The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 6 | 27 Sep]

Chapter 1

“Mom, can me and Emma have a sleepover this Friday?” Malin asked as she bounced into the back of Mom’s car. The question was met by a sigh, not from Mom, but Jasmine, the most annoying big sister in the whole world, and for that, and much more, she deserved a punch on her shoulder.

“Ouch!” Jasmine cried. “Mom!”

Malin could do worse and wanted to hit her again, but thought better of it when she saw Mom’s tired look. “Girls please,” she said, “don’t start this again.”

“Did you see that? She just hit me for no reason,” Jasmine whined, rubbing her shoulder.

“She was being mean,” Malin said, “I was just asking if me and Emma could…”

“Sit down in the car,” Mom cut her off and Malin slumped down in her seat with a thud. “Now put your seatbelt on and apologize. We don’t hit each other.”

“I’m sorry she’s such a wimp,” Malin said. She wouldn’t have hurt a fly with a punch like that. “Fine, I’m sorry I hit her.”

“That’s better. Now you too, Jazz,” Mom said.

“But what did I do?” Jasmine asked, putting a hand on her chest, trying to act surprised and innocent, but Mom just gave her a look in return. “Fine, I’m sorry, but we both know what happened last time.”

“But that was ages ago!” Malin said and it was true. She and Emma hadn’t had a sleepover in forever. At least since the time they poured a bowl of water over Jasmine in the middle of the night, but that was two months back and it wasn’t serious or anything. She just got a little wet.

And finally, it seemed like Mom was thinking the same. “Have you talked to Emma’s parents about it?”

“Really, mom?” Jasmine interjected.

“We’re not talking with you, Jazzie, so shut up,” Malin said and if she was sitting behind her, she would have kicked the back of her seat.

“Hey!” Mom’s booming voice made her jump and she braced herself for an incoming scolding barrage about how she shouldn’t yell or use bad words and become a better sister, but none of that came, instead Mom said, “Why are you always like this when you’ve been with your dad?”

And Malin wondered what she meant by that. As far as she knew, she was always the same, even after spending a day or two with Dad. Maybe Mom remembered her differently each time she was gone, imagining her as the perfect, little daughter, stolen away by father. Unlike Jasmine, Malin was anything but sweet or perfect, and she was quite happy about it too.

Mom spoke up again and when she did it was like she pretended no one had heard what she just said, “I’ll have to think about it, and Jazzie needs to be okay with it too.”

The older sister’s mouth formed a grin. “Not a chance.”

“But come on…” Malin wasn’t stupid. If it was up to Jasmine, Mom could as well say no, now she was just shifting the blame to her. “This is like our only chance for a month and you know we can’t hang out as much anymore.”

“Oh, please…” Jasmine laughed. “Tell me, what were you doing today, huh? I know dad dropped you off at her house at one and mom picked you up now, at six, so you must have spent like five hours together. What could you possibly have been doing all this time?”

Malin clenched her fists. “Just because you don’t have any friends doesn’t mean I can’t have any!”

“Hey, stop yelling like that when I’m driving. And what are you talking about?” Mom asked a little too quickly, “Jasmine has plenty of friends.”

“I mean real friends.” Malin smirked. “I haven’t seen her hanging out with anyone in forever.”

“Well, I wouldn’t want anyone to be near you or they’ll see what a freak you are.” Jasmine stuck her tongue out.

“Oh, please,” Malin mimicked her tone, “I think I know what your old friends told you when we moved. They promised they’d stay in touch, but they didn’t, because you know what? You never had any real friends.”

Jasmine shook her head. “You’re ridiculous.”

“And you know why? You’re boring to be with and nobody likes you.”

“Malin, that’s enough,” Mom scolded.

“Well, it’s true.”

“It’s not and I don’t want to hear you two talking to each other like that, understood?”

“Well, maybe she’s right,” Jasmine said, staring at the road in front of them.

“Hey, don’t be like that.” Mom stroke Jasmine arm as she drove while casting a dark glance at her younger daughter in the back. “It’s not easy starting a new life and the way you’ve been acting lately, Malin, I thought you of everyone should know.”

“At least I made some friends, unlike miss loner over there,” Malin laughed.

“Okay, at this rate you can forget about having a sleepover again,” Mom said. “I don’t what’s up with you lately, but I don’t like it.”

“Fine, I’ll just ask dad!” Mentioning him seemed to be a stop to any conversation. It was like a codeword for the quiet game, only a lot more awkward variant without funny faces and playful tickles to make the others talk again.

Malin wondered when Mom would finally get over it. Couldn’t she just try to move on like everybody else? Sure, Malin wished Dad had stayed too, but at least she knew how to cope. Okay, maybe she wasn’t fair to Mom. The past few months had been crazy.

Malin thought she knew how it started too. It was one morning when Dad was yelling about not finding his favorite belt and thought Mom had put it somewhere it shouldn’t be. Maybe something else had happened before that, Malin wasn’t sure, but she recalled that fight well because it was she and Emma who had lost the belt when they played the other day. Malin told Dad about it, begging him to stop being angry at Mom, but he had just ignored her and found something else to be mad over instead.

Things hadn’t exactly turned better after that. Somedays were actually pretty horrible. Malin had even crawled down in Jasmine’s bed at night when things were at its worst. They’d hide under the covers together, trying to shut out the world outside them. Jasmine had been surprisingly strong back then. Not unaffected of course, but she’d let Malin sob into her chest and she’d never cry herself, not shedding a single tear. “It’ll be alright,” she would say, “It’s not your fault. Mommy and daddy still loves you.”

It wasn’t really fair to be angry at her after that. “I’m sorry,” Malin said, earnestly now. She never meant to lash out on her sister. It didn’t do her any good, and really, it was Mom and Dad who deserved all her anger. “I know you have some friends, Jazz. How about Molly? She seems cool. You should invite her over sometime.”

“She’s not a real friend,” Jasmine said, still hurt.

“You just have to see her some more. If she comes over I can stay in my room the whole time if you want, you know, so she won’t see what a freak I am,” Malin said, trying to ease the tension.

But Jasmine wasn’t going to be turned easily tonight. Maybe it was because of her teenage hormones or whatever Mom had warned her about. It was better not to mention it though. “Come on, you have to do much better than that. Are you even trying?” Jasmine asked.

Malin hung her head. “I meant what I said. I’m sorry.”

“Why would she hang out with me if I am so boring anyway?”

“You’re not that boring, Jazz,” Malin admitted, “but sometimes I think you should stop caring so much.”

The big sister looked confused. “I don’t think you know what you’re saying.”

“Maybe not, but can we please talk about the sleepover?” This question was mostly directed at the driver. It was her word who mattered anyway. “Mom, please. She’ll never say yes, you know that.”

“Well, I’m sure we’re all just starving. How about we stop for dinner and we’ll have a talk about this later?” Mom suggested. Eating was her best solution to everything. With all the craziness that had happened over the last few months, it was a wonder they weren’t fat.

Right now, that was also a stupid thing to ask as Malin had just had dinner with Emma. “I’m not even hungry!”

“Me neither,” Jasmine said, being on her side for once, “can we just go home?”

“It’s Sunday,” Mom said and was already driving up to the giant supermarket.

Malin groaned. Mom always did her grocery shopping on Sundays, a big waste of time on a free day in her opinion. “Come on, can’t you do this tomorrow?”

Mom ignored the question and was already looking for a parking spot. “Wait in the car if you want,” she said once she found one and she and Jasmine took off their seatbelts.

“Thank you.” The car doors closed, leaving Malin alone in the silence.

How could Mom not understand? The sleepover was more than just having Emma stay for a night or two. Their whole friendship depended on it as they had been drifting away ever since Malin had to change school. Things just weren’t the same anymore. They were best friends and best friends shouldn’t be apart like this, not if they were to call themselves real, best friends.

There had to be a trick or two she could pull to convince Mom or everything would be lost. It seemed like she had to trust her charm and luck. She knew she use to have plenty of the former, but Mom had been so stressed out lately and she never really had the chance to talk to her properly. Most night Mom worked late, way past Malin’s bedtime and the few she got home early, she just quickly made dinner or simply severed the take-out she’d brought and then she sat, staring dully at the TV, listening absently as Malin talked about her day and feelings until she’d eventually fall asleep on the couch. When Dad was still around, she used to let her curl up in her lap and they’d talk about things for hours. Malin really missed that. Why couldn’t thing be the same?

The sound of Mom and Jasmine putting grocery bags in the trunk woke Malin up from her thoughts and soon they were finally heading back home to their little apartment above the laundromat. To be fair it wasn’t that little, not much smaller than the house they used to live in and Malin had a bigger room now. It fit a couch and TV as well as a few wardrobes with plenty of space left. Only thing missing was a better bed. Malin would love to have a large, queen-sized bed a like Jasmine had, but Mom wouldn’t get her one no matter how much she asked.

Back home, she helped Mom carry and unpack the groceries. She even did some of the leftover dishes that she had nothing to do with as she had been out of the house all weekend, just to ease Mom from some stress and get in a better position later. With that done, she put Mom’s store-bought lasagna in the microwave and turned on the timer.

“Mind if I watch the news while you keep an eye on it?” Mom asked.

“I got it,” Malin said as she watched it spin.

Mom was breaking her rule of not eating in front of the TV tonight -again. It wasn’t the first time she didn’t live up to her principles recently, but Malin decided to cut her some slack and when the timer rang she carefully took the lasagna out of the microwave and served it to Mom in the living room. “Perfect. Thank you.”

Malin sat down next to her. Jasmine had retreated to her room, doing whatever big sisters do when they want to be lonely, so Malin had Mom all for herself now. She thought about running up and make her some tea, but Mom finished her food so fast she never got the chance to. They watched TV in silence, then Malin did something she hadn’t done for a long time, she climbed up in Mom’s lap.

Mom smiled, letting her get on. “I thought you were getting too old for this.”

Malin realized she hadn’t done this for some time, mostly to show Jasmine she wasn’t a little kid anymore. “Well, I kind of missed it,” she admitted and leaned back to get comfortable. She wasn’t too big yet and it felt good to be so close to Mom. She laid still for a minute or two and felt her eyes getting heavier. It had been a long day with Emma. They had been outside almost the whole time too. Malin almost let her eyes close fully, but then remembered why she was there. “I want to ask you something,” she said, “and I think you already know what it is.”

“I do? I think mommy’s getting a bit old. Could you remind me, sweetheart?” Mom chuckled as she wiped her face with a napkin.

“Very funny,” Malin said and then they looked each other in the eyes for a second that seemed to last forever until Mom looked away.

“I don’t know,” she said. “Jasmine needs to get up early on Saturday and she’ll hate me if I let you have a sleepover again.”

