Walker's Path by Katherine Phillips

Walker's Path Chapter 10 Tough Morning

By KatherinesBrain | Walker's Path | 26 Jun 2021

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Someone was being really loud but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I buried my head under my pillow and hoped they would go away.

Then something moved on my bed. I jumped up and scooted away from whatever was in bed with me. When I fell off the edge, several girls screamed as I landed on them. I was officially up.

“What are you doing!” One yelled.

I did my best to roll off of her whoever she was. When I finally got a good look at my surroundings I realized that I was still at Joy’s house. I had misjudged how close I was to the side of the bed and fell onto Gina and Lacy.

“Sorry,” I squeaked.

Lacy punched my arm, hard. She was stronger than she looked. I only grazed Gina because she apparently slept curled up like a ball.

As I was rubbing my arm I got a look at the clock. It was six-fifteen.

Joy’s mom walked into the room. “Are you girls all right?”

Something was wrong.

“We’re fine. Wa—” Joy stopped herself and coughed. “Kennedi fell off the bed.”

Lacy pushed my shoulder. “And landed on me.”

“I didn’t mean to!” I said.

Joy’s mom put her hands on her hips. “It’s time to get ready.”

“Get ready for what?” I asked.

Joy’s mom laughed. “Breakfast.”

“Oh,” I said and then it hit me. We didn’t set an alarm so I could wake up early.

Shit, shit, shit! I went into panic mode and scrambled off the pull-out. I slipped but caught myself before I fell. I was having problems getting air so I ran over to the window, opened it, and stuck my head out.

The sound of my heartbeat in my ears was deafening. People were talking behind me but I couldn't quite make out what they were saying. After a minute or so I could tell the fresh air was helping because my mind was going crazy. What the hell am I going to do?

“Kennedi, are you okay?” Joy asked from behind me.

I knew I was feeling better when I noticed I was on the second floor hanging out of a window. I backed out of it and sat on the ground. This house is going to kill me.

My brain wasn't ready for interaction so I gave her a thumbs up.

Everyone was staring at me but as soon as they registered my hand signal they seemed to jump into motion.

Lacy and Gina fixed the sheets on the pull-out while Joy and Sam fixed the bed.

When I stood up to try and help Joy's mom led me over to the chair by the vanity and sat me down. “Can you breathe okay?”

I nodded.

She knelt down and put her hand on my leg. “You don’t just have claustrophobia do you?”

Joy and the other girls stopped and watched.

“N-no,” I said.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

I looked down at my hands and shrugged.

She stood up. “Well if you want to talk about it, I’m here okay?”

I nodded.

With that, she walked to the door and looked at her watch. “We have forty minutes but if you need more time,” She looked directly at me. “Then let me know okay?”

“Thank you, Mrs. Perks,” Gina said.

Joy’s mom frowned. “Gina, you know better, call me Heather.” Heather smiled while waving at us. “Now get dressed.” She walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.

Joy didn’t hesitate coming over to me and giving me a big hug. I know I needed it, things would never be the same.

The tears came. “M-my life is over.”

“No, you’re going to be okay,” Joy tried to soothe me.

I was losing control. “I-it it’s not going to be okay. I can’t be a g-girl.”

“Then go, your friends are probably still outside,” Sam said.

Vic would have made them wait. She could be right. Suddenly, I felt relieved.

“Where’s Walker’s clothes?” Joy asked.

Lacy backed away.

“Lacy?” Joy said.

Lacy moved behind Sam.

Sam wasn’t having any of that and stepped out of the way. “Where are his clothes, Lacy?” Sam asked.

Tears started streaming down Lacy’s cheeks. “I-in the washer.”

The world spun and my vision began to blur. I stood up and stumbled forward a few steps. Bile was building up in my throat. I reached my hand toward the bathroom and suddenly Sam was at my side leading me to the toilet.

Luckily it was open because when we reached it I let loose.

Sam grabbed my hair before it could get messy.

I’d never felt like this before. Sick without being sick. It was not a good feeling.

