Jill skipped into through the kitchen entrance to her home. She waved gaily to her mother, who paused in the act of placing her purse on the kitchen table. Jill's face fell into a pout. Her mother had been spending more and more time at her part-time job in the mall, and she had obviously just gotten home.
"Did you remember my slumber party tonight, Mom?" she asked. She couldn't possibly have forgotten this very important day, the most important day Jill could have imagined since she first started junior high school.
"Yes, sweetie, I remembered," her mother replied. "Don't worry."
Jill's merry expression returned. She cheered and started to skip out of the kitchen. Her mother's hand on her shoulder stopped her.
"Make sure you take your bath before your friends come over," her mother instructed.
"Oh, Mom, I'm too old to be told to take a bath," Jill complained. Her mother's expression did not change, but one her eyebrows rose slightly.
"Okay, we can always cancel the party--" her mother began. Jill blinked, her expression horrified. Then a twinkle appeared in her mother's eyes. Jill felt overwhelmed with relief. She was also a little annoyed at her mother's teasing, and more than a little annoyed at her instruction.
Her mother smiled briefly. "Just make sure you take a bath and wash your hair before your friends come. Dinner should be ready in a little bit."
The kitchen door thumped opened again and a racket of voices rushed into the room. Jill turned to see her two older sisters, Barbara and Susan, stroll in.
"Hi, Mom," they chorused. Barbara dropped her books on the kitchen table. Susan shrugged her knapsack off her shoulders to thump on the floor. The two older sisters took turns hugging their mother, who allowed another brief smile to cross her face. Susan was the first to turn to Jill. Her smile degenerated into a smirk.
"Hey, creep," she said in greeting. Jill had nerved herself for her next-oldest sister's expected greeting, but it still hurt. Both Barbara and Susan were tall, blond-haired and blue-eyed. Their grown bodies were firm-shouldered, broad-hipped and sexy. Susan stepped closer to Jill. She had to crane her neck to keep eye contact. At her height it was impossible for her to ignore the two lumps thrusting out of Susan's tight V-cut nylon top--she could even make out the patterns embossed in Susan's bra. Susan had gotten bigger than she remembered. Jill couldn't help her eyes roving from Susan's form to Barbara's and back again. Susan was well on the way to matching Barbara's D-cup boobs. Susan grinned as she saw exactly where Jill's eyes went. Jill felt herself flush. Her next-oldest sister had always teased her, but never like recently--especially since she had gotten her own bedroom, something Susan never had when she was Jill's age. Jill looked to her mother for comfort and support. Her mother's brief smile had been replaced by the same tired expression she usually wore. She did not look down at her youngest daughter but at the others. Jill turned to her oldest sister. Barbara said nothing but looked at her with an expression of amused tolerance.
"So," Susan continued conversationally, "are your little friends coming over tonight?"
"Yes, my friends are coming over," Jill replied, incensed at the derogatory tone Susan used. She expressed her frustration by sticking out her tongue. Susan snorted at the reaction.
"Hey, we being robbed?" a deep voice said. Jill looked around Susan to see her big brother Michael stride through the open door. Her heart lightened immediately. Michael was twenty-one and lived in his own apartment (what was that like? Jill thought enviously) but he often stopped by for a family dinner, especially when her father was traveling. She looked up at his tall, well-built frame as he stepped into the kitchen. He greeted his sisters and kissed his mother, then looked down at Jill. He smiled.
"Hey, squirt," he said affectionately. He reached out and ruffled Jill's hair. His smile faded when he did not the usual response from his littlest sister. He looked up at his other siblings and frowned.
"You picking on her again?" Michael said. Barbara looked amused while Susan rolled her eyes. He fixed his eyes on Susan, who crossed her arms under her breasts and stared right back. Jill felt herself squirm inside. It was as embarrassing for her big brother to defend her as it was to endure her sister's taunts.
"Why don't you be nice to her for once," he said. "Today's her slumber party."
"Oh, choke it off," Susan replied tartly. Michael looked back at Jill, smiled again, and mussed her hair once more. Jill's mother had loosed her hold on her shoulder. It was as good a time as any to make an escape. Jill spun on her heel and ran through the kitchen to the foyer and then up the stairs to her bedroom.
Jill paused in her headlong flight just long enough to close the door to her room. Her knapsack dropped to the floor and she made a running jump for her bed, bouncing as she landed. She felt like crying but the tears wouldn't come. She hugged her pillow to herself, disarranging the bedcovers in the process.
Jill wondered why her usual treatment at the hands of her older sister hurt more now than it used to. Susan had been picking on her ever since her birthday a month ago. When she complained all her Mom did was shrug her shoulders and said Susan was just teasing her and it would stop soon. Jill was twelve years old-she wasn't a kid. Even Mike's greeting hurt. Squirt, indeed-she'd grown almost an inch-and-a-half taller since her last birthday, to four feet, three-and-a-half inches, Doc Isdale, her pediatrician, had said.
Her teddy bear slipped from his perch on her pillow, landing softly on her shoulder. Jill sniffed and rolled over on her back. She seized up her teddy bear. It was a classic-style stuffed toy which had been washed several times and was starting to show signs of wear--one button eye was loose and the seam running up his bottom had started, revealing the stitching. Jill rubbed the belly of her teddy bear. The pain of the slights from her siblings faded with each stroke. She looked around her room. It had been the high point of her birthday a month ago-her own room! It was Michael's old room, refurbished for her. Even though she had kept her old furniture, everything in it seemed new--the fresh paint on the walls, her own things in her own closet and dresser, her dresser, student desk and chair--all had an aura of modernity. It was her inner sanctum--it even had a lock on the door. Jill smiled. Her three best friends in the world were coming to sleep over tonight. She was going to host a slumber party! The weight on her heart vanished. So what if Susan didn't like her anymore. Tonight, she didn't care.
Teddy was carefully returned to his post on her pillow. As Jill undid the strap of her wristwatch she looked at the time. Almost four-thirty! She had to hurry--dinner would be soon, and she had to prepare her room for her guests. She began to tug off her clothing. Her sneakers were sent skittering across the floor. Her sky blue tank top, yellow T-shirt and faded denims followed, sailing through the air to land across the back of her chair. Socks and undies were promptly rolled into a ball and stuffed in the maw of the clothes hamper.
Jill stepped in front of her mirror and inspected herself, as she had done once each week since her recent birthday ritual of going to the doctor. She shook out her hair. It was easily her best feature, long and straight, almost down to her shoulder blades and kept neatly trimmed by scissors wielded by a careful Mom. Her face looked a lot like her mother's--round, with big brown eyes and a button nose. Jill's eyes traveled down her frame. She sighed. She may have passed twelve years of age a month ago, but she still looked like she did last year at this time. She was still a kid. No wonder Susan treated her the way she did--she was a teenager but she didn't look the part yet. Jill remembered what Doc Isdale had said about how some people shoot up later than others. It was the same thing Dr. Barret wrote in her Ask Dr. Barret column in Seventeen magazine.
Jill sighed again. It wasn't fair. She should be starting to look like a woman now. Her sisters looked like grownups--Barbara, a sophomore in college, had been taller and bigger than Mom since Jill was eight, and four-years-younger Susan was still growing up (and out), promising to become even bigger. Jill wanted to become part of their club, to blossom like she was supposed to be doing. Jill stepped closer to the mirror. She looked at her face, examining every facet of her eyes, her eyebrows, her ears. Nope, she still looked like she was still in the sixth grade. Jill sighed and closed her robe, then stepped out into the hallway, towards the bathroom and her promised bath.
Dinner was quiet and perfunctory. Jill's brother and two sisters ate sedately. Her mother only picked at her food.
"Hey, creep, better watch it," Susan said suddenly. "You're gonna blow up like a blimp if you keep eating like that."
Jill looked up, surprised. Then she blushed. She realized that in her excitement over her slumber party she had been shoveling her pasta and sauce into her mouth more and more quickly, as if in doing so she could make time go faster. Her face was pulsing with heat all over and she froze, her fork in midair.
"Then again, maybe you should eat like a hog," Susan continued. A sardonic smirk spread across her face. "As small and skinny as you are, you could use a few pounds."
Jill let her fork drop. It clattered messily on her plate. A spatter of sauce spotted her cheek and the front of her shirt. Michael, sitting beside her at the table, made a sound and fixed a glare on Susan.
"You don't know when to quit, do you," he said softly.
"Oh, stop," Susan replied. "And anyway, its true little Jill could use a few pounds on her bones. To look at her you wouldn't know she's twelve."
"Enough," her mother said, using the dry, authoritative tone that was never disobeyed. Now it was Susan's turn to blush. Barbara had paused in her own consumption and was looking from one speaker to another like a spectator at a tennis match.
"I think everybody here worries too much about little Jill," Susan said. "I mean, she's going to grow up soon enough." She turned to face Jill. "Pretty soon you're going to have to get training bras and tampons. If Mom has to work then Daddy's going to take you, like he did me. Don't worry, he won't embarrass you."
The idea of Dad taking Jill to the store to buy her a bra or other female things was dismaying. Her dad was a cheerful, guileless man who was wholly inept at choosing intimate items for his wife or daughters--one Christmas he had purchased some very frilly, sexy nightclothes for Barbara that turned out to be two sizes too small and he had stubbornly refused to believe his firstborn couldn't fit the thing. Jill was furious at Susan embarrassing her again. She felt six inches tall. From under the table she felt her big brother's hand grasp her own and squeeze. Greatly emboldened by that protective contact Jill quickly thought of a comeback.
"No, thanks," she replied, turning to Susan. "Unlike you I won't need Daddy to choose my things for me. I'll just pick my own."
Susan's face grew enpurpled.
