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The Payback This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The smell of Downy Mountain Spring fabric softener filters into my nostrils and a crafty look creeps into my eyes. Hmm, I’ve found them, but which ones should I use? There are blue, green, yellow and red ones with baseballs, trains, and even some with hearts. Hearts? Oh, those would be good, I think, with a fiendish grin. Reaching into the drawer, I sift through the options, trying to find the perfect ones. Not silk, they’d be ruined, and I’ve decided against the hearts. He wouldn’t actually care about not being able to wear them. I pick out the comfy cotton ones he wears all the time, stuff them under my sweater and shut the drawer.

Feeling like James Bond, I peek into the hall. No one is there, so I duck back into the room and listen: no footsteps, no sound, not a one. A mosquito could have been heard in that hall. So I prepare. I need to be quick, someone could come up the stairs at any moment. Okay. Set. Go! I run across and head for my room. Opening the door, I slip to the bed and quickly shove them underneath, fluffing out the skirt. A load literally off my chest, I stand, hands on hips, and breathe. In, out, in, out. One last time, the air escapes my lips. All set and ready to go. Double check. No one will suspect they are there. A smile of satisfaction.

Assured I haven’t been seen, I stride out the door, letting it close behind me. I saunter down the hall, a proud thief, down the stairs to the pantry.

“Where are they?” I whisper, annoyed. “Aha, found ’em.” I slip the box of gallon-sized bags under my sweater with a giggle. I back out, and head up the stairs - no one has seen me. Hand on the banister, I grip it extra tight and swing myself up the next two steps, using the banister as an anchor. Skirting around the corner, I am almost there. The door is in sight. I’ll make it.

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, bam! A brown, curly-haired head crashes into my shoulder and I fall to the floor. I see lights flashing, a million of them, like stars falling to the earth. A majestic sight, but, oh, how it hurts my eyes! I shake my head but they won’t go away. Stunned, I lay face down, breathing in deep the smell of newly laid carpet. Ughh. The box is smushed beneath me, completely demolished under my belly. Its edges stick into my ribs. It kills but at least I know she hasn’t seen them. Finally the pounding in my head subsides. The stars have found their way back into the sky, and I struggle to my feet. I see my sister beneath me, rolling and trying to rise to her knees.

“Sorry,” I mumble, and stumble to my room.

Thankful she didn’t say anything, I shut the door.

Exhaling, I lean against the door. That was close, but man, did I pull it off. I groan, because it really did hurt! Hesitant, I reach up and feel my shoulder. It is tender to the touch. That’ll be a bruise in the morning. Rats! Remembering my plan, I haul them out and count them, getting a bag for each three. Five bags total, not bad.

I slip three bags under the bed and take the other two into the bathroom. I lock the door behind me - no sense in taking chances. I turn on the water and put the plug in. The sink fills fast. Soon they are all soaking wet and I take out the plug and turn off the tap, letting the water drain. I take each into my hands, and wring them out, twisting each into a little rope, winding them into little wheels. They have to be perfect. I shove them into their bags with their partners, and squish them down, letting all the air escape, then zip them shut.

I stuff the bags under my sweater; I fold my arms across my chest, examining myself in the mirror. Nope, can’t even tell they are there, I decide. I open the bathroom door and saunter down to the kitchen. Ha! Could this work out any more perfectly? No one is here, so I quickly open the freezer. I push over a couple of pizza boxes, creating a small cave. I turn around, just to make sure no one is spying on me, and slide them into their hiding places. Lowering the boxes, I double-check to make sure they are not visible. I jog back up the stairs for the second load.

Soon, I am done and walk back to my room. Sinking onto my bed, I stare at the ceiling and beyond, daydreaming, marveling at a job well done. I relish the fact that I am the best prankster in the house, and soon, so soon, I will hear the desperate scream of a traumatized boy, “Jodie! Where are my boxers?” I smile devilishly. Oh, I can’t wait!

***

Sunlight filters through the window shades, placing its rays on my face. My eyes peer through tiny slits, adjusting to the light. Rolling over, my blankets twist me into a tight cocoon. All of a sudden my face plops into something sticky. “Oh my goodness,” I moan. My hands slide out of the blankets and search my face, like feelers of tiny bugs. They leap to my hair. “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness,” I chant. I sit up. I don’t want to look, imagining the worst. A glance, the worst ever, reveals that the entire top half of my body’s covered. Honey oozes into my eyes, and slowly slides down my nose. The whip cream finds its way into my inner ears. My pillow is covered, I am covered! What am I going to do?

“Aaron,” I scream. “I am going to kill you!”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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