Sam patted my back. “It’ll be okay.”

It didn’t take long to empty my stomach of what I hadn't digested from last night.

Before I had time to recover properly Joy was there in the room with us. “I know you’re not feeling well but we have to get ready.” Joy put her hand on my shoulder. “My parents will drop you off at home unless you still want to go with your friends.”

Imagining my mother’s response made me even more queasy. My friends might actually be able to keep a secret but I really didn’t want them knowing about this part of me.

Going with the girls to breakfast was suddenly looking like my best option. Of all the girls here only Joy interacted with me at school. There was no doubt that the other girls might pay more attention to me after this but I felt as if they didn’t want to hurt me at least.

Alyx was probably the person I was worried about most.

I reached for the toilet paper and Sam grabbed a piece for me. I wiped off whatever remaining grossness was plastered on my face.

When I got up I was surprised that I wasn’t feeling all that bad anymore. I made it to the sink and washed out my mouth. The disgusting taste was still there but much less noticeable.

Sam helped me out of the bathroom and sat me down by the vanity.

“Joy?” I asked.

She sprinted over to my side. “Yeah?”

“If I’m doing this my friends can’t know it’s me,” I said. They were probably still outside. Nick was the only one of my friends who had a car and his beat-up station wagon was going to stand out in this neighborhood.

“Sam?” Joy asked.

Sam glanced at the clock on Joy’s desk. “We don’t have much time.”

“Can you at least get her makeup?” Joy asked.

Lacy stepped forward but I couldn’t look her in the eyes. I was too angry at her. “I can find some clothes,” Lacy said.

The ironic nature of what she was volunteering for was not lost on me. I wasn't amused. “Gina, can you find me an outfit?” I asked. I didn’t know how she normally dressed because I’d never met her before last night but I didn’t want Lacy anywhere near the clothes I was going to wear.

“I’ll help with your hair,” Joy said. “Lacy, why don’t you fetch everyone their bags so we can all change while working on her?”

Joy had called me, ‘her’ twice which caught me off guard.

Before I could complain she leaned over and whispered, “You better get used to people calling you her.”

When Joy pulled away she made eye contact with me. It was only a few seconds but it felt like we were having a really long conversation.

I understood so I nodded.

I’d like to say that after that, I could keep track of what everyone was doing but I couldn’t. It was a pure pandemonium of clothes, makeup, and curling irons. I was even having a problem keeping track of what was happening to me.

Sam pulled me to my feet as Joy helped remove the nightgown. Before I knew it I had a skirt on that showed a lot of leg. Gina had a top already pushed up one of my arms and I didn’t even see her do it.

By then all of the girls were in a state of half dress. Sam had a pair of jeans on but still had the nightgown over them. Joy had a top on but nothing on the bottom but her undies. Gina was mostly dressed and pulling on a shirt. Lacy, I mostly ignored but I saw her struggling with a dress at one point.

When I checked the clock it was already seven. I tried pointing at it but Gina caught my hand and pulled it through the other half of the blouse.
I tried to say, “It’s seven!” but by then the top was over my head and my voice was muffled. Sam was getting makeup ready and didn’t hear. Joy was hooking up a curling iron and Lacy was nowhere to be seen.

My clothes finally on Sam sat me down and turned the chair. I could no longer see what anyone else was doing. While I was sitting Joy grabbed my hair and brushed it out. Surprisingly, there were no tangles. When she finished brushing it, she tied it up.

Due to the fact I was facing a wall, I was finally able to concentrate.

“Sam, do your thing,” Joy said. “I'll finish getting ready.”

Sam was in a hurry. I could tell by how quickly she was applying the makeup. Before it was an almost luxurious experience. It was like when someone washes your hair for you at a hair salon. This time it felt different, she was only touching my face where she had to.

“You really don't need much of this,” she said.

That wasn’t what I wanted to hear but I needed better than that. “They can’t recognize me.”

“I know, I know,” She said.

