Crisanta tapped her pencil’s eraser on the desk once, then again, before circling the answer to the last question. That had been the hardest on the quiz, pretty much the only one that required more than just a cursory skimming of the section of the textbook they’d been assigned to read. Mr. Matson was losing his touch - that, or finally accepting that most of his students didn’t really care about the class.
She quickly looked over the questions again, making sure that the teacher hadn’t done something tricky with the phrasing in any of them. As far as she could tell, he hadn’t, so she flipped the paper over and leaned back in her chair, glancing around the room without making it look like she was searching for answers in someone else’s work.
A surge of pride hit her when she saw that, apparently, she was the first one done. Everyone else was hunched over their desks in concentration, some mumbling to themselves, some chewing nervously on their pencils. Back in elementary school, her teachers would always tell her “It isn’t a race!”, but, of course, that wasn’t actually true. They just couldn’t let all the other kids feel bad when she beat them so badly.
And, back then, Kalina was usually right behind her. Sometimes they would tie, but most of the time, her sister was just the tiniest bit slower. Now…
Crisanta turned her head towards Kalina’s chair, where her sister was obviously still at work. Crisanta could see her feet twisted back into the book rack under the seat, knees bouncing with what was either nerves or an overload of sugar, and, considering she was chewing on her bottom lip as well, the former was more likely.
She found herself smiling cruelly at her sister’s predicament for some reason she couldn’t quite fathom, though it made her feel a bit dirty once she’d managed to stop. What was wrong with her, that she got some kind of satisfaction from seeing Kalina squirm? There was a time when seeing that would have made her feel a little sick to her stomach, make her want to do anything to help.
As it turned out, however, Kalina was about to do that for herself. She raised her eyes towards the front of the class, apparently checking to make sure that the teacher’s gaze was occupied elsewhere, then turned sideways, leaning out over the aisle to sneak a glance at the test on the desk of the inattentive boy next to her.
Crisanta heard herself gasp, felt her cheeks grow red as the people around her gave her odd looks. Kalina gave her one of those as well, after hastily re-situating herself in her chair and scribbling down the answers she’d just found.
Crisanta knew she should say something to Mr. Matson, no matter how unpopular that made her with Kalina, but as she shuffled past his desk at the end of class, all she could bring herself to do was set the quiz down on the top of the growing pile and stop for long enough to get him to notice her.
“Yes?” He might have sounded annoyed, but it was hard to tell, because, as far as she could tell, he always sounded somewhat like that.
She meant to open her mouth, ready to do the right thing, but she couldn’t even get that far, as all of her muscles seemed to tense up, starting with those in her jaw. She shook her head stiffly and skittered out of the classroom, not even bothering to put on her backpack. She could still spot Kalina in the hall, walking and talking with one of her weird friends.
“Kalina!” she called, her body allowing her to speak again, as her plan changed to convincing her sister to confess rather than tattling - perhaps Mr. Matson would go easier on her that way. But she didn’t hear, or was choosing to ignore her.
Crisanta started to push through the crowd before Kalina could vanish, only to bump straight into her Art teacher, Miss Higgins. “Sorry, dear,” the woman said, but by then it was too late. Crisanta, surprised, accidently let go of the backpack she still hadn’t slung back over her shoulder, dropping it in the middle of the hall, papers scattering in every direction like a split-second blizzard.
The girl’s eyes shot up towards her door as her heart promptly froze. She sat there on the floor, legs splayed in front of her, for another few moments, until the knock came again.
“Come on!” the girl’s sister hissed from the other side. “Stop acting like a baby and talk to me!”
At another time, the girl might have laughed at the irony of that, but right then, she was too concerned with making sure that’s all it was, as she scrambled up off of the floor, diaper drooping heavily between her legs, in case her sister, for some reason, tried to look under the door. She nudged her stuffed animals under her bed with her foot, reflexively cursed when she also hit her bottle - one of Camelia’s old ones - and knocked it over. Not that it would have made any difference, even if anything’d had a chance to get out before she snatched it up and set it on her desk, since it was just water, but she couldn’t help herself.
Her sister sighed. “Fine, be that way,” she said.
“Wait!” the girl blurted out, before her sister’s footsteps moved too far from her door. “Look, it’s just… I’m just getting ready for a shower.”
There was a pause, and the girl started to wonder if perhaps her sister had just tiptoed the rest of the way to her own room. “And that stops you from talking?” came the reply, finally.
“No, it just… I mean…” the girl stuttered. “I didn’t…”
She could almost -hear- her sister roll her eyes. “Whatever,” she declared before slinking back to her own room.
‘Stupid,’ the girl berated herself. ‘Piss her off at you even more.’ She looked down at herself, shaking her head. She hadn’t even tried to patch things up with her sister after dinner, just went back to her room to, as her sister had put it, act like a baby. And now she’d just made her even more angry at her.
She felt a little like crying, and a little like sitting back down to play with her dolls and try to forget about it all, again, but her disgust at herself outweighed both. She didn’t have to be a baby every time she was alone… She shouldn’t really. It might feel nice, but there was more to life than that.
She shook her head again, staring down at the floor, where she suddenly saw that her bottle had spilled some after all. “Perfect,” she sighed, right before she noticed that the floor wasn’t the only wet thing. At first, she thought that perhaps she had somehow spilled water from her bottle onto her foot, but as she followed the trail up her leg, she realized the truth. “Gross,” she wrinkled her nose. She thought she had gotten so good at judging when her diapers could take another wetting, and when they couldn’t, but apparently, she had been mistaken.
“Crap!” she growled, waddling back to her bathroom, legs wide to try to avoid putting too much pressure on her soaked diaper. “Crapity-crap.”
