Wish Lash - Original

Wish Lash
by Melanie Brown
Copyright  © 2012 Melanie Brown

This is the first TG story I ever wrote, back in the 80's and originally posted it to a BBS called Feminet. It's apparently been floating around the web for some time and it was suggested I post it here. -- Ed

Be careful what you wish for...

The waver of my reflection in the fountain wasn't due entirely to ripples in the water. As I tried to ease myself onto the fountain's ledge, my bottle slipped from my fingers and rolled away into the grass. No matter, it was empty anyway. For a while I just sat and stared into the water and sized up the loser staring back at me. It's not my fault, I saw him say.

The streetlight did little to alleviate the darkness, but I could still see the breeze stir the leaves around. This out-of-the-way spot had always been my favorite in Balboa Park. It was a good place to be alone and think. I looked up at the overcast sky hanging over San Diego. Even the stars wouldn't shine for me.

I had almost forgotten I was celebrating. It was exactly one week since my wife left me. She said I had been insensitive and became impossible to live with. I don't know how much more she wanted. I thought I had helped out around the house when she was sick or out of town. And it certainly wasn't true that I spent every Sunday afternoon glued to the TV watching football. It never bothered her to help herself to my wallet anytime she needed something either.

But there was more to the festivities. My boss had told me that if I screwed up one more time, that that would be all she wrote. Well, no one has ever accused him of being a liar.

Nothing was left in my life. No more wife, no more job. She was taking the house and the kid and the dog. At least she left me the Yugo.

What few people were out walking at this hour, were making a wide berth around me. I probably should have gone home, but I enjoyed wallowing in my self pity in public. In their effort to ignore me, these people were paying more attention to me than she ever did.

Staring into the fountain, I could see the coins littering the bottom, reflecting the streetlight, like tiny stars. With effort, I stood up, a motion I immediately regretted, and searched around in my pocket for a coin. My thinking was getting a little fuzzy and feeling around in my pocket took all my concentration. Finally I found a shiny, new penny. With great flourish, I tossed the penny into the water and said, "I wish I was somebody else!"

I guess my glasses weren't well anchored; they slipped off as I tossed the coin. I heard them splash in the water. Cursing, I felt for the edge of the fountain and, supporting myself on one hand, reached into the water with the other. I leaned over too far and my hand slipped and I fell headlong into the fountain.

* * *

Wham! The noise woke me with a jolt. I blinked in the light a couple of times trying to get my eyes to focus. Before I could orient myself, a loud, grating voice, like a female drill-sergeant rang in my ears. "Well young lady, wake up and join the rest of the class!"

I looked up and saw a woman leaning over me, hands laying on the pile of books she had just slammed on the desktop. She appeared to be addressing me. Something was very wrong. I glanced down from the glowering face and saw my hands. They weren't my hands.

They were smaller and softer. Last summer's tan was gone. There was no hair on my fingers and wrists. I know the back of my hand like I know... The nails were longer and of all things, purple. I could feel hair against my neck and shoulders.

Slack-jawed, I looked slowly around the room. I saw kids, about 14 or 15 years old sitting at desks, and most were staring at me and laughing. I knew that the woman was still droning on, but the sound in the room grew small and all I could hear was the rush of blood in my ears. The room seemed to shrink back from me.

I felt suddenly cold, as if dozens of pins were being pressed against my skin. I stared at my hands again. I tried moving them and they worked. I looked back up at the woman and she looked as confused as I felt.

I tried to speak, but only made a gurgling noise. The dizziness increased. The next thing I knew, I threw up all over the desk and the woman. The woman grabbed my arm and rushed me down a hall to a restroom. We stayed there a few minutes until I started having dry heaves. As she wiped my face with a damp paper towel, she asked, "Why didn't you just say you were sick?"

I didn't say anything - I couldn't. I was almost catatonic. The woman had to hold me up since my legs seemed drained of all strength. I don't remember anything else until I was being helped into a bed. Just before I zonked out, I heard a distant voice say, "Now you just lie down here for awhile. If you don't feel any better after resting, you'll be excused to go home."

