A Taste Of Something Better
Jody never forgot her mother's wake.
The faces of her relatives, so solemn and comforting.
Her black velvet dress, an outfit she never wore
again. Aunts telling her to eat, as if slices of
chocolate cake would take away the pain.
Eating, and actually feeling somewhat better.
In fact, she remembered more of her Aunt Clarice's
lasagna than she did of her mother. She'd always see
that as a flaw--
Fat, disgusting loser.
--rather than a normal consequence of losing a mother
early. She always hated herself, always wanted to
smash the mirror--
Nothing. Nobody. No one will ever love you.
--but she never did. Instead, she ate.
It would make her feel better for a moment. Then,
she'd remember how she looked and the circle of
self-hatred would start anew.
It was in junior high that she realized just how fat
she was. Previously, she allowed herself to half buy
into her father's assertions of her prettiness. But
with the burgeoning sexuality came an increased amount
She grew to be hyper-aware of her similarity to
Whale. Pig. Dog.
--and started to learn the depth of cruelty in virtual
She ate more, she cried more, she had more balls of
paper flung at the back of her head. She counted
calories to no avail. She ate to keep from thinking;
all she could think about was food.
In junior high, she learned just how worthless she
was. But, it was also when she met Chloe.
Chloe sat next to her in fifth period; behind her was
Pete. Chloe and Pete talked to each other, not really
paying attention to her presence. It was fine with her
- blending in was preferable to the horror that came
with people noticing her girth.
Sometimes, she wanted to be a ghost. But mostly, she
wanted to be thin. She wanted to be beautiful.
She didn't think it would come true.
One day her attempts at being invisible faltered, at
least when it came to Chloe. She had heard the girl's
voice saying, "Hey. Hey," but she had no clue it was
directed at her until a finger poked into her
Jody looked up in alarm; if someone had deigned to
touch her, it would probably lead to a rather biting
insult. "What?" she asked in a tiny voice.
"Are you okay?" Chloe asked. "You seem a
"I'm fine," was her perfunctory response.
"Well, I was just--"
"Miss Sullivan," Mr. Thompson shouted, "does this
little conversation of yours have to do with the Civil
"No," she replied coolly. "I'm sorry."
After the bell rang, Chloe spoke to her again. "What I
wanted to say was...do you want to have lunch with
us?" Jody stared at her blankly, so Chloe took it to
mean she didn't understand the concept. "It would be
me. Pete. Clark. Do you know Clark?"
"I've seen him around," Jody mumbled. She looked over
to Pete, who wore a look of sympathy. Her eyes moved
back to Chloe, who she couldn't read at all. "Why?"
"Why would you want to have lunch with me?"
Chloe's smile became a little less wide. "Because I'm
new around here and I want to get to know people. And
because I've noticed you eat alone, so--"
Just charity. People can only look down on you.
"--I thought you might want to hang out with us."
Jody wasn't sure how to react. She didn't know if she
could trust her at all. Still, she found herself
Nothing bad happened at lunch. Clark and Pete were
nice. Chloe was lovely. And when a couple of jocks a
few tables down made pig noises, Chloe glared at them
like she didn't have any fear.
Jody thought she could kiss Chloe for that. And she
couldn't figure out where such a thought came from.
Chloe invited her to her place after school; she
"What was it like, living in Metropolis?" Jody asked
as she tapped her fingers on Chloe's desk.
"Fun, I guess. Cities and small towns both have their
advantages--" She paused. "Oh, who am I kidding? I
loved it. Not that I hate it here. I mean, I adore
Clark and Pete already--" Another pause, and then a
big beautiful smile. "I'm rambling, aren't I? I'm
sorry. I haven't let you talk at all."
"It's okay." Truth was, she loved listening to Chloe.
She had a rhythm and energy all her own. "I don't have
anything interesting to say."
"I'm sure you do."
Jody let out a bitter laugh that sounded like a
Pig. Pig. Disgusting pig.
--and mumbled, "Like what? How everyone hates me? How
I can't stand to look at myself?" She felt like she
was going to cry. Finally, someone wanted to talk to
her and all she could do was act--
Pathetic loser. Who could stand you?
--silly. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be." Chloe's face was etched in sympathy, but
it seemed more honest than any pity look she had
Jody wasn't sure whether to be happy or depressed. For
once, she decided on happy.
