Somehow, I manage to survive Tuesday by scuttling around the edges and corners of school, clinging to the shadows like a teenaged cockroach. The pig noises are always there. At times the grunting and squealing threaten to suffocate me, but I keep my eyes down and my feet moving. Instead of going anywhere near the lunch room, I stand next to the baseball practice field eating a peanut butter sandwich. Deputy Todd doesn’t show up all day. I’m not sure if I’m relieved or disappointed by his absence. There are questions I need to ask that horrible hairy man.
Wednesday starts the special two-day schedule for finals. Juniors and seniors with a grade point average of B or higher don’t need to stick around school when they aren’t taking an exam. That, plus the fact that some students and some classes are exempt from the whole thing, leaves the campus much less crowded than usual. There’s not a single oink before morning announcements, not a single squeal.
I dare to think the storm has passed. Big mistake.
The two bottles of Tab I sucked down before school hit me during my second exam. I barely manage to scribble out the final translation “en Français” before dropping my blue booklet on Madame Renard’s desk and rushing out of the room. In my hurry to reach the girls bathroom, I forget to scuttle and hide. As I approach the doorway, someone shoves me hard between my shoulder blades, slamming me into the doorframe.
“Hey, lookey who came to the girls bathroom!” a female voice calls out from behind me.
A dark, scowling creature wearing bright blue eye shadow emerges from a cloud of cigarette smoke in the doorway. She squints at me for a few seconds before grabbing a handful of my hair. “Oh no! I am not sharing toilets with this dirty little freak.”
She yanks my hair and plants her foot on my hip, kick-shoving me toward the opposite doorway. Next thing I know, I’m on my hands and knees in the boys bathroom … within full view of the urinals! There’s only one guy in there, and he’s just washing his hands, but I can’t make myself look up. I try to scoot back out, but the evil she-troll stomps her foot on my butt.
“What the hell, Tracy?” The guy’s voice booms out. “That’s wacked!”
“Walk on by, Toad. This little freshmeat is nothing more than a sicko leg licker.”
“Leave her alone, Tracy. Go crawl back to your hole.”
Everything stops. Tears of shame are scalding my eyes and my bladder is threatening to burst all over the filthy bathroom floor, but my body is locked in that miserable position waiting for the next blow.
It never comes. The pressure from Tracy’s foot disappears, and the guy she called Toad helps me to my feet.
“Don’t let Tracy get to you. She’s messed up … and not in the good way, you know?”
I still can’t make myself look at him. My lips refuse to move. So, instead of thanking him, I break away and stumble toward the exit. Once outside, I realize I’m not going to make it through the next five minutes, let alone the rest of the day, without peeing. There’s other student bathrooms, but now I’m terrified to go anywhere near them.
“There’s a toilet in the janitor’s closet in the next building.”
When I turn around, Dana is pressed into a corner, hugging her French horn with one arm and shoveling Buckeye potato chips into her mouth with the other. I am practically dancing around with the need to pee.
“Kenny the janitor leaves the door open for kids who don’t feel safe in the student bathrooms.” She stops to push in another fat wad of potato chips, chewing and swallowing while I wiggle in pain. “Through the door, to the right, down three steps, then right again. The door says ‘private’ and the handle won’t turn, but if you pull hard enough it will open … unless someone’s already claimed the space. Then you’re out of luck.”
I mumble some gratitude in her direction and waddle away as fast as my aching bladder will allow.
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