"Why, you little brat--" she began. Michael began to laugh, a loud, hearty laugh that drowned Susan out. Jill, emboldened by Michael's protective proximity, joined in. Barbara also giggled a little, then returned to her food. Her mother ignored the episode. Michael winked at her and squeezed her hand once more before returning to his own meal, still chuckling. Then he turned serious.
"Dadll be home tomorrow?"
"Let's hope he made that big sale in Pasadena," Michael said. A short smile crossed his face. "Then he can afford to take Susan out again."
"Ha-ha-ha-ha," Susan snarled. She turned to Jill, her expression unpleasant. "Let me tell you this, creep: you and your friends had better keep it down tonight. I need my sleep."
Jill was the in the process of choosing which of her magazines to lay out when her mother straightened up from laying out the last futon on the floor. Jill was humming cheerfully, layering her Young Miss and People magazines together with her collections of US, Seventeen, Movie Star Monthly, and Star Power in just the right sequence for what she had decided was the best reading and viewing. Her eyes kept glancing up to her clock as she marked the time until eight o'clock, the stated time on her invitations to her party. Jill turned after carefully balancing the magazines on her dresser and caught her mother in the act of nodding to herself, a warmer, brighter smile on her face. Her head bobbing made her look like an idiot. Her mother opened her mouth like she was going to say something when the front doorbell rang.
"I'll get it," her mother said. She gripped Jill around her shoulders and turned her, first to one side, then to the other. Jill had scrubbed herself and her skin was clean and clear. She had combed and brushed her hair with one hundred strokes to make it shiny and healthy. Her apparel consisted of her Disney World T-shirt and a pair of cotton shorts, and she wore her leather flip-flops on her feet. Satisfied, her mother nodded again.
"Good. I'll send your friends up. Now, make sure you do not lock your door."
The first to arrive was Candace. Jill's classmate and next-door neighbor arrived dressed in a nylon jogging suit and sneakers. Candace adjusted the eyeglasses she had been obliged to wear since she was six and smiled as Jill gave her a quick tour of her bedroom. The doorbell rang, and rang again. Her two other friends, Liz and Marlene, had arrived. First through the door was Liz, who rushed into the room like an out-of-control locomotive, bouncing off the walls with breathless eagerness. Her overnight bag sailed through the air and landed amongst a group of carefully placed cushions, scattering them. Behind her Marlene made a more sedate entrance. The noise level rose in the room as the door was closed. Jill happily offered another cook's tour of her room, drawing appreciative comments--the others were required to bunk with siblings, and Jill's having a room all to herself had a connotation of much-envied luxury.
Once the immediate topics of conversation were thoroughly chewed Jill and her friends started by delving into her magazines. They tussled over which cassette tape to stick in her cassette player--Celine Dion, Garth Brooks, Third Eye Blind, or the Smashing Pumpkins. They ogled her newest possession--a full-sized, signed poster of Leonardo DiCaprio, which caused a lot of jealous looks and many sighs and coos from her friends. Liz, as usual, started off by flipping one an old copy of People magazine and promptly drooled over the photos of Mel Gibson she found inside. Marlene insisted on seeing pictures of Wesley Snipes, and a contest to find the hottest hunk in Jill's magazine collection began. With the music of the Smashing Pumpkins turned up just loud enough and a delivery of soft drinks from her mother Jill's first slumber party was starting out wonderfully.
After about an hour the girls began to prepare for bed. Jill couldn't help but look at her friends as they disrobed. Candace, in a boys' muscle T-shirt and cotton shorts over her panties, was taller than Jill by about two inches and sported the beginnings of both boobs and hips. Liz breezily slipped out of her top and jeans and literally jumped into her bedclothes. She was a just taller than Jill and thirty pounds heavier. Jill saw the beginnings of boobs on her schoolmate's chest-two cone-shaped bumps were just visible under her extremely loud, fluorescent blue-and-orange striped pajama top. But Jill's most envious glance fell on Marlene. Easily the tallest of them all, Marlene was very obviously beginning her journey through puberty-she had real boobs under a real bra, and her wrists brushed her hips. As she pulled on her T-shirt hair could be seen under her arms. Unlike the others Marlene chose not to wear pajama bottoms to bed. A very womanly swelling was visible under the front panel of her panties. As Jill pulled her nightie over her head she ran her hands down her front. Her featureless chest, flat stomach and non-existent hips told her she had not yet begun what her classmates were experiencing.
"God, Mar, you got big over the summer," Liz said, her gaze admiring. The others agreed. Marlene's dark complexion did not entirely hide her blush. She nodded, a shy smile on her face.
"I don't think I ever will grow sometimes," Candace moaned. She pulled open her pajama top and looked down at herself. Her eyeglasses slipped down her nose. She looked up, pushing her glasses back on her face.
"Nope," she said. "Not happening. I think I'm going to be stuck at this size 'till I'm twenty."
"Didn't you pay attention to Mr. Carstair's Human Development Class?" Liz giggled. "We're all about to 'become female young adults' any time now."
"Yeah, and do you remember how red he got while he was talking to us?" Candace said. More giggles followed.
"Well, Mar's already there," Jill said.
"Not quite," Marlene replied. Liz cocked one irreverent eyebrow.
"Well, what are you missing? Could it be the big P?"
"Liz!" Jill called. "Don't say that! You'll embarrass her."
"What's there to be embarrassed about?" Liz replied forthrightly. "I can't wait for mine to start. Maybe then all this fat around my belly will go to my tits and ass."
Liz' pronouncement produced howls. Cushions were hurled in her direction, scoring hits. Liz gestured dramatically.
"It's true! I want it to come out in a firehose stream! I want to be a wo-man!"
"God, she's awful!" Jill screamed. Shouts and laughter rattled the windows. Liz looked around the room. Her eyes fell on Jill.
"I can't believe you guys," she said. "You're all so red. Especially you, Jill."
"I-I can't help it," Jill said. Her face flushed even more deeply. "I'm ready for it, too."
"What, your sister picking on you again?" Candace asked from her seat on one of the futons set across the floor. Her eyes suddenly grew wide beneath her glasses and she clapped both hands over her mouth.
"Shut up, Candace," Jill snapped, but it was too late. Liz immediately threw herself onto the floor beside the girl.
"Ooh," said. "Tell me all about it. Inquiring minds want to know."
Candace tried to curl up into a ball to avoid Jill's harsh gaze. Liz waited for perhaps two seconds, then turned to Jill.
"Well, come on. Don't keep us in suspense," she said. Jill dropped her chin and looked at the floor. She was totally embarrassed. The room abruptly grew quiet. Jill could feel the pulse of her heart in her face as she blushed furiously. Then an arm curled around her shoulders. Candace had risen from her place on the floor. She squeezed Jill's shoulders in apology and threw a withering look in Liz' direction.
"Liz, you got a big mouth," Marlene snapped. Liz shrugged.
"Well, hell, I can guess," she said, flopping into a sitting position, her back to Jill's dresser. She was oblivious to Candace's warning looks. "My big brother is constantly making jokes about how I look. He's an asshole and your sister's probably the same."
Jill sighed, and looked up at her friends. Her smile returned.
"I'm just tired of being treated like a kid," she said. "I sometimes wish my sisters would treat me like an adult. I can't wait until I look the part--maybe then they'll be nice to me."
"Don't bet on it," Marlene said.
"Really," Liz piped up. "I've got three brothers and they're all assholes, too."
"I think its part of the job description," Candace said. "My sister picks on me, too. Maybe its supposed to prepare us for 'that next big step'."
Candace's portentous tone sounded so much like their biology teacher that everyone broke out into giggles again. Liz leaped to her feet and turned up the tape player until the volume was uncomfortable.
"All right, enough fun. Let's dance!" she shouted. She promptly began to caper in the middle of the room, kicking and disarranging the futons. The others joined in, jostling and bumping one another. A wrestling match was about to begin when a screech of car tires and the sound of a car horn echoed through the room.
"Wow!" Marlene breathed. "What was that?"
"Quick, quick," Liz panted. "Turn down the lights and pull open the curtain. We'll be vultures!"
Jill smiled and switched off the overhead light and her desk lamp, leaving only her nightstand light on. Marlene reached out and turned down the tape player while Liz vaulted the bed and rushed to the window, Candace on her heels. Liz threw up the window and stuck her head outside. The others joined her, jostling one another for space.
It was full dark outside. All up and down the street Jill could see the exterior lights of their neighbors in the development. Shouting and calling drew their attention just down the street. They saw two vehicles stopped at right angles to each other, one at the foot of a driveway, the other in the street.
"Oopsie, looks like we had a little fender-bender," Liz chortled.
"Look, it's old man Mac!" Candace squealed. Jill nodded. It was indeed old Mr. McDonald. The massive shadow of his Cadillac Seville was stopped right at the edge of his neighbor's driveway.
"I wonder what he's doing out," Jill said conversationally. "He's supposed to suffer from night blindness. The other guy must've been trying to leave and McDonald drove right in front of him."
"Poor old guy," Liz said. The four girls continued to watch for a moment as McDonald and the driver of the other vehicle spoke briefly, then separated. The sounds of car doors closing heralded the end of the incident. Liz turned away from the window, plainly bored.
"Oh, well. No blood, no bodies, no fun," she said. "Now, what was I doing a minute ago--"
There was a knock at the door. Jill's mom thrust her head inside the room and looked around. Her face fell into a frown as she noticed the disarrangement.
"I would appreciate it if you wouldn't mess things up too much," she said. "Also, please turn down that radio."
"Okay, Mrs. Chambers," Candace, Marlene and Liz chorused. Liz continued to dance, although she moved away from the futons to a clear space on the floor. She turned during a particularly physical dance step and saw the Jill was still leaning out the window.
"Hey, Jill," she panted. "See anything interesting?"