While I lay there, strange images reeled through my mind. I've imagined crazy things before after having too much to drink, but why couldn't I just have pink elephants? I decided that if and when I ever woke up, I'd swear to God to go on the wagon.

I awoke slowly, afraid to open my eyes. My head throbbed, and I hoped it was from a hangover. I must have been suffering the effects of an all night drunk.

Afraid of what I might see, I opened my eyes one at a time. The room was darkened, but a door to my left was open, letting light in. For a long time I stared at the ceiling. It wasn't my ceiling. Bringing my gaze down along the wall to the bed, I could see that the bed was a hospital type. That was a relief! I must have whacked my head pretty good when I fell at the park and had been taken to a hospital. Lucky I didn't drown. Then I saw the light brown strands of hair on the pillow.

I forced myself to look down the length of my body. First there was a light blue sweater with a slight rise across the chest. I felt an unaccustomed weight in the chest area. Further down was a denim mini-skirt. On my feet were tennies and I rocked my feet back and forth to verify they were attached to me. I thought I had to be in a coma. I knew I had to be laying in a hospital somewhere, deep in a coma and my sensory-starved brain was out of control and even at this very moment, a team of doctors was working against the clock, putting me back together. A few hours later, when the anesthetic wears off, I'd wake up.

Head still pounding, I sat up. There was not one rational reason for me to believe that this was happening. Yet I couldn't deny what I saw and felt. So I decided none of it was real and to try playing along until the fever dream ended.

I never had to go to the bathroom in a dream before.

I stood up and, though still a little wobbly, I walked over to the adjacent bathroom. I lifted the skirt up, pulled the panties down and...

I had to sit down.

Where in God's name was I? Just what the fuck was going on? This couldn't really be happening to me! I couldn't be in this room, and I sure as hell couldn't just suddenly be female! I mean, if my soul had to take evasive action and leap into someone else's body, why not some millionaire playboy with yachts, sports cars, and a new bimbo everyday? Why a goddamned teenage girl?

After several minutes, I finally emerged from the bathroom, pale and clammy with sweat. I squinted at the bright light coming through the open door. I must have gone insane. I thought, Yeah, that's the ticket. I was in a padded room, trying to force my head through the keyhole.

Maybe I really had gone nuts and no one else saw me this way. Going through the door was the only way to find out. Gingerly, I stepped out of the room hoping I'd be greeted by Alan Funt.

I appeared to be in the nurse's section of a school office. A woman at a desk looked up with a concerned, but still pleasant looking face. "How do you feel?" she asked. "You didn't have a fever."

I hesitated a second, not really trusting myself to speak. I was actually fearing what my voice would sound like. But then I decided, what the hell? It's all a dream anyhow. So I answered, "Like a new person. Must have been something I drank." The voice sounded squeaky and alien.

"Well, if you think you're sure. You can go back to class. I'll call your mother and tell her you seem to be all right. But I'm going to recommend she take you to a doctor."

My mother? I let it pass. I turned and left the office and found myself in a crowded intersection. I was in a school building. A junior high from the looks of the students pushing and shoving their way through the intersection. Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore...

Then I recognized the enameled, puke-green walls. It was Mission Bay Jr. High, that I had gone to back in '62 for grades 7 and 8. Now I was even more convinced this was all just a strange dream. If I was going to dream something, surely I'd use what I already had in memory. I wondered what were the odds of randomly landing in a new body in your own town? Probably about as good as just landing in a new body.

While standing there, feeling numb and more alone than at any time in my life, I felt a hand lightly take hold of my arm. "Earth to Debbie! Like, what's with ya? Didn't you hear me calling to you? Ack! You look like death warmed over!"

At least I found out what "my" name was. "Uh, I was just thinking", I said to the 14 year old girl standing beside me. We were about eye level with each other and she was dressed much the same as I. Her long blond hair appeared to defy gravity as it stuck out in all directions. Any other time, I would have thought she was cute. That must be it - I was being punished for all those lustful thoughts that kept creeping up every time I wandered through the mall on Saturday afternoons...