“But we’ll be super quiet,” Malin whispered, demonstrating her point. “And how about you do something, fun on Friday? You know, treat yourself a little.” Malin turned around and massaged Mom’s shoulders, the way Dad had thought her to when she was little. “I don’t know, maybe Veronica could look after us while you do something nice, like go swimming or maybe go to the spa? You haven’t done something like that in forever, mom. You need some rest.”

“Aww… you’re too sweet, but I’m working late on Friday.” Mom always did that and it wasn’t fair at all. “But actually, you know what? There’s something I’d really like to do this weekend, but I’m not asking Veronica again, I just can’t. I know she won’t say no and I’m not saying she won’t love to see you, but I don’t want to put more things on her plate, she’s busy enough as it is.”

“But I don’t want someone else. She’s perfect, mom,” Malin said. Babysitter others than Veronica had never been good. They were always way too strict and no fun.

“Maybe I’ll ask someone you know,” Mom said with a sly look like she had something bad in mind. “I think it’s about time I trusted Jasmine with more responsibilities around the house and in general. When I was her age I was already cooking dinner and babysat the neighbor’s kids as much as I could. I think it’s time she starts doing the same.”

“Fine, but I’ll only be nice to her as long as I can be with Emma,” Malin said, stubbornly pushing her elbow in Mom’s stomach. She knew what Mom was getting at. Jasmine was already staying alone with her more and more, but Malin wouldn’t call that babysitting. She looked after Jasmine as much as Jasmine looked after her when they were alone.

“Hey…” Mom pushed her back. “Have you talked to her parents yet?”

If you were a kid, you could forget about asking Emma’s parents for anything. They had a bunch of stupid rules and you couldn’t talk sense to at times. Only Mom could do it consistently. It was like she had some sort of superpower. “We were thinking you could do it, mom,” Malin said.

Mom ran her hand through her hair, thinking again. “The new girl in your class…” she said after a while, “What’s her name? Luna? Can’t you ask if she wants to come too?”

“What?” Malin thought it must be a joke, but Mom looked serious. “But I don’t even know her.”

“I heard she hasn’t made many friends yet. Don’t you think she’s feeling lonely?”

“I don’t know. Is that my problem somehow?”

“Hey,” Mom furrowed her brows. “How did you feel when you were new in class until Rebecca and Sofie started hanging out with you?”

Malin didn’t have any problems making new friends. It had only taken her a day or two to break into to a new circle after she switched schools. The other new girl on the other hand was shy and quiet and Malin didn’t know if she had any friends at all. “Maybe she likes being alone. I mean, she’s not talking to anyone.”

“Have you tried talking to her?” Mom asked.

“Not really, but we won’t be friends anyway, trust me.” There were things you just knew and that Luna and Malin would never be best friends was one of them. Malin thought about it for a moment and couldn’t imagining any interests she shared with her. The answer was simply no. “I just know it, okay?”

“Alright.” Mom adjusted Malin in her lap. “Let’s make a deal. You can have a sleepover for two nights from Friday to Sunday, so for the whole weekend…”

“Really?” This was more than Malin had ever hoped for and she knew Mom didn’t promise things easily and so wrapped her arms around her back, hugging her close. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“But,” Mom broke free and held up a finger, “one of those nights has to be with Luna.”

“But come on…” Malin backed off. “Mom, you can’t be serious. Do you even know her? She’s like, younger than us and it won’t be fun for everyone if she comes.”

“I’m sure she must be very smart if she moved up to be in your class,” Mom said.

“She only did because there was no space in her real grade!” Malin didn’t tell Mom, but she knew some stuff about Luna, like how she couldn’t tie her own shoes, so she probably wasn’t very smart.

“Well, they could have moved her down instead,” Mom pointed out.

Malin didn’t want to explain how stupid it was to let someone retake a whole grade and do the same things all over again, especially if they hadn’t failed or missed anything. “I don’t even know her and you want us to have sleepover?”

“When I was your age I had a sleepover with all the girls in my class.”

“But that’s stupid! How did everyone get along?” Malin thought of all the times she and the other girls in class argued over nothing. She couldn’t imagine spending a whole night with all of them. “It was just supposed to be me and Emma and now you’re saying we should invite the whole class? I know, maybe I should invite the whole school, the entire town or maybe the whole world? Would that make you happy, mom?”

“Well, it would make things interesting that’s for sure. Where is everyone going to sleep?” she chuckled, looking around.

“It’s not funny!” Malin wanted to hit her, but controlled herself.

“Don’t be ridiculous, sweetie. I said Emma could stay here for two nights, so that means you can one night for yourselves, but I’m sure that you’re going to want Luna to stay longer too.”

“I don’t want her to be here at all! She’s weird!” Malin freed herself from Mom’s arms and slid down on the floor, facing her. “Listen here, okay? I just want Emma to be here and no one else, especially not her, get it?”

Mom crossed her arms. “Maybe Emma’s parents were right. You’re not mature enough after all.”

“Of course I am, I’m almost ten, mom!” She couldn’t believe Emma’s parents had dared to call her that and reminded herself to get back at them one day. “We had a thousand sleepovers before, how dumb are they? Come on, you know how stupid they are!”

“They do have a point. It was different when you lived next-door because if something happened, I could just send her home. And what do you think Emma’s parents will say if I call them tonight?”

“I don’t know. You’ll convince them, mom, you always do, you’re good at that.” The thought of Emma’s parents saying no, made Malin’s throat thicken up. “Just do your thing, okay?”

“It’s not magic, sweetie. Don’t you remember what happened last time and the time before that?” Malin did so, all too well. The last time they were at Emma’s house, Mom had to drive all the way there to pick her up in the middle of the night because they refused to be quiet at night, but that was just because they hadn’t seen each other since Emma went on a vacation and they had so much to talk about! Emma’s parents had been out of their minds and said there would be no more sleepovers until they were at least twelve, but Mom had managed to convince them to give the friends another chance, but then they blew it and the rest was history.

“Look, it’s simple, honey,” Mom said. “If I ask if Emma can come and at the same time tell them that Jasmine’s will be babysitting that night for the first time, I’m pretty sure they won’t think that’s a very good idea, but what if I tell them about Luna? If I tell them you’re doing this for her I think there’s a very good chance they say yes, I’m sure they’ll let Emma to stay here for the whole weekend too. But this is also important. I don’t want you to think I’m making you ask Luna only so you can have a sleepover. I was actually going to ask you to be friends with her at school, but without this argument, I don’t think we can convince Emma’s parents. Am I making sense?” Mom seemed to know what she was talking about, so Malin didn’t object. “So are you asking Luna then?”

“Can’t I just be nice to her?” Malin asked as that sounded so much easier. “And if it’s so important, I could ask someone else, but not her.” Maybe she could bring Rebecca over as she wasn’t that bad most of the time.

“Were you not listening? It has to be Luna,” Mom said.

“You’re mean.”

“I’m being perfectly fair, Malin, and from what I’ve heard you haven’t been the best friend to everyone at school lately so I think this will be a good lesson for you.”

What did she know? Malin thought and felt her body turn hot. She put her hands on Mom’s knees and stared into her eyes, but this time Mom didn’t flinch and it was Malin who had to look away first. “Fine, I’ll think about it,” she said and fell forward in defeat.

“Good.” Mom caught her from falling to the floor. “Tell me when you’ve made up your mind.”

1 Like

Re: The seriously stupid sleepover

Malin’s such a brat, she may devolve into a problem child, good start though, first sleepover story I read following a rather jerkish character.

Re: The seriously stupid sleepover

I like the set-up here. Obviously the mother has some specific knowledge about this Luna and an agenda of her own, but that’s what makes it fun.

Re: The seriously stupid sleepover

My mother liked to set up playdates with less fortunate kids; if she had told me, I’d have been nicer to them.

I love the concept of sleepover stories, but I’ve been too picky to like the execution. I’ll be watching.

Re: The seriously stupid sleepover

Chapter 2

Stupid, Mom. Stupid, Luna. Malin sat on her knees in her room, sorting through her hundred video cassettes in the shelf under her TV. She didn’t know the best way to do it. Was it by title, genre, favorites or color? Sometimes she went with color as it made a nice little rainbow to look at, but sometimes she thought it was a good thing to find your favorites first or put series or movies together chronologically. Today she went with color as that left her mind free to be mad.

It just wasn’t fair. She had been so good lately, always done her chores on time without Mom asking her to, always been nice to Jasmine –well, at least for the most part— and not gotten herself in trouble at school. So why couldn’t Mom be nice in return? It just wasn’t fair.

Dad would never have come up something stupid like this! He would have let Emma stay all week if she wanted to. But Malin couldn’t stand living with Dad at his new place for more than a few days, not with his new girlfriend and all her annoying children around, to be called her new half-brothers and sisters apparently, sure, good luck with that. She’d rather be with Luna than staying with them. She laughed at the thought. Nobody wanted to be with Luna.

Malin supposed Mom’s deal wasn’t all that bad, only if it didn’t involve the most annoying person she could think of. The first time she had seen Luna, she instantly knew she didn’t like her. She couldn’t point a finger on why at first, but there was something about her that irritated her to the extreme. Maybe it was the way she talked. The few times she did, she lisped and stammered like crazy like she had never learned how to do it properly. It was so annoying to listen to, even if she never had anything fun or important to say anyway.

And how smart she must think she was to be moved up to fourth grade while she clearly didn’t belong there. Mrs. Lily, their main teacher, just liked her too much to let her go. For whatever reason, she often put her and Malin together when forming groups. Malin hated that. Did she think that would make them friends or something?

And now this. Malin supposed it was Mrs. Lily who had told Mom about Luna and that just took it a whole different level. At least she would get a new teacher in middle school and hopefully Luna would be gone then too.

She supposed she could suffer through another year or two with her as long as she didn’t think they were friends. With Mom’s idea and Mrs. Lily constantly trying to put them together, there was a chance that might happen. Malin didn’t really want to be mean to Luna, but she had to make it clear that this sleepover didn’t make them friends, better yet, make sure Luna took the advice and went back to first grade where she belonged. The latter wasn’t likely to happen even if Malin was sure Luna would feel better if it did. Malin was sure she’d have a better chance to find friends to hang out with there too.

Malin didn’t want to think about having her stay in her house for a night. The whole thing would be so awkward. What were they supposed to do? They had nothing to talk about and the only thing Luna did except from reading books was probably playing with dolls or something. Malin hadn’t unpacked hers since she moved at the start of the summer, but she would lie to herself if she didn’t think about taking them out of their box a few times when she was bored, but still…

After creating her rainbow, Malin laid down on her couch and stared at the roof. If only Dad didn’t break up with Mom, none of this would have happened. She’d probably be at Emma’s house right now or Emma would have been at hers. They would have played, just talked or done anything. She couldn’t believe how much she had taken her for granted.

