Chapter Description: A little cinnamon goes a long way...
I slept like the dead that night. No stirring. No dreaming. Just the grim certainty of what I was going to do the next day. I still woke up with an uncomfortably full bladder that needed to be evacuated for the sake of comfort, but the sun was just starting to crest and it would be a few more minutes until Janet came in to wake me.
None of the giddy excitement that I’d had for Silly Sock Day came to me. There was no anticipation, happy or otherwise. Just a clear certainty of what I intended to do that day and the confidence in what I was going to do. Silly sock day- man I missed that day- was a clever barb against Brollish and a trap against Forrest. It had the feel of a performance, a dangerous one, like dancing on a highwire. Butterflies. Anticipation. Looking forward to the applause that I’d hear, even if only in my head.
None of that danger, none of that thrill was with me down in the crib that morning. This was more mathematical certainty. Something that was going to happen, had to happen, like a law of nature. Just as two and two made four, babied Clark plus Picture Day equalled a bad time for everyone taller than me.
Had I been feeling more charitable, I might have given myself an out. Vary the equation. ‘Pantless Babied Clark plus Picture Day’. There was still the chance that Janet would give me that tiny bit of dignity back this morning. Maybe if I asked for it…
Nah. Who was I kidding? I didn’t want to give myself the out. This was going to happen, pants or no pants. Picture Day only happened once a year. Okay, twice, technically, once in the Fall for individual pictures and then again in the late Winter or Early Spring for whole class shots. Point is, by my own timeline, I was likely to be free in the next few months. Why not give my dear colleagues something to remember me by years from now?
Janet opened the nursery door. “Morning,” she said. Her voice was loud and powerful, but devoid of much emotion.
“Morning,” I said. I bit down on my tongue to stop from gabbing more. Give Janet nothing to work with. I laid there and let Janet pick me up, forcing her to bend over. Her mouth twitched as if she were silencing herself.
We were both being quiet to each other. Good. Fuck her. The only sounds that came for the next five minutes were ripping of tapes, the crinkling of diapers old and new being balled up and unfolded, the quiet snips of wipes being pulled one at a time, the clicks of a pail, and rattling of clothes being taken of hangers.
It turned out I didn’t need to put the condition of pants on. Janet was putting them on me anyway. She sat me up on the changing table and worked white socks and sneakers on me.. Should I make a fuss? Or would that be too obvious? Would remaining silent be more of a give away.
“No pants?” I asked.
I huffed and rolled my eyes. “Typical,” I said just loud enough so she could hear it. That ought to be enough token resistance to allay suspicion of anything grander.
And so it was.
We didn’t match this time. No navy blues or pristine whites for Janet, just her hair up in a bun like always a pink blouse, a gray cardigan and a matching ankle length skirt. Very little makeup. Just a hint of flowery perfume. Full school marm.
Prison uniform of the day complete, Janet deposited me on her hip and walked me out through the hallway to the kitchen. She opened the refrigerator door and grabbed a heaping bottle of breakfast shake for herself.
My pulse started to pound ever so slightly. Would she notice that a vial on the spice rack was out of place? I did my best to look at her instead of the spice rack. No sense in cluing her in by looking at the scene of my crime. A terrible thought intruded on me then and there: What if what I took wasn’t missing?
No. Don’t do that to yourself, Clark. No sense in it. Even if she’d found what was wrong in her kitchen and taken steps to remedy the situation, it’s not like I actually needed what I’d stolen and stashed away in the diaper bag. Training chocolate and other Amazon strength laxatives weren’t exactly necessary for Littles to have accidents in their pants, in the sense that anybody could do it under the right circumstances. Training chocolate just made the odds much more likely. Similarly, my plan didn’t require what I’d stolen to be successful, but it made my objectives that much easier to accomplish.
