Finally Read online

  I scoop it into my other hand, lift my leg until it’s resting on the counter, and spread the shaving cream in a long line from my ankle to my knee. I squirt, scoop, and apply until my leg is completely covered, with no hair showing through anywhere. With a deep breath, I place the razor at my ankle, and slowly draw it upward. All it does is take off a layer of shaving cream. Maybe I piled it on too thick? I wipe some off on a towel until it’s about half as thick and I can see the tops of the hair. This is very messy. I have to grip on to the counter to keep from slipping, getting shaving cream from my hands onto the countertop in the process.

  Take two, as they say in the movie biz. This time I can see the razor is making contact with my skin. I think it’s working! Hair is definitely piling up on the top of the razor as I slide it up! And I don’t even feel it! When I get to my knee, I turn the razor over in my hand and start back down. The razor is about halfway to my ankle when the pain registers in my brain. OW! It stings! It stings! It hurts a ton! I reach blindly for the shaving-cream-covered towel and press it to my leg.

  A minute later, still stinging, I pull the towel away and instantly get dizzy at the sight of the blood soaking it. I reach for the counter to catch myself, but my hand slides right off because of all the shaving cream. I fall backward, razor in one hand, bloody towel in the other. It’s a miracle I don’t hit my head on the bathtub or slice up my face with the razor as my arms flail around. I land square on my butt. Fortunately the bath mat saves me from direct contact with the hard tile floor.

  Ten seconds later, Mom is knocking loudly on the door. “Everything okay in there?”

  I shake out my limbs to make sure nothing’s broken. “I’m fine, just slipped.” If she pulled the towel out of the hole in the door, she’d have a perfect view of me splayed on the floor. Instead she just says, “You really need to be more careful, Rory.”

  As soon as I hear her go back downstairs, I limp into my room, a new towel pressed against my leg, and call Annabelle. I know she told me to text her, but I only have one hand. She answers, and I can hear people talking and laughing in the background. Before she has a chance to tell me she can’t talk, I say, “I used the razor. I’m bleeding. A lot. What do I do?”

  “What did the babysitting book tell us to do about bleeding?”

  “I didn’t read that part.”

  “Did you put water on your leg before putting on the shaving cream? You did use the shaving cream, right?”

  “Yes, I used it; no, I didn’t wet my leg first. Was I supposed to? It hurts!”

  “Did you shave your leg up, and not down?”

  “Yes and no. First up, then down.”

  “Didn’t you read the instructions on the can?”

  “There are instructions? And don’t yell at me. I’m in pain here.”

  “Okay, I just found the babysitting book. It says to clean it off with cold water, and then hold a towel over it until the bleeding stops.”


  “It also says if it doesn’t stop in ten minutes, you might need stitches.”

  I look at my clock. It’s probably been a good six minutes already.

  “And it says to elevate it. That means lift it up.”

  I thank her and also mutter that she never should have left me, then limp back to the bathroom. I wish I’d wiped the shaving cream off first, because I’ve left a trail leading from the bathroom to my room, and back again. Once I’ve stuck my leg under the bathtub faucet to rinse off the remaining shaving cream, it is easier to assess the damage. Seems like I managed to peel a few layers of skin off the inside of my left calf. The skin is actually hanging there, mocking me.

  On the positive side, the swath of leg directly next to the gash is nearly hair free.

  Eight Band-Aids later, I’ve pretty much managed to hold the skin back in place. But as soon as I put my leg down, the blood starts flowing again and I have to peel all the Band-Aids off and keep pressing the wet towel to it. Who knew legs bled so easily? After about ten more minutes (and two more towels), the blood finally stops. The only Band-Aids left now are Sawyer’s, which means my leg is a collage of Saturday morning cartoons. Bugs Bunny on top, followed by Big Bird, Tigger, Dora, Diego, Garfield, and Snoopy.

  And I’m no closer to those smooth, silky legs I’ll need for the soccer scene tomorrow. In fact, I’m considerably further away. The box of wax catches my eye. The slogans on the front proclaim: PAIN-FREE WAXING! NO BURNING! LONG LASTING! ALL NATURAL! The words all natural don’t impress me anymore, but I like the pain-free, no-burning part. I shove the towels all the way to the bottom of the laundry bin. The bathroom window reveals Mom watching Sawyer out back in his sandbox, which means the kitchen is free for at least a little longer. According to the instructions on the box, I only need to heat the wax for two minutes.

  The gash is on the inner part of my leg, so if I walk too quickly, it rubs up against my other calf. This is not good. This hurts like heck. I have to walk very carefully and slowly, which is frustrating, because Sawyer’s short attention span to any activity means he could get bored of the sandbox at any minute and lead Mom back inside. Once the rest of my legs are hair free, she’ll be so impressed she won’t bother to question me about the bloody gash.

  When I finally make it to the kitchen, I carefully peel off the plastic and stick the container of wax in the microwave. Dad always says A watched pot never boils, and usually I agree with him. But the timer on the microwave is ticking down the seconds SO SLOWLY and I really, REALLY don’t want Mom to walk in right now.

  I stop the microwave a few seconds before it can make its loud beep, grab the container, and hobble away as fast as I can, which is to say, very slowly. They must be right about the “no burning” part, because the container only feels mildly warm. Back upstairs in the bathroom, I make a point of reading the directions over twice, then spread a new towel out on the floor and ease my way down. A thin wooden spatula and strips of gauze fall out of the box when I turn it upside down. According to the directions, I have to slather on a thin layer of the wax, lay one of the gauze strips on top of it, press firmly along the length of it, grab one end, and quickly tear it off. Sounds painful, but the lady on the box is smiling as she reveals her hair-free legs, and that gives me hope.

  I scoop up some of the wax with the spatula and slowly bring it over to my non-injured leg. The wax has a pleasant smell, sort of like toasted marshmallows. I’m prepared to flinch as it makes contact with my skin, but it’s not hot, only warm and sort of comforting. I spread it upward, then add a little more to cover the spaces that the spatula skipped over. It’s not as easy to get the gauze to cover the stripe of wax exactly, and I have to push and pull it in a few directions, trying not to bunch it up too much. Maybe I took too long, and the wax hardened. I don’t know. But when I rip the gauze off, it feels like my entire leg is on fire. I gasp at the pain and watch as it turns bright red right in front of my eyes.

  Are those … blisters?

  This is so not good. I manage to stand and hobble out to the hallway. Swallowing my pride and summoning my strength, I yell, “Mom!”

  “What is it, Rory?” she calls from downstairs. “I’m making dinner.”

  “There’s been an … incident,” I call down, borrowing her own expression.

  She comes running, Sawyer at her heels. I try not to wince from the throbbing. Her eyes widen when she sees my leg — the red, blistery one — and then widen even more when she sees the one with all the Band-Aids. She quickly pushes Sawyer behind her legs, but he ducks around her. His mouth opens in a silent scream when he sees the damage I’ve inflicted.

  “You’re traumatizing your brother,” my mother scolds, ushering Sawyer into his bedroom.

  “What about me?” I shift my weight, and grimace. “I’m pretty traumatized, too!”

  “Look on the bright side. Now no one will notice your puffy face.”

  “You always know how to make me feel better, Mom,” I say, wincing as I try to turn arou