San Juan Island Stories

Fatty Patty Poll

I did not attend my five-year or my ten-year high school reunions, and those of you who subscribe to my newsletter know why. I’ll probably talk about it more in a later post because it’s a shame that I still struggle with, a shame shared by every dreamer who keeps their gaze focused at the starry sky. I loved that Pepper grew her wings and managed to hold onto them through the adversity of facing down her cruel former classmates. Someday, that’ll be me too.

So, how about you? Did you attend your high school reunion? What happened or didn’t? Please share in the comments!

P.S. Even though I didn’t attend my reunion, I did work in my small town nine years later and I ran into an old crush. Something extremely unexpected happened, and I will tell you about that later!

Excerpts San Juan Island Stories

Excerpts – Fatty Patty

Fatty Patty by Wendy Clark

Fatty Patty” is the cruel nickname that followed Pepper to high school graduation. Five years later, she’s back at her reunion to prove it hasn’t defined her. In her slim Kate Spades, she’ll show them all — her underachieving classmates and especially the boy who broke her heart.

But Pepper’s not the only one who’s changed in five years. She’s not the only one who has regrets about the things that were, and especially weren’t, said.

And she’s not the only one who plans to use this chance to rewrite history…

Fatty Patty is a new short story available now.


Pepper McKay lived fabulously.

It was the best revenge.

She was no longer the fat klutz who couldn’t walk a mile in PE. She was no longer the sad blob who overheard the other girls whisper about body odor—which she never had—and sweat stains, which were unavoidable in the humid coastal classrooms. She was no longer the victim of the unknown bully who kicked her wobbly seat at the start of assembly. The plastic had given way with a sickening crack, and everyone had watched her fall. Her four-inch Kate Spade Licorice heels, size-five Ella Moss strapless mini, and Sixth Sense chocolate Burberry satchel all proclaimed that refined adulthood had arrived. Five years too late, maybe, but sophistication had arrived, in her life and at the sultry Bellingham, Washington marina. She was thin now. Thin like a Thin Mint. And tonight, everyone would finally know it.

Pepper waved her boarding pass before the attentive, muscular dock hand, curved her lips in a confident smile coated with Yves Saint Laurent iced plum Sheer Candy, and strutted up the gangplank onto the Island Spiriter, a hundred-foot cruise ship decorated in the purple and gold of Friday Harbor High School. Welcome, class of the Millennium, the sign at the top step proclaimed. She mentally capitalized the “C” of “class” as she continued onto the deck, to the table manned by the reunion officer.

Time had not been universally fabulous. Allison Payne, who had once lit up the stage as Rizzo of Grease and taken the over-excited athletics department to the state championships in Cross-Country, licked a swelled finger and squinted up at Pepper. “Who are you with? I don’t—” Her jowls flattened. “Oh my god. Patty?”

The name hit her like curse, burning a hot flush onto her cheeks. She cleared her throat. “It’s Pepper.”

Allison’s lips dropped further and her neck rolls gobbled up her silver “Mother” necklace. She grabbed Pepper’s nametag and a thick black Sharpie. “I wondered! When did you change your name?”

Pepper gripped her satchel and struggled to maintain her iced smile.

In high school the woman had been one of them, the blade-slim girls who sprawled in patches across the sunlit cafeteria, waving flirty fingers at the hottest boys, pushing ugly people like her to the cold retreat of study rooms.

She coughed. “Actually, it’s always been Pepper.”

Allison uncapped the Sharpie. “Nobody will recognize you unless I fix this.”

Dread uncoiled in Pepper’s stomach.

The Sharpie touched the laminate.

Pepper snatched her tag away, black ink drawing a long, wobbly line across the top. She tried to wipe it off, smudging her fingers. The line smeared like the grease of an old food stain.

Allison reached for her nametag. “But no one will know—”

“I want to be myself now. Thanks.” Pepper pinned the badge above her left breast. A smudge was still better than what was about to be written. Her heart beat, hard and regular, in her chest and she shifted her handbag higher on her shoulder.

The waning sun seared her pale shoulders. Pale slim shoulders.

She tucked her salon-relaxed walnut hair behind her silver-pierced ears. “Is Julian here?”

“He’s already inside.” Allison leaned forward. “You won’t recognize him. He’s changed so much. It’s huge.”

No way. “He’s fat?”

Allison’s brows knit. “Huh? No, he’s turned into … well, you’ll see.” And then her brows lifted, as though she had solved a problem. She heaved herself to her feet, crossed the deck to the main cabin, and threw open the doors.

The other members of their class stood in cliques—the same ones as in high school, it seemed—an odd mix of optometrists, seafood vendors, and hair dressers milling around under long swathes of purple and gold decorations. She knew from their Facebook profiles, the ones who had let a few months go by and then suddenly had the guts to friend her. She had friended them back, sure, but never posted a self-portrait. Let them think she was the same, let them settle into the routine of their lives, let them post their own fattening photos as they gave up intramurals and exercise to settle into grad school, marriage, children. Things she didn’t have. Things they probably thought she never would.

Her stomach twinged again. She tightened her Pilates-toned abdominals. This was not Homecoming. She was no longer the only one stepping into a dim music-filled room without a friend or a date.

And even if she were, that wasn’t why she was here. She wasn’t here for herself.

She was here for revenge.

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