I looked up at her and caught her eyes. “No, I need to be really girly.”

“Okay, hmmm,” Sam said. “I know what to do.” She turned around and hunted through her makeup box.

The bedroom door opened up and I turned to see who it was. Lacy was here and she had my binder. She carried it in one hand letting it dangle from a single finger. I could tell it was still wet based on the color alone. “Got the binder,” she said and ran into the bathroom. My binder was such an important part of my clothing and seeing her carelessly fling it around was pissing me off.

I wasn’t sure where Gina went but then I heard her and Joy talking to Lacy in the bathroom.

“Turn this way,” Sam said and grabbed my chin pulling it and me in the direction she wanted.

It hurt a bit and I let my face show it.

“Don’t give me that face,” Sam said. “I’m trying to help you.”

She was right and was the one person I didn’t want to cross. “Sorry,” I said.

“It’s okay, just stay still.”

I went through the motions with her having me close my eyes and morph my face so she could better apply the makeup. I didn’t hesitate like I did last night when she came to the lipstick. Mostly because I knew we were all on a strict time schedule.

The other girls were actually in the bathroom the whole time. I wondered what they were doing in there.

“Done,” Sam said. “Have a look.” She gave me a small mirror with a powder of some sort on the bottom of the case.

My face was done again in the brown pallet of colors like last night. The biggest difference was my eyes. It was almost like they were popping out of my face but in a good way. Whatever she had done had made me look almost cat-like.

My hair was up in one of the girly ponytails where it’s all pulled up near the upper part of the head. I was torn between being satisfied that my friends would never know it was me and wanting to cry. There was no boy at all in there. What am I going to do?

“No, no, no-no-no. No crying, it'll mess it up,” Sam said as she flailed her arms around. Eventually, she took the mirror away from me.

I didn’t have anything to look at anymore except for what I was wearing. It didn’t help that my chest was partially exposed and the skirt I was wearing didn’t even cover my knees. I did the only thing I could, I held myself.

“Joyyy,” Sam said. “Time to switch.”

Sam put her cosmetics back into their case which broke me out of my pity party.

Joy came running in on her tiptoes for some reason. It was pretty silly and changed my mood. If only a little. “Okay, one minute.” She had a can of hairspray in her hand and was spraying it as she moved.

Joy’s hair was the same color as mine but thinner. She tiptoed her way back into the bathroom.

Sam and I had a brief moment where we glanced at each other, made eye contact, and laughed. That was one of the funniest things I had seen in a while. I needed it.

“Can you look at the bed for me and don’t stop till I say so?” Sam asked.

I shrugged my shoulders and turned in the chair.

After thirty or so seconds she said, “Ok you can turn around.”

The nightgown that Sam had on was now on the ground and she had a simple grey t-shirt on. She was so tall and her red hair, even though she had bedhead, was pretty.

Then it hit me. The testosterone pill I had in my pants was ruined. I was supposed to take it today but even if it was still intact after being washed, I wasn’t going to ingest something that had poop on it. I had a whole bottle of them at home so I wasn't too worried.

When Joy didn’t show up in a timely manner Sam glanced at the alarm clock on the nightstand. “Swap with me?” she asked.

We exchanged positions. Sam pulled the chair closer to the vanity and cleaned her face with a wipe.

Joy popped out of the bathroom. “Kennedi, come in here.”

It didn’t kick in that she meant me until she asked me a second time.

Her face had this sympathetic look plastered all over it. When I got to her she led me into the bathroom.

Gina and Lacy were in there fully dressed and working on their makeup. Luckily the toilet was right across from the door so we had a little room.

“Have a seat.” Joy said.

She and I swapped places and I sat down. Musical chairs was not one of my favorite games and I seemed to be inadvertently playing it today.

“You should give her bangs!” Lacy said.

I didn’t know what bangs were and I wasn’t particularly happy with any input from Lacy at that moment. I let her know with an unimpressed look.

Joy put a hand on my shoulder. “I told them to call you she and her.” Joy then looked at Lacy. “And, we don’t have time for anything like that.”