Even though the door to her room was closed and locked, as always when she was going diapered behind it, she closed and locked her bathroom door as well, before opening the cabinet beneath her sink and crouched to grab the can of air freshener, and a garbage bag from the box she kept down there.
Before she could stand, she caught sight of herself in the full length mirror on the back of the bathroom door, quite the spectacle in her leaky diaper and T-shirt, squatting down like Camelia sometimes would when messing herself. She saw her cheeks redden as the parallel crossed her mind, and she started to straighten up, a little too quickly. She barely registered that she had lost her balance until she hit the floor, straight onto her wet, squishy bottom.
She stared at herself in shock for a few moments, her bottom lip beginning to quiver, until, at last, she began to laugh. “Good thing I wasn’t -really- doing that,” she giggled to herself. She -had- pooped in her diaper before, and the act itself was fun, but she always waited until she was done playing, because she didn’t like to stay in it for any longer than it took to do it, then change herself. Most of the time when she did it, she waited until she was in the bathroom, even, so she didn’t have to so much as walk across her room. The idea of actually sitting down at such a time was icky enough, but the thought of “tricking” herself into doing so over something so stupid was suddenly the funniest thing she had thought of in weeks.
Once she had stopped laughing, she took off her diaper, putting it into the garbage bag before hopping into her shower to wipe off her legs with her washcloth, which she then rinsed off in the sink and left draped there for a moment, until she could take it into her room to clean the wet spot on her floor. But first, she picked up the garbage bag and tied a couple knots in it before opening her garbage can. She sprayed inside with the air freshener - vanilla scented - then unceremoniously dropped the bagged diaper inside.
Kalina dropped her tray onto the cafeteria table with a clank, making all of her dining companions jump.
“Thanks for the heart attack,” Alice grumbled.
“Oh, calm down, old timer,” Sam The Girl teased her friend, who was roughly a year and a month older than her. “What puts you in such a good mood?” she asked Kalina, who had sunk into her seat while the other two spoke.
“Chemistry,” Sam The Boy answered for her. “Somebody didn’t study.”
“It better not have been you,” Kalina said, trying to sound somewhat jovial about it. “Matson keeps the desks in there way too far apart.”
“You should write a letter of complaint to the school board,” Sam The Boy suggested. “Tell them they’re making it too hard for you to cheat. I’m sure they’d look right into fixing that for you.”
Kalina gave him a half-smile, which was about as much as she could muster. She stared down at the food on her tray briefly before pushing the whole thing across the table.
“It really isn’t that hard if you just read it…” Sam The Girl told her, quite unhelpfully.
“Well, I would have if I’d known there was going to be a quiz!” Kalina snapped.
“I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be a pop quiz, then…” Sam The Girl said quietly, turning to her food.
“Maybe we should talk about something else,” Alice suggested. “Like, why is your sister coming over here?”
Kalina glanced at the Sams, especially confused by the fact that, as far as she knew, neither of them had sisters, or any siblings at all, that went to the same school, before realizing Alice was looking at her. She turned around, and, sure enough, Crisanta was approaching.
“Kalina, we need to talk,” she whispered, before Kalina could ask her what was up.
“Okay,” Kalina whispered back.
When she hadn’t moved after a few seconds, Crisanta jerked her head towards the hall. “Somewhere else.”
“I just sat down,” Kalina sighed. “Can’t you just talk here?”
“I don’t think it…” Crisanta did the strange double-blink thing she did when she was surprised - Kalina was pretty sure -she- didn’t do anything like that, but she had never asked anyone to confirm that for her - as she noticed Sam The Boy. “Oh,” she said simply.
“You’ve met him before,” Kalina reminded her. “And it’s not polite to stare.”
“I’m not staring,” Crisanta lied. “Fine, we can talk here, since you’re probably all in on it anyway.” She glared disapprovingly at Kalina’s friends before settling her gaze on Kalina. “You need to confess to Mr. Matson.”
If it were anyone else, Kalina would try to feign ignorance, but that was pretty pointless with Crisanta. Instead, she just said, “Go to your own table, Crissy.”
“Don’t call me that,” Crisanta frowned. “This is serious!”
“No, it isn’t,” Kalina rolled her eyes. “It’s a stupid Chemistry pop quiz. The world’s not gonna end because I cheated. We’re not all perfect little angels.”
“I never said I was perfect,” Crisanta crossed her arms, “but you should know better. I can’t…”
“Yeah, you can’t believe me,” Kalina finished for her. “I’ll make sure to think real hard about what I’ve done, and I’m sure the guilt will be punishment enough.”
Kalina saw Crisanta’s fingernails digging into the flesh of her arms. “I was going to offer to help you, if you’re having so much trouble, but…”
“Oh, please. Like you’re going to have time to tutor little old me.”
“Huh?” Crisanta’s hands relaxed, her eyes widening. “What do you mean?”
“I -mean-, you should pay more attention to the bulletin board. And you probably shouldn’t be seen talking to us anymore… I’m pretty sure cheerleaders aren’t supposed to associate with geeks.”
Crisanta’s stern expression quickly melted as she listened to her sister talk. “Really?” she managed to squeak, sounding as giddy as Kalina had heard her since they were about eight.
“Go look,” Kalina shrugged. Crisanta squealed and ran off, her lecture promptly forgotten in her excitement.
Sam The Girl’s voice was quiet, hesitant. “I don’t remember seeing her name on the list.”
The words hung there, over the table, for quite a while, nobody daring to comment on them. The longer the silence grew, the worse Kalina felt about what she had done, her stomach tying itself up in knots as she sat there in the quiet, occasionally glancing towards the hall to see if Crisanta would come back to the cafeteria.
Finally, Sam The Boy spoke up. “We’re not -that- geeky, are we?”
Nobody bothered to answer.