Jill heard her friend's call as she leaned out the window. The air outside was fresh. She looked up into the sky. It was clear and she could see a surprising number of stars. Even more surprising were the different colors of the stars-some blue, some red, one or two yellow in color. She smiled and was about to return to her slumber party when a flicker of light in the sky caught her attention. Jill looked as the falling star began to trace a line in the sky.
"Well, whaddya see?" Liz shouted. Jill looked over her shoulder.
"A shooting star," she called back. Liz paused in her wild gyrations.
"Well, then, make a wish," she said, then returned to her dancing.
Jill looked back out at the falling star. It was falling slowly at an angle to the ground, its tail lengthening. The tail changed colors as it grew-first red, then orange, then green. Jill closed her eyes.
"I wish I would grow up," she whispered.
She opened her eyes. The shooting star was right over her.
It was a painfully brilliant light, so bright the neighborhood was limned in unrelieved luminosity. The noise was like the roar of a waterfall. Jill jumped back from the window as the light and noise flooded into the room. She tried to run but her body went rigid, freezing her in place. Fog appeared around her, thick and billowing. It seemed to compact until it was just below her shoulders. Then the fog changed into light, filling the room. Jill felt her feet leave the floor. She was floating into the air, higher and higher. The light coalesced, forming a maelstrom, roaring around her, tossing her things in the air. It was like a tornado, whipping around her. She felt it rip away her nightie and undies, leaving her naked. Higher and higher it swirled, wrapping around her, getting closer and closer. Suddenly she could see nothing but the light as it washed over and into her body. A thousand tiny tingles sparkled all over her, like pins-and-needles covering every square inch of her skin.
Then it was gone.
Jill blinked. Spots were dancing before her eyes. She closed them. The spots got better. She opened them again. She was leaning out her bedroom window. She looked up into the sky. It was clear, and she could see a surprising number of stars-
Jill jumped back out of the window. She pushed herself back into the room so violently she lost her footing and toppled. She exclaimed in pain as her elbow and hip found the floor. Her heart was thudding in her chest.
"Hey, Jill, what's up?"
Jill twisted herself on her butt. Her friends were all clustered around her bed, looking at her curiously. Her Trivial Pursuit game was open on her bedspread and several cards were laid out. Marlene had stopped in mid-throw, her hand upraised.
"Did you see that?"
Jill's friends looked at one another.
"Are you okay, Jill?" Liz asked. Jill looked around the room. Everything was the same as before. She gasped and looked down at herself. Her nightie was still intact. Jill shook her head in confusion. She'd just had the most amazing, frightening experience imaginable. Why didn't the others see it?
"Didn't you see it?" she asked.
"See what?" Candace asked. Jill was dumfounded. How could they not have seen it?
"The shooting star-the light-everything," she blurted out. Her friends looked at one another again.
"Are you all right, Jill?" Candace asked. Jill shook her head. She blinked again, then looked around the room. It still stayed the same. Jill realized she was holding her breath. She let it out in one great exhalation. Gathering herself, she got to her feet and stood up. The floor was solid, her footing was solid, all her things were still here, her friends were here and had seen nothing. Was it some sort of hallucination?
Her bedroom door opened. It was her sister Susan. Jill's eyes boggled as she noticed her sister wearing a revealing white lace teddy and no bathrobe. Her friends shared her expression. Susan looked from face to face in the room, her features sour.
"Okay, kids, it's ten o'clock," she snapped. "Lights-out time. Close that window while your at it."
She shut the door without waiting for a reply. Jill's friends looked at one another, puzzled. They and Jill both turned toward the clock decorating her nightstand. It read 9:58 p.m.
"Huh. Well, time sure flies when your having fun," Liz said. "Funny, it doesn't feel that late. Oh, well, I guess it's time for my beauty sleep. Shall we fight over who gets which futon?"
"You get the one with all the footprints on the sheet," Marlene retorted. Liz pulled a sour face, then grinned.
"So, I get to sleep in it, huh? Oh, okay by me. Come on Jill, you'd better hit the hay, too. What did you do, fall asleep while hanging out the window?"
Jill shook her head. Is that what she did? She was so sure about what she saw and heard and felt. It had only been a few minutes before. She minced across the floor of her room towards her bed. Candace intercepted her.
"Jill, are you sure you're okay?" Candace asked. "You look scared."
Jill looked back over her shoulder. The window was still open. A gentle breeze began to swell through it, riffling the curtains. It must have been some sort of dream.
"I-I guess so. I just had the weirdest dream." Jill nodded to her friends and smiled.
"Some host you are," Liz growled in mock annoyance. She rushed to the window and pulled it shut. "Making your guests do all the work around here."
"There wouldn't be half the work you'd think if you didn't mess it up in the first place," Candace replied. A round of giggling was quickly stifled.
"Good night, everybody. Sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite," Liz said.
"Shut up, Liz," Marlene growled. Liz giggled and rolled over in her futon. Jill watched her friends bundle themselves up on their mattresses. She retrieved the Trivial Pursuit cards and stuffed them into their box. Setting the box on the floor, she drew down her bedcovers. She slipped into the bed, wriggling as she pulled her nightie free of wrinkles. Jill stopped in the act of turning off her nightstand lamp. She looked around her room, one more time. Everything was still as she remembered it. It was still her sanctuary. It had to have been some sort of nightmare, she thought. She turned off the light and closed her eyes.
A tapping at her door woke Jill. She opened her eyes and yawned as the knock was repeated. The door opened and her mother appeared in the gap between door and doorframe.
"It's time for all of you to get up," she said in her authoritative tones. Jill heard her friends all moaning and grumbling.
"Remember, it's Monday," her mother continued. The bleary eyes turned in her direction were blank. "A school day." All the eyes became alert and low moans were murmured.
"You don't want to be late. Breakfast will be ready in a few moments."
Liz shot out of her makeshift bed at the word breakfast.
"All right!" she said. "My favorite word--food."
Jill stretched and grinned. Marlene struggled for a moment with her bedcovers, which had wrapped themselves around her torso during the night. Candace slipped from her bed and started doing her morning yoga exercises. Jill watched as she quickly twisted herself like a pretzel, then untwisted and sighed happily.
"Holy shit," Liz said appreciatively. "I could never do that."
"Sure you can," Candace replied. "All it takes is practice."
"If I tried that I'd break my back," Liz said as she dug into her bag.
The four girls all babbled amiably as they took turns in the one upstairs bathroom. With much squealing and giggling Jill elbowed her way past Marlene and Candace and seized her toothbrush. She squeezed out a liberal amount of toothpaste on the brush and thrust it into her mouth. She had to hurry--
Jill stopped. She felt her toothbrush with her tongue. It felt wrong for some reason. She tried a few more strokes. It still felt wrong. She pulled it out of her mouth. It was covered with foam. She rinsed it and looked at it again. It looked the same. She didn't know why, but she thought that the bristles in the head of the toothbrush felt different-like some of them had fallen out. Jill remembered one time before when her toothbrush had lost bristles while brushing. She quickly explored her mouth with her tongue but there was nothing in it but foam.
"Hey, Jill," Candace said, "are you finished yet?"
Jill bent over the sink and spit out the toothpaste.
"Yes, I'm done," she said.
Jill noted with relief that Susan had already gone to school. Barbara wandered into the kitchen while she and her friends were eating, rummaging in the cupboards. Jills oldest sister found a packaged granola bar, which she promptly opened and ate. She drew herself a cup of coffee and swigged the hot stuff immediately. Jill stopped paying attention to her fruit when the smell of coffee wafted in her direction. She felt surprise--for once the stuff didn't smell like fermented sweat socks. Maybe her mother was using a different brand. It was funny, but it actually smelled good.
"What is wrong with you today, Jill?" Liz asked as she wiped the remnants of her egg yolk from around her mouth and stole a strip of friend bacon from her neighbor's plate. Candace objected loudly and got half her bacon back.
"Oh, nothing," Jill answered. Liz cocked one eyebrow at her.
"Not nothing. First you pass out or something in the window last night, then you spend five minutes looking at your toothbrush like you'd never seen it before, and now you look like you lost your appetite all of a sudden. What's up?"
"It's nothing," Jill replied. She looked across the table to the kitchen counter where the coffeemaker was resting, its decanter filled with the black brew. Jill found herself wondering again just what the stuff tasted like.
"Geez, Liz, get a life," Marlene said suddenly. "What, do you spend your days watching everybody else?"
"Sure. Life's more fun that way. Everybody does the craziest things."
Jill's mother made an appearance in the kitchen, her face officially disapproving. She tapped her foot on the floor for a few seconds until she had the attention of Jill and her friends, then she looked at the kitchen wall clock.
"Oh, shit! The bus'll be here any minute!" Liz said. She flushed and clapped her hand over her mouth. Everyone else around the table cringed. Her mother took another step into the kitchen.
"What did you just say?" she asked.
"Ah, nothing. We'd better get going," Liz replied, almost stumbling over her words. She popped from her seat and grabbed for her bag. The other girls followed her lead. They trailed out the door, loudly thanking Jill's mother as they paraded past her. Jill was last in line.
"Mom, do you have to work today, too?"
Her mother was wearing an amused expression. She turned to face her youngest daughter. Her smile turned into a rueful grin.
"I'm afraid so, sweetie." She absently fixed some stray strands of Jill's hair. "But I'm off the day after tomorrow. If you like we can do something then."
The bus was almost full and very noisy. Jill and her friends quickly chose a block of seats, settling themselves together. Candace peered through her glasses towards the back of the bus.
"Oh, shit, look. It's the Monkeyboys," she groaned. Jill turned in her seat. Sure enough six boys, all wearing the same style windbreakers, were jumping around on their seats in the back of the bus. Jill sighed. The Monkeyboys were the bane of their daily bus rides. The six boys often decided relieving their classmates of boredom during the bus ride was a priority, and the technique of choice was grossing out their fellow travelers. Sure enough, as Jill watched a soda straw appeared in one boy's lips. His cheeks suddenly puffed out as he blew through it.