“What's bangs?” I asked.

Joy pointed at Gina’s hair.

Gina pointed at the shorter hair covering her forehead. “These.”

“I can’t do that!” I said. I still had to live my life after this. Cutting my hair that short was not an option.

Joy shook her head. “Don’t worry. I won’t cut your hair. I just wanted to get everyone’s stories straight.”

Relief washed over me.

“I told Heather we needed more time,” Lacy said.

I was confused for a moment and then I remembered that Heather was Joy’s mom. After I figured it out I was back to being angry at Lacy again. She did something right but I still wasn’t impressed.

Joy caught on or something because she pulled me to my feet, grabbed one of Lacy’s hands, and dragged us into her room. “You two need to make up.”

Lacy wouldn’t look at me.

It was the opposite for me. I couldn’t stop staring at her.

“Lacy, say you’re sorry.” Joy said.

She still couldn’t look at me. “Sorry,” Lacy squeaked.

“Wal- I mean Kennedi,” Joy said.

I stood there silently. If only Lacy would look up at me she would see the death stare I was performing.

Joy put a hand on each of our shoulders. “You two have to get along. If my mom finds out, she’s going to make you call your parents.”

To save my own ass I would probably do anything but I was still angry at Lacy.

Joy’s hand clamped slightly on my shoulder. “She didn’t know your clothes were behind the toilet.”

“Fine!” I said.

“Fine, what?” Joy asked.

“It was an accident! Whatever! Can we do my hair now?” I said.

Joy crossed her arms and stared at me. “Turn around.”

I didn’t have to look at Lacy anymore so I gladly turned around. Something happened behind my back and then suddenly the bra I was wearing snapped against it. It made me hiss and arch backward.

I tried rubbing it but couldn’t reach it. I faced Joy. “What was that for?”

“One, for not using your girl voice, and two, for being an asshole.” Joy said.

I’d totally forgotten about using the girlie voice. As for being an asshole, I didn’t see it that way.

Joy crossed her arms again. “Say you accept her apology.”

Lacy glanced at me for a second and then looked away.

When I got here last night I never imagined that a situation like this was going to happen. I liked girls and didn’t think I would be angry at one like I was now. My sister Alice was different. We fought all the time. Being this angry at a girl I barely knew felt kind of weird when I thought about it. When I thought about it a bit more, Lacy was nothing but nice to me last night.

“It’s okay,” I said. “I know you didn’t mean it.” It was weird that I couldn’t look at Lacy.

When I finally did look at her, Joy smiled. “See isn’t th—”

Lacy pushed past Joy interrupting her and hugged me.

I stood there with my arms up as she squeezed me. Joy gave me an upward nod so I put my arms around Lacy and squeezed her back.

After a few seconds, she came back up with tears streaming down her face. “I’m s-so sorry, Walker.”

“It’s okay,” I said. I took in a deep breath and then smiled. “Just don’t poop on my clothes again.”

“Ha!” Sam laughed from the vanity.

Joy took Lacy’s shoulders and forced her to face her. “You messed up your makeup.” Joy gave her a small hug. “Now go fix it.”

Lacy glanced at me and I gave her a little smile. She gave me one back and ran off to the bathroom.

Joy put an arm around my shoulder and walked me over to where she plugged in the curling iron. “That was really nice,” she whispered and then let her hand slip behind my back where I felt her grab the strap again.

“I’m sorry about the voice,” I said in my best imitation of them. It was easy to keep my voice high but I kept forgetting.

She let go and smiled at me. “That was actually really good. Keep doing that.”

I put a shoulder up, laid one of my hands on my chest, and fluttered my eyelashes at her.

She rolled her eyes. “Okay, so.” She pushed me away and put me at arm's length. “I’m just going to do a ponytail and maybe…” She squinted her eyes. “Pull out some strands of hair. Then I’ll make a part in the middle so your hair frames your face. I’ll curl those after I get it right.”
“It’s not permanent, is it?” I asked.

