Who the hell am I? Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

I had a lot to do today and no matter how I felt, it still needed to get done. I had a long shower to try and wake myself up. Looking in the mirror I could see my eyes were red and sore. I got myself dressed and went to the kitchen. Mum always left a note letting me know when she would be able to drop me with all my leaflets in my delivery area. Today it was 1pm. I still didn't feel hungry, if anything I felt nauseous. I still had to prepare the veg. Mum would bring in a roast chicken from the supermarket. Because I wasn't feeling my best, I just did the basics. Mashed potato, Carrots in butter and garlic, peas and sweetcorn. Then I stormed around the house cleaning, tidying, vacuuming. The works. I needed to keep busy. If I stopped for a pause, my mind would go back to crushing despair, so I just couldn't stop.

Mum arrived around 12 noon with the roast chicken and proceeded to carve it. I set out all the veg and called Lilith from her room. Lilith spent a lot of her time on her phone chatting with her friends, but very rarely invited them over. I think she would visit them later, she usually did on a Sunday, but we tried to keep lunchtime just for us. I was pretty uncommunicative, I explained that I was having a fight with Gary and they left me alone after that. I loaded up the car with all the leaflets and my rucksack and mum took me to the bus shelter in my distribution area that I used to store it all as I ran between houses. She had a bit of a coughing fit and had to pull over on the way. She was really beginning to worry me.

“Mum, if you are having a day off next Monday, why don't I call the Doctor and arrange an appointment for you. That cough doesn't seem to be getting any better.”
“I'm sure it's nothing. You know what, I don't feel great. That would be great, honey.”
“What time is my MRI? And do you know how long they take?”
“I think your appointment is for 11am and I have no idea how long it will take.”
“OK. I'll try and arrange something early or late. Do you mind which Doctor you see or does it have to be Dr Brown?”
“I'd prefer Dr Brown, but if she is not available anyone will do.” Dr Brown is who our family is registered with. None of us go regularly enough to feel too much loyalty. I tried to make a mental note to call the practice when it was open on Monday. It was a bit tricky, class didn't start until 9 and the practice opened at 8.30, but the lines were usually so busy initially that you never got through until later.

We arrived at the bus shelter and I unloaded my gear. I didn't really feel like running or delivering today, sometimes, I guess, you just have to suck it up and get on with it. Quite quickly I got in the groove of it and it distracted me from thinking or feeling too much. It takes me about 2 hours and then a further half an hour to jog home.

When I had finished it was still too early in the afternoon and I needed something to do to distract myself. I decided to start cooking and preparing meals for the week ahead. I defrosted the meat while preparing the vegetables, cooked a beef stew, a chicken curry, a lasagne and a bolognese. I would freeze most of it, once it had cooled enough. There was still some mash left from lunch so I made a Shepard's pie. Mum came in from doing some gardening occasionally, rubbed my back or gave me a kiss on my forehead and left me to it. I leave the outdoors for mum to sort out. She always seems to come in more peaceful after spending time on the garden. I made a chicken fricassee with the left overs from lunch and rice to go with it. Mum and I had that for dinner and left a plate for Lilith for when she came home.

I started thinking that I could do the same for Mrs Perkins. If she had a stash of meals that just need to be heated up, that could really help her. I wrote a list of the different meals that I felt confident about making, and the ingredients required. If I made dinner for her each night, I could make a big enough portion that we could freeze some and slowly we would establish a food reserve. When the baby came, that could become really handy.

I went to bed early, when I couldn't think of anything else to do. I cried myself to sleep again. Now I had relearnt how to cry, I couldn't seem to stop myself. I woke up a bit early and decided to get a white wash on. I wouldn't start it until everyone had already had their shower or I'd get yelled at. I fished through the basket that Lilith and I used, most of the washing came from her, I presumed it was a girl thing. I creeped into mum's bedroom and fished through hers. Then loaded the washer. When I was doing that I noticed that some of mum's hankies had blood on them. My anxiety about mum's cough was getting pretty high. To be honest, it put my heartache about Gary in a different category. I was very tempted to google it, but knew that would only make me feel worse. I set an alarm on my phone to remind me to phone the Doctors. This could be serious.

