Jenny nodded sadly and accepted the proffered cookie. “Laura was mean to me.”
“I thought Laura was your best friend,” he said, his brow furrowing.
“Guess not,” Jenny replied tersely. “I don’t understand why she was such a jerk. She got all the other girls to laugh at me.”
He crouched down in front of her and lifted her chin to look into her eyes. “If those girls try to make you feel bad again, you just tell them to go to hell,” he said firmly.
Jenny gasped and then giggled, and he put his arms around her and hugged her. When she wriggled free, he took a bite of her cookie.
“Jenny!” Her mother’s voice sailed down the stairs. Jenny and her father exchanged looks. “Better hop to it, little bunny,” he said, tousling her hair.
Jenny sighed and tromped up the stairs.
“Oh, there you are, Jenny,” her mother said. “Can you go get me some saltines from the kitchen?”
Jenny nodded silently and tromped back downstairs to the kitchen. When she returned, she handed the packet to her mother and perched on the edge of the bed. “Mom?”
Her mother muted the TV and opened the sleeve of crackers while she looked at Jenny pointedly.
“Why don’t the girls like me?” Jenny asked.
“I don’t know,” her mother replied, “Why do you think they don’t like you?”
Jenny pressed her lips together. “Laura said she thought my leg warmers were stupid. The other girls laughed at me.” Her body quivered slightly.
Her mother rolled her eyes and pursed her lips. “Girls can be mean, I guess.”
Jenny rested her chin in her hands. “Well, how do I make them like me?”
Her mother shrugged, turning the sound back up on her soap opera. “I don’t know, honey. When I was your age, I was one of the popular girls. Everyone would have wanted to wear what I was wearing. Are the cool girls wearing leg warmers at your school?”
Jenny bit her lip. Her mother turned back to the TV. “Can you get me some Pepto from the bathroom cupboard? That seems to be helping my stomach.”
Jenny got up and walked down the hall to the bathroom. Lost in thought, she opened the medicine cabinet and dug out the bubble pack of pink pills. She closed the cabinet, pausing for a long moment to stare at her own reflection. Then she took a deep breath. “Go to hell, Mom,” she said. She turned, smiling, and walked back down the hall to her mother’s room.
This is the fifth and (almost certainly) final post of flash fiction week III. Look for future weeks of fiction soon.
Kit Fox lives in New England and spends her days panicking about whatever is not being done while she’s doing something else. We assure you, it’s all really quite funny once you get to know her.