"It's a little late for that. I thought Miss Crawley was going to have a hissy-fit this morning after what you said to her in class! I just know she called your mom. Then sleeping and throwing up all over Miss Sommers in Algebra, your mother's gonna shit bricks!" She glanced down at one of the brightly colored watches on her wrist. "We're going to be late for lunch, if you don't hurry up."

I wondered what her name was. She obviously thought she knew who I was. I needed a friend, not to mention information. Even if this was just a dream, it was a damned realistic one. Until I could find my way back to the real world, I would need a place to sleep and food to eat. Apparently I was someone who would be missed if I didn't arrive at wherever home was. If I didn't continue with the day's routine, it would cause questions I didn't want to answer. I've had more enjoyable afternoons.

While waiting in the lunch line, I discovered that my new friend's name was Cathy, thanks to a couple of other girls walking by. Every time I tried to say something to her, I'd hesitate and shrink back. I didn't think I could trust myself not to screw up. I'd just have to hope that something would come up.

We finally got our lunches. It consisted of a plate containing a facsimile of real-life food with the taste of low-grade cardboard. It's nice to know that there are constants in the Universe. I followed Cathy to a table with a gaggle of giggly girls on one end.

As I set my tray down, I lost my grip on the books I was carrying and they fell to the floor. Even though I must have been holding the books for 15 minutes, this was the first time I was aware of them. Ignoring the comments from a group of pizza-faced boys sitting at the table across the aisle, I leaned over to pick them up. The notebook lay there opened. I saw in the pencil bag a sheet of paper, with not only a complete class schedule, but "my" locker combination as well.

That certainly relieved some pressure. At least the chances of faking my way through the day increased. But it still didn't reduce my need for Cathy's knowledge of "me".

On sudden inspiration, I picked up the small denim purse I'd been carrying and started looking through it. After rummaging through my wife's purse trying to find the checkbook, I really wasn't surprised by the contents. If there's a system to purse storage, it's never been apparent to me.

I hoped I could find some kind of identification. Naturally, at 14, I wouldn't have a driver's license. The only thing with "my" name on it was a Kirk Cameron's Fan Club membership card. I guess "Debbie" never thought she would forget where she lived.

Cathy frowned in my direction. "What? Are you like, mad at me or something?"

"No. No, of course not. I guess I'm just not my self today."

"I'll say! You've been a real space-case the last couple of days." Shaking her head, she looked at me with disapproval. "Wait for me after school. I'll walk home with you. You know, like I think we need to talk."

Great! At least the problem of finding out where I lived would be solved. I said, "Sure. That would be a good idea."

Lunch was over, and after noting what class I was supposed to go to, I braced myself for the rest of the afternoon. Even after twenty-six years, I still remembered the basic outlay of the building. I picked up my stuff, said good-bye to Cathy, and stepped into the crowded halls.

* * *

The numbness started to wear off while walking through school, and I started to become more aware of my new body. All the signals I was getting told me I felt normal. But it was a very different normal than I was used to. I had never given it any thought before, but it dawned on me that girls don't mind being girls. Even though my breasts weren't very large, the extra weight was annoying. Overall, I felt light. And even though they felt normal, I could feel that my muscles did not contain the strength I was used to. I could also see perfectly without glasses.

Since leaving the nurse's office, I had been feeling extremely self- conscious about being dressed as a girl. I kept thinking that everyone must be staring and wondering who that faggot was wearing a skirt and makeup. I had to keep telling myself that, outwardly, I was exactly what I appeared to be. Discovering a boy looking at me was especially disturbing since I knew precisely what was going through his dirty little mind.

Despite my self-consciousness about what I was, old habits die hard. When I entered the restroom, I couldn't figure out why the boys in there looked so surprised. I then saw my reflection and felt a flash of horror. I was already going back through the door about the time one of them started making some rather unpleasant suggestions. I heard them all laughing as the door closed. There were some giggles from girls and boys alike, out in the hallway as I ran around a corner. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred...