I had my shower and got myself dressed. The compression vest was becoming more uncomfortable as time went by. I packed an extra T-shirt for when I went to Mrs Perkins. Since she already knew, she probably wouldn't mind if I took it off at her house. I got breakfast ready and had mine. No longer was I stressing about Gary and not having any friends, I was stressing about mum. I just needed to keep myself distracted.

I managed to get through to the surgery before school started and booked a 3.00pm visit. I could have got an earlier one but with a different Doctor and I knew mum would prefer Dr Brown. School did manage to keep me distracted. Not from the classes as such but avoiding the chest gropes and hip checks. Despite my best efforts I did get caught a couple of times, but Parkour had taught me to roll with it, so when I was knocked into the wall I managed to bounce off and get away. One nasty chest grope came from behind, so I didn't see it coming and it bloody hurt. I reckon the brute bruised me. And then laughed when I swore at him. I was almost angry enough to physically confront him, but sense prevailed and I made a speedy exit. I am good at running away, I have no idea how to fight. I did contemplate learning some martial art, but when I looked inside I realised that I didn't really want to hurt other people. With all the provocation I usually get, if I knew how to fight, I would probably always be fighting. All the fighting and teenage angst was all so petty to me. I just needed to stay clear.

I stood by Karen's car waiting for her at the end of the school day. I was looking forward to getting this vest off and giving my chest some relief. As I stood there Ant (he prefered Ant to Tony and never Anthony) and Damon, approached me. They weren't my main bullies as they were almost 18 and I think they considered me too far beneath them. Still, they were usually quick with the verbal abuse and the occasional shove. I wasn't expecting anything though, Mrs Perkins was behind them. It didn't occur to me that they didn't know that until they were standing in front of me going for my chest. They weren't trying to grab, they were trying to lift my compression vest up to have a look.
“Come on love. Show us your tits.”
I was trying to hold my vest down, they were trying to double team me and Mrs Perkins was almost speechless with anger. Then she swung into action, literally with her handbag. I don't think she was hurting them, but an angry 7month pregnant lady hitting you with her handbag certainly makes an impression.
They backed away hastily.
“At the principal's office, tomorrow morning.” she shouted as they tried to make their escape.

She turned to me still breathing heavily. “Are you alright?”
“I'm fine, how are you?”
She smiled at me. “There is life in me yet. I'm just struggling to believe what I just saw. I mean that was not the I'm more alpha than you, normal bullying we all know goes on, that was sexual harassment.”
“I think, because I am a guy, they don't see it that way. Or they do, and know that I am the one person they can do that with and get away with it.”
“Well, they won't get away with it. I'll speak to the principal tomorrow morning.”
“The thing is, they didn't hit me or punch me. All they did was try and look at another man's chest. If they got more than a slap on the wrist, I will be surprised. Don't worry though, I only let them get that close because I didn't think they would try anything with you there.”
“Does this happen a lot?” As we were talking we were getting in her car.
“Are you now Karen, not Mrs Perkins and is our conversation confidential?”
“I think that probably answers my question, but yes, I am Karen and this is between us. OK?”
“Thanks. I don't want to say anything that might get my mum involved. We both know that with the way I look, I am always going to be a target. I've learnt to be aware of everything around me and be quick on my feet. I mostly avoid too much harm. To be blunt, I run away.”
“And the chest thing?”
“That's only since the Art exhibit. Someone put it on facebook, probably my sister. Everyone knows and a lot of guys want to physically check it out. On Friday when it first started, I got caught quite a bit. It was a different target and I wasn't expecting it. Today, I mostly managed to avoid it. The vest helps, but it is becoming more sore to wear.”
“You are not meant to compress your breast as much as you do. I'm sure it is not healthy for them.”
“I was going to ask. Could I take it off at your place? I've brought another T-shirt to change into.”
“Of course you can. You might find they will get sore when you start moving around though. You can try one of my old bras, probably one of my sports bras will fit you and feel more comfortable, or maybe one from before I got pregnant.”
“Err...OK.” I wasn't sure if that was a good idea or not, but she was only being practical. Besides, I was at her house to work, so I expected to be moving around a lot.