Janet almost walked right by the diaper bag on the way to the garage. Two months in and she was still kind of spotty on that front, especially when going to school where there’d be enough supplies to keep me bottled and pacified. One would think she’d constantly want that bag of ammunition against me, but it was largely redundant when the time lapsed between the garage and Beouf’s room was roughly fifteen minutes.
I almost had to settle for Plan B, but Janet had perched me on her right hip, so that the bag was just outside my reach. When she grabbed the door handle, I threw my entire body weight violently back and out of her grasp. She let out a startled yelp of gasp trying to catch me. “Clark!”
She caught me, twisting and contorting to get at the bag. “You forgot the pacifier!” I complained. “I want it!” With my left hand I took a spare pacifier and held it up defiantly to hold Janet’s attention. Simultaneously with my right, I clutched my secret weapon and tucked it under my armpit.
A low growl came out of Janet, while she hoisted me back upright. “You never want your pacifier.”
“I do now,” I spat. With a petulant glare, I popped the rubber nipple between my teeth and sucked loudly.
Janet seemed confused rather than suspicious. “Why?”
“Becuff you didn’t clif ick on meh fish tun.” The sincerity card and the baby card already had too many holes punched in them. So I went for the contrarian card.
“But if I…” Janet stopped herself. “No. I’m not doing this with you. You want your pacifier? Fine. Just keep it in.” So I spat it out. Contrarian stratagem initiated. Janet looked down at the pacifier by the door like it was a dead rat. She stiffened, shouldered the diaper bag, opened the door, and left it there where it lay.
I started to have second thoughts when she buckled me into the carseat. Not out of conscience, mind you, but out of logistics. An Amazon scaled spice shaker was almost a Little sized soda can, and made of hard clear plastic instead of bendable metal.
Tucking it in my armpit and slipping it up the short sleeve of my sailor top wasn’t impossible, but keeping it from being noticed wasn’t exactly feasible. It was like the Muffets. After a while you started to notice that their right hands were almost always tucked in.
I briefly considered stashing it down my Monkeez, but all it would take is one check or change for that jig to be up. That and no matter where I put it, things wouldn’t end well. I’d look like I either took a massive dump or that my penis had a growth spurt.
Fate was with me it seemed. As I was reclining in the car seat, clenching the contraband and pretending to be in more of a huff than I actually was by folding my arms awkwardly, Janet got a mean look in her eye.
“Oh yeah,” she said. “Almost forgot.” She opened the diaper bag and fished out a hat. A big, ridiculous, floppy sailor hat with a navy blue anchor stitched to the front. One big enough to stash something in. Oh be still my heart!
She slapped it on my head and straightened it, taking extra care to pull the top of it up over the wide brim. Perfect! Just perfect! I made my nostrils flare and huffed out a “Why?”
“I forgot this in the bag,” she replied evenly. “If you hadn’t put it in the effort to dive out and hurt yourself, I might have forgotten it. So if you don’t like it you only have yourself to blame.”
I rolled my eyes and tried to look blase instead of excited. “Whatever.”
“You only have to keep it on until after pictures. There’s a strap attachment if you can’t wait. After pictures you can take it off and get into a regular t-shirt.” On that much we agreed. She added, “Shorts too if Mrs. Beouf thinks you’re being good.” I would not be getting shorts today.
“Do I have to smile?” I asked.
“No.” Janet punctuated the door with a slam and a slower, tired walk round the front of the car. Good thing too. If she’d walked around the back and been able to keep her eyes on me at all times, she might have seen me lift my hat up and slip my secret weapon underneath.
Janet started the car and I tilted my head this way and that, trying to get a better view of myself in the rearview mirror. The tippy top of the hat stuck up a little bit, but it was barely noticeable. Most people would just assume that’s where Janet had pinched and pulled up to unflatten the top.
We made eye contact briefly in the reflection. The normal Janet might have remarked that I looked cute or said something else to encourage me. Normal Janet was gone. Quiet Janet was like a prison guard. She said all she’d needed to say to feel good about herself and do her duty. The rest was on me.
