Chapter Twenty-One – The Fish Farm – In Scott’s Eyes
1997 – Mom is 48, I am 23, Julie is 20
I see Julie pull in, here to visit Gramps, make him cookies I suppose. I’m out back chopping wood, again. It’s a never-ending process. I don’t know why we can’t just use the fricking furnace. I don’t really want to see Julie yet, or more so, I don’t want her to see me. I’ve gotten pretty big since last time I saw her, and I just don’t want to see the disappointment in her eyes. I don’t want to hear the comments she’ll probably make. I don’t know how this all has happened. I don’t know how I’ve gotten so big. I work really hard, do a lot of physical stuff all day, most days. I know I eat a lot, I’m addicted to food, but why am I gaining so much weight? It’s just not fair. Other people eat a lot too, but seem to never gain a pound. My cousin Mike, for instance, he works a lot too, and eats a lot, but he’s all cut and trim. I don’t get it. There’s something wrong with me, I just know it.
Gramps is calling for me, Julie must have asked where I am. He’s taken to calling me “Skinny” now, which is not funny. I hate it, actually. But I guess it’s his way of not calling me fat. I guess that’s better somehow, I don’t know. Anyway, I’m not gonna answer him, I’ll just let the two of them catch up for a while. Jesus, I hate chopping wood. It hurts. My back is all screwed up, and my knees are hurting a lot lately. I know it’s because of this weight. I have to sit down a lot now, and it pisses me off. I just wish I was normal-sized. I don’t want to be like this anymore. I just hurt all the time. I think I’m gonna quit for the day. Just gotta get some wood in, and then I’ll be done. Julie will make us something yummy for dinner, she always does. God! Why do I always have to think about FOOD! Why is that the ONLY thing that ever gives me happiness? Forget it, I’m just not even gonna eat tonight. I’ve got to get over this. I’ve got to stop thinking about food every second. And eating it. Ohhhh, I hate this. My life sucks. And my back hurts, and the damn dogs are in my way coming in the door with the wood. And I’m sweating, and Julie is in the kitchen already, and I just want to crawl in a hole, I can’t even look at her right now.
"Hey Scooter, how are ya?" Julie’s all peppy, and annoying.
"Fine, MOVE DOG!" The dogs are always in the way. Dogs are more revered than people in this neck of the woods. "Shit! Dammit!" I’m grunting and sweating and cursing as I lug firewood in the house with an old wheelbarrow. God, I just wanna die.
"Want some help?"
"No! I'm fine." I snap at her and am instantly mad at myself. Why am I taking it out on her? She’s done nothing wrong. She’s just being Julie, which is a good thing. But why does she always get to be the good one?
"Okeeey." She knows I’m in a mood. I hope she doesn’t take it personally. I’ll visit with her in a second, when I’ve rested a bit. When I calm down. I need some water, god, I’m so damn thirsty. But after unloading the wood, I’m just too tired to get it. I make it to the couch in the back room, and plop my fat ass down, wipe the sweat off my face with my shirt, and pant like a frickin’ dog. Everything is so hard to do lately. I hate it.
"Here, have some water." As if she read my mind, Julie hands me a glass of water and sits down next to me. I guess I’m gonna have to look at her now. See the disappointment in her eyes. Face her thoughts. "Workin' hard today, huh?"
"Yeah, always." She’s looking at me, but just right in my eyes. She doesn’t see my fat! She doesn’t see my fat! Wow, her eyes look happy to see me. I don’t see any disappointment or shame. It’s just not there. Wow.
"What do you want for dinner tonight? Thought I might make chicken dumplings for Gramps. Sound good?"
"Mmmmmmm, yeah, nummies." God, dumplings sound good. Food sounds good. I’m starving. My sister’s here, and she doesn’t hate me, and she’s gonna cook me dumplings. I love life sometimes.
"You're a dork, and I hate when you make those sounds."
"Why? They're my nummy sounds."
"Yeah, that's why."
"Whatever." Well, there it is. The disappointment, after all. Not in her eyes, but in her words. I guess it’s just my life now. One big ball of shame. I’m tired. I’m hungry. And I’m sick of my life.
Julie heads back to the kitchen, and I stay on the couch for a while. She sings and chops things, and puts things in a pot to cook. She mixes and pours, and puts things in a bowl to bake. Making dumplings, and cookies, all at once. She’s doing all things that make Gramps happy. And she loves it. But it bothers me sometimes, that she can just come out here every once-in-a-while, make him a couple dinners and dozens of cookies, and he’s over the moon about it. He talks about her visits for weeks, until the next one. I work all day, every day, for him, and he never even says ‘thank you’. He rarely ever tells me I did a good job, or anything else. But that’s just the way he is. And I still love him. I wish I could make him proud of me. I know he loves me, but I wish he liked me more. He can’t stand to see me the way I am. And I can’t stand to see his disappointment. I just wish things were different.