by Shaylen Maxwell
In tenth grade, the popular girls (a coterie of eleven, all told) embarked on a bet: to see who could go the longest without shaving their legs. Gillian was amongst them, I wasn't as I was not popular, still donning braces, allergic to contact lenses, and socially autistic. I remember watching the girls tug up their pant legs every afternoon in Keyboarding class - why that class and not another, I don't know - but I was forced to watch them squirm and squeal, delightfully pointing at their furry femurs, "Mine is like a cactus... feel it!" They did, of course, and the boys liked it, to see the girls feeling up one another's legs and such - after all, what other thrill could they get out of it? For six weeks this went on until the whole thing came to an abrupt end when the coterie of girls (minus Gillian) bared smooth legs one ordinary afternoon in Keyboarding class - even cactus-legged Courtney, hairier than the bunch (blessed/cursed by her hyper-active hormones) had shaved. Gillian might have been crowned the winner, but her popularity was instantly lost (all the girls having decided thorny thighs were suddenly out of fashion), so horrendously teased, she was, that she took her own life later that year.
Shaylen Maxwell emerged from the womb penning novels. She has a degree in psychology and her work has appeared in over half a dozen publications in the US and overseas. She resides in exile with her menagerie of wild animals: nine, including her significant other, Beldoe. She keeps a blog here.