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June 15, 2012 by The Citron Review

by Katherine Christensen


Out on the playground, Janice stands in wait. Karen giggles. They team up, Janice in front, Karen behind. They step on my toes, kick, call me names. It’s not what they do that matters, but the fun they have doing it.

They’ve been at this for weeks now and I haven’t moved a muscle to stop them. I have to do something soon, or they will invent new things to do to me. That’s how it works.

Until six weeks ago, Janice and I had sleepovers. We shared books in class. We bought matching jackets at the mall. Then she threw me over, for Karen, with her curly brown hair and pointy shoes.

Inside the classroom, someone comes up behind me. I act like I’m tying my shoe. Ten-Ton Tessie taps my shoulder. Mr. Hughes gathers up papers at his desk.

Tessie whispers, “I’ll pound ‘em for you, if you want.”

“Thanks, but I gotta do this myself.” I swallow.

“If you say so.” She leaves, slamming the door so hard the walls shake.

With a sidelong glance at me, Mr. Hughes retreats, through the teachers-only door that connects to the third-grade classroom.

Between the bent slats of the window blinds, I see the line for my bus. Fear throws rocks in my stomach. Sunlight filters through the crack underneath the student door and all along its dented sides.

Super Me throws open the door. I toss the evil duo all the way to San Francisco.

Super Me would never think: Janice, you were my best friend, why do you betray me?

But there it is. Boiled down. People you trust can do terrible things.

The teachers-only door rattles when I open it, but the third-grade classroom is empty. A pencil wobbles on a seat when I creep by. The corridor is bare.

I hurry through the shade to my bus, keeping my head down.


Katherine Christensen’s poetry and articles have been published by Stanford University journals. Her poetry and short stories have also appeared in Vanilla and Inkspill. She is currently enrolled in Stanford’s Creative Writing Certificate Program and at work on a speculative fiction novel for young adults.


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