"Heads down, guys. Spitballs," she said in warning. Liz looked around. She started giggling. The others joined in. Jill looked back again. Two of the boys now sported facial decoration in the form of tiny balls of wadded paper. It looked to Jill like they had suddenly sprouted zits. It was funny looking. She joined in the merriment until more wads of wet paper began to fly their way. A sharp call from the bus driver interrupted the fun and the rest of the journey was uneventful.
Jill stepped out of the bus. The sun was well up and it was already beginning to get warm, though it was not the typical warmth of summer-there was a cooling, gentle breeze that made the flag atop the flagpole in the courtyard flap lazily. As she waited for her friends to join her she found herself wiggling her toes inside her sneakers. Why did her sneakers feel snug this morning? Did Mom wash them last night? Jill looked down at them and almost laughed aloud at her own whimsy. The sneakers were less than four months old and couldn't be washed anyway. Must be the thick nap of the new socks Mom had gotten her last week.
Although Jill had only been in seventh grade a month it already seemed boring. Her first class after homeroom was with Mr. Xavier, the School Tyrant of Algebra. Xavier was a portly, middle-sized man with a thin halo of gray hair around a shiny bald spot and a permanent dusting of chalk on his fingers. Jill and Candace sat next to one another. As Xavier droned on, his back to the class as he wrote one series of equations of the blackboard after another in his neat, precise hand, Jill found herself less interested than usual in the Tyrant's instruction. She exchanged a glance with Candace, who sat beside her. The two of them hid their grins. Out of habit she opened her loose-leaf book and readied her pen, then leaned forward to look at the board.
A sensation of fullness around her waistband distracted her. She looked down. Her front below her belt was actually sticking out. Jill almost groaned aloud. Her fruit-and-granola breakfast was going to haunt her today? Once before she had gotten the worst case of the farts-it'd been totally humiliating. She gulped and adopted a pose of total concentration on Xavier's equations while waiting for the first vestiges of gas. After a quarter of an hour nothing happened. She sighed in relief, but her puzzlement returned. Her jeans must've shrunk in the wash and she just didn't notice it until she sat in the hard wooden seat. Xavier continued to drone even after the bells rang for the next class, the racket of the assembled students rising from their chairs drowning him out.
Jill stood up slowly, testing her inner workings. She felt nothing unusual. She shook her head. Several strands of her hair wandered in front of her face and she tucked them back behind her ears. Xavier was calling out homework instructions, pointing to a stack of papers on his desk. Jill seized a copy of the homework assignment and headed out the door.
"Jill?" Candace came up behind her and touched her shoulder.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
Jill turned and looked at her friend. Candace's face was wrapped in real worry. Jill felt her eyebrows draw together.
"Of course. I'm fine. Why?"
"The look on your face back there. I thought you were going to puke."
"No, no. For a while there, I thought I was going to gas out the class."
Candace's eyes got real big. An incredulous smile formed on her face.
"No. Really? Wow, what a way to end a class."
"Yeah, I could imagine the reaction. Thankfully nothing happened."
Both girls burst into a fit of sustained giggles.
"Listen, I'll see you at lunch," Candace said. She wiped a laugh-tear from her eye. "We better get going."
Jill attended two more classes before lunch. Mr. Carstairs, in his typical tweed jacket and bow tie, gave a mechanical biology class, his students hiding their boredom behind their textbooks. After an hour the bell rang again. American history was next. It was Jill's favorite subject, and she was becoming increasingly worried and annoyed at the distraction the strange feelings in her body were causing her. Her belly was definitely bloated, and she felt a twinge in her hips as well. She began to feel alarm--maybe this was the beginning of a real illness. She blushed at the thought of getting sick in class--it would be so degrading--and she willed the clock to move faster. It was with real relief that the bell rang again signaling the lunch period.
Jill almost ran out of the classroom, heading for the bathroom. She stepped quickly into an empty stall. Locking it behind her, she slipped off her knapsack and lowered the toilet seat in one smooth motion. She quickly unbuckled her belt. The sense of release as she opened it was startling. She rubbed her hands across the front of her belly. The bulge began below her navel and went right down into her crotch-
Jill looked at her hands. They looked different--bigger. She rubbed her hands together. They felt fine. Why did she think they looked different? Her feet called her attention again. She tried wiggling her toes inside her shoes. There definitely wasn't enough room. Her feet were swollen? Why? And the swelling in her middle--Jill opened her jeans. Again she experienced a feeling of release. She pulled her pants down and looked at herself. Freed of the restraint of her jeans the bulge was very obvious, pushing out under the waistband of her undies. Jill pressed at it gingerly, then with greater pressure. No pain, no feeling of shifting. It was like she had just put on weight down there. It reminded her of Marlene's--
Jill dropped down onto the toilet seat, her pants around her knees. It did look like Marlene's belly. The bulge of fat of a woman's--mons, she remembered it was called in her Human Development textbook. She had suddenly developed her mons. That made no sense. It wasn't there this morning. Why was it there now?
Jill cocked an ear. By some alchemy the girl's room was empty. She nerved herself to step out of the stall, her pants down around her knees. The rattle of her belt buckle on the tile floor was overwhelming any sounds that might herald the arrival of another user to the girl's room. Jill crouched and lifted it off the floor as she shuffled to the mirror over the washbasins.
Jill couldn't believe it. Her belly did look just like Marlene's! The bulge began just below her navel, curving down between her legs. Jill couldn't believe it. It was like she had grown it on the spot--
Jill remembered what had happened to her last night. She had convinced herself it was some kind of dream. But it wasn't. How much had she grown since making the wish? Her feet filling her shoes. Her hands looking bigger. Developing her mons and rapid growth in hands and feet were some of the first signs of the onset of puberty. It was happening to her just like the textbook said. But, so fast! It was impossible--
Jill thought for a moment. Maybe it's all hysterical. She remembered seeing a television show once where a woman who wanted a baby grew a belly just like she was pregnant. That's what must be happening to her. She wanted to grow up so badly that her mind was making her body look older to her. Jill sighed in relief. According to that news show the woman returned to normal when she realized she wasn't pregnant. The same thing should happen to her. She pulled her pants up quickly, before anyone else walked in and saw her. After buttoning and belting she looked in the mirror again. The bulge was still there.
Jill looked at her wristwatch. Oh, no--the lunch period was almost over and she hadn't even started! She rushed out of the girl's room and ran full tilt down the halls until she reached her locker. She had to work the combination three times before she got it right. Seizing her lunch bag, she raced outside. It only took a moment to spot her friends and she ran up to them.
"Hey, what happened?' Candace asked as Jill slid onto the bench beside her. "Lunch is almost over."
"I, uh, was in the ladies' room," Jill replied.
"Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm okay."
"Wait a minute. Fill me in," Liz said, a grin creasing her features.
"It's nothing," Jill replied quickly. The last thing she needed was for Liz to discover her hysterical bloating. She snapped open her insulated lunch bag and retrieved her sandwich and box of juice. Her mom had made tuna salad, one of her favorites. She ripped the plastic wrap from around the sandwich and wolfed it down.
"Jill just had a little stomach upset, that's all," Candace said to Liz.
"Well, she doesn't look it now," Liz replied, gesturing to Jill, who was stuffing her sandwich in her mouth. She shrugged and sucked her juice box dry to clear her mouth.
"Lunch is almost over. I feel fine, now, anyway," she said. She couldn't keep the sheepishness out of her voice. The banging of the outside bell interrupted Marlene as she was about to speak. Jill jumped up, relief evident in her expression.
"Gotta go," she said. "I'll see you guys on the bus."
"Wait a minute," Liz said. "You didn't tell us what happened."
"Sorry, I've got Chemistry next," Jill called back over her shoulder. "It's all the way at the other end of the building. Talk to you later."
The constricting sensation of her footwear caused Jill to slow as she stepped towards the chemistry lab. Trying to take a normal stride was more difficult than ever--her feet simply did not have room to bend inside her shoes. She found herself mincing to her stool in the lab. The lecture about the atomic table went unnoticed--the feelings in her body were too intrusive. Not only was her belly sticking out, but now her belt was pressing against her hips and the small of her back. Her hands still looked different and her feet were becoming more demanding. Jill found herself watching the second hand of the classroom's clock making its tortuous pace around its dial. It was slow, too slow.
Chemistry finally ended, and she made her way to English Literature. English Lit was another of her favorite courses, but she felt too miserable to enjoy it. Her shoes were abrading her heels and toes and her pants were definitely tighter. She squirmed on her seat in an effort to get more comfortable. It only made the feeling of tightness around her hips and butt worse. Jill was becoming increasingly irritated at the pace of the class. She found herself exasperated by the clock on the wall, the drone of the instructor, the sweep of the second hand on her wristwatch. She began to mentally curse the hour, the slowness of the class, and seventh grade in that order.
Suddenly she felt a sharp pain in her middle. It was so sharp she sucked in her breath. The pain subsided, then redoubled. It felt like something was clawing her guts. Jill began to feel real fear. She felt herself break out into a sweat as the pains continued, pulsing inside her. Then she felt something dribble between her legs. Oh, God, she was losing control of her bladder! She squeezed her bladder muscles as hard as she could. It didn't help. The trickling happened again. She raised a trembling hand.
"Miss Webster, I feel sick. I-I have to leave--"
Jill rose from her seat as she spoke. By the time she finished speaking she was at the door, wrestling with the knob. She moved as quickly as her feet would permit to the nearest bathroom--happily it was only a few doors away. Once inside she quickly found a stall and locked herself in. More pain struck her, almost doubling her over. She quickly opened her pants and pulled them down.
