I'll answer your question. But I forgot what it was so you're going to have to tell me again." Steven rolled his eyes and leaned against the brick wall of the school next to me, "Tell me what you're sick with. Like do you have a headache, stomach problems, a sore throat?"
"Well," I started, thinking of all the random things that had been happening to me over the last month or so, "I've been getting these really bad headaches. They don't usually last all that long, but they're really intense. I've also been feeling really tired lately, which is totally not like me since I'm never tired. And now I've been having stomach problems like all the time."
Steven clucked his tongue and scratched his chin as he thought over what I had just said. Since he hadn't replied yet, I felt a question impulsively burst out of my mouth, "Uh, Steven? Am I fat?" Steven, who had been looking across the parking lot, refocused his gaze on me and asked, "Huh? You're asking if you're fat?" Steven looked me up and down really quickly before shaking his head, "No...you're not exactly fat..."
Feeling that he was definitely lying, I narrowed my eyes at him and rephrased my question, "Am I fatter than when you first met me?" Steven looked at the ground, obviously thinking over his words carefully before replying, "Well, you were really skinny when I first met you. Now you look more...average I guess. But that certainly doesn't make you fat or anything. But anyways, why did you ask me that? Was someone picking on you or something?"
"Not exactly," I admitted, shrugging. "But I've gained a lot of weight lately and it's not like I've been eating more or anything. I'm starting to think something is wrong with me." Steven was wearing a really odd, unreadable expression on his face. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't tell what he was thinking.
Finally, he said, "So how long have you been having all these headaches for and stuff?" I thought back to when they had started. My first one had been a few days after we had moved here. After that, all the other symptoms had just kind of followed it. I answered, "About a month and a half. Why do you ask?"
Steven didn't answer for a few moments, he just continued to look down at his boots. I was about to prompt him when he answered, "Just curious. I was just trying to figure out what your sickness was. Um, did you do anything...uh....unusual or different before the headaches and everything started?"
I noticed how Steven avoided looking me in the eye as he said this. It was as if he wanted to ask me something, but didn't have the guts to ask it or something. So I merely replied, "No. Well, everything started just after I moved here. I always felt fine when I was back in Vermont. I wish I could go back there and see Joe..." I let my sentence drift off as I felt an all-consuming longing for Joe. Too bad Joe wasn't here now. He could comfort me and tell me that everything would be all right.
"Joe was your boyfriend, right?" Steven asked, still not looking at me. I nodded, not really sure why that was any of Steven's business or why he should care about whether or not Joe was my boyfriend. Steven continued awkwardly, "Were you and Joe really close? Did you know each other for a long time?"
"Yeah, I miss him so much you can't even imagine it..." I told him. I still wasn't getting why Steven was asking me this though. What did my relationship with Joe have to do with me not feeling well? They were two completely different subjects that had absolutely nothing to do with each other...or so I though.
"So why are we talking about Joe anyways?" I asked, trying to find some logic to Steven's random questions. "I thought we were talking about me being sick. So do you think you know what's wrong with me or something?" Steven chewed on his bottom lip and answered quietly, "Maybe. I'm not quite sure though. My guess could be totally off for all I know..."
"What's your guess?" I asked, not seeing why he hadn't already told me what he thought I was sick with. "You can't just tell me that you have a guess and then not tell me what it is you know." Steven met my eyes wearily and answered, "Lisa, I think you should really see a doctor. It's really crucial that you do."
"Yeah, okay, whatever," I said with no intention on actually going to the doctor. I hated doctors. They were mean and just liked to pick on you and make up things that are wrong with you. I prompted Steven, "So what's wrong with me?" Steven shifted from foot to foot, obviously not wanting to answer my question for unknown reasons.
He walked around so he was facing me and put his hands on my shoulders, drawing my eyes up to his, "Look, my stupid guess isn't going to do you any good. You're gonna have to see a doctor though. Promise me you will, okay? I'll take you to see one myself if I have to."
Steven was kind of making me nervous. Why was he being so serious and stuff all of the sudden? He had been so laid back and carefree the last time I had seen him. Frowning, I asked, "Why do you want me to see a doctor so bad? Am I dying or something and you just don't want to tell me or what?"
Steven managed a little grin, "No, you're not dying. You'll be fine, you'll see." He looked like he was going to say something more, but at that moment, a tall guy with light blonde hair who appeared to be a few years older than Steven stepped around the corner of the building and into sight.
"Ready to go to my house?" the guy asked Steven. Steven looked undecidedly from me to the guy and then back to me again. I waved him on, "Go on, I'll be fine. Have fun with your friend." When Steven still hesitated, I gave him a little push forward and added, "Seriously. Go."
Steven slowly walked towards his friend, glancing back at me nervously as he said, "Okay. I wouldn't normally go, but I have band practice and all." I raised an eyebrow at him; band practice? I didn't know that he was in a band. Wanting to hear more about it, I said the obvious, "So you're in a band?"
"Yeah," Steven said. He looked like he wanted to say more, but his friend was tapping his foot impatiently and giving Steven a let's-get-moving look. So Steven waved at me and gave me that usual grin that I loved, "I've gotta get going or else I'll be late. Maybe we'll talk more tomorrow, hm?"
I nodded, a little too enthusiastically. Talking with Steven would be the only thing that would get me through the next day at school. I watched Steven and his friend slowly retreat from the school and disappear from sight. Then I sighed and walked resignedly back towards the school. I couldn't ditch the rest of the day. Somehow I was just gonna have to find a way to survive social studies and the rest of the day.
~ ~ ~ ~
When school let out that afternoon, I wasted in time in flying out the doorway and racing across the lawn to my mom's awaiting car. My stomach was feeling kind of queasy and I was in a mood to get home and collapse on my bed for a while. Unfortunately, my mom had other plans for me.
As I tossed my school bag in the back seats and buckled myself in, my mom turned to me and said, "Hey Lisa, you don't mind if we run a few errands, do you? I normally don't ask you to, but we really need to go to the grocery store and the drug store to pick up a few things. Usually your dad does that, but he's been so busy lately that I don't want to disturb him."
I really did not want to go to the drug store or the grocery store, but I didn't really have a choice. If my mom wanted to go, we'd end up going whether I liked it or not. So I just shrugged and said, "Whatever you want to do, mom." My mom smiled over at me and patted my hand gently.
A few minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot of the local drug store. My mom thought for a moment and then suggested, "Why don't I drop you off here and let you pick up the stuff we need while I go to the grocery store and pick up the stuff we need there? When I finish with the groceries, I'll come back here and pick you back up. What do you think?"
"Yeah, okay," I agreed. My mom probably had a good idea. After all, me going to the drug store while my mom was at the grocery store would definitely save some time. My mom rummaged around in her purse for a moment and then handed me the list of stuff that we needed that she had made. I took the list from her, jumped out of the car, and walked into the building.
It was a small drugstore, pretty clean too. I glanced down at the list in my hands as I stood just inside the entrance. According to my mom, we needed shampoo, conditioner, and soap. It wasn't too hard to find those items. As a matter of fact, I had picked them all out within five minutes. Now I was bored and wasn't sure what to do. My mom was probably just getting to the grocery store right now. It would be a long time before she was back to pick me up.
So not knowing what else to do, I decided to browse through the store. I started towards the back of the store and made my way up to the front. Just as I walked down the isle of the last row, my eye caught something lying on the shelf. That was the moment that my mouth fell open, my stomach dropped, and I finally knew.