“What the curls?” She shook her head. “No, it’s just heat, it should go back to normal by the end of the day or when you take a shower.”


“You can take a shower before you go home,” she said.

It’s just one morning as a girl. I told myself. No biggie, right?

Joy tilted her head to the side. “You ready?”

After a slight hesitation, I nodded my head.

“Okay, face this way.” She said and guided me where she wanted. She pulled out the cloth band that was holding my hair up. My hair fell down my face and she ran her fingers through it. “You’re so pretty.” There was a longing in her voice. Jealousy maybe.

I didn’t know how to respond to that.

She stood there staring at me with her fingers still in my hair. My heart pounded in my chest as she closed in on me. When our foreheads met our eyes locked. Her fingers glided up and down the back of my head.

What is she doi—

Her eyes closed and her lips touched mine sending little electric signals through my body. Time stopped, I didn't know if we were there for an instant or an hour. When she pulled away and turned around I was stuck staring at the back of her head trying to catch my breath.

I glanced at Sam and she didn’t look like she saw us. Gina and Lacy were still in the bathroom. I ran my hand up one of Joy’s arms and she pulled away.

She grabbed her brush from her dresser and without looking at me she walked behind me. “Let's get your hair done, Kennedi.”

I was left wondering if Joy liked girls. There was a huge stigma at school if you were gay. If people found out they had more than a few nasty names they would mutter under their breath as you passed them in the halls. Being as small as I was, I was singled out a lot at school.

As Joy ran the brush through my hair I had to force myself not to shudder from the feeling.

“I’m done over here if you want to sit him down,” Sam said.

The brushing stopped. “Sure.” Joy’s reply came out breathy. “Kennedi.”

At that moment I hated that name. I wanted to be Walker again, the Walker Joy knew before last night.

Joy led me to the chair and I sat down. She continued avoiding eye contact as she did my hair.

I picked up the small case that Sam gave me earlier and opened it up. I pretended to watch what she was doing so I could see her.
Sam had disappeared.

My hair was pulled taught and lifted above my head. She grabbed like three black hair ties and snapped them around my hair.

She then set the brush down and picked up a comb. Joy had to get close to me and I could feel her warm breath beating against my skin. She took the comb and used the tip of it to loosen a portion of my hair on both sides of my face. It almost made a heart.

“Your ponytail is kind of small, curling it won't come out well.” Joy said. She walked away. “Gimmie a sec.”

Joy went to her dresser, grabbed a piece of paper, and brought it back. “This won't hurt.”

She set the paper aside and picked up the curling iron. She then wrapped about four inches of my hair around it. It didn't take long for her to release it and move on to the other side. She released that side and then unplugged the curling iron and ran off to the bathroom.

I took a moment to look at myself in the mirror. My eyes looked so big. Whatever Sam had done combined with my hair made me look ultra-feminine. My hair had lost some of the ‘heart’ it had before but the large curls looked so for lack of a better word, pretty.

Is this really me? I wondered.

Joy returned with a can of hairspray. She picked up the piece of paper she had earlier and carefully slipped it between my face and hair. Then she sprayed the heck out of the curls. She then repeated the process on the other side.

She removed the paper and tossed it in a little trash can I hadn't noticed was there.

I remembered last night when my feet wouldn't fit in her heels. I was suddenly worried about having shoes that would fit.

She brought back a pair that looked like heels but without the actual heels. “These are flats,” she said. “Try them on.”

They were a pale pink which wasn't exactly something I would have picked out. On my first attempt, they shipped on like they were made for me.

What the.

“You look confused,” she said.

I was stuck in a spot where I had to either admit last night's trial or make something up. “I tried the red heels on last night and they didn't fit.”

She laughed, “I got those, like, a year or two ago so they are pretty small.”

When I noticed that Joy was looking at me again it was too late because she looked away when we made eye contact.

Gina, Sam, and Lacy came out of the bathroom and stared at me.

“Holy shit,” Sam said.