She figured she could just as well go to bed now as there was nothing else to do but feel bad, and she didn’t want to leave her room and risk seeing Mom or Jasmine again either. They’d only make her feel worse.

She changed into her nightdress and was about to crawl under her covers when someone knocked on her door. It was Mom. “Emma wants to speak with you.”

Malin opened her door just enough to reach the phone, then closed it again, almost hurting Mom’s fingers. “Sorry,” she said before putting the phone to her ear. “Hello?”

“Hi! Listen, mom said I could only say goodnight, so we better speak fast,” Emma said. “How did it go?”

Hearing her friend’s voice had made Malin feel better, but now her smile faded again. “Not so good.”

“You mean we can’t?” It was like she punched Malin’s stomach with the words. “But you told me you’d get a yes. What happened?”

“I’m sorry,” Malin said. She had promised Emma that Mom would say yes, but had made a little misjudgment. “She said we can only have a sleepover if someone from my class comes too.”

“But it was only supposed to be us!” Emma hissed.

“I know, and look, it gets worse. You know the girl in my class who started the same time as me? It’s her mom wants us to bring.”

Emma’s stomp could be heard even through the phone. “Is she seriously stupid or something?”

Malin gritted her teeth. It was Emma’s parents fault really, not Mom’s, and it was a smart idea, but what if Mom just lied and said Rebecca or Sofie were lonely instead? Emma’s mom didn’t know them either, so why did it have to be Luna? Mom wouldn’t understand anyway, so it was no use in bringing that up again. “I don’t know, but she said you could stay for two nights and she only has to stay for one.”

Emma didn’t answer at first, still not liking the idea most likely. “I guess that’s not too bad,” she said at last, though it didn’t sound like she meant it, “but do you promise she’ll only stay for one night?”

“Mom said so.” It seemed like Emma took the sleepover as seriously as Malin did, which was a good thing. “What if Luna is going to think I’m her friend or something? Can you imagine that?”

“Yeah that’s gross, but didn’t you tell me they were moving her back to first grade because she’s too stupid to keep up with you guys?”

Malin knew that was mostly a rumor, but there was some truth to it too. “They were talking about it, but they didn’t have enough reasons or whatever, but they should.” Before she could say anything else, she heard a sound of Emma’s mom yelling in the background.

“Wait,” Emma’s voice was muffled like she was holding her hand on the bottom of the phone, then it was like she moved away and after a creaky sound, the other end was silent.

“Hello?” Malin listened closely. It did not sound like she had hung up, but she didn’t respond either. “Are you still there?”

“I’m just hiding,” Emma whispered after a while, her voice sounding as if she was sitting in a box or a cupboard. “I have an idea,” she said, “what if we gave them a reason?”

If only that was so easy, Malin thought, pacing back and forth in her room. What if they destroyed her homework all year so she wouldn’t pass? No, they wouldn’t get away with that. How about they convinced her to drop out or change schools again? No, she’d never do it. Malin’s mind stood still. All her ideas were horrible.

“I know!” Emma said after a while when Malin was about to give up, “Wow, this is perfect. If this works out, they’ll send her all the way to preschool!” There was more shouting again and this time it sounded like things were getting serious. “Wait… Ouch! Mom!”

“Good-night, Ma-lin,” Emma’s mom said, breaking up the syllables as if teaching Emma how to say goodnight for the first time, and then the phone line went dead.

Malin groaned in frustration and kicked a pillow she had forgot to pick up earlier. It hit her desk and one of her books and a few other things fell to the floor. Right after that, Mom knocked on the door like she had been standing outside, listening all along. “Are you alright?”

Malin opened the door, frowning as she handed back the phone, hoping Mom hadn’t heard what they’d said. She had to remember to check if someone was out there next time. “I told Emma about your idea. She’s okay with it.”

“Really? That’s great. I’ll tell her mom about it then.” Mom redialed Emma’s number. "Do you want to take a bath?

Malin shrugged. “I’ll just shower in the morning.”

“Okay, but remember to brush your teeth.”


“Yes?” Mom said as she put her phone to her ear.

Malin tried her best to sound positive. “You’re right, it’s not a bad idea to make a new friend. I’ll ask Luna to come.”

“I knew you’d understand.” Mom smiled and left the room as she answered the phone.

Malin followed, then slipped into the bathroom. What if Emma’s parents still said no? She tried not to think about it or try to overhear Mom’s conversation on the phone as she picked up her tooth brush. She knew Mom could do it. She had to.

“What are you doing here?” Malin was shocked to see Jasmine sitting on her bed when she returned to her room after brushing her teeth. “That’s my bed.”

“Come on. Are you still mad at me?” Jasmine asked.

“That depends. Now move! You have your own freaking bed.” Malin tried to wrestle her off, but Jasmine was stronger. She easily spun her around and pinned her down, leaving her no chance of breaking free easily.

“Hey.” Jasmine held her still as she struggled. “I’m was just here to say I’m okay with you having a sleepover.”

“Really?” Malin sat up as she was freed and instead of delivering a punch she had saved, she wrapped her arms around her sister, hugging her close. “Thank you!”

“Hey, don’t get too excited.” Jasmine held her back. “You know what mom said right?”

“I know.” Malin burrowed into her sister’s shoulder. “And it’s fine. I’ll ask Luna to come.”

“Not about that. I mean, I’ll be in charge.” Jasmine grinned stupidly.

Malin knew what Mom said, but she’d hoped she’d change her mind after talking to Jasmine and seen how bad she’d be at the job. “But what about Veronica? I’ll miss her. She’s funny.”

“We’ll still get to see her,” Jasmine assured her. “And from now on, whenever we’re alone, you have to listen to everything I say just as you use to listen to her.” Malin let go of the hug. What if the biggest problem wasn’t Luna, but Jasmine. “And it’s nice of you to invite Luna too.”

Malin couldn’t really take credit for that. “I guess, but what if she says no or can’t come or is super mean or weird?”

“I’m sure she’s not. And you’ll find a way to convince her. You’re good at getting your way.” Malin didn’t agree with that. She knew Jasmine liked to think so, but she didn’t always get what she wanted. Asking Luna to come wouldn’t be easy. If she never talked to her before, how was she supposed to do that? Malin was sure Jasmine and Mom wouldn’t dare to ask a stranger the same thing.

“I’ll try,” Malin yawned. “You know, I don’t really hate you, Jazz. At least not all the time.”

“Aww… I love you too,” Jasmine said, laughing.

“I know I said you didn’t have any real friends, but I wasn’t counting with me.”

“Oh, stop.” The older sister was still finding something funny for some reason.

“I meant it.” Malin fluttered her eyelashes.

“Hey, I already said you could have a sleepover. What else do you want?”

Malin made her eyes look big. “Can you tuck me in and pretend I’m little?”

Jasmine eyes beamed and glittered and she got off the bed and soon Malin was lying down, nice and snug under her covers. “Do you want your duckie, kitty or teddy?” Jasmine asked, reaching up to the shelf where Malin still had her old stuffed animals on a row. She picked one of them, a cuddly teddy bear and tucked it into her arms before giving her head a kiss. “Goodnight, sweetie,” she whispered.

Malin opened an eye, gasping as she saw Mom standing at the door. “What’s your trick, Jazz?” Mom asked.

“I don’t know,” Jasmine said, “I think deep inside this she’s still only two.”

“I just told her to tuck me in.” Malin pouted behind her teddy bear, but no one seemed to listen.

“Well, she’s still only nine,” Mom said and went over and gave her a kiss as well.

“What did Emma’s mom say?” Malin asked.

“You’re all good as long as Luna is coming.”

“Okay.” Again, if only that was so simple, Malin thought, not feeling too great.

“You said you were okay with it, right?” Jasmine asked.

“I guess.” Being okay with it wasn’t really the right words. It was more like she didn’t have a choice.

After Mom and Jasmine had said their goodnights and left her room, Malin lay for a long time, thinking about what to do. She didn’t want anyone in class to know she was having a sleepover with Luna, so she had to try to meet her in private somehow, but at the same time she couldn’t just outright ask her as that would be weird, so she had to establish some sort of communication first. The first step was to try to talk to her. Maybe just say hello and be friendly without the others paying too much attention. Perhaps after school or in the morning.

Malin turned over in bed, cocooning herself in her blankets. It was a cold night. The chill of fall had settled in for real. She missed summer and not having to go to school, but things hadn’t been the same this year without Emma living next door and Mom and Dad still being together. She had almost done nothing all summer because first she was busy moving out, then Mom started working all the time and the few times she saw Dad, she had to deal with his new family. Oh, how she hated them.

The place they lived in now with Mom was nice enough at least and Malin loved her new room. If she just had a larger bed she wouldn’t bother Mom for anything else. It was the perfect sleepover room, really. One day, she might follow Mom’s advice and invite the whole class, at least the people she liked, Luna definitely not included. Sophie and Rebecca had been there once and that had been cool. But again, this time it was more than just having sleepover, it was saving a friendship, no, a best friendship.

Stupid Luna. Malin hoped Emma had good plan for her. She’d love to see that stupid little girl cry her eyes out when she’d find out she had to go back to first grade or preschool. She had to call Emma tomorrow to find out about her plan. Emma was smart and she had a feeling it was something good.

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 3 | 15 Sep]

Chapter 3

The next day at school, Malin went straight into action. “Hi, Luna,” she said as she passed by her desk in the morning. Curious ears perked up around the classroom. It was like she had broken an unwritten rule.

Luna, who was picking up some stuff from her backpack, dropped one of her book and stared as Malin went on to sit at her own desk, smiling in return. Rebecca and Sofie giggled behind her. They could be pretty stupid at times, but Malin couldn’t blame them as they didn’t know better. She might brief them on what was going on later, but it was best to pretend she wasn’t having a sleepover with Luna unless she wanted to ruin her reputation at school. This meant that Malin had to be sneaky about asking Luna too.

At morning recesses, the girl in question was as usual nowhere to be found, or simply sat on a bench near the entrance, waiting for the break to be over. As Malin had been busy listening to her friends chatting about their weekends all morning, she’d let Luna slip from her eyes for a moment and didn’t see where she went and when she saw her again it was time to go back inside for the next class.

Malin realized she couldn’t get any closer with her new friends around without raising suspicion, so she decided to wait until the end of the day and then with any luck she’d catch Luna alone.

But that didn’t work out as well as she hoped. At the middle of their last class, Mrs. Beth who worked for the school and had been with them on a field trip, came in and called Luna out of the classroom. After that, she was gone. Malin looked around for her after school and saw that her jacket and backpack was missing from her hanger, so she must have gone home earlier for some, probably unfair, reason.