While walking down the hall, a group of boys sitting on a heating unit under a window, called out a rude comment to me and then proceeded to have a big laugh at my expense. I remember doing something similar with my friends back when I was a boy their age, but at least what we said was funny. These kids were just being jerks. I guess times have changed.

The first class I had to go to was English. I waited outside the room until the bell rang and I was the last one to enter. I hoped it would increase my chances of sitting at "my" desk. It either worked or nobody cared. I was beginning to think this was going to be a cinch. If I knew then what I know now... Then we were told to turn to the story that the class had been reading that week. It was Silas Marner.

After English was P.E. For the first time today I was afraid I wouldn't be female when I undressed to change into the gym clothes. I half expected to return to my old self just so I could get arrested. When I was a kid it had been a fantasy of mine to see all the half naked girls in the locker room, so I had been looking forward to that part. I was in for disappointment though. The showers were stalls and not open-bay like the boys'. I took my time getting undressed while watching the other girls. At first it was exciting to be in a room filled with girls wearing only bras and panties. But as I stepped out of my skirt, I saw that I looked more or less the same as the other girls. I was surprised that I found myself feeling a little jealous of a couple of girls because of how good their bodies looked and a little smug since I felt looked better than most of the other girls.

I also expected to die from a heart attack during calisthenics. I was still in the 40 year-old couch potato mentality, and at first I didn't think I could perform any type of exercise anymore. I felt intoxicated by this new youthful energy.

* * *

I had been waiting in front of the school for about ten minutes and was just about to give up on Cathy when she finally appeared coming around the building. "Yo, dude, wha'cha doing over here? I've been waiting for you on the other side of the school. I thought, like maybe you had gone home without me or something."

"I guess I just wasn't thinking," I said. "Let's go."

We walked for a while in silence. I watched our shadows skim along the ground. I noticed that I wasn't walking quite the same as Cathy. I tried to match my movements to hers. Finally she said, "Debbie, ya know, like we've been friends for a long time, right? Sometimes I don't know what you mean with some of the things you say and do and stuff. But like, the last couple a days, you've really scared me."

I looked at Cathy. She was genuinely concerned. I dropped my voice and my glance and asked, "How did I do that?"

"You know. Like, you've been ignoring me and the other guys. I don't know - you don't like to do anything anymore. I know you flunked those last two tests on purpose. And then last night, you like, stopped at the fountain and wished that you were dead!"

I stopped in mid-stride. "I said what?"

"You know. I was really scared. I thought that maybe you might, like, try to kill yourself or something. I mean, God! I know your mother must be impossible, but you really shouldn't say things like that." She looked straight at me.

"Cathy, uh, like, hey, you know, believe me, I wouldn't ever do nothing like that, you know." I don't think I sounded very convincing.

We walked on for a few more blocks, talking unenthusiastically in general terms about school. Cathy stopped in front of a wood frame house with two trees and a small flower garden. "Are you sure you won't change your mind about going to Lisa's slumber party tomorrow night?"

"I'll give it some thought."

"Okay, well, gotta jam. Catcha later."

I watched her walk down the block. Then I turned to look at the house. This must be it. I tried to tell myself that it didn't look like Freddy Krueger's house...Well, maybe a little...

* * *

I almost knocked. I turned the knob slowly and tried to open the door quietly. The effort was wasted. The door sounded as if it hadn't opened in years. Inside, the air contained an odd combination of Lysol, fried fish, mildew and litter box. You could almost feel it settling on your skin.

"Where the hell have you been?", growled a vaguely female voice from another room. A large shape emerged through the doorway, blocking out the light.

"Hi, Mom.", I said, hazarding a guess. The woman was about 300 pounds and about 5 foot 6. Her shoulder length, stringy black hair looked more like it was tattooed to her head. What teeth she had left were badly stained. If she shaved her head and changed her name to Gerd Bonk, she could be an East German weight-lifter. I obviously got my looks and human genes from my father.

"Don't `Hi, Mom' me, you little shit! You'll be the death of me yet! I got six calls from school about you today and always during the juicy part of one of my `soaps'." Then began a long tirade about my grades, attendance, smart mouth, dumb brain, boyfriends and Life, the Universe and Everything.