"And, anyway," Chloe added, "I don't hate you."
Yes. She was definitely happy.
From then on, she became Chloe's friend. She wasn't
one of the group, per say - Pete and Clark were the
only standards in Chloe's life. Jody was on the
periphery, sharing occasional lunches and after-school
It wasn't much, but it was more than anyone had given
It was more than enough. And, she even found a
protector in Chloe, Pete, sometimes Clark. It didn't
stop the taunts--
Pig. Dog. Fatso. Tons of fun.
--or her inner monologue--
Stupid. Disgusting. Pathetic. Never good enough.
--but it made her feel better than before.
And there were things that made her feel better than
anything. Like Chloe's arm around her shoulders, Chloe
playfully slapping her on the leg after a stupid joke.
Like Chloe in general.
She felt happy. Sometimes.
The first day of high school was awful. Chloe was
preoccupied with Clark, who was preoccupied with Lana.
The jocks' taunts came full blast, presumably
recharged from a summer of holding it in.
She was miserable. But, that day, Chloe came over to
her house. On and on she talked about the effects of
the meteor crash. Jody listened, if only because she
still loved how Chloe talked.
She'd grown to love it even more than before.
After that, Chloe's visits - and invitations for
visits - became erratic. She was busy with the Torch.
Not to mention Clark, Pete, her search for wisdom and
truth. Usually, she just came over to get some clarity
on the latest algebra lesson.
One day, it was all a bizarre blur. She came over
muttering about what a crazy town Smallville was,
switched into a diatribe on Clark's ambiguity, then
asked for her notes from the last two days.
"I just don't get this," Chloe grumbled.
"It's not easy. I just have time to digest it all--"
Nobody wants to be seen with you. Lonely. Loser.
"--and, anyway, my dad is great at math so, I
probably, you know, inherited it from him."
"Yeah." Chloe let out a sigh.
"You seem a little hyper today," Jody pointed out.
"I am. It's just...everything." She looked right into
Jody's eyes. "Is there something wrong with me?"
"I just feel like...no one notices me. I'm just some
sort of outsider, someone that people mock, someone
that no one listens to."
"I wouldn't know anything about that," she replied
sarcastically. "Everyone just cares so much about me."
Chloe was silent. "I care about you," she said after a
long stretch of empty space.
"Stop making fun of me," Jody snapped.
"Yes you are." She could feel hot tears in her eyes.
"Just stop it. Stop--"
She's too good for you. She's too good to be your
friend. You're nothing.
"Jody, calm down. You're my friend. I'm not making fun
Her eyes were clouded with tears, so she couldn't see
Chloe's face. But she felt pressure against her lips.
Chloe's lips were on her own. Chloe was--
She'd never really want a fatso like you. Who do you
think you're kidding?
--kissing her. Chloe couldn't be kissing her.
"Stop," Jody yelled as she pulled herself away. She
wiped at her eyes, giving her a clear view of Chloe's
"I'm sorry if I freaked you out. I didn't mean to.
You can't have this. You aren't good enough for this.
"--I like you, Jody."
'I like you, too,' was all she thought. But all she
could utter was, "I can't do this. I can't. Just...get
your algebra help from Clark from now on, okay?"
"Okay." Chloe's voice was small. Not the way she liked
to hear it. "I'll see you at school."
With that, she was gone. Jody knew that the absence of
Chloe might be a permanent thing.
She didn't want that.
That night, Jody looked at herself in the mirror. She
saw everything to hate--
Puffy cheeks. Double chin. Huge frame.
--and nothing that anyone could like. Nothing good
enough for Chloe.
She couldn't do it anymore. Couldn't stand thinking of
all the reasons she wasn't good enough for someone's
She couldn't stand it. So, she decided to make use of
the vegetables out back. This time, it would work.
This time, she'd be thin and perfect.
This time, she could kiss Chloe without feeling
It didn't take long for the strange concoction to work
its magic. She was thin, beautiful, like one of those
models she'd longed to be. Pete's brotherly comfort
turned to looks of lustful admiration. Chloe's
affection turned to confused detachment.
Maybe it wasn't what she wanted, but it still felt
better than the lonely nothing she'd lived in for
It was better. Everything was better. Later, she'd
find the courage to kiss Chloe and everything would be
But, at the moment, she had bigger problems at hand.
She needed to eat.