Malin was disappointed, but she still had all week to ask and she supposed she could always call her. Her number was in the class list and as soon as Malin got home she picked up her phone ready to make the call. She dialed, but hesitated. She wasn’t sure what to say. “Hi, Luna. Would you like to have a sleepover with me?” she practiced out loud since no one was home yet, but that just seemed weird. She needed some contact in person first, so she decided to save the call in case she didn’t have another option and instead dialed a number she knew by heart.

Emma picked up the phone, cutting to the chase, “Have you asked her yet? What did she say?”

“I’ll do it tomorrow.” Malin shut the door to her room and took off her backpack. “So what’s the plan? You never told me.”

“Well…” Emma paused. “Let’s say I won’t tell you unless you’re sure she’s coming, okay?”

“Why?” Malin sat down her couch and reached for her remote to turn on the TV.

“Because I say so,” Emma said.

Malin sighed. “Look, I can’t just walk up and ask her. What if anyone sees us?”

“It won’t matter when she’s back in preschool.”

“But what if your plan doesn’t work?” Malin was sure it wasn’t as brilliant as Emma thought it was.

“Oh, trust me, it will. It’s fool proof, but I won’t tell you until Luna says yes first.”

“How do you know? Your plan probably stinks anyway.”

Emma giggled. “Who knows? Maybe you’ll find out if you ask her.”

The friends continued to talk about other things for a while until Jasmine tapped on the door. “Are you done yet? You’ve been talking for more than an hour!”

“Why do you care?” Malin’s grip tightened on the phone.

Jasmine barged inside without permission. “It’s my turn. Now gimme the phone.”

“Who would want a call from you?” Malin held it away.

“None of your business. Now give me the damn phone or I tell mom.” Jasmine held out her hand.

“Then I’m telling mom you said ‘damn’. Is she even home yet?” Normally, Malin would have fought for this harder, at least asked for five more minutes, but she needed to be on her sister’s good side this week, so she told Emma she had to go and gave the phone to her sister. “So who’s the lucky one?”

“Just someone from school.” Jasmine typed in a number she had written down on a note.

“Cool, don’t mess this up.” Malin showed her out of the room before slamming the door.

The next day at school, Malin decided to change her approach. “Good morning, Luna. How are you today?” This time she lingered at her desk, not caring if Rebecca, Sophie or anyone else saw them.

Luna was just as confused as last time, probably wondering why Malin would bother her, but this time she had the time to respond, “I’m good. How are you?”

“Just fine.” Malin lent on her desk. “What are you doing today?”

Luna looked at her hands as if the answer was there. “I don’t know.”

“Want to do something with me?” Before Luna could answer or Malin could say something else Mrs. Lily told everyone to get to their seats. “I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

Rebecca was holding her hand in front of her mouth, hiding a grin. “What was that?” she whispered to Malin later once the class had begun.

Malin smirked, pretending she had something malicious in mind, which in fact she had, but not quite what she wanted her friend to think, and to be fair, she didn’t know it herself yet, either. “You’ll see.”

This time, Malin had her eyes fixed on Luna for the last five minutes of the class and made sure she couldn’t get away when the break started. Unfortunately, Rebecca and Sofie was following her per usual, so once they were outside, they ended up surrounding Luna as she sat on her favorite bench. Their classmate fidgeted with her shirt, uncomfortably and Malin wasn’t sure what to say to her and before she could come up with anything, Luna got up from the bench, mumbling, “I need to go to the bathroom,” then squeezed past them, hurrying back inside.

Rebecca and Sofie laughed, but Malin clenched her fists in frustration. “She’s so funny,” Rebecca said, "what’s wrong with her?

“What do you mean?” Malin asked.

“I don’t know,” Rebecca said, “she just ran away like that. We weren’t doing anything.”

“I know,” Malin answered, knowing that Rebecca hadn’t exactly been nice to Luna before, starting a bunch of rumors and everything. “I was going to ask if she wanted to do something with us.”

Sofie and Rebecca laughed again.

“Fine, I’m just kidding, but I want to speak with her alone. Trust me, it’ll be fun.” She wasn’t sure how to be friends with Luna without risking her real friends. She supposed she could just try hanging out with them again after Emma’s plan when Luna was back in first grade, but she couldn’t be sure that would work out and so she didn’t want to put too much at stake.

During Lunch break, she tried again and this time she had promised Sofie and Rebecca something fun to watch if they left her alone, so she could finally catch Luna by herself. After searching the school grounds for a while, she found her sitting on her bench again, doing nothing.

“Hi, Luna,” Malin said.

Luna eyes went up at her briefly, but she didn’t answer.

“Why are always here by yourself?” Malin asked and was actually curious to find out. Luna’s whole existence was a mystery to Malin. It looked so boring to sit and do nothing.

“Why don’t you leave her alone?” She heard a voice behind her. It was Mariam, the teacher’s favorite pet and the class representative of pretty much everything you could think of, including the anti-bullying club and so she was the second most annoying person in the class after Luna. Some days she was possibly even worse and it seemed like today was going to be one of those days.

Malin spun around on her heel. “What do you want?”

“I know exactly what you’re up to and I want you to stop,” she said firmly, crossing her arms.

“Can’t anyone talk to her or what?” She really was breaking a rule it seemed.

“I heard you at lunch, you know, with your little audience over there.” Mariam pointed at Rebecca and Sofie who were pretending to watch some other kids play.

“I’m just trying to be friendly.” Malin held up her hands, dismissively. "What have you ever done for her?

“I’m making sure she doesn’t get picked on and if you don’t leave her alone, I’ll tell a teacher,” Mariam said.

“You’re isolating her, stupid. It’s your fault she doesn’t have any friends.” Malin was sure there was some truth to that. A little teasing was just normal if you wanted to befriend someone. Held up by Mariam, Malin looked behind her to check on Luna and noticed that she had disappeared from the bench. Malin groaned and clenched her fists, staring at Mariam who stared back at her. What a stuck-up idiot she was. She wanted to punch her ugly face in and see those big brown eyes wet with tears. “Why do you think I’d be mean to her, huh?”

“I know who started those rumors.”

“It wasn’t me!” And that was true. It was Rebecca who done that. Malin stepped in front of Mariam. Up this close, the height she had on her was noticeable. “What the hell is your problem?”

“I’m just doing my job.” Miriam backed off.

“I know people think you’re so nice and sweet, but I can find something on you too, so you better stop being such an idiot.”

“Malin, stop.” Miriam’s voice was weaker and Malin thought she had her, but then she said, “I know your mom and dad broke up but…”

Calm down, Malin told herself. Calm down, don’t get mad, that’s what she wants. Don’t hit her, it will make things worse. Don’t push her, she’s too weak and will fall and hurt herself. She is stupid, but just calm down, it’s not worth it. Malin closed her eyes and started counting to ten like her last teacher had told her to do when she got angry. “Okay,” she said after reaching four. “Just let me explain.”

Malin went on and told Mariam about how she wanted a sleepover, but Mom wouldn’t let her unless she was starting to be nicer to everyone at school. “So I’m not trying to be mean or scare her or anything,” she added, “I just want her to not feel so lonely all the time.”

“Oh,” Mariam said, “I didn’t know.”

Malin wanted to laugh. Fooling Mariam was too easy. “Why doesn’t she have any friends? I feel sorry for her.”

“I don’t know. She tells me she likes being alone most of the time,” Mariam answered.

“Can you do me a favor?” Malin asked. “Can you ask her to wait for me after school?”

Mariam narrowed her brows in suspicion. “Only if I can be there too.” Apparently, she wasn’t totally dumb.

Stupid, Mali thought later when Mariam left, kicking a pebble on the ground. She couldn’t believe she had heard them talking at lunch. It was all Rebecca and Sofie’s fault. She shouldn’t have had to explain everything to them all the time.

She was in a bad mood for the rest of the day, refusing to answer her friends when they asked what happened. She just told them to shut-up and leave her alone, not caring if they hated her for that afterwards.

Her mood didn’t exactly turn better as she had to meet up with the two most annoying people in her class after school.

Luna and Mariam stood near the parking lot behind the school’s playground as agreed, waiting. “Hi, Luna,” Malin said once she arrived.

Luna just looked at her feet, holding the straps of her backpack tightly.

“What did you want to tell her?” Mariam asked.

“I…” Again Malin wasn’t sure what to say to as not to reveal her sleepover plans, “I just wanted to say she looks nice today.”

Luna wasn’t wearing anything special, just some worn sneakers, washed-out jeans and a butterfly or fairy t-shirt under her jacket. Her hair was bright and well brushed though, so the complimented wasn’t completely unjustified. “Thank you.” She adjusted her jacket self-consciously.

They were silent for a few moments, then Malin got an idea that might leave her a minute alone with her. “Do you guys want to do something?”

“I have to go to my piano lesson,” Luna said.

“We can always play some other day,” Mariam said, “Have fun at your piano lesson.”

Luna was already heading to a car parked at the other end of the lot.

“Maybe we two could do something?” Mariam suggested, “She’s kind of boring anyway.”

“You know what, I think I promised mom I’d help her with something,” Malin replied, “I should be going home too. See you!”

She wasn’t sure what to tell Emma when she called. “Are you serious? Are you telling me you haven’t even asked her yet?”

“Well, people are like protecting her,” Malin answered, collapsing on her squeaky bed.

“What people? Is she like, secretly famous?” Emma asked.

“There’s just some very annoying people around me all the time.” They were like flies, Malin thought, only she couldn’t just swap them away. “It’s not like I’m not trying.”

“Apparently not hard enough,” Emma scolded.

“You don’t know how stupid people are at my new school!” Malin yelled back. “Nobody leaves me alone!”

“Hey there, take it easy,” Emma said.

“I wish I’d never moved. I miss you.” Malin sniffed, curled up on her bed and dried her eyes with her arm. She didn’t mean to shout or be angry at Emma, but this was driving her crazy. “You know, I think it would be much easier if you just told me what the plan is.”

“It won’t. And you need to ask her tomorrow or else we’re screwed. Mom wants to know if I can go or not.”

“Fine,” Malin said, “I’ll try something new.”

The next day, Malin didn’t say a word to Luna in the morning, her head raised high as she passed by her desk. She just hung out with Rebecca and Sophie like she always did, pretending that Monday or Tuesday never happened. Luckily, they had forgiven her for how she acted the day before and they didn’t talk about Luna.

The only thing Malin did differently that day was to ask for the bathroom at the end of their last class.

“You know you should go during your breaks,” their current teacher, Mrs. Janette, said. “In middle school, this won’t be tolerated.”