Gina moved closer to me. “Have you seen yourself yet?”

“Just through this,” I said as I lifted the little mirror. It snapped shut and scared me.

Gina reached for my hands. “You gotta see this.”

I put the little mirror down and let her help me up. We all walked to the closet together. The shoes were pretty easy to walk in, which was something I didn't expect.

I could see all of us in the mirror and I purposely watched everyone but me. When I was ready I moved closer so I could get a good first look.

The girl standing there was nearly unrecognizable. Last night my hair wasn't done and it apparently made a huge difference.

I was wearing a poofy-sleeved top similar to the one I had on last night but it was black. The neckline was really low showing off part of my boobs. It also brought out how pale I was. The skirt I was wearing was the same color as my shoes but plaid with black mixed in.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Lacy said and ran to the vanity. She grabbed a poofy pink hair tie and had me lean over so she could put it in my hair.

“That's a scrunchie by the way,” Joy said.

The scrunchie wasn’t even holding my hair up, it was just for looks. It did bring a splash of pink above my waist which I guess matched but I still didn’t like pink.

Even though these clothes were probably the girliest I’d ever worn, I liked them. I didn’t really know why either. I felt happier in them than I ever did in my clothes. Thinking about it gave me a headache so I put it aside.

“You like them,” Joy said. Her forehead was pushed together almost as if she were disappointed in me. She shook her head. “I have to finish my face.” and walked into the bathroom.

Gina had the complete opposite reaction. She was overjoyed at the sight of my new outfit and looked like she could break out into squeals of content any sec—

She screeched. “You look so good!”

Called it. I thought. I nodded and put my head down too afraid to show how I felt.

Sam and Lacy stared at me as if I were a ghost or something.

Gina suddenly grabbed my arm and stood next to me. “Okay, so if you get scared just stand up straight.”

I tried it because I was pretty damn scared.

“See,” she said. “You look more imposing.”

She was right. I would definitely be too scared to approach the girl in the mirror.

I put my hand on my hip, pointed my nose up, and looked at Lacy. “Get my car Alfred.”

Her eyes sprung wide. I tried to make my voice like theirs and maybe did too good of a job.

They, of course, didn’t get the Batman joke. They really needed to work on their nerd culture.

Gina covered her mouth and giggled. She appeared as if she was enjoying this more than I was.

There was a small part of me that was really excited and I didn’t know why. The rest of me was chilled to the bone with fear.

Joy walked back into the room and my demeanor melted. “Where’s your wallet?”

“In my pant—”

Lacy jumped in. “No, I took it out before I washed your pants. It was the only thing that wasn’t wet.” Then she ran into the bathroom and
immediately returned with it in hand.

“Ninja Turtles? Really?” Sam asked.

It was an older wallet and I never got an official leather one. I put my hand out and Lacy gave it to me. “Michelangelo is pretty cool,” I said. He
was the comedic relief in the show and I loved that about him.

It took me something like thirty seconds to realize I had nowhere to put my wallet.

“In here,” Joy said and walked into her closet.

I followed her.

She glanced at me a few times and then opened one of the drawers built into the wall. She rummaged through it and pulled out a purse and shoved it into my hands. “Put it in there.”

As she was pushing past me to walk out I transferred the purse to one hand and grabbed her arm with my open hand.

She stopped and faced me. Her eyes were wild with anger.

“Please don’t be mad,” I said.

She hissed. “Why do you have like it?”

I didn’t know what to say. When I looked down, she shook off my hand and walked out.

“Joy,” I said.

She put her hands on her hips. “What, Kennedi?”

The way she said Kennedi was more like an insult than a name.

“Come here,” I said.

When she walked into the closet I pushed past her, flicked on the light, and grabbed the handle. “Be right back,” I told the three girls and closed the door.

“What?” Joy asked before I could turn around.

Instead of saying something I walked up to her and put my forehead against hers like we did earlier. My vision was obscured and I could only see her eyes.


“Shhhh,” I shushed her.

