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Unbeknownst to me, Blonde Brittany had coated my eyelashes with glitter glue. I was the first almost seventh grader asleep at the first slumber party of the summer. The green power ranger standing at attention behind my pillow had not fulfilled his duty to protect me in the night. This doll was my favorite because his flat little head fit so nicely inside my smiley face Joe Boxer pajama pants. I woke with pink eye just only able to make out the shadow of Kelsey, the meanest girl I’d yet met, running around the foyer with my green power ranger in a futile attempt at embarrassing me for still sleeping with a toy. 

At Brunette Brittany’s house, I was warned not to talk to her new stepsister. Her mom told me she didn’t know how to act right yet. She’d been busted stealing her new mom’s letter opener and threatening third graders with it in exchange for lint-covered quarters and dimes.

At Maggie’s house, we all watched a PG-13 horror movie even though we were only eleven and change. When the dumb girl in the movie was slaughtered after losing her v-card, we all told Blonde Brittany she’d be dead soon, too. Blonde Brittany was the only one of us with any penile experience. Totally randomly a stranger broke into the kitchen window so we all ran down the cul-de-sac with our nails dripping pink paint until her brother gave the signal it was safe to come back inside. Maggie shared a last name with the biggest grocery store in town so we all thought she was rich. Thinking back it wasn’t true. Her family couldn’t afford to pack her Lunchables either. 

At Kelsey’s house, we pulled out plastic bottles and sprayed back and forth until we were each drenched with love letter cucumber juniper berry moonlight tart fizz. I purposely shoved silly putty in the creases of the couch. This was revenge for not being invited to her sleepover the month prior on account of my ears not being pierced at the time. Kelsey only invited girls with pierced ears to her slumber parties. Her mom was foaming when she saw the putty. I went to the bathroom and listened to the carnage through the door while eyeing her dad’s pee crusted tighty whiteys slouched near the tub. 

By the time Brunette Brittany’s end of summer sleepover party rolled around, her stepsister was gone. I asked her mom where the stepsister went, considering she wasn’t allowed out on behalf of her consistently naughty behavior. Brunette Brittany’s mom waved me off, picked up the wireless, and put her finger to my lips to hush me. I asked Brunette Brittany about her stepsister, too, but she only wanted to speculate on how Josh Hartnett’s lips might feel pressed against her midriff. 

I didn’t know by the time the next summer came the cops would question me about my instant message history with Maggie. “What exactly does ‘LYLAS’ mean,” they’d ask as I sat eye-level with their bulging stomachs. “Love you like a sister,” I’d say. Maggie and her mom were in some unknowable trouble. 

I didn’t know Blonde Brittany’s mom would move her to a state my mom wasn’t willing to drive to. She left the night of a snowstorm that kept everyone else inside. 

I didn’t know why Kelsey only ever wore long sleeves. 

I didn’t know whether or not it was okay that I missed Brunette Brittany’s stepsister. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I plug her name into social media search bars. None of the faces that pop up look anything like the nine-year-old in my memory: the girl with a bowl cut, a new stepmom, and a letter opener tucked deep inside her plaid skirt pocket.