I leaned back in silence and brooded. I’d gotten very good at brooding. It helped distract me from the feeling of a foreign object pressed against the top of my skull.
Fifteen silent minutes later Janet had me back on her hip and was marching towards Beouf’s room. Another lucky break. Being closer to eye level made her less likely to notice the bulge on top of my head.. Not that she looked at me.
“Sorry we’re running late,” Janet said, putting on her best fake Mommy face. “Just a slow start to the morning.”
No longer encumbered with a mesh bag filled with stuffed animals, Beouf was ready to go. “Not a problem. Let’s just power step it to the front. Mrs. Zoge?”
Zoge was already gathering up the mass walking leash. That particular bit of security theater hadn’t vanished with the stuffies, unfortunately. “I’ve got everything under control here, ma’am.”
I waited inside the door, as the first two giants strode out. Leash in hand, Zoge strode up. “Clark,” she asked, “do you need a change?”
“No ma’am,” I said. Then corrected myself. “No.”
She knelt down anyway and violated my personal space. Same as most mornings. “I know you probably just woke up and your Mommy just changed you, but it never hurts to check.” That it didn’t, not for my purposes.
A leash slipped over my torso and went taut around my waist. Had we been earlier, I might have been invited to play with some toys or read a propaganda book. Good thing we were late. “We gotta get going. Ivy, honey, let’s go.”
“Yes, Mommy!” Ivy trotted out from the book nook, even frillier than usual. Her sky blue dress had puffs around the shoulder and sleeves that cut off near the top of her bicep. Matching lace trim ran from the shoulders down her neckline to form a bow, and then straight down the middle until it ran around the hem. Even more ruffles blossomed throughout the skirt giving it a kind of layered wedding cake look. Beneath the skirt, she wore speckled white tights and something close to ballet slippers, also with completely useless bows. Of course she was also wearing a plastic tiara. More impressively, the dress was long enough that I couldn’t tell she was wearing a diaper.
Ivy’s face soured for a moment. Only for a moment though. “Hello, Clark. I am glad you’re well today.” The speech was stilted, practiced, and clearly insincere. Ever since last week, Ivy had kept me at arms length, watching me out of the corner of her eye like I was a rabid dog.
You bit one finger and suddenly you’re the bad guy.
“Thank you Ivy.”
In reply, she did a curtsy. Wow. The dress was so long that even bending over or curtsying one couldn’t see the padding beneath. I couldn’t even hear the crinkling over the air conditioner. Wow. There was an unexpected emotion: Envy for Ivy Zoge.
“Very good curtsy, Ivy.” Mrs. Zoge said, finishing fastening me in my restraint. “Let’s go and get your other classmates.”
Zoge opened up the door and held it with her body. Ivy waddled up and took her Mommy’s hand and I exhaled at hearing the muffled rustle beneath her skirt while she passed by. It was another new procedure that Mrs. Zoge had put in place: Ivy got to hold her Mommy’s hand while I walked ahead of them on the leash. It suited me just fine.
The air was starting to chill. By next week, chances are me going without shorts wasn’t going to be an option for my captors if they wanted to pretend at ethics and childcare. This morning it was still just warm enough. I trudged on.
Fifth graders were trying on their first clip on ties and fidgeting with them off the bus and girls were smoothing out pleated skirts when they would clearly be wearing jeans. Kindergarteners were wearing clothes they only wore at big family gatherings and holidays. The kids who were neither in their first nor last year of elementary school subsisted on polo shirts and light turtlenecks.
Ivy and I were by far the most over and undressed respectively. Like tweeting birds, I heard “Aw’s” and “Oooohs” from passing staff members and students alike. We really stood out. A few tidbits of mocking laughter made their way in from Jeremy Merriwether and his ilk. It didn’t so much as phase me, anymore.
Who cared what that twerp thought? Not me.