“Fine, I’ll just piss my pants then!” Most of her classmates laughed and then she was promptly excused, but she never intended to go to the bathroom. Last night she had been lying in bed thinking for hours about how she could meet with Luna alone and she had come up with a clever idea. She left the classroom, went to the hangers outside and took Luna’s jacket, hiding it in her own backpack. To make things less suspicious, she lingered for a minute or two before entering the classroom again with a relieved expression on her face.

“Looks like you made it.” Mrs. Janette raised a brow as if surprised.

Malin just glared at her. If Emma was there she was sure she’d said something in return, but her new friends were useless. They just stared dully, not saying anything.

Malin watched a confused Luna looked around for her jacket when the class was over and hurried outside as Mrs. Janette asked if anyone had seen it.

She stood near the parking lot until she saw a woman with a little girl in her hand and boy, about six or seven years old, running behind her. She recognized them as Luna’s family and followed them back to the school building, at a distance.

She waited for a while after the woman and her two kids went in before sneaking inside herself. She hid near the bathrooms, listening.

“Are you sure you didn’t leave it somewhere else?” Luna’s mom asked.

“I don’t know,” Luna sniffed.

“Did you have PE today? What if you left it in the changing room?”

“I think someone took it.”


Luna didn’t answer as she had burst into a sob. Why would someone cry so much over a stupid Jacket? Malin wondered, shaking her head.

“I don’t know. I’m sorry,” Luna managed to say at last.

“Did you see Eleanor today? Maybe you left it in her room?” her mom asked. Malin knew that Eleanor was a psychologist, a psychotherapist or something weird like that. Anyway, the psycho-something had her office near the nurse’s and had told them in the first week of school that if they had any problems they could come and talk to her for any reason.

“It’s worth a look,” Mrs. Janette said and Malin heard steps and key dangling as they went down the corridor.

Malin took the jacket out of her backpack, ran inside the classroom and hung it around Luna’s chair. It fell to the floor, but she decided to leave it like that and dashed to her hiding place again.

“Maybe we’re lucky and find in the lost and found box tomorrow morning,” Mrs. Janette was saying as they returned. “That’s all I can offer.”

“Let’s look inside the classroom again,” Luna’s mom suggested tiredly and they all went inside.

“There it is!” Luna exclaimed, “on the floor.”

“I thought you said you looked in here,” her mom said.

“I did and it wasn’t there!”

“You have to be more careful. It gets dirty if you leave it like that and we can’t run around looking for jackets all day.” They were leaving the classroom and now Malin decided to reveal herself.

“What are you still doing here?” Mrs. Janette asked.

“I’m just waiting for my sister,” Malin said, “Hi, Luna.”

Luna looked at her for a second as she put on her jacket as if she knew who had stolen it. At least she didn’t mention it.

Malin felt her hands getting sticky. Just ask her, she recalled Emma saying. How hard could it be? “I’m having a sleepover on Friday and I’m wondering if anyone else wants to come.”

Luna kept staring at nothing, but her mom perked up. “You mean Luna could come too?”

“If she wants to, sure.” Malin smiled.

“What do you say, Luna? Wouldn’t that be fun?” Her mom asked as she helped her with the zipper on her jacket.

“I…” Luna stammered. “I don’t know…”

“Don’t be silly, of course you want to and it’s okay with me.”

“Mommy, can we go home now?” Luna’s little brother asked, pulling at her arm and at the same time his little sister started crying.

“Can we call you tonight?” Luna’s mom asked Malin as she picked the little girl up.

“Sure, but does she want to?” Malin wanted a real answer to deliver to Emma later.

Everyone looked on Luna, putting pressure on her. “I… I guess?” she said and that was that.

Malin was bubbling with joy a few minutes later as she waited in the teacher lounge while Mrs. Janette helped her call Jasmine who was not really picking her up from school today. “She’s not in trouble,” her teacher told her. “She’s waiting for you at school… Want to talk with her?”

“Okay, what’s wrong?” Jasmine asked when Malin was on the phone. “And I’m still in class so tell me quickly. You know we’re only supposed to get calls in emergencies.”

“How do you know this isn’t one?” Malin asked. “I thought you were picking me up today?”

“When was the last time I did that? You live like five minutes away!”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot. See you at home!” she hung up the phone. “I think it was a misunderstanding,” she told Mrs. Janette. “She told me to walk home by myself. I thought we were going downtown today.”

“That’s alright. Do you want some hot chocolate before you go?” Mrs. Janette had started the coffee machine while Malin was on the phone.

“Nah, I’m okay, but thanks!” Malin thought the chocolate from those machines tasted awful anyway. “See you tomorrow!” She rushed out to avoid future questions, but for a moment she thought of going back inside to call Emma, but wasn’t sure if she was home yet, so she just kept running.

She did it! She finally did it! Malin skipped and hummed happily on her way home from school. It wasn’t that hard really, but she had some troubles down the road. It was easier when she thought of it in hindsight, she guessed.

The first thing she told Emma when she called that night was, “Luna is coming. Now tell me about the freaking plan already!”

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 3 | 15 Sep]

Malin, Malin, Malin, more like malice, seeing where this story is located, it’s obvious to us what the plan is, but it’s most likely not going to work, but good job, I like it, keep up the good work.

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 3 | 15 Sep]

Well it’s perfectly clear now that Luna wears diapers, so whatever plan the two girls were cooking up to get her sent back to preschool is going to get blown up when they discover that little secret. Question is, how will they respond to it?

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 3 | 15 Sep]

You’ve quite an interesting cast of characters going on here.
I wonder how/if Miriam will play into this.

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 3 | 15 Sep]

And the plot thickens! I’m wondering how well their plan will work, IF it will work, or if it will back fire on them.

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 3 | 15 Sep]

Not sure here, but I think Luna might have some form of problems, sounds like she may have some form of autism or something that would explain why she is so weird to them, judging by all descriptions of her, I’m going to bet she has some kind of mental problems of some kind, not sure of correct english term for this, a correct way to say retarded would be more appropriate I think. Can’t wait to see what happens next. Feeling that she is in diapers maybe even at school already but it could be a medical problem too, so if the plan they have in mind is the classic sleepover prank, it might not work the way they think…

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 3 | 15 Sep]

Yeah, the only challenge for me is that the two antagonists seem just a little bit older than we’re expected to believe them to be. These feel more like late teenage girls than preteens to me. It’s a minor quibble, though, and I’ve been willing (and will continue to be willing) to roll with it for the sake of plot advancement. :slight_smile:

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 3 | 15 Sep]

Chapter 4


On the day of the sleepover, Malin sat on her windowsill, looking at the trams, cars and people passing by below. The street was busy as usual. Some people entered the laundromat, some the little grocery next to it and some the liquor store at the other side of the street. It was funny how nobody knew she was watching them, like she was a spy on a secret mission, waiting for the bad guys to show up.

Most days when she sat in her window hidden behind the curtain, she was in fact waiting for someone. Not a bad person, just Mom. Malin would often catch a glimpse of her when she entered the gate and some days that was all she ever saw of her.

It was this way she found out about a great secret. One night when Mom came home late, Malin caught her doing something bad. She had not entered the gate as once as she usually did, instead she had put her hand down her pocket and in the next moment she was holding a cigarette and a lighter. Mom had always said smoking was one of the worst thing you could do, but there she was with a tiny light in her hand and a small cloud of fumes rising above her head. Malin had never told anyone about it, not even Jasmine or Emma and the sight of it stung her stomach for some reason.

After Mom would disappear beyond the gate, it was time to hurry to bed and pretended to sleep because when Mom came home late, which she often did nowadays, Malin would get in trouble if she was still up. Mom would always check on her too, sneaking into her room, kissing her head and whispering goodnight. Malin wondered if Mom knew she was faking it and sometimes, when Mom’s breath wasn’t smelling of smoke hidden by mint-gum, it was hard to resist the urge to say goodnight in return.

Today Malin wasn’t waiting for Mom, but another special person. Emma would be out there any minute now and Malin could hardly wait. She had done so long enough already.

Sometimes she was sure she saw her car driving by and was ready to run down, but when her friend didn’t show up at the gate after five minutes or so, she slumped down at her window again with a sigh.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, the gate rustled, and there she was.

“You’re here early,” Jasmine noted once Malin had let Emma inside and dashed up the stairs hand in hand. “I thought everyone was supposed to be here at four.”

“Mom drove me straight from school, easier for her that way,” Emma explained, letting go Malin to take of her jacket. “Is there a problem? Are you not getting paid enough or what?”

Malin laughed. Last night, she had told her how proud Jasmine was over her first real babysitting job. Mom had actually given her money for this, or well, she had left some for food and stuff, but there was plenty over for Jasmine to take home if she managed her budget right, so it might count as a wage.

“I was just checking.” Jasmine adjusted her watch. “It’s nice to see you, Emma.”

“So you’re not mad at me anymore?” Emma seemed surprised. “I mean, things went a little crazy last time. Or maybe just a little, but you know?”

Jasmine simply smiled. What else but money had Mom promised her? “Don’t worry about it, we’re over it,” she said. “I know you won’t do something like that again.”

“Well, this time I’ll make sure we won’t get caught.” Malin smirked and Jasmine eyed her cautiously as she and Emma giggled and skipped on to Malin’s room, shutting themselves in, giggling even more.

Malin had to catch her breath. It felt like the whole world was a big trampoline that she just wanted to bounce and bounce and bounce on. She couldn’t believe they’re going to spend the whole weekend together after all this time. It was like how it used to be, like it was supposed to be. Living so far apart wasn’t right.

“How was school?” Emma asked as she took off her backpack inside Malin’s room.

“Boring and stupid.” It had been a struggle to sit still all day, waiting until she could finally go home. During the last hour, Mrs. Janette had asked her in front of the whole class if she had ants in her pants or forgotten to go to the bathroom again. Someone, a boy, had ever dared to laugh at that before Malin had a chance to glare at him. She’d remember who it was and make sure he’d regret it after she was done with Mariam and Luna.

“Same here.” Emma made herself at home by spearing herself out on Malin’s couch, snuggling with one of the pillows. “So when is she, you know, coming? I thought she’d be here already actually.”

Malin hadn’t talked to Luna since Wednesday when she asked her to come, so she wasn’t sure if she’d actually show up or not. She knew Mom had spoken with her mom on the phone, arranging stuff, but that was it. “Maybe she won’t come.”

“Really?” Emma’s eyes sparkled and she sat up. “But doesn’t that mean I have to go home?”

“Well, you’re already here and who’s going to drive you? Jasmine can’t and mom won’t be back until it’s too late and we don’t have to tell your mom about it. And what if Luna sick or something? That can’t be our fault, right?” Malin took a seat next to her friend. “But if she’s stupid enough to show up; did you bring the stuff?”

Emma put her backpack on her lap, opening it. “I sure did. Just have a look.”

