on the empty chair beside her. Katie smiled and took a few steps closer to the scale. Denise turned to talk to the other woman beside her, a heavy blonde in sweats who seemed to giggle at everything Denise said. She wondered who the other woman was.
Finally it was Katieâs turn to weigh in. It always surprised her how nervous the process still made her, even though sheâd achieved her goal weight four years ago and had maintained it. Slipping out of her loafers, she handed her card to the woman in charge of weighing in, then climbed onto the scale. The woman nodded approvingly. âStill a lifetime member,â she said, handing Katie back her card. âCongratulations.â
Katie smiled, hurrying to take her seat beside Denise. âKatie, you know Bitsy Collins, donât you?â
Katie blinked. There was no way the heavy blonde beside Denise could be Bitsy Collins. Bitsy Collins had been so nicknamed in high school because thatâs what sheâd beenâitsy bitsy, petite. Not only that, but Bitsy had been one of Katieâs primary tormentors. She was a close friend of the dreaded Liz Flaherty. Bitsy and Liz had ruled the school.
âUm . . .â
Bitsy held out a plump hand. âI know, hard to believe itâs me.â
âThatâs why youâre here,â Katie said kindly, hoping she hadnât looked too shocked by Bitsyâs appearance.
âIâm trying.â Bitsy sighed.
âIf I can do it, anyone can do it,â Katie assured her. âI didnât see you at the reunion.â
âNo way was I going to the reunion looking like this.â
Katie nodded her head knowingly. She understood that feeling of believing yourself so physically grotesque all you want to do is hide. She wanted to dislike Bitsy the way she still disliked Liz, but she couldnât. She knew the pain Bitsy was in, as well as the courage it took to finally do something about it.
Eventually, everyone was weighed and seated and the group leader, a small, smiling woman named Lolly, strode to the front of the cafeteria. âHello! My name is Lolly and I lost one hundred and twenty-five pounds on Fat Fighters. Tonight I want to talk about the crazy things some of us have done in the past to try to lose weight. Anyone?â
âI once put myself on a scrambled egg and water diet,â one woman said.
Lolly dutifully wrote âScrambled egg and waterâ in large, childish scrawl on the portable blackboard behind her.
âI once tried living on coffee, cigarettes and Skittles,â volunteered another woman with a pile of knitting in her lap.
Lollyâs list grew to include such classics as diet pills, diuretics, laxatives, starvation, hypnotism, pasting âfatâ pictures of oneâs self on the fridge, and various diet plans.
Denise leaned over to Katie. âI used to snort cocaine,â she whispered.
âI used to snort cheese doodle dust,â Katie whispered back.
Denise laughed loudly, causing several women to turn around and glare. That was one element of Fat Fighters Katie disliked: the sometimes evangelical fervor of some of its members.
A lecture followed where Lolly outlined why Fat Fighters, with its emphasis on portion control and exercise, was the way to go. Katie had heard it all before, but she still felt she needed to be here. It was empowering to know she wasnât the only one who still struggled with food issues.
When the meeting ended, Bitsy leaned over to Katie. âDenise and I are going for coffee at Tabithaâs. Wanna come?â
Katie hesitated. Tabithaâs was Didsburyâs only coffee shop. It served coffee. Plain black coffee, both caf and decaf. And cake. Its lunchtime specials included tuna casserole and sloppy joes. All the waitresses were over sixty and said things like, âWhat can I do ya for, hon?â No latte, no low-carb chai, no biscotti, no anything.
âIs there a Starbucks