All three were 8th graders. Janet was 14, Corinne was 14, Maggie was 14.
"Let's go to the library," Janet said.
"I want to go to the mall," Corinne objected.
Maggie argued for going to Barnes and Noble to look at the new Lucy Conover book.
"Lucy Conover!" Janet scoffed.
"Lucy Conover?" Corinne said in surprise.
"What's wrong with Lucy Conover?" Maggie wanted to know.
Janet laughed. Corinne looked embarrassed. Maggie frowned and blushed bright red. "I like Lucy Conover," she muttered.
The girls were walking away from where the bus had let them off at the corner. Other students were around; boys and girls in groups; boys in groups; girls in groups; individual boys and girls walking alone. The loners were mostly ugly or geeks, or fat and friendless. Janet and Corinne and Maggie were not ugly, not geeks, not fat, and not friendless.
"I have to go home first," Janet said. They were two blocks away from her house.
"Where are we going after?" Corinne inquired.
"I don't know yet," Janet said.
The girls were typical 8th graders. Janet was the tallest with chestnut hair, shoulder length with chocolate brown eyes. Corinne had hazel-colored eyes and darker-colored hair down below her shoulder blades. Maggie was the shortest of the three, the fairest, and the only one with freckles. Her hair was dark red, wavy on the verge of being curly, and just touched her shoulders. Her eyes were also hazel, like Corinne's, though flecked with gold.
They reached Janet's house, turned up the walk, walked to the steps, climbed the five steps to the door, where Janet put her key in the lock, twisted it left and went in, Corinne and Maggie following behind her. She shut the door and flicked the deadbolt closed. Then, for a reason she didn't understand and didn't remember doing three seconds later, she twisted the deadbolt open again. Corinne noticed this, didn't really think much about it and Maggie didn't notice it at all. Her attention was on the big brown box sitting in the foyer. "What's that?" she asked.
"I don't know," Janet confessed. "It was there this morning when I came down." All three girls stared at the box.
"You think it's a TV?" Corinne asked. It was the right size for a TV. Would be the right size for an old-style TV, anyway. New TV sets came in boxes that were long and slim.
"I don't know," Janet repeated. "Let's go upstairs."
Passing the box, which was just a plain brown cardboard box with no markings, Corinne and Maggie followed Janet toward the stairs. Maggie kept looking over her shoulder as they climbed, not liking the box. She didn't like that it had no markings. All the boxes she'd seen had markings on them, usually in bright colors for electronic stuff like a TV set. This box was clueless.
Halfway up the stairs, Maggie paused and took off her sneakers. She left them on the step and continued up, catching her friends in the upstairs hallway. Neither girl noticed that Maggie was shoeless. Janet pushed open her bedroom door and went in. Corinne and Maggie followed.
"I have to go pee," Janet said.
"So do I," Corinne said.
"Me too," Maggie chimed in.
All three un-shouldered their backpacks and let them drop: Janet's onto her bed, Corinne's on the floor at her feet, and Maggie's onto ... wait--Maggie didn't have her backpack.
"Where's my backpack?" Maggie demanded, alarmed. She automatically checked all around on her on the floor, felt her right shoulder, craned her head to look down her back, and then looked at the other two girls. "Where's my backpack?" she repeated.
Janet blinked. "Did you leave it on the bus?"
"I don't know!" Maggie wailed. "Did I?" Her iPod was in her backpack and so was her wallet. So were her glasses. No, she had her glasses on. But her pads were in the backpack and she planned to change her current one in the bathroom.
"Can I borrow a pad?" she blurted out.
Surprised, the other girls laughed. Maggie blushed bright red. "I mean ... later. After I find my backpack." Which didn't make sense, for if she had her backpack she'd have her pads, but she was embarrassed and being embarrassed made her dorky. "I have to find my backpack," she muttered.
All three went downstairs on the off chance that Maggie had left her backpack in the foyer or the living room. If was not there. Neither was the big brown box, though none of the girls noticed that. None remembered having seen it at all. On impulse, Maggie opened the front door and was surprised to find her backpack sitting atop a big brown box on the stoop.
"There it is!" she exclaimed. "What's it doing out here?" To her surprise, there was also a pair of pink Skechers sitting on the box. "Those look like mine," she said in surprise. Looking down at her feet, she looked back at the box and then down at her feet again, and then at the other two girls.