We got to her house, I made her a cup of lemon and ginger herbal tea and started massaging her feet. I don't have a foot fetish or anything, but I love the enjoyment I see on peoples faces when you do something nice for them.
“I'm sorry.”
I looked up at her. “For what?”
“I made your life harder by getting you dressed up for the excursion.”
“Let me ask you something. Did you do it to be mean?”
She paused for a bit. “I was a bit angry at the time, and when I spoke to you afterwards and you said you thought pregnancy was beautiful, for some reason that made me more angry. I think I was not feeling very beautiful at the time. But when I thought of trying to put you in my shoes, I wasn't trying to be horrible to you, I just wanted you to understand a bit better. I was sure the experience would be educational for you.”
“I said it at the time and meant it then. I forgive you. You are a good teacher. I tried to put myself in your shoes. You thought I had mocked you and perhaps it was an overreaction, but your heart was in the right place. You were trying to teach me a lesson.”
“But it wasn't you who mocked me.”
“No. But you didn't know that. Besides, I was ignoring a problem that needed to be addressed. Your actions helped me. And afterwards, you have been nothing but kind and generous.”
“Thank you. You are a sweet child.” She rubbed her belly. “I hope my little one will be as nice.”
“With you as her mother. I'm sure of it. If not nicer.”

I wanted to go through my plans for working for her, but she insisted we sort out my wardrobe issue first. While I got my tops off, she disappeared on a search for supportive tops for me. She came back with quite a pile. The first one I tried on was a sports bra. It didn't flatten me and kept the jiggle to a minimum, so I considered that job done, but she wanted me to try them all on. Her bras did not fit me at all, but there were 3 sports bras and a couple of T-shirts with support included that worked.
“You keep them. I'm not sure I will ever be able to wear them again.”
“I don't need this many.”
“I think you should consider wearing them to school. The secret is already out. If it is obvious that you have breasts, and you are not trying to hide them, maybe some of the harassment will end.”
I was struggling with my compression vests and had to find another option. “I guess it is worth a try.”
“Will Anthony and Damon cause you any trouble because I am sending them to the principal?”
“I have no idea. It wasn't like I told on them, they were just stupid enough to do it in front of a teacher. They may try and take it out on me, but they have to catch me first.”
“I want to help you. Sometimes it feels like I make your life worse.”
“The worse that you are talking about are petty, inconsequential things. You have offered your friendship and that is invaluable. Now, I am only supposed to have 2 hours. I am not going to count the time we have spent so far, that was spent on me, it is time to get to work. I have some ideas I would like to discuss with you.”
“I have had the foot massage, so we are definitely counting that.”
“OK. Now I like to be organised. It helps me focus. I have made a sort of plan. I was thinking I do the laundry Monday, Wednesday, Friday, then on the cleaning front, Monday bathrooms and kitchen. Here, I'll show you.” I pulled out the plan I had made earlier.
“Wow. Colour me impressed. What is this list of meals and ingredients?”
“I was thinking if I cooked every night and made double portions, you could freeze a portion and either at the weekend, or when the baby has arrived and you haven't the energy to cook, you have some easy meals. I have listed the meals I know how to cook, if you have a cookbook I could try something else but it may take me more time.”
“Are you sure you have the time for all this?”
“Yes, if we are organised. If you work out what meals you want, maybe discuss it with Peter, and have the ingredients ready for me. It should all work out. We can give it a try anyway, and if it all takes too long we can work out what to cut out.” I started moving around the kitchen looking for what I could do for tonight. I didn't find much.
“Don't worry about tonight. Peter is going to bring Chinese takeaway.”
“Do you want a snack before then?”
“I'm good. Thanks. When you want a break, come and chat, we need to talk about Mark Cloud.”
I wanted to know straight away, but at the same time, I had a lot to do. “OK.” And I was off.

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