Jill almost fainted. The frayed edge of the seam in the seat of her jeans was colored a dark red. She pulled down her undies. Her crotch was covered in blood. She sat down heavily on the toilet as the pains rippled across her middle. She was sweating and terrified and didn't know what to do--
The pains diminished, then stopped. Jill was panting from pain and adrenaline, her heart thudding in her chest. After a moment she was able to calm herself enough to grab a handful of toilet paper and wipe between her legs. The amount of blood that soaked into it was alarming. She shifted her seat and dropped the wad of paper into the bowl, grabbed another handful and wiped again. This time there was only a tiny smear.
The bonging of the bell signaling the end of the last class made her jump. Jill was in a torment of indecision. What should she do? She'd just had--her first period? The abrupt realization shocked her utterly. There had been--ten minutes? Fifteen?--left in class when she suddenly gotten the cramps. She'd gone through her first period in ten or fifteen minutes! The thought made her dizzy. She was growing up. It was just like she wished--but she was growing up so fast. But what should she do? Who should she tell? Who would believe her?
The second ringing of the bell signaled that the buses were about to leave. The bus! She would miss her ride home! Jill looked at her undies. She certainly couldn't wear them. She'd have to throw them out.
Jill frantically tugged her shoelaces, freeing the knots. She yanked each shoe of her feet, grunting with the effort. God, her feet, too? Her feet looked so big! No time. Jill pulled her pants off her legs. Her undies followed, more gingerly--she didn't want stains on her socks. She tossed the garment aside and quickly pulled her pants back on. Replacing the shoes was agony--it felt like her feet had suddenly expanded and the shoes threatened to crush her toes. She tied her shoes and stood up. The tightness around her waist was worse, too--she had to really pull at her jeans to close them. Her belt she couldn't close at all--it was as if in taking off her pants her hips and belly decided to grow even bigger. She carefully wadded her undies into a ball and tossed them into the garbage, then rinsed her hands. With her hands still wet she rushed out of the bathroom, heading for her locker and the bus.
Jill just made the bus. She couldn't ignore the unpleasant expression of the bus driver as she stepped inside. A familiar voice shouted her name. She looked down the row of seats and saw her friends. They waved to her and she walked down the aisle as well as her over-tight shoes would allow to join them.
"God, Jill, what happened?" Liz asked in her forthright fashion. Jill looked at her blankly.
"What do you mean?"
"You bugged out of Miss Webster's class early," Liz replied, leaning closer to Jill, curiosity evident on her face. "Did you get sick again?"
Jill felt herself blush again. Trust Liz to learn about her sudden departure from class. A gamut of emotions washed over her--embarrassment, anxiety, a thrill-ride fear, and, curiously, a sense of exultation. Should she tell them what seemed to be happening to her? Jill wondered as she looked into her friend's eyes. Should she keep it a secret? They all talked about everything, without fear, but this was different. Fear of embarrassment won. Liz was loud and spoke without thinking. Telling her she had just had her first period (in ten or fifteen minutes!) would be the equivalent of standing up and broadcasting it all over the bus. Jill shook her head.
"I felt a little sick, that's all," she replied. She cringed at the stammer in her voice.
"You should have gone to the school nurse."
"No, I felt better afterwards."
"Aha, so that's it. Well, no more burritos for you--I'll have yours instead!"
Liz raised her arms as she made her pronouncement. Candace and Marlene both smiled, although concern for their friend was still in their eyes. Jill knew Liz well enough to realize she didn't believe a word Jill said but was putting on a show for the benefit of their neighbors in the bus. She smiled in gratitude even as her feet hurt worse than ever and her middle began to visibly bulge over her jeans.
Candace disembarked from the bus ahead of Jill. As she reached the sidewalk she turned and looked up the bus steps as Jill emerged. Jill was occupied in planting her sore feet on the steps correctly and did not see her friend's scrutiny. Jill almost bumped into Candace as she made the last, long step to the pavement.
"Jill, are you sure you're all right? You were so quiet on the bus."
Jill looked up, surprised. Candace seemed puzzled and curious. As Jill straightened she saw why. She and Candace were staring at one another eye to eye. Candace's eyes flickered down. Jill followed her glance. She almost swooned again. The hem of her jeans was above her shoes. She looked like she was wearing high-water pants. Her thighs were filling out the legs of her denims almost to the point of discomfort.
"I-I'd better get home," she stammered, turning as quickly as she could in her painful shoes. "I'll call you later, Candace."
"Uh, okay," Candace replied, uncertainty obvious in her voice. Jill turned to wave to her friend and saw she was staring at her blankly. Candace suddenly recovered and waved vaguely, then turned toward her own house.
Jill felt her heart leap as she saw her father's car in the driveway of her home. Dad was home. Would he notice what was happening to her? Jill found herself stopping in the driveway for a moment. She could never remember feeling so scared and undecided in her life. So far she'd grown visibly bigger and had gone through her first period, all in one day. She was afraid and excited at the same time by what happened to her. Jill licked her lips and swallowed. She had to tell somebody. Mom and Dad needed to know what was happening, and why. She had to tell them.
She limped across the kitchen threshold. A pleasant and familiar voice was speaking quietly inside. As Jill turned the corner she saw her Dad embracing Mom. As he caught sight of her he released his hold on her mother and held out his arms to her, a huge smile on his face.
"Pumpkin!" he called. Jill felt tears spurt into her eyes. Her feet were hurting so badly she almost fell into his arms. Dad engulfed her in a bear hug, his ham hands patting her back.
"I missed you, sweetie," he began. "Boy, you've grown since I've been away. How is my little girl?"
His smile faded as he looked at her. Jill began to cry.
"Daddy, something's happening to me," she choked. Her father's face drooped in concern. He hugged her again, squeezing the air out of her lungs.
"There, there, sweetie," he murmured to her. "Don't cry, now. Hush, it's going to be all right."
He wiped the tears dribbling down her cheeks. His smile was gentle and reassuring. It helped to dispel some of the fluttering Jill could feel in her belly.
"Now, tell me what happened. Are you hurt at all?"
"No. I'm-I'm growing up."
Her father looked puzzled for a moment, then he chuckled and hugged her again.
"Of course you are, sweetie," he replied, relief flooding his voice. "You just turned twelve, after all. You're growing up pretty fast--"
"No, Dad," Jill said. She struggled to find the right words to describe what had happened to her.
"I've-I saw a falling star last night, and I made a wish on it, and ever since then I've been growing," she began. Her face twisted as sparks of pain began to radiate up her legs from her feet. She collapsed from the pain. Only the quick motion of her mother's hands on her back saved her from impacting the floor.
"Ow!" she exclaimed. "Ow! My feet! My shoes--they're too tight! Oh, it hurts--"
Her parents stood beside her for a few seconds, dumfounded. Her mother reacted first, reaching for her shoes. Undoing the laces she tried to pull her left shoe from her foot. Jill cried out in pain. The shoe was too tight. Her mother tried again, using more strength. The shoe popped off. Her mother repeated her effort, freeing Jill's other foot. Jill gasped with relief. As the pain subsided she tried wriggling her toes. The motion made her feet ache, but the ache diminished after a moment.
Jill blinked away the tears in her eyes. She looked up to see both her parents beside her, their faces creased with worry. Her Dad leaned down and rubbed her back. Her mother still had her sneaker in her hand. She was staring at it as though it were culpable for what happened.
"Now, sweetie, tell me again what happened," her father said.
"I--Susan's been teasing me a lot about how I'm not growing," Jill began. She wiped away more tears. "Last night I saw a falling star, and I wished I would grow up. The--the star did something to me. All day long I felt funny. My pants got tight, and my hands and feet got bigger, and I had my first period--"
"Oh," her father said, a wealth of emotion in his voice. His puzzled expression disappeared and his big smile returned. He embraced her again. Her mother looked alternately startled and pleased.
"So that's it," Dad said. "That's wonderful! My littlest girl is now a woman! I'm so sorry I wasn't here for you today, sweetie. It's a happy day for us all. You know what? I think we need to celebrate! How about I take the three of us out to dinner tonight? We can--"
"No, Daddy, you don't understand," Jill interrupted. She couldn't keep the fear out of her voice. "This all happened today."
"What do you mean, Jill?" her mother asked. Jill gestured to her waist.
"Look, Mom," she said. "Look how tight everything is on me."
Jill watched her mother's eyes carefully as they scrutinized her. Her face didn't change but her eyes narrowed. She offered her hand.
"Here, let's get you off that floor," she said, a hint of reproach in her voice. Her Dad blinked and belatedly offered her hand. Jill felt herself hauled up to her feet. Without her shoes they felt fine and Jill wriggled her toes in delight at the freedom from the pain that had dogged her all day.
"Let's go upstairs to your room," her mother said.
"Now, tell me again what happened."
Jill's mother closed the door to her bedroom and turned to face her daughter, her expression expectant. Jill felt herself flush to her hairline. Unconsciously she began to play with her undone belt. Her mother's eyes followed the motion, and darkened.
"It all started this morning," Jill said. "First my shoes started to feel tight. They kept getting tighter and tighter as the day went by. Then, during my first class I felt like my jeans had shrunk on me."
She gestured to the bulge that was now obvious above and below the waistline of her denims. Her mother's face began to change expression. Jill saw her eyes widen.
"Then, this afternoon I suddenly felt these sharp pains in my middle. I felt something between my legs. I ran to the girl's room and--and I'd had my period."
Jill stood up. She unbuttoned her jeans. Her mother's mouth dropped in open shock as her zipper slipped down unbidden under the pressure of her burgeoning middle.
"Jill, honey, where's your underwear?"