I found her shoulders with my hands and ran them down her arms. Inch by inch I trailed my nails down her skin. When my hands finally met hers I entwined our fingers.

Joy’s eyes were a deep brown. They twitched back and forth taking in what little we could see of each other. The makeup around her eyes was nearly perfect. She had a tiny mole or freckle, I couldn’t tell which, on the bridge of her nose. It was so cute seeing her imperfection.

A warmth spread throughout my body. It started in my private area and spread like a wave to the tips of my toes. I involuntarily shook a little.
It didn’t feel wrong holding her like this.

When she closed her eyes, I closed mine and gave her a gentle kiss.

“We can’t,” she whispered. It sounded like a plea.


I wiggled a finger feeling her soft skin. I waited to see if she would do something in response. When she wiggled a finger back at me, I smiled.

It was so weird standing in a closet with girls' clothes on. I hadn’t opened my eyes yet but I wanted to see her again so I devised a plan.
Slowly I raised our hands up to our faces. I turned our wrists so I could get my mouth on the top of her hand. I put my lips to her wrist as if I were going to kiss it and then blew hard giving her a raspberry.

She giggled and I opened my eyes.

Her eyes were wide open and she was staring at me again. Her cheeks puffed up into my vision. She was smiling.

When I kissed her again her face turned red. I didn’t close my eyes but hers closed. Seeing her eyes closed made my heart flutter.

Slowly and deliberately I backed up, keeping her hands in mine. Her eyes were still closed and her breathing was labored.

It took all of five seconds for her eyes to shoot open. She tried to pull forward toward me but I held her at a distance.

“You're so beautiful,” I whispered.

My elbows unlocked and she pulled me close, kissing me back.

We pressed our bodies together, getting as much of our skin to touch as possible.

What I didn't expect was the knock on the door.

“Uhmm, who’s there?” I asked as I turned my head.

Joy wiggled one of her hands loose and covered her face.

“Joy, we have to go,” Sam said.

I backed up a little and playfully shook our connected hands.

Joy moved her free hand from her face and fanned herself with it. I joined in on helping her cool off. Her eyes were locked on me. Her mouth barely opened and then she glanced at the door. “Be done in a minute.” The full warmth of her smile hit me then.

Instead of going for another kiss I grabbed her into a hug and held on. It was the closest I'd ever been with anyone that wasn't family and I didn't want it to end.

“You know, we do have to go,” she said. “Aaand we need to fix our makeup.”

Makeup was so new to me that I didn’t even think about it. “Shit.”

“Don’t worry,” she said as she opened the door.

The other girls were still outside the closet waiting for us. When they got a good look at us their eyes looked like they were going to pop out of their heads.

“Not. A. Word,” Joy said.

Sam didn’t look particularly impressed.

Joy broke our embrace and took off toward the bathroom.

“Over here, Walker.” Sam took one of my hands and led me to the vanity.

As I was sitting down Joy jogged over to Sam and me.

Joy touched Sam, getting her attention. “She isn’t, Walker.” She pointed at me. “Her name is Kennedi. Remember my mom is the one who I overheard talking about her… intersexness?” Joy looked at me and I didn’t know what word she was looking for so I shrugged. “Anyway, Kennedi, girl. Got it?”

Sam looked directly at me.

I didn’t expect her to look to me for confirmation. I gave her a slight nod.

“Okay,” Sam said but Joy was already gone. She threw up her arms in frustration. “Wal- Kennedi if you’re going to make visiting us a thing, you need to learn to do this yourself.”

The thought of doing this again wasn’t a new idea. I already told Sam, Gina and Lacy that we should have one with just the four of us. Either way, it made my heart race.

Learning to put on makeup wasn’t exactly a skill set I wanted but if it meant that I could stay with Joy again, I would learn. “Okay…”

“Not today though because we need to hurry,” she said.

Gina and Lacy were huddled together whispering between each other but I couldn’t hear what about.

