Big Bird, A Memoir

By Kathy Payne

I am 10. Taller, bigger, than other girls. My friend’s father calls me “Big Bird”. Being different sucks.

I am 12. A calorie-counter book is my constant companion, my bible. I record everything I consume in a diary and calculate the daily totals. If I stay under the limit, it’s a good day.

I am 14. My mother serves bacon and eggs for dinner one night. Gross! I cannot eat that, it’s absolutely out of the question. Think, quick!

“Can I eat in my room?” Scrape, ding, clang. Exaggerated sounds of cutlery as I smear the offensive, calorie-laden offerings across the plate. Delighted by my own cleverness, I stuff the food into a container, storing it for later disposal.

I am 15. What’s wrong with me? I’m too fat to have boyfriend, as other girls do. A local boy calls me a “lump of lard”. I resolve to start another diet. 

I am 21. My big party. I feel out of place. I see family members frantic in the kitchen, stressing out. This is not what I expected – or wanted. This was a mistake. I step outside for some fresh air, wishing I could just go home. I wonder if anyone would notice.

I am 22. “Best time” of my life? Ha! Everything is wrong. I have a “useless” degree, a quiet social life, and despair of ever having a boyfriend. Who would want me? “Everyone else” my age is having a wonderful time. “Everyone else” has lots of friends and goes out clubbing every weekend. “Everyone else” is having a blast. Why aren’t I? 

I am 23. “Can I have two vanilla slices and hedgehog slice, please?”

My regular Saturday order (slices are handy for eating in the car). I demolish them as I drive, feeling a “release”, but no joy. Custard, icing, chocolate – the sweet taste of my binge barely registers. 

I bring them back up in the shower, hoping the food doesn’t block the drain, lest I be discovered. I never was.

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Kathy Payne hails from Melbourne, Australia. She is currently exploring a range of genres and story lengths. Kathy is a life-long sci-fi and fantasy fan, and a mother of humans and whippets. You can find her on Twitter.

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