Harvey James Hunter had never been bothered by his weight.
He had realised from a young age, that Lloyd was skinnier than him, his brother having taken after Mum and that he was stockier, having taken after Dad, but he didn't care. No one ever commented on his weight in a negative light. In fact, no one had ever commented on his weight at all.
Until one fateful day at school, several months prior to the fostering of Dinah Glass and nearly a year before the Headmaster was overthrown by SPLAT, that Harvey started to be bothered by his weight.
And it was all because of one particular person.
It was a Wednesday, a day that SPLAT considered to be one of the less horrific days and one that they were excited about as it signified the middle of the week, with only two days left to go until the weekend.
It was time for lunch, and as Harvey trekked to the canteen from his geography lesson, a small smile slipped onto his round face. This was the time in school he loved, where he could surround himself with his friends and have his mood lightened, as well as his self-esteem be given a boost. His self-esteem, which was already incredibly low, but seemed to dip further and further down each time he attended school.
Although there was one element of lunch that he disliked, for the exception of the obvious, which was the fact that at least three of the Prefects kept watch over the proceedings of the canteen. What the one element essentially was, was the food itself. This was an opinion from a child who loved food and always had done. Yet the food in the canteen was always bland and undercooked, a variety of flavours seemingly having been banned from the menu.
Approaching the canteen doors, Harvey bracing himself for another meal consisting of undercooked chicken, strained green beans, lumpy mash potato and a frozen jelly in a pot which everyone had to scrape at with their plastic forks, washed down with a glass of orange juice, he abruptly tensed upon hearing a set of familiar footfalls striding up behind him.
Cowering, Harvey could only gulp, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down, as Jeff Morgan slid in front of him, sneer plastered onto his face per usual.
As Harvey whimpered, preparing himself for the usual torments involving how 'weak' he was, he was left utterly floored when Jeff did not proceed to launch into a verbal attack, instead remaining silent and allowing his eyes to roam up and down Harvey's body.
The boy in question blinked, shoulders straightening. Remaining silent himself, for fear of retaliation if he uttered a single word, Harvey thought:
'Maybe he's tired of tormenting me?! Wants to give it a rest for a while?! I bet that he'll just call me 'Wheezy' then leaves me alone… He will do! He'll get one little jibe in, then march off… Oh, I hope so.'
However, seconds later, Harvey's wild dreams came crashing down as Jeff snorted, opening his mouth to flash his perfect teeth and to voice in a mocking tone:
"I'm surprised that you are outside the canteen, fat boy. Thought you would have been the first in line, so that you could heap all of the food onto your plate and have enough time to stuff your fat face."
Freezing at this brutal attack, Harvey immediately hunched his shoulders again, near to tears as Jeff shoved his face up to Harvey's, snarling:
"Do not even attempt to deny it! I've seen the way you scoff food down and heard from others how much you eat! You're just a fat pig… a fat baby! Instead of being called 'Harvey Hunter', your new name should be 'Wheezy the Pig!'
Beginning to cry softly, Harvey flinched as Jeff stepped aside and gestured forcefully to the canteen doors.
"Get your fat bottom in there… Piggy!"
Screaming internally at the apparent new nickname, Harvey obeyed, scuttling into the canteen and over to the line to pick up his tray. Once he had acquired the tray, Harvey blinked away the fresh onslaught of tears as the staff slopped the food and slammed the glass of orange juice into their set places on the tray, before gracing the young boy with fierce glares.
Harvey gulped and scurried over to his table, flinching as Jeff followed him, continuing to heckle his favourite victim in a loud manner.
"Look at the way you walk! Waddling more like!"
"All of that blubber on you! It wobbles about whenever you move, it is utterly disgusting! You're putting everyone off of their lunches, Wheezy!"
"Such a fatty, scoffing junk food at every waking moment!"
Releasing a choked sob, Harvey slumped in his seat. He prodded at his food with the plastic fork, his appetite having diminished substantially. He had never thought of himself as 'fat', but now he did and the sight of the food in front of him brought up feelings of nausea and mental images of him being thirty stone, housebound and scoffing his face as his five chins wobbled.
Harvey clutched his plastic fork, whimpering as Jeff leant down beside him and crooned cruelly:
"Why… you could stop traffic, the way you look!"
That pushed Harvey over the edge and as he set his plastic fork down and burst into loud sobs, his noisy wailing infuriating the other Prefects in the canteen, Jeff flung his head back and cackled, wiping his eyes as tears caused by his hysterics threatened to spill down his face.
Appalled at the treatment that his little brother had been subjected to, Lloyd pulled Harvey into a hug, stroking his hair and attempting to soothe him. Ian reached out and patted Harvey's shoulder whilst Mandy replicated the same action but to Harvey's arm and rubbing instead of patting. On the other side of the table, Ingrid gritted her teeth, tempted to unleash verbal hell at the smug prick, who was currently gloating over having made her crush cry his heart out.
However, Ingrid understood the consequences for such actions, so instead she rose to her feet and ventured around the table, intertwining her fingers with Harvey's and whispering softly to him.
After recovering from his laughing fit, Jeff sneered at the troublemakers and how caring they were, before hissing:
"Remember Wheezy, you are FAT! And NOTHING will ever change that!"
Against Lloyd's hold, Harvey curled up, sobbing hysterically. He was never going to touch another morsel of food again.
Several hours later, Harvey had broken his mental vow. In fact he had done so as soon as he had returned home. Amidst Lloyd ranting at Mum for not listening to his claims about Jeff bullying Harvey, yet again, his younger brother, face blotchy from the shed tears, had delved into the biscuit tin, cramming four biscuits into his mouth at one go.
He had ignored Lloyd's shouts for him to stop, choosing to consume as much food as he could and now, eleven at night, Harvey was sneaking down the stairs and into the kitchen. As he located a bag of popcorn and tore it open, Harvey closed his eyes, reflecting on how good the food he had eaten since he had come home had made him feel. Although Jeff had caused him to loathe the thought of even chewing any food, Harvey knew that due to the insults and jibes from earlier that day that his relationship with food had changed.
Yes, he had always loved food. But now… Now he found solace in it.
An hour later, bloated stomach pulsing against his pyjama top, Harvey gazed into the mirror in the hall-way, prodding his round face.
'I am fat. Jeff's right. He ALWAYS is… Maybe I've found my calling. I'm too thick, too timid, too ugly, too weak and too short to do anything worthwhile and I'm an outcast at school… So why not eat? Why not eat away my life? Food's been helping me this afternoon… Could it help me for many afternoons to come?'
Brown orbs shining with hope, Harvey whispered out loud: "Yes, it can. I know now that whatever happens, food will always be there to help me. Me, the fat pig. Me, fat weak Wheezy…"
He jerked when the ding of the microwave sounded, racing into the kitchen to fetch the meal he had concocted out of leftovers, meant for the next day. Opening the microwave, Harvey withdrew the plate and placed it gently onto the kitchen counter top, murmuring: