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Saturday morning, she tried to wake herself up at 9:30. No way in hell, she thought, dozing back into the comforters.

“Because I’m Batman.”

She was surprised by how easily should could be woken up by such a faint ring tone. Through drooping eyes, she read the message.
Sarah: Hey, gurl! Wanna come over?
Me: Sure, ok.

The horror didn’t set in until the reply was sent.

What had she done? She didn’t want to go anywhere today – it was Saturday, her day off. Sure, she was more rested now, but did she really want to go?

She’d go to Sarah’s for a few hours and come home. That’s what she’d do. They’d help each other study, watch some TV, and she’d be on her way.


“Where’s her house?”

Unease was already setting in. This was a bad idea. She didn’t know why, but as the actions were already unfolding, this felt like a bad idea.

Jess didn’t live in a trailer park. In the back of her mind, she knew this. But that’s where she ended up directing her mom to drive to. As they pulled up, a second car came up beside us.

“That must be her.” Mom handed her a purse. “Have fun, honey. Love you.”

“Love you too.” She stepped out of the car, and as she did, Sarah opened the door of her mother’s van.

“Hi, best friend.” Sarah said it so simply, came up to hug her so easily.

Flustered, she hugged her back. “Um, hi. How are you?”

“Good.” She stepped back and gestured to the unnoticed girls in the van’s back seat. “You mind if they spend the night, too?”

This automatically threw her off. “Spend the night? But I thought…” Her voice trailed off, seeing the other girls. One looked thirteen and another looked ten, but they were roughly the same size.

“Didn’t you read the invitation?” One of Sarah’s friends got out of the car. “It said ya get here at seven PM, spend the night, and go home… smart one.”

This was the thirteen-year-old, who was clearly short enough to drop-kick. She shouldn’t have felt as small as she did by the tween’s harsh words. But they silenced her.

She went along with it. Why wouldn’t she have gone along with it? They clearly knew more about the “party” than she did. She’d just been invited spontaneously. And she didn’t want to be rude in leaving.

But if there is one thing she hated more than anything, it was sleepovers.


How they ended up going to her house, she couldn’t say. She had no memory of agreeing to it – it just happened. She fed them, laid out sleeping bags in the living room for them, when two-thirds of the party she didn’t know.

Next thing she knew, she was in her pajamas in the kitchen with her crushed ice, and the girls were in the garage for some reason, probably gossiping about her.

This thought pissed her off. Yes, she was allowed to say “pissed”. She was fifteen, not some shy little kid, and wasn’t going to be left out of her own party. In fact, she would be the life of it. This is what went through her mind as she walked to the door of the garage.

And this is what occurred in the following two seconds:
1.
She started this statement out calm at first, then panicked and shut the door. “Hey, guys – oh my God!”
2.
The girls were in a circle, then stopped to all look at her. They probably didn’t have time to react.
3.
She didn’t entirely have a shirt on.

“Hey, Mom.” Rubbing my eyes, I watched her apply her make-up. “Can I ask you something?
“Sure, whatcha need?”
“What do topless dreams mean?”

“You had your first nude dream?” She smiled. “I’ve had them countless times. Basically, they say you’re afraid of being exposed.”

“Exposed?”

“I’m no psychology teacher, but that’s the idea.”

Then I’ll take Mr. Cloverman’s Psychology class next semester, I decided, heading to the kitchen to make breakfast.



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