The balled up paper continued to fly in Shyla's direction as she pretended not to be bothered.
“You fat cow!”
“You are so ugly!”
“Is she going to cry? I bet milk comes out of her eyelids! Loser!”
Attending a predominantly white school and being “the fat black girl” stood out like a sore thumb.
Shyla focused on the door, praying for Mr. Julian to walk in.
Looking up to say a quick thanks to heaven, Shyla smiled at the only teacher who defended her. “
"Ok class, everybody be seated and settle down. And if all of the paper on the floor around Shyla’s desk is not picked up before class ends, you will all meet me for after school detention.”
“Come on Mr. Jay, you know I got practice,” said Myles Mcmorrison, the best football player in the school and also the biggest jerk.
Shyla rolled her eyes and continued to listen quietly.
“Well Mr. Mcmorrison, maybe you and your classmates can do without your special activities for a while. Bullying will not be tolerated in my class. It’s unacceptable! Now pull out your homework.”
“Not my fault that she looks like she could play as a linebacker on my team,” Myles mumbled.
The class erupted in laughter as Shyla choked back a son.
“Leave now,” Mr. Julian folded his arms while peering over his glasses at Myles.
“Mom, I just don’t want to go there anymore. I hate it there and everyone hates me.” Shyla whined to her adopted mother, Sarah.
“Look Shyla, this is your last semester and then off to college you go. You will probably never see half of those students again. Just finish strong baby.” Sarah reached for her daughter’s hand.
“Yes ma’am,” Shyla said quietly, avoiding her mother's eyes.
"So are we ready for dinner? Your Father will be home soon, I need you to go and wash up.”
“I'm not hungry,” Shyla dropped her head.
“Shyla! This is unhealthy! You have literally been eating two apples a day for the past two weeks, please don’t do this to yourself! We love you just the way you are, you’re beautiful!” Sarah cried.
“Mom, look at me. I’m disgusting. A pig! I just want to be left alone, go away!” Shyla rushed to her room before her mother could say anything else.
“Go away,” Shyla said with sleep in her voice.
“Honey, can I come in?” Shyla’s Dad Gregory asked gently as he peeped inside.
Shyla stared her Dad but remained silent as she watched him sit in her zebra striped bean bag.
“Look honey, I know how hard things have been. But you are a blessing. Our blessing. We love you so much Shyla. We loved you when you first became our daughter.” Gregory’s eyes began to water.
Gregory and Sarah found out shortly after they were married that Sarah was unable to have children after multiple miscarriages. They chose to adopt and immediately knew that Shyla was their daughter at the young age of three. She smiled at them and said, “I like your shoes,” as she pointed to Sarah’s shoes and gave them the biggest smile.
“Your Mother told me about your talk earlier, is that what has been going on?” Gregory sat back and waited for her to respond.
Shyla started sobbing loudly, unable to hold back the tears when talking to her Dad.
“Oh Dad! I have still been eating. I wish I could just eat the apples during the day and be ok, but after midnight I can’t stop eating and I just---” Shyla covered her face as she continued sobbing.
“Sweetie, I know. Your Mom doesn’t know about the eating after hours, she’s a heavy sleeper. But I hear everything that goes on in this house.” Gregory raised his right brow and gave her a gentle smile.
“Now we can do two things,” Gregory leaned forward, “one, we both join a gym and see a nutritionist or two we stay here, sad. What’s it going to be?”
Shyla feared going to the gym, “What if they laugh at me Dad?” she asked quietly.
“Don’t worry about that, I have you covered.” Gregory stood up and kissed Shyla’s forehead.
“Get some rest sweetie, we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”
Shyla smiled at her Dad and laid down, trying not to think about food.
Wiping the sweat from her eyes, Shyla continued to push herself through today’s workout.
Shyla quickly found out that the gym was not as bad as she thought. The people have been very welcoming and offered their support. Within that month, Shyla had only experienced one rude person and she was quickly escorted out of the building and her gym membership was revoked.
“How are you feeling there, sport?” Gregory patted Shyla on the back as they walked towards the car.
“I feel great Dad.” Shyla smiled.
“I’m extremely proud of your continued commitment to your goals.” Gregory opened Shyla’s door and waited for her to get in before taking her bag to place in the trunk.
“So have you written your entry essay yet?” Gregory eyed Shyla before heading home.
"Yes, I turned it in last week. Mr. Julian proof read it for me.” Kyla stared out the window as she watched kids from her school hanging out in crowds.
"Sweetie, it’s almost over. Just stay positive and breathe.”
Taking a deep breath, Shyla gave her Dad an uneasy smile.
Uh, why can’t I stop thinking about food. Dad doesn’t know that I’ve still been binge eating, in the mornings before school mostly. I’ve lost 28 lbs so far but I cannot stop eating.
Lost in her thoughts, Shyla began humming to herself and tapping her feet absentmindedly while waiting to leave the house.
Her parents purchased her a car on her sixteenth birthday to keep her from riding the bus.
<alarm goes off>
“Oh shoot, I’m going to be late,” Shyla throws the bag of chips in the trash and quickly rinses the cheese off her hands.
Bending down to pick up her backpack, Shyla realized that the left pants leg was ripped in the thigh area.
“Ugh, this day can’t get any worse! I’m going to be late and now my pants. I’m not going to school today! What’s one day when I’ve had perfect attendance all four years in high school?”
Shyla looked out the kitchen window as her neighbors stood at the bus stop.
“Yeah screw it, I'm not going.” Shyla wrestled out of her jean jacket before heading upstairs.
Headphones in and music on blast, Shyla sang loudly “oooh, and I’ll rise up!” as she imagined what college would be like.
“I wonder will I meet some friends, my classes are probably going to be a challenge, I'm going to find a job as soon as I get there.” Shyla was lost in her thoughts when her phone started ringing.
“Oh shoot, it's Mom.” Shyla started to panic.
“ Uhm, hi Mom.” Shyla attempted to sound upbeat.
“Are you alright sweetie, the principal's office just called me and said they haven't seen you today, is everything ok?” Sarah asked sounding concerned.
“My morning just started out a bit rough Mom, I was running late and decided not to go. It would call too much attention to walk in late. I just couldn't stand to hear the jokes today.”
Sarah listened to her daughter speaking, wishing that she could do something special for her.
"She has everything, what can you give someone with everything?" Sarah wondered as she pulled up to the mall.
"Hey honey, could you meet me at the mall? I'm here now." Sarah grabbed her purse and reapplied her plum lipstick and ran her fingers through her long Auburn curls.
"Yes ma'am, I'm on the way." Shyla said as she worked her feet in the too skinny, uncomfortable shoes.
"I thought we could have a girl's day, since you've been giving your all in the gym and smashing your goals, I thought we could go for a little shopping spree." Sarah smiled at her daughter with pride, and she really was proud of her.
Sarah grew up wealthy and her father continues to send monthly checks although she rarely spends the money. Sarah and Gregory started a Shyla fund six months after they adopted her and they plan to give it to her on the day of graduation.
Shyla went more for the sporty look but also grabbed a few pairs of jeans. Nike sweat suits to cover her arms and stomach, even in the summer, Shyla wore a jacket.
"Thanks Mom, I love it all." Shyla hugged her mother.
Sarah smiled, "You're welcome sweetheart. I love you so much."
"I love you too Mom." Shyla smiled back at her mother.
"Ok, we have 30 minutes before our next stop, I really want to check out this new book store." Sarah started walking towards the new bible bookstore.
"I'll just wait out here," Shyla looked uncomfortable.
"You will do no such thing," Sarah lightly pushed her daughter towards the door.
Shyla became very angry and no longer wanted to attend church services or hear about God around the age of 13. She was at church when some of the girls that she attended school with, asked her to come and sit with them but she couldn't fit in the pews, no matter how much they all tried to squeeze together. The pastor's assistant came over to see what all of the commotion was about and said loudly, "She can't fit right here, she's too far." Shyla was humiliated as the same girls that tried to be nice to her were now laughing and pointing at her. Her mother quickly came to her rescue and slapped the Pastor's assistant right before we were quickly escorted out. We haven't been to church since but Sarah still watched church services on YouTube regularly.
"Let's just check them out, you know, see what they have." Sarah winked.
Shyla slowly browsed through the shelves, not really interested in anything but then a purple book caught her attention. It was so beautiful, a Bible. Shyla grabbed it, running her fingers over the beautiful beaded jewelry. She quickly opened the book, browsing a few pages, when her eyes stopped to read, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." Shyla didn't realize the tear that slid down until it hit the page.
Jumping as her Mom touched her arm, "Sorry honey, are you ready to go? We have an appointment." Sarah looked at the book in Shyla's hand.
Shyla put the bible down grabbed their bags and walked out the store quickly. Not looking back at her Mom.
"What just happened in there?" Shyla was shaking, trying to figure out why she was overcome with such emotion.
Sarah came out and eased the new bag into one of the other bags, " You ready?" Sarah raised a brow.
"Yes, where are we going anyways?" Shyla looked over at her Mom.
"Well, one of my college sisters has a hair salon and spa 5 minutes from here and she was able to fit us in today."
"Oh." Shyla looked away, avoiding her Mom's eyes.
"Let's go, it's going to be fun. You're going to love her."
"Hey girl! How have you been? This must be Shyla, I haven't seen her since she was 6. She's a beauty Sarah!" Destiny Madison hugged Sarah tightly.
Shyla smiled awkwardly, looking down at her hands.
"Hello young lady, it's nice to meet you again. You have grown into such a beautiful young lady." Destiny smiled.
Shyla studied her face, looking for any hint of sarcasm.
Destiny was about the same size as Shyla but with confidence. She had a natural beat for makeup, a sew in that flowed down her back in soft waves, finger nails that were cute but too long for Shyla, and she wore fitted jeans with a white tank top, and a pair of checker board Tom's.
Pulling her apron on, "Come with me." Destiny gestured for Sarah and Shyla to follow behind her.
Opening the door leading to Destiny's salon and spa, Shyla had to catch her breath. It was beautiful, shades of aqua and brown. The walls were painted like a desert with water flowing through it. The chairs were brown whith blue bowls attached for a pedicure.
"You like?" Destiny turned to Shyla.
"I love it," Shyla felt shy all of a sudden.
"Well come on in," Destiny smiled.
Two and a half hours later, destiny spun Shyla's chair towards the mirror.
Shyla stared at the beautiful face looking back at her in the mirror, "How did you do this?"
"Honey, you are already beautiful. I just enhanced it. Now hold your head up and never walk with the same posture that you strode in here with, promise me that." Destiny touched Shyla's chin.
Trying not to cry, Shyla gave Destiny a weak smile before nodding her head.
"Thank you so much for this Mom, I love my hair. I feel so beautiful." Shyla said quietly to her mother.
"Sweetheart, you are beautiful and you always have been. Sometimes we just need a reminder and a quick boost. Destiny is going to help me with a few style suggestions before you leave in the Fall." Shaking her head, "I'm just going to miss you so much. You are my daughter and my best friend. I love you so much."
"I love you too Mom." Shyla grabbed her Mom's hand.