I figured that I must be in Hell. I had died, gone straight to Hell and was being welcomed by the Devil himself.

I had trouble believing that she really cared what "I" did. I tried to tune her out. And to think I had thought things were bad before.

While "Mom" continued her monologue, I briefly entertained the idea of calling my ex-wife to ask if I could stay there. I dropped it almost immediately. She would never believe me and what would she do, adopt me?

The exertion finally wore her out, and she stopped chewing me out, and told me to go to my room. I figured that the room she came out of was her bedroom, so I went down the hall.

The sign on the door that read "Debbie's Room" was my best clue as to which door to take. After entering, I glanced around the room. On a wall, several pictures clipped from magazines were tacked up. The only one I recognized was Tom Cruise. A large teddy bear sat on the bed. A poster of a cat and another of a unicorn cluttered another wall. There was also a dresser with a mirror. The mirror was mostly hidden behind photos and clippings.

I walked out of the room a few steps and into the bathroom and closed and locked the door. I leaned back against the counter and closed my eyes, relieved to have some privacy and time to think.

Debbie had wished that she was dead and I had become her. What had happened to my body? Was Debbie now in my old body, wondering what was going on, or had I died somehow so that she could get her wish through our swap? Even if she were alive and I found where she was, how could we swap back? I wondered which would be worse, to be in my body and old life, or to be in this house with "Mom".

When I finally re-opened my eyes, I got my first real look at my self. I saw a pretty 14 year old girl with light brown hair tied with a bow in the back, moussed-out in that fright-wig style that's popular for some reason, wearing too much makeup, and large white plastic earrings. Throwing in the sweater and mini-skirt, I was a carbon-copy of what you find hanging around the shopping malls.

I noticed that there was a shower head installed over the bathtub. Maybe I could wash this day off.

I couldn't help but watch myself as I undressed. I almost felt like a peeping-tom. I stared at my naked form in the mirror: the small firm breasts, the thin lithe body, and the smooth crotch.

I stepped into the shower and began to wash with slow and deliberate motions and felt my nipples tighten. As I rubbed the erect nipples, wiping the soap off, they began to ache. The more I rubbed my body, the more acute a new, incredible sensation became. When I started washing between my legs, the feeling became almost unbearable. When I stuck my finger up against my clitoris, a pulse shot through my body that was stronger and more lingering than any orgasm I had ever experienced. I slipped down to the bottom of the tub with the spray from the shower head raining on my face. I lay there with my eyes closed as the feeling reverberated back and forth. Is this why teenaged girls are giggling all the time?

Still shaking after the shower, I dried myself, enjoying the feel of the towel against my body. Afterward I redressed, feeling refreshed and more in tune with my body. I was surprised at how hard the bra was to put on, considering how easy it always was to unsnap one at the theater or in the car. By the time I came back out, "Dad" had gotten home and supper was about ready.

Apparently, Dad was a janitor and after talking to him, I discovered he wasn't very bright. There was not much conversation, with Mom eating non-stop and Dad trying to concentrate on reading a National Enquirer article about Elvis. He may have had an easier time if he didn't have to move his lips as he read. At least the food was edible.

Walking back to my room, I saw the newspaper laying on the floor. I picked it up and started thumbing through it. I don't know why, but I thought the date would be different. On the last page, I saw an article about a drunk found floating in a fountain in Balboa Park. I read the short article four times and the drunk's name was mine each time I read it.

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and thought to myself, This is it. First law of survival: adapt or die...

* * *

I awoke the next morning with Corey Haims staring at me from the wall. I had given up thinking this was anything but reality so I resigned myself to my fate. When I showered, nothing exciting happened. For clothes, all I felt safe in selecting was a tee shirt and jeans. I looked down at the ponderous array of cosmetics on the bathroom counter and decided to just leave them alone for awhile. I grabbed my books and left for school. At least it was Friday.

Going to school turned out to be a real education for me. Like, I had no idea how much there was to worry about. And I used to think my old life was complicated.