“Wow!” Malin said and really meant it. Emma had really put some effort into this. The first thing she found was a baby bottle. Not a real one, it was better than that. Emma had transformed a transparent, training water bottle by replacing its top with a teat and put cute stickers around it. This way, it was bigger and much better suited its purpose. “You made it yourself?”

“It was a bit tricky.” Emma poked at it. “But it works, see?” She screwed the top off and on again.

“It’s perfect!” Malin kept looking inside the bag. “What else did you get?”

Emma searched it again. “Oh, here it is.” Under her pajamas, towel and all the other stuff she had packed for the sleepover she found something else you’d never expect to be in her backpack: A diaper. It was one of the new ones without tapes that you could just pull up like regular underwear. Malin had seen the commercials for them a few times and among other things, they’d apparently make the wearer feel confident like a big kid. She always found that funny. “But we need more. I could only get this one,” Emma said.

Malin realized the implications of that “Are you saying she have to, you know, use it too?”

Emma stared at her like she was dumb. “Isn’t that what babies do?”

Malin put a hand in front of her mouth to stifle a laugh. “I didn’t know you wanted to take it that far.”

“Well, we’ll see what happens.” Emma put the stuff back in her bag. Her plan was weird, but clever. To make this sleepover even slightly bearable, they were going to have some fun tonight. How? According to Emma, it was simple. They’d turn Luna into a baby.

Malin had been skeptical at first. How was that supposed to help them and what did it mean? But as Emma kept explain her idea, Malin saw her point and thought it might just work.

While turning Luna into a baby was fun in itself, Malin would also get the power to completely destroy her life if she wanted to. If she could tell everyone at school she had been wearing diapers at the sleepover, Emma was sure they’d make her drop out of the class as she’d obviously not want to be known as the diaper girl. She wouldn’t be able to deny it either because soon that was going to be the case.

“I guess you’re right,” Malin said, “if she’s going back to preschool she needs to get used to them anyway.” Luna would probably not have to go back that far as she was a bit too old, but it was likely she’d want to drop out and retake first grade anyway. “But why didn’t you bring more diapers then?”

“I couldn’t risk mom finding out,” Emma said. “Trust me, she’d knew if they were missing. It’s like she keeps count on everything.”

“Well, Jazzie said we had to go to the store later anyway. We could pick up some more then.” Malin was sure Jasmine wouldn’t care or mind that Luna was in diapers, especially as they were going to play house and have Luna playing as the baby while Jasmine was their mommy. They had not told her anything yet, but Malin bet she’d play along. Didn’t she want to learn a thing or two about real baby-sitting anyway?

“So what now?” Main asked, rubbing her fists on her thighs. She was still not sure if this was going to work or not. “What if she tells Jasmine we’re being mean or something?” Even if the plan was good, it was also risky, especially if Luna decided to tattle on them. Malin didn’t want tell Emma this, but the plan didn’t seem as brilliant as she had first made it out to be, if there weren’t some details she’d left out for whatever reason.

“Look, we’re two against one,” Emma said. “We can just say she wanted to. Don’t worry so much, I’ve thought about this.” She seemed to be sure of herself, but Malin couldn’t complete drop the feeling that the whole thing could turn out badly for them if they weren’t careful.

Just as Malin began thinking about other stuff to do if Luna decided not to show up, the doorbell rang. “I guess this is it,” she said and slipped of the couch and they both ran to the hall.

Luna had arrived with her mom. It was hard to see her at first as she was hiding behind her, but there she was. As usual, she didn’t say anything just glanced around nervously as if she was seeing ghosts. She wore her favorite clothes too, a fleece hoodie and some jeans.

“Hi, Luna!” Malin took a giant leap to get in front of Jasmine who had opened the door for them. “This is Emma and Jasmine.” She gestured behind her.

Emma flashed her teeth like a wolf. “Hello.”

Luna tilted her head, to see behind them. “Are there more?”

Malin realized she never told her about Emma, but she was sure Mom had told her mom about her last night. “It’s only us three,” Malin said, “it’s not a problem, right?”

“Of course not.” Luna’s mom squatted down to give her daughter a hug. “I’ll call you later, okay? Just to say goodnight and see how things are going.” The last part seemed to be meant more for Jasmine as she looked up at her.

“No worries.” Jasmine smiled, trying to give a professional first impression. Malin wanted to roll her eyes. If Luna’s mom only knew how Jasmine could be at times she’d never trust Luna with her for a minute.

“Want to see my room?” Malin asked and reached for Luna as she was let go from the hug.

“Hey, take it easy. Let her say goodbye first.” Jasmine pulled her back by the collar of her shirt, which earned her an elbow in the stomach. Malin knew that it must have hurt and taken her sister all the willpower in the world to not hit her back in front of Luna’s Mom and she smirked widely at that.

“It’s alright, I was just leaving,” Luna’s mom said. “Goodbye, sweetie, have fun now and don’t forget to listen to Jasmine.”

“Okay, mom. Bye.” Luna watched as her mom left. Without her, Luna appeared even more vulnerable with her eyes stuck on the floor.

“Now come!” Malin grabbed her as the door closed, this time pulling her past Jasmine and all the way to her room.

In there, Luna gaped at the sight. “It’s so big.”

“It’s nice, huh?” Emma twirled around, like she was practicing a pirouette. “My room is about the same, but I need to share with my sister. Do you have any brothers and sisters, Luna?”

“Oh, I have both.” Luna seemed moderately happy about that and Malin couldn’t blame her.

Emma giggled. “Me too! How old are yours?”

“Six and two.”

“Huh?” Emma stopped and put her hands on her cheeks. “My brother is seven, but my sister is also two!”

“You two must be similar then,” Malin said, knowing full and well that wasn’t the case. She’d always figured that Luna was an only child until she met family at school one day. She couldn’t believe someone so quiet had any brothers or sisters since she knew from experienced that they had to be dealt with one way or the other and not only through punches. “I only have a sister and she’s twelve.”

“And you better watch out,” Emma warned, “she might seem nice and all, but she can get crazy when she’s angry.”

Malin tried to look serious. “Yeah, your mom is right, you better listen to her. Want to know what happened last time?” Malin recounted how mad Jasmine had been when the night they’d accidentally woke her up, almost throwing a chair at Emma before Malin could stop her. It was funny how Luna seemed to take the story to heart as she stared with wide eyes, listening attentively.

“So…” Emma turned to Luna after Malin was done telling her about it. “What do you want to do tonight?”

“I don’t know.” Luna had probably never been to a sleepover before, as lonely as she was, so it couldn’t be easy for her to know.

“Do you mind if we decide?” Malin asked. “We were actually thinking of something. I’m sure you’ve played house, right? And I know you’re only supposed to play that when you’re like four and at preschool, but we’re making it more fun. We’re playing that, only we’re going to play it the whole time even when we’re doing other things, like watching TV or eat dinner and stuff. And we already picked roles. Me and Emma wants to be older sisters, Jasmine is our mom and since you got here last that leaves you as…”

“…the baby!” Emma finished as Malin had hesitated. “Are you okay with that?”

“I… I guess?” Luna took a step back. It was a lot to take in having just arrived and Malin was afraid they were being a little too pushy about it.

“You know you have to act like one all the time,” Emma continued, “do you think you can do that?”

“I think so?” Luna seemed a little unsure and Malin wished Emma would take it easy or else she’d ruin the whole thing.

“Well, show us how to be a baby then,” Emma went on and Luna thought for a moment, then sat down on the floor, putting her thumb in her mouth. “Aww… that’s a good start,” Emma cooed, “but is that all? Show us some more.” Encouraged, Luna crawled around, making babbling sounds like she was exploring the world for the first time. “Hey, you’re good at this.” Emma grinned at Malin as Luna wasn’t looking.

“Is not that hard,” Luna said, “I just think of my sister.”

“So what else does she do?” Emma asked.

Luna shrugged. “She takes naps and cries sometimes.”

Well, that’s not going to be hard for you then, Malin thought, recalling how she had cried over a stupid jacket the other day. She had cried in class once too and nobody knew why. “But babies do more than that, right?”

“We want to do this seriously,” Malin explained, again wishing she could tell Emma to play it safe. “That’s why we’re asking you. We were practicing before you got here and Emma is four and I’m thirteen, so I’m the oldest.” Thirteen seemed to be a special age. Mom had promised Jasmine she could wear some make-up then and that’s when people finally didn’t see you as a kid anymore. Malin couldn’t wait for that. If she was the older sister, she was sure she’d do a much better job than Jasmine too. “Look, we even got you something. Show her, Emma.”

Emma took the bottle from her back pack and held it up. “We got this as a prop, but we’re still missing something.”

“Something to drink from it?” Luna suggested.

“That too, but what happens after babies eats and drinks?”

“They get sleepy?”

“You already said they sleep a lot!” Emma acted frustrated like Luna was more stupid than she really was. “Okay so let’s put it like this, what happens when they need to go to the bathroom?”

Luna looked up. “Oh, they wear diapers.”

And now Emma could finally bring forth the plan’s most important item. “Ta-da!”

Luna stared at the thing. It wasn’t hard to figure out what they were hinting at, and Malin bit down on her lip, glancing at Emma.

“You’re the baby,” her best friend said carefully. “It could have been anyone but you got here last and nobody wanted to be baby yet so it has to be you. It’ll be more fun if you had it on, like more real, you know? Or we could just do something else.”

“Yeah,” Malin filled in, “otherwise it’ll be so boring.”

Luna stood up again. “So it’s like we’re doing a play?”

“Exactly.” Emma’s grip tightened and the thing rustled. “Here.” She passed it onto Luna.

Luna held the thing, rubbing her thumb on the soft material, studying the little cartoon prints.

“Go put it on in the bathroom and then we can start.” Malin opened the door for her. “It’s just out there.”

“Okay.” Luna took a step, but stopped as if she realized how weird this whole thing was. She glanced at Malin’s direction with that creepy big-eyed stare she sometimes wore and it was as if she knew what they were doing to her, but then she left.

Malin slid down with her back against the door, closing it. “Phew…”

“Well, that wasn’t hard.” Emma’s shoulders dropped in relief. “I’d never put it on. No way.”

“Me too.” Just thinking about wearing a diaper made Malin shudder. She thought they’d have to do more to convince Luna, like saying she was ruining everything or ask what she was afraid of, but Luna had not put up much of a fight and that was good. It would help them later. “So what now?”

“Let’s get her some milk.” Emma shook the makeshift baby bottle. “And let’s make sure she drinks it all up before we leave.”

Malin smirked as they went to the kitchen. What an evil plan. “Do you really think she’ll use it?” she whispered, opening the fridge and giving Emma the milk.