"I-I'm sorry, Mom. They were all dirty with--with my period. I threw them away. I'm sorry--"
Jill felt herself slip towards the edge of panic. As she watched her Mom lost all control of her expression. The sight of her mother white-faced with anxiety terrified her. As her mother slowly brought up her hand to cover her open mouth Jill bean to cry. She had never felt so acutely mortified in her life. Suddenly her mother shook her head and seized Jill in her arms. Jill buried her head in her mother's bosom, crying. Her mother held her for a moment, then began to rock her gently back and forth.
"Shhh, darling. Shhh," her mother whispered. "It's all right. It's going to be all right."
"Hey, what's going on?"
Susan's voice echoed in the room. Jill felt her mother's arms ease their grip around her. She saw Susan standing in her bedroom door, her typical smirk on her face.
"Hey, creep," she said. "What happened? Get kissed by a boy today?"
"Shut up, Susan," her mother replied. Her sharp, loud tone brought Susan up short. Jill could feel angry tension in her mother's arms and hands. Susan was clearly taken aback. Her face fell into a puzzled frown.
"What?" she replied after a moment. "What happened? What's wrong?"
Jill saw her mother look at her, then look back to Susan.
"That's what we're going to find out."
Jill sat on the edge of the examination table in Doctor Isdale's office. She was dressed in her sweats, her feet in her flip-flops. In the relative warmth of the examination room she could feel herself sweating. Jill was a little puzzled. She'd never cared about breaking out in a sweat before. It was a curious feeling. An itching sensation under her arms was also distracting.
"It's hardly surprising you've grown since your birthday, Jill," Doc Isdale said. He was an elderly, old-fashioned doctor with a thatch of gray hair and a supporting manner. "At your age everything you've described is quite common. Other things will start happening to you soon--"
"No, Doc," Jill objected. "You don't understand. Everything I told you started today."
Isdale looked at Jill. His face was blank. "Today?"
Isdale shook his head. His smile broadened.
"I'm afraid that's impossible, Jill. You may be starting to mature very quickly--your sisters were the same way--but you can't just grow up overnight."
"I'm telling you the truth."
"Sure you are, Jill. Look, everyone your age, boys and girls alike, all go through some pretty big changes pretty quickly. It can be startling--one minute everything is fine, then, bang! You look in a mirror, and you look completely different. It's a perfectly normal reaction--"
"Doc, please understand. I know about what I supposed to be going through. Look, measure me and you'll understand."
Isdale nodded tolerantly and gestured for Jill to walk to the measuring station in the room. Jill hopped onto the electronic scale and waited as Isdale raised the LED-measure along the wall. The scale beeped madly for a few seconds, then stopped as its readout stabilized. As the light beam from the measure topped her head it chirped. Isdale read the gauge.
"Ah. Four feet, seven inches," he said. He picked up Jill medical file and shuffled its contents until he found the right report. He looked at the report, scratching his chin.
"Well, you've grown three-and-a-half inches since your birthday," he announced. "That is a rapid growth rate, but not unheard of. No, it mustve been a mismeasurement the last time. Still, both your parents are tall, so it's a good bet you're going to be tall, too--"
A beep from the scale interrupted him. He looked down at its readout.
"Seventy one point two pounds. A healthy weight for your age, Jill. Well, I've examined you, and you're perfectly healthy. You say you've suddenly grown bigger today. Well, puberty is like that. Pretty soon you'll be going to see an adult doctor and not me. You're growing up--"
The scale beeped again. Isdale looked at it. He frowned.
"Seventy one point three. Hope the scale isn't going on the fritz," he muttered. Jill looked down at the readout on the face of the scale. She only half-heard Doc Isdale begin to describe how there would be important psychological changes for her as well as physical ones.
The scale beeped again. Seventy-one point four pounds. Jill watched with a thrilled, fearful fascination as Isdale continued to speak reassuringly.
Beep. Seventy-one point five pounds. Jill felt her heart flutter. She was tensing every muscle in her body to keep it still, lest her motion disturb the reading of the scale.
Beep. Seventy-on point six pounds. It was her--she was actually watching herself getting heavier and heavier as she grew.
Jill almost cried out as she felt a touch on her arm.
"I'm sorry, Jill," Isdale said. "I didn't mean to startle you. Look, why don't you sit back down on the table while I go outside and talk to your mother."
Jill obediently stepped off the scale and returned to her seat on the table. Isdale nodded and left the room, leaving the door open behind him. Jill waited until she heard his footfalls go down the hall, then she jumped back up and stepped on the scale again. It quickly settled to a reading of seventy-one point eight pounds.
Seventy-one point nine.
Jill looked at her watch and waited for the next beep. When she heard it-seventy-two point one pounds-she watched as its second hand swept around the dial. The scale beeped again one minute after she had started counting.
She looked at the scale again. Seventy-two point two pounds. Jill couldn't believe it. She was actually watching herself grow! She heard Isdale's and her mother's voices coming back down the hall and she jumped off the scale, returning to her place on the table. Isdale and her Mom were arguing quietly. Her mother carried over her arm the denims Jill had worn today. Isdale looked concerned, but still reassuring and confident.
"Jill, your mother and I have decided that it might be a good idea to test you, just to be certain there is nothing wrong," Isdale said. "I'm going to have Miss Bonham come in and take a blood sample to the lab downstairs. We'll soon have a handle on what's concerning you."
With her elbow bent around a band-aid Jill walked with her Mom and Dad out to their car. It was almost full dark outside but Jill hardly noticed. She was having trouble walking--her knees kept brushing against one another with each step she took. At least it didn't hurt to walk in her flip-flops. Mom squeezed her shoulders as Dad opened the doors to his van. Jill and her mother stepped into the back while Dad took the wheel.
Jill's thoughts were muddled. She leaned against her Mom while her Dad drove. Silence reigned inside the van--no one seemed to know what to say. Jill felt her fear subside as her mother rubbed her shoulder. She slipped down until her head was in her mother's lap. Her mother's caressing hands were reassuring and gentle as she stroked Jill's hair. Jill felt better now than she had all day. Her sweats were comfortable and didn't bind or dig into her, and her Mom and Dad were here. Jill felt herself starting to nod off just as the van came to a stop in the driveway of their home.
Both her older sisters were waiting for them as they walked in the front door. Jill looked at them from within the circle of her Mom's arms. Both her sisters looked concerned as Mom took Jill into the living room and sat her down.
"There, now," her mother said. "Dad's gone to get us all something to eat. Sit right there and watch some TV."
Jill turned towards the television set. She tried to ignore the curious looks she was getting from her two older siblings. Barbara's expression was simply curious, with a detachment that bordered on disinterest. Susan was more intense. Jill thought she almost saw a flicker of concern in Susan's eyes. That couldn't possibly be.
Jill brushed her hair from out of her eyes. Her arm brushed across her chest. Jill stopped in mid-motion. She felt something on her chest. Her upper arm was pressing against her chest in a way she'd never felt before. Jill felt her thrill-ride fear return. She stood up from the couch without meeting anybody's eyes and quickly trotted up the stairs to her room.
Jill closed the door to her room and turned to her mirror. She looked at herself. She didn't see anything. She grabbed her sweatshirt and pulled down. Jill gasped. She pulled open the collar of her shirt and looked down at herself. They were there! She lifted her shirt up to her shoulders and looked in the mirror. There, on her chest, were two small bumps.
Breasts! She was starting to grow breasts! Jill couldn't believe it. She looked down again. They were small, no more than swellings atop her chest, but they were there! She touched one, pressing her hand into the new flesh, rubbing cautiously. It was soft, pliant, squishy. Jill felt blood rush into her skin again. This time the glow of her blush went down over the lumps on her chest. As she watched she was prepared to swear she saw both bumps swell slightly larger, right before her eyes!
"Jill?" she heard her mother's voice call from downstairs. "Dinner's ready."
Jill was preparing for bed when she heard a knock at her door. She paused in the act of looking at herself in her mirror and drew her nightie over her head.
"Come in," she said. Her mother looked around the door at her.
"Can I come in?" she asked.
Jill nodded, wondering--no one in her family had asked if they could come into her room before. Her mother walked up to her, her expression darkly worried. Jill tried to smile, and failed. She knew her mother was noticing what she had just discovered--her hips had widened to the point where her wrists brushed against them. As she watched her Mom shook her head and smiled.
"We should hear about the blood test tomorrow, sweetie," she said. "How do you feel?"
"I'm okay, Mom," Jill replied. She struggled to find the right words to describe how she really felt and failed. "I feel--I feel big, but I'm all right."
Jill nodded. "Mom, is this what it's like?"
"Is what like?"
"Growing up." Jill couldn't help the flush that flooded her skin. "I've never felt so--so funny before. I--my body keeps--keeps changing. I-I wish--"
Jill stumbled over her words. She couldn't think how to tell her mother again about her making the wish on that falling star. She wished that someone else had seen the strange green light, witnessed it, been touched by it. Then it would be easier--she'd have a witness to vouch for her. Her mother slowly took her in her arms and hugged her. Then, she suddenly let go and stepped back, her hands on Jill's shoulders. The sudden motion startled Jill. She saw her mother stare at her chest for a moment. Her eyes darkened again, then cleared. She smiled and pointed to Jill's bed.
"Look, get some sleep. We'll see if things are better in the morning."
Jill felt better after her Mom tucked her into bed. She tugged at the hem of her nightie to get out the wrinkles and her Mom snugged the bedclothes tight around her neck.
"Good night, sweetie," her mother said. Jill saw her Mom couldn't keep the wonder and fear out of her eyes as she bent and kissed her on the forehead. "Sleep tight."
Jill struggled from sleep as she heard a knocking at her door.
"Jill? You awake?" her mother's voice said. Jill blinked. There was a foul taste in her mouth, and she swallowed.