The last two buses pulled up in the loop and I stole a glance behind me while Zoge quickly threaded and laid out the other parts of the mass walking leash down behind me. I was going to be a line leader this morning. I looked behind me to see Tracy getting the youngest kids off of their bus. Ambrose stood by like a general reviewing the troops while my kids carefully got off the bus and in near military formation.
At the rate that kids grew, this would probably be the first and last time some of them wore these particular outfits. Damn it, they looked so grown up.
I sighed and blotted the sight out of my mind so that I could face forward. Luck of the draw saw Billy next to me. Annie was placed behind him. He looked me once over. “You look ridiculous,” he whispered with a grin.
“You’re gonna tell me that wearing a vest?” I jeered. “Who tied that bow tie for you? Your Mommy?”
“Of course she did, who else would?” he snickered. Inside jokes were fun. “Least I got pants.”
“Touche,” I said. I bumped fists and I turned around to look at Annie. For Picture Day she was wearing a pink A-Line dress that went all the way down to her knees. I could almost see her cleavage. “Annie, you look like much more of a harlot than usual.”
“Thank you, Clark. I’m trying.” She gave me a flattered smile. When the world wants to make you a child against your will, being called a whore can be oddly empowering. It was for Annie, at least.
Zoge didn’t react. She was bi-lingual, but didn’t know a lot of old-timey or outdated words. It took her longer than usual because the others all had tiny backpacks with them for once. Their Mommies and Daddies had gotten the memo about play clothes. I waited till Zoge was out of earshot hooking up Sandra Lynn and Shauna. “How would you like to go home early today?” I hissed.
A moment of fear flashed across their faces. “What are you talking about?” Annie asked. “There’s no way we can…”
I kept my voice low and calm. “No, not like that. Just get picked up early.” The relief was instant and palpable. They weren’t ready to escape. Neither was I, but they’d never be ready. To be fair to them, I’d lead them to that conclusion, but even in my wildest fantasies I only imagined getting away by myself. Today was going to be my spin on a prison riot, not a jailbreak.
“Yeah,” Billy said. “I could start my weekend early.”
I wanted to smile so badly, but I kept it at bay. Perfect! “Follow my lead. If you can get Chaz in on it, great. Eat a big breakfast this morning.”
“What about Tommy?” Annie asked. I shook my head as lightly as I could, trying not to rattle the spice wedged between hair and hat. I didn’t trust Tommy enough for him not to fuck it up.
We waited for the last of our classmates to be secured and leashed, until two by two we marched off to the cafeteria. All of the other Littles were dressed as ridiculous as I was, even though I was the only one with my not so secret. The boys were dressed up as mockeries of old men with suspenders and bow ties, and the girls looked like they were maids to a very condescending bridezilla. There was something ironic about the fact that the only time we weren’t forced to dress as caricatures of children was when we had to look like caricatures of adults.
Breakfast was something special that particular morning. After we were pushed through the blast fan doors and all threaded into our seats, the cafeteria cooks came out with massive towels and draped them over us in place of our usual bibs.
“Am I getting breakfast or getting my hair cut?” I joked.
The Tweener cook chuckled and told me, “You’re getting your pictures taken right away. This is to make sure you don’t spill nothin’.” She eyed the top of my head. “Let me put your hat to the side, Mister Clark.”
White terry cloth cradled my chin as my hands shot up over my head. “Ms. Grange told me not to take this off until after pictures.” I said. I was gambling that my discontent was well known enough that calling Janet by her last name would be seen as more honest than if I’d called her my Mommy. I was also gambling that Janet’s name carried some weight as a teacher.
“It’s fine Martha,” Mrs. Zoge waved the Tweener off. “I trust Clark.” A slight pang of guilt settled in my stomach, followed by a belch. Then the guilt was gone.
Zoge and Beouf were setting up bowls of cheesy grits, and pouring milk in to help them cool. As had been the case this past week and a half, Beouf was keeping her distance from me, leaving Zoge to do the heavy lifting. I hadn’t quite broken, Beouf yet; not like I’d done Janet. She still wasn’t afraid of me; she hadn’t given up. Give me under an hour and we’ll see. Maybe I’d break Zoge too and get me a hat trick.
