The girls were gathered together at Sophie’s house: Lucie, Janelle, and Dani. They had known each other since childhood and, at the ripe old age of 13, they were tighter than ever and always would be, Sophie just knew it.
There was also Melissa. Sophie’s mom knew Melissa’s mom and happened to mention the sleepover; one thing led to another and here was creepy Melissa, ruining Sophie’s special night.
“Why’d she have to come?” asked Lucie.
“Oh, you know,” said Janelle. “We have to be nice to her because her mom’s head of PTA and all our moms know her mom.”
“That sucks ass,” said Dani. They all agreed, except for Melissa, who was picking at a baggie of baby carrots.
The four best friends were eating pizza, which they grudgingly offered to Melissa. Fortunately, Melissa had celiac disease and couldn’t eat the crust. Plus she was lactose-intolerant and couldn’t have cheese; she was allergic to mushrooms; and she was a vegetarian, and there was sausage and pepperoni. That was good news, at least.
“Well, I guess we have to in-clude her,” said Sophie, sighing heavily. Wearily, she asked if Melissa would like to play a game. To everyone’s chagrin, Melissa did.
There was some discussion as to what they would play. Lucie insisted on Spin the Bottle, which set them all giggling, but then they all glanced at creepy Melissa who didn’t even notice her hair trailing into the corner of her mouth and they decided they didn’t have a bottle to spin.
Janelle thought they should play Truth or Dare, but they glanced at weirdo Melissa and decided they really didn’t want to know any of her secrets.
Dani suggested Strip Poker, which got them giggling again; Lucie and Dani grinned at each other significantly. But Sophie and Janelle considered pale, flat-chested Melissa with her weird skin condition on her left forearm and apologized but they weren’t very strong at Poker.
It was Melissa who quietly said, “What about Light as a Feather?”
Lucie and Dani looked at her thoughtfully. Janelle’s brow furrowed and she demanded to know what this was. Melissa shrank slightly and said, “Oh, it’s this game I’ve heard of. You, like, have this person lie down and and close her eyes, and someone tells her how she died, like in a motorcycle accident or something, and everyone else puts their fingers under her arms and legs and they all say, ‘light as a feather, light as a feather,’ and they just kinda… lift her up.” Melissa looked down and blushed. “Because she’s suddenly, like, really light.”
Sophie was double-stunned: stunned to hear Melissa speak up, and stunned to hear her come up with a genuinely cool idea. Her eyes shot nervously from girl to girl, her mind racing for an insult.
Janelle scowled and said, “Sounds stupid,” but Lucie and Dani assured her it was actually really cool.
Sophie was now officially triple-stunned and her party was spinning out of control. “Well, have you done it before? Does it work?” she demanded of Melissa, who admitted she’d never actually tried it. Sophie grinned at her friends, and in concert they dragged Melissa to the middle of the living room floor and knelt around her.
Sophie, sitting at her head, tried to think of an appropriate method of demise, and then she had the perfect idea. She leaned in close to Melissa’s ear and recited in a somber tone: “You showed up for school last Frida-a-a-ay. You went to the bathroo-oo-oom. There were some girls wa-a-a-aiting for yo-o-o-ou.” Lucie and Dani giggled; Janelle, smiling, shushed them. “They turned out the li-i-i-ights. They knocked you to the gro-o-o-ound. They stabbed you repe-e-e-eatedly.” Melissa gave a small whimper but didn’t open her eyes.
All the girls placed a pair of fingers under her shoulders and her knees. They began to quietly chant, “Light as a feather… light as a feather…” They looked up at Sophie, who nodded, and they started to lift their hands.
To their amazement, Melissa’s body had stiffened and become, indeed, light as a feather. They raised her body a few inches off the carpet, then a full foot, and then up to eye level.
Lucie looked at Sophie and mouthed, “It’s working!” Sophie nodded and motioned all the girls to stand up, which they did a little awkwardly. Still bearing weightless Melissa, they crept slowly towards the front door, which Janelle opened. Cool night air flowed over four pairs of bare teenage feet.
Sophie gave Melissa’s shoulders a shove. The rigid body drifted out of the girls’ hands and through the door. A breeze stirred Melissa’s nightgown and her body spun lazily up toward the sky. Within minutes she was completely gone.
As they stood in the open doorway, slack-jawed, someone behind them gasped, “What the hell was that?” The girls screamed and spun to find Tom, Sophie’s older brother. His eyes were wide and his skin was pale.
“Um, we, um,” said Sophie. The other girls had nothing to contribute.
“I’m telling mom and dad,” he informed them. “You are so busted.”
Janelle grabbed Sophie’s hand. “Soft as Jell-o!” she screamed at the girls, who joined hands and chanted the phrase. Janelle reached out and tapped Tom’s head, which rippled and lurched sickeningly to the side. He gurgled, clutched the sides of his skull to steady it, and staggered out of the room.
Sophie turned to her friends. They stared back at her in silence, shivering in the cool night air.
“Now what?” asked Janelle. Lucie and Dani held each other.
Sophie thought for a moment and asked, “…Want to go on an adventure?”
In another room a woman screamed.
Slowly, the girls smiled, nodded, and closed the door behind them.