Meanwhile, my mom, her eyes as big as can be, is sitting quietly, her kindly face filled with concern. It must tear her apart to know I’m being bullied, but I hope for the best. Maybe they have something totally unrelated to tell me? Maybe Aunt Bee in Indiana finally got out of rehab? Anything is possible when it comes to Auntie Bee.

Unfortunately, no such luck.

“Tilly, sweetheart, I just got off the phone with Principal Hartman. He told us about your little incident today with that Samantha Nelson girl. That was very, very rude of her. I just cannot believe anyone would treat you like that. Your father and I are so sorry that you had to deal with that today,” my mom says, her eyes tearing.

I can feel my face begin to burn up again as I replay the scene in my mind. Who does Samantha think she is anyways? Does she know she’s made my mom cry?

“Your father and I realize that maybe we haven’t set the best example health-wise, and that this incident was related to your weight. But you have to understand, we just don’t believe the value of a person lies in the shape of their body. And men and women of all different sizes are beautiful. If you are happy and comfortable the way you are… then baby, you just brush yourself off and forget all about this Little Miss Samantha. Because at the end of the day all that matters is how YOU feel.”

Mom takes a moment to pause here. She breathes in and purses her lips, carefully deciding how to say what is coming next.

“Now with that said, if you’re having issues at school and it’s making you want to try to lose a little weight, you should know we will always be here to help and encourage you. You know that your father and I love and support you. And it might be fun to get healthy as a family! How about that? We can start eating a little better, and maybe go on some family walks around the neighborhood.”

“Um thanks,” I say in a trembling voice. “But I don’t think that’s necessary. It’s not that I don’t believe in a healthy lifestyle, it’s just that this is how we are, Mom and Dad. We’re round people. Even Aunt Bee and Uncle Edmond are round. We can’t help it.”

My parents nod.

“Yes, but sweetheart, we’re happy to get a family gym membership, if that’s what you want,” my dad says tentatively.

I slam a hand down on the table.

“No, that’s not what I want! We shouldn’t let some bitch bully us into feeling bad about how we look! And it’s not even about you guys! It’s about me. Samantha Nelson hates me, and those are just the cards I’ve been dealt. I have to figure how to deal with this on my own,” I say fiercely.

My parents are shocked at my vehement reply, but they shake their heads.

“No sweetheart, you don’t have to deal with this on your own. Principal Hartman thinks it would be best to have what he calls a ‘truth and reconciliation meeting’ at school later this week. He wants the three of us to meet with himself and the Nelsons to work this all out.”

I can’t believe my ears.

“ABSOLUTELY NOT! I don’t want to even face Samantha, much less have a heart to heart with her! What, do they think she’s going to change overnight? No, I refuse. I am not doing that.”

My dad holds up a hand in a placating manner.

“Tilly, I know it won’t be an easy thing to do, but I think Principal Hartman is right. This is something you girls need to work out. You’ll feel better about the whole thing after talking about it face-to-face.”

Clearly, they don’t know Samantha Nelson. They don’t know that she’s evil to the core, and that nothing can change her. Mom sees that the look of horror has not yet dissipated from my face, and I’m sure she can see the tears beginning to well up behind my eyes as well.

“You won’t be there alone, sweetheart. Your father and I will be there to mediate and to support you.”

I shake my head furiously.

“No, this stupid truth and reconciliation thing will only make things worse! Don’t you see?” I blurt out before I realize the words are even coming. “Sam will only use it as another reason to pick on me. Confronting her is not going to help. Involving my parents? Talking about how she made me feel? Can’t we just pretend this never happened and move on? I’m just going to ride out the next few months under the radar, graduate, and move on with my life. Shoot, if I have to, I’ll transfer to private school for the rest of senior year. I’m sure Nicole won’t mind transferring with me. She hates those girls just as much as I do.”

Tags: Winter Renshaw Romance