The time was coming when she would wonder where she was. It always started with the fuzzy tingling behind her eyes. She knew if she tried, she would remember, but she didn't try. Why was right behind the where and the why needed to stay hidden. She knew it was good in the where because the wondering times were far apart and always went away before she could really remember. But even now she was pretty sure she knew why. She thought she had done something bad.
Did something bad thought I did something bad thought something bad had a bad thought.
A bad thought.
Just a thought.
The bell rang, effectively undercutting Sandi's clandestine review of the other Fashion Club members' toenail polish. Coral, good. Pink, bad. Quinn's was almost too pink to be coral but it had passed with no more than a haughty sniff and a raised eyebrow from the President. For once, Stacy had been approved just as quickly as Tiffany. Wiggling her perfect toes delightedly, she gathered up her books to head out of O'Neill's English class.
"Remember class, a short story with lots of description due on Friday!" he called out cheerfully. "I want to feel like I'm really in your story!"
"Perhaps Quinn could do hers on the difference between coral and pink," Sandi suggested with a smirk.
"Oh, Sandi, I think you'd be much better at it! Don't you?" Quinn replied sweetly.
Narrowing her eyes, Sandi drawled, "I suppose I would."
Stacy didn't know if Sandi caught Quinn's little smile, but she was pretty sure Quinn hadn't been commenting favorably on her recent appraisal of the hot polish colors for spring. Tiffany just nodded vacantly and Stacy did the same. When she wasn't sure, she usually followed Tiffany. Tiffany never provoked Sandi's ire.
Quinn was the last to be dropped home after school. She waved and smiled at Sandi as she drove off, but inside she was seething. Too pink? It's the exact same color as yours, Sandi! We bought the same one at Cashman's! Gawd! Just because your toes are pasty white and make coral look like orange…
Thoroughly annoyed, Quinn stomped into the house and spied her sister sprawled very unladylike across the couch, eating a bowl of buttered popcorn and watching that awful tv show she liked so much. The popcorn smelled delicious as she strode over.
"No, it's not fat-free and air popped," her sister said, shoving another handful into her mouth. "Want some?"
Yes! "No! Gawd, Daria, some of us care how we look." She wrinkled her nose in distaste. "O'Neill assigned us that description essay thing for Friday. Write it for me?"
"Even you should be able to do that one, Quinn," Daria sat up. "Just tape record tonight's dinner conversation after mom asks how your day went- 'and then Jeffy had on this blue, but not too blue, shirt that kind of went with my eyes, but mine are more an aqua blue than blue blue…"
"I do not sound like that!" Quinn stamped her foot. Daria merely shrugged and smirked. Changing tactics, Quinn said, "You're going to Jane's on Friday, right?"
"And if I'm lucky they'll adopt me," Daria deadpanned in reply.
"Don't you want money for pizza?" she wheedled.
"Thirty. Gotta have dessert," Daria said without looking away from the tv.
Yeah, probably something fattening and awful that would make her butt huge, like ice cream dripping with hot fudge… "Twenty."
"Just don't make it gross or anything okay?" Quinn reminded her. "It has to sound like I wrote it."
"A herd of wild ponies it is," Daria said absently.
"Yeah! That's good. Use that. Thanks, Daria!" Quinn ran up the stairs to change before the Fashion Club meeting. She grabbed the bottle of polish so she could pretend to mistake it for Sandi's, too.
The Fashion Club meeting was typical. Quinn had her moment of triumph when Sandi looked confusedly between the two identical bottles of polish then blustered on about something completely different to save face. It went right over Tiffany's head but Stacy's moment of wistful admiration was more than reward enough. Quinn almost regretted her little revenge when Sandi's sour mood almost wrecked the rest of the meeting, but knew it would blow over soon. Stacy had been dealt with perhaps a bit too harshly over an unfortunate shoe purchase (green espiradelles? Stacy, really.), but she hadn't even hyperventilated. Her lip had quivered, but Stacy had quickly taken a deep breath, glared at Sandi, and bent her head to take notes in her notebook. Quinn gave her a sly thumps-up for her progress. Another mark against Sandi. Ha.
"I'm sure we'll all find more than enough inspiration for our essay during tomorrow's examination of Cashman's summer line. After all, description is the key to assembling a truly fashionable outfit." And with that, the meeting broke up.
The memories were coming back. They were late why were they late? They were never late with the forgetting. They were as afraid of her remembering the where and the why as she was. The thoughts would come back if they didn't come with the forgetting soon. She didn't want to think about the why.
Don't think don't think think about I had a thought a bad thought just a thought
"Class your essays were all very, very good!" O'Neill smiled his big empty smile as he glanced around the room. "Very…um….descriptive!"
The papers were handed back. One said 'See me, please' at the top. There was no grade. Panic gripped her as she saw what she'd handed in. It wasn't her essay on fashion at all. Oh, no! I didn't mean to hand this in! This wasn't my essay, Mr. O'Neill! The story she'd handed in had been something very descriptive- rereading it now the words and images shocked her, too. But she'd been angry at being picked on again by Sandi, she'd just written it to make herself feel better. It wasn't for real. She was going to throw it away she wasn't ever going to show anyone at all. Once the words were out she was done with it and was going to throw it away but she hadn't she'd handed it in by mistake.
You didn't write this?
It wasn't just Mr. O'Neill, Ms. Li was there and Ms. Manson, and her parents were on the way.
No! I mean, yes, I did but I didn't mean to turn it in! This wasn't what I wrote for class.
Her parents arrived and there were angry words and confusion and she hadn't meant to bring it to school much less turn it in and no she really didn't think that about Sandi or anyone and she just thought if she wrote it down she'd feel better and thought if she threw it away after it would be like throwing away the hurt-
The school's policy on this kind of direct and graphic threat is very clear.
Accusing eyes stared at her how could she think things like this much less write them down? Especially after what those kids had done in Oakwood and hadn't she cried at the news but then why did she write it, like they had written before they went to school that day? They were going to throw her out of her school. One story to try get rid of the hurt and the shame and they were going to take away her popularity and her friends and everything
and it was all gone and I didn't mean it and I just thought I just thought I just thought
And she'd panicked and they'd panicked and taken her away where the thoughts couldn't find her for her own good
for the best don't worry no more bad thoughts for your own good keep safe everyone will be safe don't think about it no more bad thoughts
The door opened then, stopping the why. Stacy extended her arms in a plea of supplication as she waited for them to bring the forgetting, to take away the thoughts that had brought her to the where. Once, she'd thought for herself and written it down
it had been the wrong thought and it was better for someone to think for her safer not to do the thinking because it hadn't been for real it had just been a thought a bad thought thought something bad
Just a thought.