My nose was suddenly assaulted by the stinky wipes as Sam cleaned my mouth off. I wondered if they made those in a non-stinky version.

It took less than a minute for Sam to fix my makeup. Joy came out shortly after Sam was done.

“Purse?” was the first thing Joy asked.

In our heated moment, I must have dropped it. I ran to the closet and picked up the purse and wallet.

“No, no, no, no, no.” Joy warned. “You don't bend over like that unless you want people looking up your skirt.”

There was so much I didn't know. I was super afraid I was going to mess everything up.

“Later! We have to go!” Sam warned.

The purse was a simple cloth bag with all kinds of pockets. It made me want to check them for exploration's sake. Instead, I tossed the wallet inside and caught up with the girls. They were all halfway out the door already.

I felt as if I were forgetting something and swept my gaze across the room before leaving. When I didn't see anything I needed, I closed the door behind me.

Joy's mom was waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs. She was staring at her watch and turning the little knob on it. My mom did the same thing, always adjusting the time. “C'mon girls,” she said. “Head out to the car. Your dad and I will be right behind you.”

Being considered one of the girls was weird. It was also weird wearing a shirt where people could see my chest. Not to mention the short skirt. I felt very exposed.

The girls went downstairs and I trailed behind them. When we got to the bottom everyone headed for what I suspected was the front door but Joy's mom veered me away from them.

“Kennedi, are yo—” She stopped herself. “You're really pretty.”

If I had a nervous warning light it would be glowing right then.

Joy and the Misfits stopped, probably because they heard Joy’s mom. I glanced at Joy for a moment as her mom checked me out. It was really awkward.

“Sorry, you just took me by surprise. Are you feeling better?”

I nodded. Feeling better was an understatement. Joy and I hadn't officially talked about it but I was pretty sure we were back together. I was on such a high that breakfast was feeling like a formality rather than a prison sentence.

She put a hand on my shoulder. “You can talk to us, even if you're scared, okay?”

Joy looked as nervous as I felt. I didn’t know what else to do so I nodded again. My mom was the same way. It was so annoying. Weirdly I felt sorry for Joy at that moment. When my mom did this to my friends, I hated it.

“Alright, go on.” Joy's mom said. I caught up with everyone and we quickly made our way outside.

The parents didn't follow us so we closed the door.

Joy rushed over to me. “You okay?”

I took a few deep breaths testing my lungs. Everything seemed good. “Yeah.”

“Okay good, the minivan is over here.” Joy said as she led us to the driveway.

Sam nudged me and leaned over. “Do you see your friends?” she asked.

I couldn't see past the tall hedges in front of the house so when we got to the driveway I walked past the van and scanned the street.

Nick's piece-of-crap station wagon was parked in front of the neighbor’s house. Vic was in the front with Nick and Johnny was in the back.
Steve was missing. He could be stubborn so it didn't surprise me. He was our best game master so I wouldn’t dare cross him.

Vic was staring at me. We had known each other for a long time. I trusted that Sam and Joy's work wou—

Vic's jaw dropped and then he mouthed the word ‘Walker’.

Shit! He knows! How the hell did he know?

I scurried back to the girls.

Vic was trustworthy and I was pretty sure he could keep this a secret. The other guys were mostly assholes but they couldn't keep a secret if their life depended on it.

“Is that them?” Joy asked as I got back to the Misfits.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“If you want to go with them, now's the ti—” Sam stopped talking. It made us all turn. Joy's parents were walking toward us.

It felt like it took an eternity for them to make it to us. For some reason, the Darth Vader song was playing in my head.

I had to have another look at the guys so I glanced back at them. They were still there watching.

When I turned around Joy's parents were already at the van and unlocking the doors.

“C’mon girls,” Joy's mom said.

Everyone filed into the van but I held back for a second.

Since Vic knew already it wouldn't hurt to at least let him know to get out of there.

Vic's dad taught us all kinds of military hand signals. I didn't want Vic waiting for me so I gave him the ‘retreat’ sign and then jumped into the van closing the door behind me.


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