The morning went by smoothly now that all the shock of the previous morning had worn off. I was already thinking in terms of "them" when dealing with adults. Ever since graduation, I had considered junior high punks as obnoxious little cretins, but most of the kids I was meeting and talking to seemed pretty cool.

The food wasn't any better but, like, I don't know when I've enjoyed lunch more. Cathy and me sat at the same table. The talk turned to Lisa's slumber party and Sheri asked, "Well, like have you decided to go or what?"

I said, "What? Are you shittin' me? Hey, like I wouldn't miss it for anything!"
Tamara, the girl sitting on the other side of Cathy said, "Hey, great, Debbie! It ought to be really cool, especially since that lesbian from Mars Jenny, is sick and can't come." There were giggles and sighs of relief at this news.

Going home wasn't as bad as the day before. At least Mom wasn't in a nasty mood. Dad still came home smelling of Lord Nelson Restroom Cleaner.

I ran into a problem when trying to decide what to take to the slumber party. It bothered me that I hadn't remembered that I had never been to one before. Looking in my closet, I found a sleeping bag. Just to be on the safe side, I dug out a night shirt with a print of a unicorn on it and rolled it up in the sleeping bag. I felt a little nervous about going.

Cathy's mother drove us both over to Lisa's. We were the last ones to get there. Already, the living room floor was littered with sleeping bags and girls. A stereo was blasting, records and tapes were scattered across the floor, the TV was blaring, and about a dozen different conversations filled what space remained in the air.

I felt like a spy, infiltrating an enemy camp. I had no idea what to expect. As I set my bag down, Tamara came bounding up and said, "Hey Debbie, we're gonna make some cookies. Wanna help?"

Not sure what I could do to help, I said I would and followed her into the kitchen. Tamara handed me a bowl and told me to mix up some chocolate chip cookies while she made sugar cookies. I stood there staring at the bowl not knowing what to do next. Then Lisa's mother came to my rescue and showed me what I needed to do. Heating TV dinners had always been a chore for me, so to my surprise, this minor accomplishment was actually fun.

After making a couple of batches of cookies, I went back out to the living room to talk to Cathy. She was on the phone with two other girls trying to listen in. I guess I stood in one place too long because I heard Lisa call out, "Ah ha, another victim - I mean, customer! Come on, Debbie, let's see what we can do to you."

We sat down on the floor and Lisa started digging through a pile of makeup. She'd try something, frown, then clean it off and try something else. At first I shrank back from her as she applied the makeup, but it really wasn't so bad. Sheri sat down with us and started fixing my hair differently. When they were done, they finally let me look in a mirror. I couldn't believe how different I looked! It was impossible to suppress a giggle.

Suddenly, above the noise of the stereo and TV, some of the girls started screaming and throwing pillows and clothes at a window. Through the window, I could see a couple of boys making faces and laughing. When Lisa's mother showed up, they ran off then a second later the doorbell rang then we heard the sound of feet scuffling away.

Sheri called up the cutest boy in school and then handed the phone to me! I didn't know what to say and just mumbled something. He tried talking to me, but all I could manage was a nervous giggle. I mean, I was never so embarrassed! He must have thought I was like, a real airhead or something.

A tape of Top Gun was playing on TV, and I sat down on the floor to watch some of it, risking being stepped on by the girls who were dancing. I thought Kelly McGillis was pretty cool and wanted to be like her when I grew up. And when Tom Cruise flashed his smile, I sighed along with everyone else.

When Lisa's dad came into the room and unplugged the stereo, we sat around in the dark and told scary stories or talked about boys or both. A couple of girls were still making prank phone calls. We talked and giggled late into the night.

During one of the stories, Cathy nudged me and pointed at Sheri, who had fallen asleep on her bag. She was the only one asleep and Cathy motioned for me to follow her. We crawled over to where Sheri was sleeping and pulled her bra from her pile of clothes. We snuck into the kitchen and soaked her bra with water then tossed it into the freezer.

