We were the ones who fell between the cracks in the social order. We loathed the popular kids—the jocks, cheerleaders, and rich kids. We pitied the stoners and the nerds. To all of them, we were invisible, shadows on the tile.
We wore camouflage pants, oversized shirts, shoes with untied laces, and only enough makeup to cover our zits. We were grunge before Grunge was a thing. During pep rallies, we read Sartre and Flaubert and Nietzsche.
We were adored by the administration for our GPAs, AP scores, and early admission letters. We challenged the teachers with our randomness: hypothetical questions and ethical debates some days, head-on-the desk naps on others.
Any time we needed to skip school, we would look into Mrs. Daily’s eyes just as we had practiced, and handed her folded absence notes written and signed with fat, curly motherly signatures. We had become impervious to punishment. We were superheroes.
On a night we would never mention to our parents, we bought tickets to a Pink Floyd laser light show. We poured beer into Burger King cups and sipped it through straws. We filled the bottoms of our purses with cans of Bud Light and covered them with tampons.
We piled into a Chevette and headed south, legs pressed together, windows down, wailing Dark Side of the Moon as the sun set over Cincinnati and the river was beneath us.
For two hours, we watched the light show in our 3-D glasses and forgot we were different.
Afterwards, we staggered to the car with only tampons in our bags and our glasses still on. We oohed and aahed at the streetlights, now prisms beaming rainbows of shooting stars in all directions. When we neared the chorus of Wish You Were Here, we crossed the bridge and stared at the city in rainbow. A tarp flapped from the back of the truck we followed, almost keeping beat to the song.
Boys called to us from the left lane. We touched our fingertips to theirs as they sped past. The tarp flew off the truck. It spread its dark wings and landed upon us. It covered our windshield. Our car spun off the road. We screamed. We ducked. We waited.
“We’re okay,” we said. “We’re all right.”
That night we slept alone in our beds and wondered how long our superpowers would last.
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