Saturday, February 4, 2017



“Mom I don’t want to go to a sleep over.”

“No protesting, Diane. You’re going to have fun.”

“But I don’t want to babysit Jason.”

“Don’t worry I’m packing his Game Boy and charger. He’ll entertain himself. Now zip up so we can 


Outside was even colder than it looked. The three feet of snow had hardened into frozen crust covering the cul-de-sac and all routes to the school.  What had started as a snow day four days ago had become another reinter break with the promise of adding days back at the end of the school year. Diana should have been Forrest High decorating for the Winter Formal. Trying on her dress. Practicing looking up into Grant Banion’s eyes as they slow danced.

Now she was trudging through the snow to Rory Hive’s house for some cockamamie sleepover her mother had negotiated with Rory’s mom. She’d been friends with Rory in Elementary school, but they just grew apart. Diana got into cheerleading. Rory kind of became a dork. Mom still thought they were best friends, but then again, she also still talked to her daughter like she was a still a 5th grader.

Jason lagged behind crunching the ice building around the sewer grates. Diana would have yelled for him to catch up if the wind wasn’t promising to suck her breath out.


Rory’s mom answered the door offering two large red unwrapped lollipops. One was instantly in Jason’s mouth.

“Oh you’ve thought of everything!” Mom praised.

“It’s not my first rodeo. Now why don’t you two go up to Rory’s room. All of the kids are up there already.” The house still smelled like Diana had remembered it when she was a kid, menthol and electrical fire. Rory’s mom knelt and whispered in Diane’s ear, “Grant Banion is already up there.”

Her heart dropped into her stomach and instantly started dissolving. Why was Grant here? Under her winter outwear she had on her dumpiest outfit.

“It’s just like the Winter Formal,” Mom said, planting her hand in the small of her daughter’s back and pushing her away.

Diane’s head was swimming with embarrassment and she lost control of her body. Her hand grabbed the lollipop and feet carried her up the stairs to Rory’s room.

Jason violated the first rule of entering a teenage girl’s room when he swung the door open without knocking. Thankfully there was nothing to see. “Is there a wall charger in her?” he yelled.

Rory was sitting at the same desk they used to play MASH on. Six other kids from the neighborhood all stared back at her in silence. Diane scanned the room for Grant and found him in sitting on the beanbag chair in the far corner. Somehow he was dressed even more haphazard than she was. He had his sweater sleeves rolled up to his elbows and was scratching his forearms. The same arms that should have been holding her at the formal that evening.

 “Welcome to my party Diane.” Rory leap from her desk and showed her once-friend the small banner she’d been coloring in. POX PARTY 1988!

Confused, Diane looked up at Rory and for the first time saw all of the red dots on her skin. They were all under a film of dried lotion.

Diana swung in place to see her mom closing the door behind her. “It’s for the best honey.”

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