“Well, what if we don’t give her choice?” Emma filled the bottle up to the brim before putting it in the microwave.

“Oh, you’re mean.” They both giggled until they heard Luna looking for them a few minutes later. Emma grabbed the bottle and they hurried back to Malin’s room.

“Did it fit?” Malin asked.

You couldn’t see anything different just by looking at Luna, but her cheeks had turned a little red. “I think so?” Malin was curious how it felt like. She hadn’t worn diapers since she was two. It was probably soft, somewhat thick and of course very babyish.

“Okay, let’s begin.” Malin spread out a rug acting as a playmat on the floor, then gathered some things she had collected from the storage at the attic the day before. It was some baby toys, but also a few dolls and other things she used to play with when she was little.

“Remember, you can’t walk yet,” Emma told Luna as they sat down on the playmat. “Let’s make a rule, when you’re inside you have to crawl or be carried, but when we’re outside you can walk, but you got to hold someone’s hand.” Emma pulled Luna closer until she was sitting down in front of her. “Here, baby. Now let’s start for real.”

Luna took the bottle, then laid down on her tummy to play with some of the things Malin had put on the rug.

“Where is mommy?” Emma asked.

“She’s busy,” Malin said, “Go play with your sister.”

“But she’s just a baby,” Emma complained.

“Now, now, be nice.” Malin sat down on her bed to watch them, feeling kind of silly.

“Fine.” Emma faced Luna and they began to play in silence. Luna seemed to be enjoying herself, absorbed in their little game while Emma mostly played along. She was right, they didn’t have to worry too much. Luna just didn’t know any better.

“Wait.” Malin checked her alarm clock after they’d played for a while and realized it was already half past four. “We need to go to the store before it’s too late!”

“But the baby hasn’t finished her milk yet.” Emma pointed at the bottle on the rug.

Luna picked it up, sucked on it, but only took a few more sips. “I’m not thirsty. Can we put it in the fridge?”

“Nope. Come here.” Emma patted on her lap.

Luna crawled over, cautiously.

“Lay your head down,” Emma instructed, took the bottle and put one hand behind Luna’s head, lowering her down to her lap and held the bottle with the other. “There we go. Now, open your mouth,” she said, unscrewing the teat, then held the bottle up to Luna’s lips. “Ready?” Emma didn’t wait for an answer and slowly tilted the bottle, pouring the milk into Luna’s mouth. Her eyes widened. She couldn’t stop drinking or else she’d spill all over herself, so she kept swallowing and swallowing as Emma poured slow enough so she wouldn’t choke, but fast enough so she couldn’t get away.

Malin watched the whole thing, amused. They would have plenty of fun tonight it seemed. When the bottle was nearly finished, Luna whined and closed her eyes. A few tears leaked from her eyes, but she wasn’t really crying, she was just overwhelmed.

“Is the baby nice and full?” Emma asked and helped her sit up, giving her back a firm rub.

Luna burped loudly and covered her mouth. “Sorry!” she said and her body hiccuped. She swallowed again, shivering, then dried off some milk with her sleeve that had spilled around her mouth despite how hard she tried to stay clean. “I didn’t mean to.”

“Don’t worry.” Emma screwed back the teat and putting the bottle aside. “You did good. Now come.” She took both her hands and stood up. “Let’s go see mommy.”

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 3 | 15 Sep]

Looking at their conversation over the phone and at school, I think you’re right. I’ll keep this in mind going forward. Thanks for pointing it out :slight_smile:

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Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 4 | 19 Sep]

Though in this chapter I’d argue that they seem like neither. Well, Malin seems like about a 4th or 5th grader, but Emma seems like a demon of some kind: preternaturally evil and focused. She is seriously going to be a Mean Girl later in life. As to another theory from earlier: from her reactions her, it does not seem that Luna already wears diapers. :wink:

BTW: I’m going to take this moment to question the premise of this story. I know, I know: grant the author the premise. But this is very far-fetched: why would any educator, psychiatrist, social worker, or mother allow a socially immature and terminally shy six-year-old, no matter how intellectually advanced, to jump ahead three grades? Even if she can handle the work, she’s just not ready for what will happen to her in connection to her peers. So, while I believe she’d be picked on, I don’t believe she’d be there to be picked on. (I’d home school her, BTW.)

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 4 | 19 Sep]


BTW: I’m going to take this moment to question the premise of this story. I know, I know: grant the author the premise. But this is very far-fetched: why would any educator, psychiatrist, social worker, or mother allow a socially immature and terminally shy six-year-old, no matter how intellectually advanced, to jump ahead three grades? Even if she can handle the work, she’s just not ready for what will happen to her in connection to her peers. So, while I believe she’d be picked on, I don’t believe she’d be there to be picked on. (I’d home school her, BTW.)[/QUOTE]

So I might not have been clear on that part, but Luna is eight and skipped third grade when she moved schools and is now in forth grade, so she’s one or two years younger than the other two. There’ll be more about the motivation behind not moving her down later on.

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 4 | 19 Sep]

Interesting… the first impression is that the plan is coming together nicely. Somehow I suspect there will be a twist or more coming though. Others have covered the critique quite well, so for now I’ll just say that I look forward to more.

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 4 | 19 Sep]

I was surprised by this plan, we still don’t know but for whatever reason, I’m sure Luna isn’t stranger to diapers even if she doesn’t wear them during the day like I supposed first, maybe she wears them at night and already have some packed with her night stuff. There is something with her and diapers that will be discovered sooner or later, that or this story will surprise me more than anything.

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 4 | 19 Sep]

Chapter 5

Jasmine was just about to ask if they wanted to go, so it didn’t take long before they were all on their way. The grocery store below was kind of small so they decided to go to a bigger one where Mom did her Sunday shopping, though the walk there was considerably longer.

The wind was cold outside too and Malin wished she had brought her gloves, but thanks to Emma’s rule, someone had to hold Luna’s hand so she volunteered to do that, swinging their arms back and forth, cheerfully as if they were friends.

Luna didn’t say much as usual even when Jasmine asked her a bunch of stuff like what she did on her free time, if she had any pets, what food she liked and stuff like that. She only offered short answers in return or a “I don’t know.” They must have scared her pretty bad with the story, Malin thought, or maybe Luna was just even more shy around Jasmine because she was older.

They took the scenic route through the park. It was beautiful at this time of the year as all the trees were changing in color. The smell of the leaves made Malin think of how she and Emma used to dive into the piles Mom and Dad racked up on their yard later in the fall and how they used to snatch apples from their neighbors’ trees. Last year they had tried selling some for a dollar to people on another street, but without much luck. Instead they, with the help of Jasmine, started an apple pie and muffin business that saw some success around the neighborhood, especially among their parents and at school.

With all the free apples they had access to, Malin was sure they’d become rich by the end of the year until Mom, probably getting tired of the house smelling like cinnamon all the time, told them that if they were using so much sugar, flour and butter all the time, they’d have to start buying it themselves. A few days later Mom also found out that most of the apples were not the sour ones from their own trees, but the bright red, tasty ones from their neighbors and after that, Malin and Emma had to go door to door to apologize to everyone, offering free muffins in compensation, which marked the end of Malin and Emma’s short-lived baking careers.

Things were different now, Malin thought feeling sad. They could never do something fun like that anymore. Like the other time when they pretended to switch names and Malin stayed at Emma’s house and Emma stayed at Malin’s for a night, just to see how it was like. This year they there was a chance they’d miss out on going trick or treating together! If that were to happen Malin wasn’t sure what she would do.

Her life could be divided into two parts, she realized, the one where she lived next to Emma and everything was normal, and how it was now. She preferred how it was then.

On their way to the store they stopped at a little and occupied the swing set. “Alright, just ten minutes, guys.” Jasmine sounded a lot like Mom and it was embarrassing in a way. She’d join Malin when they played here the week before, but today she had turned into a boring adult who sat down on a bench to watch them appropriately.

Malin wanted to point it out, but Emma had already climbed up on one of the tire swings and they’d have plenty of fun without Jasmine anyway and oddly enough Luna contributed to that.

The three of them shared a tire swing where Malin stood facing Emma with Luna sitting on the side. They swung up high and the world flew back and forth around them. Malin sat down and her tummy tickled as Emma kept making speed. Luna, on the other hand, closed her eyes and was holding onto the chains for dear life. She looked a little shaken once they got off too, wobbling on her feet as she walked.

But they weren’t done yet. Emma took her hand and led her to the baby swing. “Want to try this one?” She didn’t wait for an answer and helped her get in, then pushed her from the back, gently at first, but increased her force with every push. Malin ran to the front to do the same and soon Luna was flying up so high they had to jump to keep pushing, but they didn’t manage to make her scream before a certain sister got up from the bench.

“Hey, stop!” Jasmine shoved Malin out of the way to slow down the swing, like she’d never pushed Malin like that herself a few times when Mom wasn’t looking. Once the swing stopped, she lifted Luna out. “Come on now, let’s go. It’s getting dark.” Nobody protested, though the rest of their stroll passed by in a somewhat bitter silence.

Finally, they reached their destination. The store was full of people as it always were on Fridays and for a moment Malin wished they hadn’t gone there. The little grocery store under them was good enough, a little more expensive, but it had most of everything.

As Jasmine grabbed a cart, she forgot about all that as she remembered their plan and took a good look at Luna who was now holding Emma’s hand. “Hey, do you think Luna can ride in it? I think her legs are tired.” It had been a long walk, so that was fairly possible. Luna had been, if possible, more silent too, like she was still recovering from the crazy swing ride.

“Well, how much do you weight, Luna?” Jasmine wondered.

“Fouty-six pounds,” was the answer and Malin took a note as they might need to know that later.

“Let’s see…” Jasmine folded out the little seat and read the warning sign. “This only goes up thirty-five, but I guess you can sit in the back if you like.”

To Malin’s surprise, Luna agreed to it and Jasmine put her in the back where the cart was wider. Only little kids rode in the cart like that and it was actually hard to not mistake Luna for one once she got settled in it.

As they went inside the store, Jasmine picked up a little list she had wrote from her pocket. “I have a few ideas for tonight, but if you want anything just tell me. And hey, don’t run off.”

Malin and Emma stopped. Malin couldn’t believe how she missed the old Jasmine, the one who didn’t act so much like Mom and who didn’t treat them like babies. “Come on, Jazz,” she said, “it’s much better if we split up.”

“Yeah, come on,” Emma said, blocking the cart. “We have gone shopping alone before, haven’t we?”

“Sure, but are you okay with me picking what to eat? I can’t ask you what you like if you’re not around, you know.”

“We’ll get some stuff ourselves and Luna will stay with you,” Malin said. “I’m sure she’ll pick something good.”

Jasmine steered the cart away from Emma. “Alright, so let’s meet up at the checkouts in about fifteen minutes, but don’t do anything stupid.”