"Yes, Mom, I'm up--"
Jill stopped in mid-sentence. Her voice. What happened to her voice? It sounded lower, huskier. Memory jolted her fully awake. Her wish the night before. Her body growing yesterday. Everything--
Her mother entered her room just as Jill threw off her bedcovers. Her eyes grew wide as saucers and she made a small sound in her throat. Jill had obviously grown more during the night. Her nightie was drawn so tight across her shoulders it was pulling up her sleeves. Two breasts stood atop her chest--not the small swellings of the previous night, but real breasts, sporting nipples that were visible through the fabric of her nightshirt. Her hips had flared out fully as well, exceeding the breadth of her shoulders by a considerable margin. Jill cautiously slipped out of bed. She was astounded by how her feet thumped the carpet--they'd never found the floor so quickly before! Jill tested her footing, then rose until she was upright.
"Oh, my God," she mother said. She immediately clapped her hand across her mouth. Jill looked up from herself and looked at her mother. She felt her heart flutter again. Her mother, her furniture, her room--everything looked like it had visibly shrunk overnight. The hem of her nightie was now just below her knees. Jill looked at her Mom. Her head used to be level with her mother's bosom--now her eyes looked level with her throat. It was amazing and scary.
"Mom?" she said. Her voice was strained. "Mom, how can this be happening? All I did was make a wish--those things don't happen for real--"
"I don't know, honey," her mother replied after a moment. "I just don't know. You're not going to school today. We're going to see Doctor Isdale instead." Jill watched her mother visibly get a grip on herself, shrugging her shoulders and shaking her head.
"Honey, why don't you get in a ba--a shower," her Mom said softly. "Then we'll call Doctor Isdale."
"Okay, Mom. Mom?"
"I'm--I'm sorry. I should never have made that wish--"
"Hush, sweetie," her mother replied. She swept Jill into her embrace. Jill tried not to be scared again as she was reminded how big she was as her mother held her--rather than burying her face in her mothers' bosom she felt it pressing into her shoulders instead. Her mother squeezed her tightly, then released her. To Jill's surprise she saw tears misting her mother's eyes. She felt her face screw up as she began to cry herself. Flinging her arms around her mother she hugged her tight.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," she cried.
"It's all right, sweetheart," her mother whispered to her. "It's--it's going to be all right."
Jill was shocked at just how big and sexy looking she had become. If her bathrobe and slippers were any indication all her clothes were now far too small for her. Hair had sprouted all over her during the night-under her arms, on and between her legs. Even her eyebrows had grown thicker and her head hair was now down almost to her waist. Her image in the bathroom mirror revealed more. Her long-fingered, long-nailed hands were attached to supple, sinuous arms. Wide, curvy hips led to legs that had grown vastly longer, making up almost half her height. Her butt also had grown, thrusting out from below the small of her back, round and firm, filling her hands.
Jill shook her head. Her body felt alien to her, like her brain had been put into the body of a full-grown stranger. She turned on the shower. The hot water rushing over her skin felt pleasant and refreshing. She began to soap all the new body parts stretching her skin. As Jill's hands and fingers brushed across her new breasts she made a fresh, enthralling discovery--her nipples were sensitive to the touch. She rubbed her hands across her breasts and felt a response ripple through her body, making her shiver. The reaction she felt grew strongest in her crotch. She kept rubbing her nipples and the sensation between her legs got stronger. Jill felt the heat of her blood rushing through her skin. She lifted her hands from her pert little breasts and started. Her nipples had swollen, sticking out from her boobs. Was that what she was feeling? She wondered. Is that how it would feel if a boy touched her there? Jill's hand strayed between her legs. She was suddenly very sensitive down there, too. She rubbed herself--
Jill felt a sudden pang in her belly again. This time it was even sharper than before. It doubled her over.
"Ow! Oh, God!" she cried. The cramps dimpled across her middle in waves, pulsing with each of her heart. As she bent over she saw blood dribbling from inside her, running down her legs. She closed her eyes and bit her lips as she pains continued. Then, they stopped. Jill opened her eyes. A faint trail of blood was running down the floor of the tub from her legs to the drain. She was gasping as the warm shower water ran across her back. Much of it was dribbling under her arms to slip along her new breasts before dripping from her to the tub floor. Jill groaned. This time her period had happened faster than before. It was so weird to be going through her cycle so fast. Would she never stop growing up so fast? What if she kept aging? God, she would be an old woman before the week was out!
Then she shook her head. She knew what she wished for--to grow up, not grow old. It seemed strange to feel so confident about what was happening to her, but Jill couldn't help it. She breathed a sigh of relief and took up the soap to wash herself.
Jill's next surprise was her towel. She had seized an old bath towel for herself from the linen closet. It was her favorite towel, light blue and very soft, and she had never had trouble wrapping it around herself before. Now as she tried tucking the towel around her she discovered there wasn't enough cloth to go around and keep the tuck secure. God, her body was getting so big. She dried herself off, rubbing at her hair. Her bathrobe felt even smaller than before as she pulled it on and began to comb her hair. Everything felt funny--her comb her brush, her toothbrush. Everything was smaller, lighter, more seemingly fragile.
"Jill? Honey, you okay?" she heard her mother's voice call.
"Yes, Mom. I'm coming out," she replied. She opened the bathroom door slowly. Her mother was standing right in front of it. Jill saw her eyes widen again as she observed just how much more of Jill there was in her robe. This time however her Mom recovered more quickly and led her back to her bedroom.
Inside Jill saw clothes laid out on her bed. She didn't recognize any of it. A large, pale polo shirt and wraparound skirt. A pair of white athletic crew socks. Sheer-looking nylon panties instead of her usual cotton undies. A set of worn, scuffed leather walking shoes.
"These things will have to do for you until--until we find out what's happening to you," her mother said. "They're some of Susan's old things I had put away."
Susan's old things? God, had she grown that much already? Jill picked up the shirt with her big, sexy hands. The wraparound skirt was made of cotton, with a long tiearound to secure around her waist. Jill felt a peculiar thrill as she picked up the panties. They felt so smooth and silky and feminine! Then she saw something in her mother's hands. The flutter returned to her belly as she recognized the oblong package for what it was. Her mother nodded and smiled.
"I'll show how to put on your napkin," she said softly. "Let's get you dressed."
Jill followed her mother downstairs. She saw her Dad standing at the foot of the stairs. His expression was almost a duplicate of her mother's. Her two sisters were there, too. Barbara and Susan both were in openmouthed shock as they caught sight of her. Jill had to restrain herself from turning around and rushing back up the stairs in an effort to avoid the gaze of so many eyes. Her mother's hand clasped down on hers, preventing escape. She felt her Mom squeeze her hand as she pulled her down to the landing at the foot of the stairs.
"I called Doctor Isdale," her Dad said. "We have an appointment at nine."
Her mother nodded.
"Wait a minute. I remember that skirt," Susan said. She looked Jill up and down. "You're wearing my things?"
"That's enough, Susan," her mother said. Jill turned to face Susan and gasped. Their eyes were almost level. Jill saw Susan's eyes stray down her body, then across her chest. She grew even hotter with embarrassment than before.
"Oh, my God, what--I-I'm sorry, Mom," Susan said. Her tone was apologetic. "My God, what is happening to you, Jill?"
"We're going to the Doctor's to find out," her father replied. Jill straightened her shoulders. She almost regretted the motion-it drew her shirt across her nipples and the strange, exciting feeling returned. She looked down. To her utter mortification she saw her nipples were visible through her shirt.
"I don't believe it," Barbara stammered. "Jill's almost as tall as us. How could she grow so much in a day?"
"Let's go find out," he mother said.
Jill sat on the edge of the sliding table that led into the maw of a CAT scanner. She was dressed in a very thin, revealing hospital gown that allowed everybody a look at her back and butt. A pretty female nurse came into the room and smiled.
"Okay, Jill, you can get off the table now," she said. Jill struggled off the smooth tabletop, trying to preserve her modesty with one hand. Her felt her shoulders sag from fatigue. She must've been run through every test possible in the last--she snuck a look at the nurse's watch--five hours. Doctor Isdale had gone completely white when he had first set eyes on her. He immediately ordered her taken to the hospital so that tests could be run. So far she'd been measured in every dimension, poked with needles four times, had her pee taken and been put under or through enough x-ray machines to make her glow in the dark. Jill felt her stomach rumble. It was well past lunchtime. The nurse smiled as she heard the noise coming from Jill's middle. She led Jill through a labyrinth of corridors to the waiting wheelchair she was obliged to ride in as she went from test to test. Neither her Mom nor Dad was there at the moment. The nurse murmured something to her about waiting for her next test, then stepped away.
Jill sat back in the wobbly comfort of the wheelchair and watched other people go by. She felt less exposed by her utter anonymity in the hospital--there was nobody to recognize her for who she was and what had happened to her here. The anonymity almost made up for the discomfort of the airy gown she wore. Jill placed her hands in her lap pulled down on her gown. The sensation of the fabric brushing her nipples made her look down. Jill opened her mouth in surprise. Her breasts were visibly larger now then when she awoke this morning. They stood proudly out from her chest, thrusting against her gown. When the nurses were measuring her this morning one of them told her she had B-cup breasts. Jill could tell she had done more growing since. Was she now a C-cup? Or bigger? She couldn't help the feeling of excitement that filled her. She could feel the heft of her breasts as she breathed--it was amazing to think that her new, womanly mounds could become so big, so fast!
Jill looked around the hallway. It was empty for the moment. She quickly lifted her collar and looked down at herself. Her breasts were high on her chest, rising and falling with each breath she took. Both were round and blunt, unlike her sisters--she knew from surreptitious observation that theirs both were pointy, while hers looked like someone had taken the ends off of the largest hot dogs in the world and stuffed them point-out under the skin of her chest. They had grown so fast gravity had exerted no influence on them. Jill let her collar drop and leaned forward slightly. She could feel her breasts wobble on her chest. She tried wriggling her shoulders experimentally. Her breasts responded, rolling from side to side, rubbing her nipples against her gown. The feeling was better and more exciting than ever. She murmured with pleasure.
