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Story Notes:
Originally posted October 10, 2006
Any hope that it’s just a bump or some latent allergy is lost when the bathroom mirror confirms the worst: it’s a zit. A huge, ugly, enormous zit right on the center of her chin where anyone can see it. Claire whines and pokes it, wondering if it will go away if she pretends it’s not there. It usually works with her brother, after all.

She closes her eyes and thinks really hard about her chin, smooth and perfect. When she opens her eyes, the pimple is still there. If anything, it looks even bigger. She groans and opens the medicine cabinet to see if she has any Oxy. Class pictures are tomorrow, and there is no way that she’s going to be immortalized in her yearbook as ‘Claire and Zit’. It’s embarrassing enough that her skirt had ridden up during cheerleading team photos, but that at least was just a flash of leg.

This, though, is a nightmare! She’s never had that dream about going to school naked or freaking out during a speech, but she has imagined people talking about her and whispering. She lets out a triumphant “yes!” when she finds a tube of pimple cream and does a little dance by the sink. This stuff had better work the wonders that it claims or she’ll be writing some angry letters to the manufacturer.

After she lathers the growing-at-a-rapid-pace zit with ointment, she washes her hands and goes to the kitchen. Fighting pimples really makes you hungry. Her brother is staying over with a friend, her mom is working, and her dad is out of town, again. She considers inviting Noah over, mostly because she’s not much of a loner, but remembers after picking up the phone that he went to visit his grandma in Abilene. Oh well. At least she has reign on the kitchen.

She checks the cabinets and the refrigerator before she finally decides on tuna salad. The radio is playing ’old time favorites’, which means it’s mostly a bunch of songs that Claire has never heard, but it’s one of the few stations in Odessa that comes in clearly, so she’s learned to deal. She sings along to some song about men drinking tequila, making up her own words while she gets the ingredients for lunch.

When it changes to a song about bopping, she uses the celery for a microphone and dances between the refrigerator and table. Always on the lookout for new moves to use in their routines, she adds a few steps to the dance and thinks the extra roll and bump might work well in the cheer the squad is working on. The tuna stinks, but the mayonnaise helps cover it up.

She’s still dancing when she starts cutting the celery and trying not to think about the Zit From Hell that is clearly on a mission to take over her entire face. She looks down at her chin, eyes crossing slightly as she tries to see if the ointment is helping. She doesn’t even realize what she’s done until she glances at the cutting board and sees the blood.

“Oh yuck,” she mutters, dropping the knife and racing to the sink. She never even felt the slice of the knife, which just goes to show how evil zits really are. She rinses the blood off, still grumbling about the accident, and is surprised to see that she nearly cut off the tip of her finger.

Patsy Cline starts singing, one of the few Claire ever recognizes, but she doesn’t sing along this time. Instead, she stares down at her hand with wide eyes as she watches the cut begin to heal. The water is still running into the sink, the husky voice of Patsy is singing about walking after midnight, and Claire is looking at the smooth skin of her no longer cut finger.

She backs away from the sink and sits down right on the floor. The linoleum is sticky from being mopped earlier, the scent of lemons makes her sneeze, and she can’t stop staring at her finger. It couldn’t have happened, of course, because that’s just impossible. She’s not crazy, she’s a cheerleader! Claire makes a face and realizes that probably isn’t the best argument, but, still, she knows she didn’t imagine this. If she’s not going insane, though, how does that explain her finger?