With two of their problems taken care of, Malin and Emma took a short cut between the aisles, running past people, dodging carts, nearly knocking stuff of the shelves until they arrived at the baby products and the diapers. The big store had many kinds of them. A tall shelf stood on one side, carrying various sizes, big and small, Pull-Ups, regular diapers and even bedwetting pants.

“Hey, these are the ones she’s wearing now.” Emma picked a package from the shelf. “But they must be too small on her. It only goes up to thirty-four.”

Malin looked down the aisle and found some in size XXL, going all the way up to fifty-five pounds. The poor kid on the package looked a little too old for them, but was smiling all the same, the rim of her diaper peaking up from under her jeans. After looking around, Malin realized that, expect from the bedwetting pants, they were one of the largest ones they had. They were of the tape-on variant, but that would only make them more babyish for Luna. “Let’s get these.”

“Or maybe the ones over there.” Emma pointed. “They’re cheaper and it says thirty-seven pounds and over, that’s close enough. What do you think they mean when it says thirty-seven and a plus? Could you weigh a hundred or maybe a thousand?”

“Or a million?” Malin said, laughing. “I guess they mean like fifty at the most, but I dunno. You wanna try them on too?”

“No way.” Emma winced, looking disgusted. “But do you think they are even bigger ones?”

“I don’t know.” Malin was relieved to find that none of the baby diapers were in her weight range. At the nurse office visit at the start of the school year, she found out she was about average for her age, but had grown a lot in height over the summer, so in that aspect she was way above the norm, the top of her class, even when taking the boys into account. She was taller than Emma now too, she realized. She knew they had both been pretty much the same height since forever but now it looked like she was had passed by two or three inches. By contrast, Luna might not have passed four feet yet as she was much smaller than both of them. She had a year or two to catch up though.

“Let’s get these. Don’t we want the best for our baby?” Malin flipped the more expensive diapers that went up to fifty-five pounds and read on the back. They were extra absorbent apparently and made in a soft material gentle to the baby’s skin. They had an elastic waistband to ensure a snug fit, protective barrier guards along its sides to prevent leaks and could last up to twelve hours. For diaper changes, they recommend their own brands of baby wipes and there was a discount if you bought them together. “We have to get that too,” she said out loud and looked up.

“You mean this?” Emma was already holding a box of baby wipes, oil and powder.

She sure had experience, Malin thought, glad she didn’t have her own little sister. If Mom ever found a new boyfriend, she desperately wished she wouldn’t have a baby with him, then she’d seriously consider moving in with dad full-time, at least until the baby was out of diapers. “What else do we need?” she asked.

Emma was looking at the opposite shelf where there was a selection of baby food. “This one looks good.” She picked a box of formula with a taste of banana bread with a high fiber content.

“Uh-huh, I love banana bread,” Malin said. “I might try some too if it is good.”

“Trust me, it really isn’t.” Emma face winced up again. “It’s like super yucky, bleh…”

“Will Luna have it then?” It didn’t look as bad as Emma tried to make it seem. It looked like oatmeal, only lighter and the package made it seem conceivably tasty.

“Well, babies eat whatever they get and she’s kind of weird so she might even like it. Anyway, I guess we could go find out what she thinks. We’re done here now.”

It didn’t take too long before they found Jasmine and Luna at the diary section. Malin wished she had brought a camera. Her sister’s reaction was priceless. “Wait, what have you got there?”

“You mean these?” Emma asked as she tossed the diapers in the cart. “Oh, they’re for Luna,” she said it casually, like it wasn’t anything weird with that at all.

“What?” Jasmine gaped at Luna who fidgeted with the zipper on her jacket, her cheeks turning red.

“Well, news to you, Jazzie-pants.” Emma spun around, emptied Malin’s hands and put the formula, wipes, oil and powder in the cart too. “You better know how to change a diaper; she’s not potty trained yet!”

“Is this true or are they just teasing you?” she asked Luna, glaring at the other two. “If they are I know who really is going to end up in diapers tonight.”

Luna didn’t say anything, just glanced at Malin’s direction as if asking for help to explain.

Malin found it so funny it was hard to keep still and for a minute she considered playing along with it, but then said, “We’re playing house. I’m the oldest sister, Emma is the middle one, Luna is the baby and you’re our mommy.” She pointed on each of them as she introduced the roles.

“Oh.” Jasmine had to stop and think for a few moments. “But do we really these?” She took the diapers out from the cart.

“Well…” Malin tensed up, not knowing what to say.

“Of course we do,” Emma came to her rescue, “and they’re in Luna’s size too, look.”

Luna carefully stood up in the cart and looked at the package in Jasmine’s hands. “And they have koalas on them.”

“Oh, do you like koalas?” Malin asked, hoping that if Luna was comfortable in her diapers, they’d stand a better chance to get away with this.

“Want me to show you how they sound like?” Emma asked.

“Not here,” Jasmine said and Malin put a hand in front of Emma’s mouth before she could set panic to the whole store. “And they’re adorable, but do you really want to wear diapers, Luna?” Jasmine weighted the package in her hands.

Malin stared at the girl in the cart, trying to tell her that if she said no they wouldn’t be her friends anymore, and the telepathy seemed to work as Luna said, “We’re just playing.”

Jasmine heisted for a moment and it looked like she was about to ruin their night, but then she dropped the diapers in the cart. “Alright. Do you want to get out?” she asked Luna as she was still standing up with her legs somewhat crossed.

“It’s getting full.” Luna was referring to the cart and that was true, but of course the real reason was that she didn’t want to be seen right next to the diapers. She held her arms up and Jasmine carried her out, then checked her shopping lift before pushing the cart down another aisle. Luna followed and Malin was about to do the same when Emma pulled her in the other direction.

Malin wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to leave Jasmine alone with Luna again in case she would ask her if she really was okay with the diapers, but before she could say tell Emma that, they were already gone. “You think we’re fine?” she asked.

Emma stopped. She didn’t look happy at the question. “We said we were going to have some fun tonight, or else I could’ve just waited until tomorrow before I got here so I didn’t have to be around that weirdo. She’s your problem not mine. I’m just helping you out here. Come on, what’s up with you?” She was right to scold her in a way. This wasn’t like Malin, but it would be so much worse if they got caught for her than it would be for Emma. Mom had reminded her last night how important it was to make Luna feel at home and she was sure Mom would be disappointed if Luna wanted to go home earlier, before the sleepover even started.

“I don’t think she liked being seen with the diapers that’s all.” Malin realized the whole store could have seen them. What if someone from school had been there?

“Oh, she’s not worried about that.” Emma’s mouth formed a smirk. “Isn’t it obvious?” Malin had no idea what Luna’s problem was if she wasn’t embarrassed about everyone possibly knowing about her diapers. “She has to go to the bathroom,” Emma whispered in her ear.

“Oh…” The way Luna had been fidgeting, staring into nothing, crossing her legs, how could she had missed that? It was clear when she thought about it. Her bladder must be full of all that milk by now. “Do you think she will, you know…?” Malin whispered back, eyes widening.

“We’ll make sure she does.” Emma wicked smile grew larger. “Let’s take the long way home.”

The best friends went on to playfully argue about what soda was the best for as long as it took until Luna and Jazz to meet up find them. The two were still holding hands and the cart seemed to have most of what they needed for the weekend. “Have you guys not found anything yet?” Jasmine asked.

“We don’t want the same thing!” Malin was trying to snatch the soda bottle Emma was holding, but her friend turned around, hugging it with both hands. “Can we have both?”

“No,” Jasmine said who again wasn’t showing any signs of her old self as she’d normally wanted a whole bottle for herself. “I don’t want to have to deal with sugar rushes and it isn’t good for you either.”

“Fine, mom.” Malin gave up struggling with Emma, but she knew she could have easily won if she kept trying.

“You two…” Jasmine let go of Luna who pulled up her jeans a little before sitting down on the floor in the middle of the store, blocking the way of some other people passing by. “And what’s up with you?” she tried using a gentler tone this time, but it came out a bit harsh.

“Hey, you dropped the baby, mommy,” Emma said, helping Luna get to her feet. “Someone needs to hold her.”

Jasmine shook her head, probably thinking they were way too old to be playing this, but Malin didn’t care. It was fun to see how much they could annoy her before she’d snap. What if she did it right here in the store?

They went to pick up some snacks and then they really had everything they needed. It would be heavy to carry all the grocery bags home, but at least they didn’t have to go shopping again.

The lines to the check-out were long and extremely boring. Malin wondered if Emma was right, so with nothing else to do she studied Luna while they waited. She did look a bit worried in fact. As they waited, she struggled to stand still, shifting from one foot to the next, and she didn’t know what to do with her free hand. She even caught her sucking on her fingers for a few moments and quickly undid that when she noticed what Malin had seen.

In what seemed like forever it was finally their turn to unload the cart and pay for everything. Luna and Emma went on to wait at exit, Malin was about to do the same but Jasmine grabbed ahold of her arm. “Help me with the bags, lazy butt.”

Malin stopped, but not without showing her disapproval by inflating her cheeks and blowing out air.

“And you?” Jasmine said as she picked up her wallet. “Why did you leave Luna alone with me like that? I think she felt a little left out.”

“But we said we were splitting up?” What was her problem now? It was much faster that way. Jasmine said she was okay with it too and it was only for ten minutes at the most.

“Yes, but you three could’ve stuck together instead of leaving her with me like you wanted to get rid of her.” Jasmine opened her wallet, ready to pay for everything.

“But Emma just ran and Luna was in the cart, what was I supposed to do?” It was better not to talk back to Jasmine more than that, like telling her how hard it was to speak with Luna when she never said anything herself. She’d fit right into preschool in many ways, Malin realized. For one thing babies aren’t supposed to talk and she was good at that. They cry over stupid stuff, which Luna did too.

They were doing her a service really. She’d get a whole new start at life and maybe she’d even like it better there. Not at preschool maybe, but first or second grade was a possible option and she’d fit right in there too. She’d get a new start at everything and could do things better, maybe make some friends and despite being stupid, she’d probably be smartest down there.

If they did things right, Malin and Emma could convince her it was for her best to and if that didn’t work, Malin would make sure she’d pass some information onto Rebecca. After that it would only be a matter of time before everyone in their class would think Luna was still in diapers, and Malin was sure that if she and Emma did things perfectly that might even be true.

Re: The Seriously Stupid Sleepover [Chapter 4 | 19 Sep]

You’ve done a nice job readjusting Malin back down to thought processes that are more reflective of her age.

Luna, however, between her silence and her passivity, feels more like a prop than an actual character. I get that your narrative perspective contributes to that, 3rd-person limited pretty much to Malin’s head, but still…