A squeaking noise caught her attention. She looked up suddenly. An orderly was pushing a huge laundry basket down the hall in her direction. Jill sat up straight and tried not to look embarrassed. She looked curiously at the man. He was dark- complected. His hair was neatly permed and a gold earring pierced his left ear. Jill found her eyes roving up and down his form as he moved with a practiced grace down the hallway. As she minutely examined the play of the muscles in his arms and legs and butt Jill felt herself suddenly washed over with embarrassment. What was she thinking, looking at this man? She was only twelve years old! She didn't like boys, at least not that way-yet.
"Hi, honey." Jill's Dad stepped up to her. "How are you doing?"
"I'm okay, Daddy," she replied. "Are there any more tests I have to go through?"
"I don't think so, sweetie," he replied. "We'll be going home soon."
"She went to the store for you, hon." Her Dad squatted down beside her. Jill couldn't help the sense of shock as she found herself looking down at her Dad. Even when she was sitting on a chair at home he always was big to her before--now she could look down on his head and shoulders.
"We both think that you're going to need some new things when we get home," he continued. He reached out and took her hand in his own. Jill was relieved--even at her new size her Dad's hands still felt big and comforting.
"Doctor Isdale is speaking to some specialists who he's called in to look at your test results. He's hoping they can find out what's causing you to grow so fast."
"I made a wish, Daddy," Jill replied. "That's what happened. I made a wish, and its coming true."
Her father looked up at her. He squeezed her hand.
"We-we just want to be sure," he replied. "Ah, look, here comes Isdale now."
Jill was almost stumbling with exhaustion as she followed her Mom into her home. As she walked through the kitchen into the dining room she saw both her older sisters and big brother Michael sitting at the table, talking. As one they all jumped up as she entered.
"Oh. My God," Michael said, his eyes marbled in shock. "Jill, is that you? What happened? How'd you get so big?"
Jill swallowed to ease the lump in her throat. She was tired of trying to explain what she'd seen and experienced the night before. It was becoming more and more disconcerting, how she was making everyone around her so upset and concerned. She shrugged.
"I just began growing real fast, that's all," she replied. Her mother directed her to one of the dining room chairs. Jill seated herself, trying to ignore how low the chair now seemed or how much padding her butt now had. Michael came over to her and put his arm around her shoulders. Unlike before his hug was timid and short. Jill was dismayed by his hesitance--it was almost as if he didn't want to touch her. Jill began to cry. She reached up and threw her arms around Mike's shoulders, her weight nearly tipping him off balance.
"Oh, Mike, I'm so scared," she whimpered. "I've just been growing and growing, and I'm making everybody unhappy and I really wish I hadn't made that wish I wished last night--"
"Whoa, whoa," Mike said into her ear. He squeezed her shoulders more firmly. "Shhh, now. What's all this about wishing wishes?"
Someone waved a napkin in her direction and Jill wiped at her nose and eyes. As her family seated themselves around her she recounted what had happened to her the previous night.
"I just wish someone else had seen that strange green light," she said. "But I was the only one. The next thing I knew I was leaning out the window again, staring up at the sky. Nobody else had seen what happened. Then, this morning, I-I started growing."
"I didn't know you were so sensitive, Jill," Susan said. She tried to grin. "Why didn't you tell me to lay off? I would have. Now, you're probably going to start sneaking into my closet for clothes--"
Jill's head snapped up. A cold rage erupted inside her.
"No, thanks," she snapped. She stood up abruptly, her chair skittering away from her. Every face around the table fell in surprise--it was now obvious that Jill was as tall as her sisters, and possibly taller. She leaned across the table towards Susan.
"I wouldn't bother, and besides, I don't think anything you own would fit me now--I'm bigger than you."
Jill regretted her words the moment they left her mouth. Susan sat, flabbergasted. A hurt look filled her eyes. She suddenly rose from the table and fled the room. The others heard her sobbing as she ran up the stairs. In the brittle silence that followed Jill felt herself go hot with embarrassment. Michael had also risen, and silently retrieved her chair. She slowly sank down into it, and lowered her head onto her arms.
"I'm sorry," she murmured. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. She's been teasing me--"
"It's okay, squirt," she heard her brother say. Jill sat up. Michael was hovering over her, his dark eyes concerned. She reached out to him, and he took her in his arms and hugged her tight.
"It doesn't matter why you got big, Jill," he said softly. "All that matters is that you're our little sister. Now, I think it'd be a good idea if you went upstairs and made up with Sue, don't you think?"
Jill sniffed and nodded.
Susan was lying across her bed as Jill knocked quietly and entered the room. Jill could hear her sobbing into her pillow. It reminded Jill of what she had been doing the afternoon before. She felt a great weight press down on her heart.
"Sue? Sue, can I talk to you?" she asked. Susan did not move. Jill walked to Susan's bed and sat on one corner. She demurely put her legs together and folded her hands on her lap.
"Susan, I just wanted to tell you I'm sorry for what I said to you," Jill began.
"No," Susan choked. She lifted her head from her pillow and turned to face Jill, her bright blond hair falling over her eyes. "It's all right. I guess I had that coming to me after the things I said to you."
Susan slowly sat up on her bed, curling her legs over the same side of the bed that Jill sat on. She stared at Jill fixedly for a moment and began to cry again.
"You know you're right," she said. "You have gotten bigger than me. I can't believe it, but you have. I've-I've lost my little sister. You hate me, don't you? All the mean things I called you. You hate me."
"No, I don't," Jill said quickly. She swallowed to ease the choking sensation that rose in her throat. "I can't hate you. You're my big sister, okay? I need my big sisters. I need you to tell me what to say and do. Sue, I'm-I'm scared. My body's grown up all of a sudden, but I don't know what to do. Please--please, be my big sister, okay?"
Jill couldn't hold back her own tears any more. She burst into uncontrollable sobbing. Susan brushed her damp hairs away from her face and rubbed her reddened eyes. She slipped herself down her bed until her hip met Jill's. She put her arms around Jill and hugged her hesitantly. Jill began to bawl unashamedly. She flung her arms around Susan and clung to her. The two of them continued crying as they embraced one another.
"Well, I'm glad that's over," Jill heard a voice say. Looking up, she saw her sister Barbara standing at the threshold to Susan's room. There were unshed tears in her eyes. She stepped quickly up to her other sisters. Behind her their mother arrived. Her quiet placidity was infectious, and soon Jill's tears dried up and all of them were chatting freely. Jill was thrilled--she was being treated like a grownup! They continued to talk even after dinner was called. Jill snuck glances at her brother and Dad. Both looked amused at the female clique that had spontaneously formed inside the house.
Immediately after dinner, Jill found herself being given a crash course in womanhood by her mother and sisters. Her father had dragged in all of the shopping her mother had done for her while she was at the hospital, and they now all began to go through her new belongings. Jill was astounded to discover that the D-cup bras her mother had bought for her were both too tight, and uncomfortable-she had developed so quickly her breasts had grown into a shape that resented the form of the bra cups. Her mother had bought her tops, sweats and skirts. All of them were snug but wearable. The shoes she had brought were too small altogether, but Jill could wear her new open-toes sandals until these shoes could be returned and new shoes gotten in exchange.
"You'll need something on your feet when you go back to school tomorrow," her mother said. Jill's mouth fell open.
"School?" she said blankly.
"Yes, Jill, school. You may look like a grownup but you're still twelve years old. You've got high school and college in front of you."
"Mom, I can't! I can't go to school! I'm too big! All the other kids will pick on me--"
"Sweetie, you have to go to school," her mother replied. "No matter how big you are. I know it's going to be hard for the first few days but you can't just stop going to school."
Jill felt her elation replace by a galloping dread. According to the mark they had made of her height against the wall an hour before she was five feet eleven inches tall--two inches taller than her sisters and three inches taller than her mother. She had paraded in front of her mirror repeatedly while trying on her new clothes. The image she saw was of a big, sexy woman, not a twelve-year old girl. How was she going to explain what happened to her since yesterday? How would her friends react? Would she even be able to fit on the seats of her school bus? God, she was so tall she would tower over every kid in school. What was she going to do?
"Take things one day at a time," was her mother's reply. Her two older sisters nodded in agreement.
Jill finished eating her fruit-and granola breakfast. She had tucked a napkin into the throat of her shirt to keep from dropping any food on her front. Both her sisters had joined her, eating quietly. Her mother looked up at the clock on the kitchen wall and nodded.
"Jill, you'd best get ready. The bus'll be here any minute."
Jill looked up. She couldn't help the fear that crossed her face.
"Don't worry, sweetie. You're going to do fine," her mother said. Jill felt the sympathetic hands of her two sisters grasp her arm reassuringly. She rose from her place at the table. She had deliberately chosen clothing that would hide as much of her new assets as possible: a billowy cotton blouse, a skirt that went down to her knees, crew toe socks and her sandals. She drew her hair behind her ears and took up her knapsack, not trying to put it across her shoulders--her shoulders were too broad, now.
Jill walked slowly out the kitchen door. She could see her best friends waiting at the bus stop. Anxiety made her stomach roil. Then, she straightened her shoulders. She had gotten her wish. She was now physically a woman--she even had three tampons in her bag to prove it. She remembered what her mother had told her about being careful what one wished for, as one might get it. As she walked to her friends she nodded to herself about the truth of that statement-she certainly had gotten what she wished for.
"Jill-Jill? Is that you?" she heard Candace call. Jill smiled. She was now embarking on a new phase in her life. Best get going to it.