Breakfast went slow that morning, as it’s want to do when there’s two ‘adults’ and ten ‘babies’ and spoon feeding all of them. Even at peak efficiency, I was still only getting one out of every five spoonfuls that Zoge doled out. What I mean to say is there was a wait.
I opened my mouth and swallowed like a good Little doll, careful not to tilt my head too much one way or another, saying thank you after each swallow, and then cast my eyes to the site of my upcoming disaster. As the cafeteria emptied and the majority of students went to class, the custodial crew was already busy folding up the rightmost two rows of tables and stowing them and their corresponding chairs off to the side.
Simultaneously another crew of Tweeners and Amazons were busying themselves setting up a portable portrait studio. Green screens were being raised and hung in front of the walls. Lights and reflectors were being positioned and anchored. Massive cameras on tripods were being set up and turned on.
It wouldn’t be long now.
“Right after we finish breakfast, we’re going to go get our pictures taken, and then we’ll go back to class,” Beouf said loud enough so that everyone could hear over the working crew still barking out directives to one another.
Wouldn’t be long now. Wouldn’t be long now. I downed the grits with gusto. It was all I could do to not ask for the bottle of milk that followed. The milk flowed down my gullet and I pretended I was loading a cannon. In many respects, I was.
“Okay, Miss Zoge,” Beouf announced. “Let’s line ‘em up.”
“Yes, ma’am!” Zoge took the towel to my face, dabbing the corners of my lips for me. I held my breath one last time hoping that the vial of spice didn’t jostle too much or fall out of my hat. Delicately I patted the top of my head while she dug Billy and Annie out. “Hold hands. We’re not going far. We’ll be back for your backpacks after pictures.” I heard her mutter “Almost forgot.”
Back to the old chain gang formation, I linked up with Jesse from the back of the other table and walked towards the makeshift set. A giant, even for an Amazon, alphabet block was being wheeled in and placed in front of the camera. Perfect! Just perfect!
A slender Amazon man with a dark brown goatee wearing a black turtleneck sat on a stool as we approached. “Morning,” he said to our warden at the front of the line. “Name?”
“Beouf,” she said simply. Then she turned her head. “You can stop holding hands.” A collecting sigh of relief hissed out of us.
The photographer looked down at his clipboard. “Perfect timing, we’re just about set up for you guys.” He looked down at us. “Wow you kids look so big! Your Mommies and Daddies are gonna be so impressed!” Not even Ivy fell for that one. He got only uncomfortable stares in return. He turned back around to Beouf and I realized his hair was in a ponytail. If I had grown my hair out that long someone would have pulled a dress over my head. He handed the clipboard to her. “Do you mind jotting down the names of your students? In line order?”
Beouf scanned the line, quickly committing the order to memory. “Not at all.”
I looked behind me to Zoge. She’d hopped forward in line and was fiddling with Ivy’s tiara. I couldn’t have asked for better. Luck was with me. Time to make the most out of it.
Quickly, I tilted the back of my sailor hat back and grabbed the plastic can of grainy brown sandl-ike spice. I twisted the knob but it wasn’t budging. I had to hide it behind my back and pass it to Billy while Beouf moved the line forward and got Mrs. Zoge sat Ivy up on the big prop block. “Here,” I whispered. “Unscrew this.”
“What is it?” Billy asked, his whisper tinged with wonder and fear.
I hissed back over my shoulder, “Cinnamon.”
That’s right, my secret weapon against picture day was bland breakfast toast’s greatest enemy. Arguably among the mildest and sweetest of spices. Cinnamon. So simple that even a Little could handle a mouthful. Thanks to a viral sensation on MistuhGwiffin.web a few years prior, I also knew that swallowing enough of it all at once was all but guaranteed to make you gag.