Anyway, the slumber party was really bitchin'! I can't remember the last time I had so much fun. I stayed up the whole night and the next morning when I got home, as soon as I made it into my room, I crashed on the bed and didn't get up until that afternoon.

* * *

For the next couple of weeks things were going great. I finally had more friends than I could count on one hand. In fact, I ran out of fingers and toes! Most of the boys I met were pretty cool, but a few were real inspiration for birth control. My days were suddenly very active. My parents were constantly bugging me to get off the phone. When I experienced my first period, I thought I was dying until I figured out what was happening.

Then one day Cathy told me that she had a date with a guy named Wes who was in high school. He had asked Cathy if she like, had a friend that his friend Tommy could go out with too. She asked me if I wanted to. She had seen Tommy and thought that he was really cute. Well, I couldn't pass that up! Besides, they had their own car, too.

The date was going real good. We had just ordered our pizzas and I should have been feeling great. But something kept nagging at the back of my mind. I mean, it's a joke! Here me and Cathy were with these two cool guys and I didn't feel too good.

Tommy was talking to me, arm casually tossed on top of the booth seat behind me. For some reason, what he was saying was bothering me. He was being nice, but the words - the words caused an echo in my head.

I suddenly felt as though someone had dropped a bucket of cold water on top of me. I used to say those words! I must have had this same conversation a couple of dozen times - from his side. I had this conversation with my wife. I didn't belong here.

Mind racing, I thought, My God! What's happening to me? I mean, like, oooh shit! You're losing it kiddo, get a grip on yourself...

I got up and ran for the door. I heard Cathy calling to me to wait, asking me what's wrong. I head Tommy say, "Hey! What's with this chick? She gotta problem or somethin'?"

I ran for a long time. I was terribly confused. Images kept appearing before my eyes that didn't make any sense. Wife? Kid? But that was stupid. Someone else was trying to force himself to the surface. Inside my mind I screamed, Go 'way you old bastard! I don't want you anymore.

I stopped running to catch my breath. At first I didn't know where I was and then I turned around and saw the fountain. That goddamn fountain. As I stood there looking into the water, another reflection appeared next to mine. I glanced to my side and saw Cathy, still breathing hard from running.

"Debbie, what's wrong?" she pleaded. "Why did you run away?"

I sat down on the edge of the fountain before saying anything. "I dunno. For some reason I got like, confused and scared. I feel like I don't deserve to be having a good time. I feel guilty."

From her expression I knew she didn't understand. Why should she? I didn't. Finally she said, "I don't know why you'd feel guilty. You haven't even been causing problems at school since that day last month that you fainted in class. You've acted goofy a couple a times before and if you don't stop this and get with the program, you're gonna wind up like her." Cathy pointed over to the left. A bag lady, dressed in rags and covered with dirt, was sifting through a trash can. While we watched, her glasses fell in the trash and she fumbled around for a while until she found them again.

I shuddered. No, I didn't want to wind up a basket case and I was headed there fast. I said, "I guess it's too late to go back to Tommy and Wes?" She nodded. I told her I was sorry for screwing up her big date. She mumbled that it was okay, but I could tell that this had put a strain on our friendship.

She started to walk away and over her shoulder she said, "Well, I think I'll go home. Catcha later." She was swallowed by the darkness.

This scene definitely looked too familiar. I stood looking at that crummy fountain, feeling once again, lost and alone. The streetlight reflected off the coins like tiny stars in the bottom of the fountain. I opened my purse and looked in the bottom where loose coins wound up. I pulled out a new penny and flipped it into the water and said, "I wish this nightmare would end."

I started walking back towards home. It was going to be a long walk. Suddenly, coming from behind and several blocks away, I could hear the sound of tires screeching. The sound gave me a chill and I instinctively looked over my shoulder.

I was looking straight into the headlights of the oncoming car. Inside a second I saw I was in the middle of the street pushing a shopping cart full of junk. Glare from the headlights caused reflections in the thick lenses of my glasses. I smelled as if I hadn't bathed in days - weeks, and I was dressed in rags. The sound of the squalling tires was deafening.

The End

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