"What's going on?" she demanded.
Janet looked confused. Corinne blinked in confusion. Both girls shook their heads.
"You took off your shoes?" Janet demanded. "When?"
Maggie gasped, "I did not! I just looked down and they weren't there!" She stared at the big brown box, her stomach clenched, a frightened feeling in her chest. It felt like her chest was collapsing into itself. She crossed her arms and shivered badly.
"Where did the box come from?" Corinne wanted to know. She looked up and down the street. There weren't any delivery trucks in sight. There wasn't anyone around but school kids. Jimmy Hanaker, from around the corner was across the street, dropped off by a later bus and on his way home. He grinned and waved at her. Jimmy had a crush on Corrine. She waved back.
"Should we bring it inside?" Janet asked, sounding undecided.
"Hell, no!" Maggie cried, scared shitless and needing to go pee. A little pee leaked into her panties and she clamped her thighs closed and moaned, "Oh, God. I got to go pee!" and made a dash for the downstairs bathroom. She skidded around the corner in her stocking feet and almost fell on her butt. She wrestled open the bathroom door and only just managed to get her jeans and panties down before her pee shot out.
"Oh, God," she sighed, relieved. She felt embarrassed about peeing herself like that. She did that all too often. You'd think she'd learn to regulate herself better, stop waiting until the very last moment to go pee. Wiping herself, she flushed the toilet and stood up.
Maggie was rather cute, cuter than she understood herself to be. Her braces added to her cuteness, though she hated and hid them religiously. She never smiled, and when she had to smile, she hid her braces behind her hand. Boys teased her, trying to make her smile.
In the mirror, she turned her head this way and that, examining her hair and her makeup and her teeth. Nothing in her braces, she saw, relieved. Her hair looked just as awful as ever. Like most girls with dark red wavy hair, Maggie hated it. She had learned long ago to leave it alone if it wasn't totally awful.
She washed her hands and dried them on a towel. She turned off the light and went back to the front door to join her friends. On the stoop, Janet and Corinne and Jimmy Hanaker were smoking a joint, Jimmy accepting it back from Janet, who held a big lungful of smoke. Maggie gasped.
"Janet! What are you doing?"
All three smokers jerked, Janet coughing out her smoke, Jimmy bobbling the joint, Corinne loosing her balance and having to grab the rail to keep from falling over. She went wide-eyed, staring at Maggie.
"What are you doing?" she cried.
"Maggie!" Janet choked out.
Jimmie just stared at her, open-mouthed and blinking.
"What?" She looked down at herself and screeched. She covered herself momentarily, hunched and turned around and fled back to the bathroom, a hand thrown behind her to cover her butt. On the floor, just as she had left them, pooled around missing feet, were her blue jeans. Horrified, she snatched them off the floor and slammed the door shut and, hopping up and down on one foot, put them back on.
She was in total disbelief of herself. She had left her blue jeans in the bathroom and shown another student, a boy, her pink panties. Her pink panties with dancing white teddy bears, she thought with chagrin. How embarrassing was that? How horrifying. She thought in dismay: He'll tell everyone. By the time he got home, every friend on his cell phone would know the truth.
But what was the truth? Why in the world would she leave her jeans in the bathroom and go out to the porch? She had no memory of taking them off, but she had no memory of pulling them up, either. What she did remember was flushing the toilet and looking at herself in the mirror. And that was all. Except for leaving the bathroom to join her friends on the porch. Her friends that thought she was crazy. A freak. A geek.
Hugging herself tightly, Maggie stared at the offending two foot square on the floor, at the toilet, at the mirror, and down at herself again. Did she have Alzheimer's, she wondered? Was she loosing her mind? What about her backpack and Skechers? How to explain those?
Explain to whom, she wondered?
Maggie started and clamped her arms over her chest. "What?" The door opened and Janet walked it. Maggie hunched herself even tighter, prepared to start whimpering when Janet gave her shit. But Janet only looked at her, kind of oddly, as though wondering what had Maggie so uptight and anxious. She undid her jeans, pulled them down to mid-thigh and sat down to pee. Maggie was flustered.
"Are you okay?" Janet asked.
.... There is more of this story ...