“That’s right! Over here, baby girl!” The photographer called. “Smile! Smile!” A flash lit Ivy up. “Good girl! One more!” Another crack of lightning without the thunder. “Good girl! Next!”
The line moved forward. Billy was still struggling at the moment, having just as much trouble as I was. Why hadn’t I tested the lid first? Damn it! “Got it!” he whispered a second later. “It was just stuck.” He passed the can back to me. “You loosened it. Promise.”
“Shut up,” I growled.
“And what’s your name Little boy?” The photographer said. Somewhere, his college dreams of being an award winning photojournalist or an artist were spinning in their graves. “Tommy, you look so handsome today! Can you give me a big grin? There ya go! Good job! One more?”
“When I go up there,” I told Billy, “take a swig of this, pass it to Annie, and wait for my signal to swallow.”
“What’s your signal gonna be?”
“My my! Little Miss Mandy! Don’t you look cute as a button this morning! Watch the ducky! Smile!” Another flash. Another step forward past the point of no return. Beouf was on ducky duty, her back to us so that she could make dopey faces to Littles she’d humiliated past the point of caring. Zoge was minding the Littles who had already been processed and gathering up backpacks.
“If you can’t figure it out,” I said, “you deserve to be in this class.”
“Tommy boy! Looking sharp my dude!”
Another few flashes. Another few steps. Less than sixty seconds to go at this rate. I tilted my head back and poured the cinnamon in my mouth. According to tutorials it would only take a spoonful. By my own estimation I had at least three.
Having chugged pepper infused tequila, I can safely say that my mouth had been in more pain before, but that knowledge and comparison didn’t lessen my discomfort. My mouth wasn’t on fire; it was a fucking desert. Every millimeter of saliva in my mouth was instantly absorbed and dried out. Grains of the normally tasty stuff coated the roof of my mouth and trickled down my throat. The inside of my throat was already beginning to tickle and itch in the worst way. For all intents and purposes I had a mouthful of sand and every bit of water in my head had already been absorbed.
I felt like I was dying of thirst and desperate for water, even as Beouf boosted me up on the block and positioned me sitting spread eagle with the bottoms of my sneakers visible to the camera. Her nose twitched like she smelled something. Could she smell the cinnamon? Whatever her instincts were she ignored them and returned over to just behind the tripod.
“Ahoy!” the photographer, whom I had decided to name ‘Todd’ in my head proclaimed. “Looks like we’ve got a cute Little sailor boy on board! Somebody get ready to swab the poop deck!”
Yes Todd! Feed my resolve. Be that fucking cringey! Be typical! He winked cartoonishly at Beouf. Melony did not return the expression. “Right then. Moving on. What’s your name matey?”
I did not answer. I couldn’t have. Any attempt to open my mouth would have just let out the spice. It wasn’t supposed to go that way just yet.
“Clark?” Beouf said. “Go ahead. Tell him your name.” Her brows started knitting together behind her glasses. Uh-oh!
“It’s okay. Kids are shy all the time.”
Beouf’s eyes were narrowing at me. “He isn’t, though.”
Back beyond Beouf and Zoge and my fellow prisoners, another class was lining up for pictures. It was to be expected. To cram an entire school through this place before lunch took expert timing. I expected this. To vomit and puke my guts out on camera in front of another class.
What I should have expected, but didn’t, was that it would be my class. Tracy hadn’t had the preschoolers leave the cafeteria. She’d cleared their trays away and had them sit patiently for Ambrose to thunder in. Just past the reflector umbrellas, I saw them lining up behind Chaz’s stroller taking their place behind us.
Too late. No time. No turning back now.
I swallowed as hard as I could, slamming the spice down the back of my throat. I didn’t even get a third of it down. I might as well have been trying to drink pebbles. Things were clumping up, clogging my airway.
My lungs started to contract and try to cough, but nothing was coming out. My eyes bulged out ready to pop out of my skull.
“Clark?” Beouf held her hand out to me, as if she could magically will me to her, or she was second guessing the urge to run to me. “Are you…?”
I couldn’t breathe! I couldn’t cough! I was only supposed to gag, but I was suffocating instead! I could practically feel the blood vessels in my face threatening to burst! I clutched at my throat. My heart thudded out of my chest while my lungs and throat struggled as hard as they could to expel the foreign objects I’d lodged inside of me. Spots started to dance in front of my eyes. My panic and surprise was only speeding up my bodies need for life-giving oxygen.
I couldn’t calm down, though. I was going to die! I was going to die for a stupid, childish prank that would have inconvenienced my oppressors for the better part of a day at best. How stupid! How immature! How incredibly, irredeemably idiotically stupid! Something a child might do. Something a baby mi-
A small explosion of brown powder ignited and burst forth from my mouth, making a breakfast scented cloud three inches away from my face. I hacked powder up meekly puffing out in short, pathetic breaths, ravenous for air.
I bent over, heaving, my throat muscles screaming at me and begging to be turned inside out. I got one semi deep breath just before the flash began. My stomach, filled with grits, artificial cheese and whole milk, had had enough. If I wasn’t going to lubricate my innards by drinking something, it would solve the problem in its own way.
Frothy, milky white vomit leapt out of me, burbling forth like a pot of pasta boiling over, spilling out over my mouth and down my chin dripping over onto my formerly pristine sailor suit.
I snuck in another gasping breath just in time. Beouf was by my side, gently rubbing my back as I heaved another round onto the prop I’d been placed on and leaned forward to make sure it’d hit the floor, too.
“UUUUUUUUUUUURGHLE!” It was the closest I’d yet come to baby babble.
“EWWWWWW!” came a chorus of high pitched and revulsed. “GROSS!”
“It’s okay, baby. It’s okay.” Beouf was back to being a surrogate Mommy in Janet’s place. My own foul play wasn’t suspected, yet.
That presumption of innocence despite evidence ended with the sounds of more coughing and sputtering coming from the line. Annie and Billy followed my lead and seconds after me were spewing gobs of partially digested grits and cow juice all over the floor. Annie went the extra mile and puked right on Sandra Lynn behind her.
That got Sandra Lynn going. Sandra Lynn in turn, got Ivy going, doing her best to cover her mouth as heaps of homemade cottage cheese oozed out between her finger tips and dripped onto sky blue frills. Jesse, similarly, had a weak constitution.
After my third or fourth wet heave, I could have sworn I saw Chaz trying to stick his finger down his throat.
“Ugh! That smell!” I heard someone say. “So…UUUUUUUURGHLE!”
Screams joined and drowned out the sounds of mass vomiting. The acoustics and high ceiling of the cafeteria were perfect for it. The very thing that created a constant white noise in the cafeteria thanks to overlapping conversations amongst hundreds of students made it so that the barfing and puking and screams and shrieks could be heard note for note in the largely empty space and otherwise shocked silence.
Elmer ruined his dress shoes and Tracy was doing her very best at separating the children who had vomited away from the children who had not, inching tiny feet away from a growing pool of puke with all the deadly seriousness of someone avoiding hot lava. I faintly heard Zoge say something about custodial services back and fetching a mop.
Todd looked like a deer frozen in headlights milliseconds before impact. Todd was likely considering new career options.
Ambrose just stood glaring at me like I’d declared war on her, personally. So that was nice.
Beouf stood next to me, clawing at her face, confused, angry, and frozen next to me, looking like she was having the mother of all war flashbacks. I’d just dropped a bomb on her.
Red faced, and gasping for air, approximately thirty whole seconds had passed before my stomach had run out of contents and another ten before my throat gave up digging for more. I spent another three deep breaths regaining something resembling composure.
“Clark Gibson,” Beouf uttered in pure undiluted existential horror. “What have you done?”
Panting, red faced, with a mouth tasting of stale milk and stomach acid, I gave no reply. I just threw back my head and crowed peeling cackles of laughter.