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Beast
Author:Brie Spangler

“No,” I say.

“Are you sure? Can I run out and get you a burger or something? An apple pie? You love apple pies.”

“Mom!”

“Okay, all right, fine.” She disappears.

Dr. Jensen regards me once we’re alone. “Okay, now what’s the real problem?”

His eyes are lasers. “It’s, uh…Well, ah, can you…” I shake my head, my pathetic head.

“Can I what?” Dr. Jensen checks his watch.

I sigh and try again. This might be my only shot. “Can you refer me to anyone who can change…me?”





TWO


I’m not complaining; it’s just unfair.

And the worst is that if I ever bring it up with anyone, all I get is: suck it up. Unless it’s my mom, and then I get a “you’re so wonderful and amazing and I love you, hooray forever and ever” pile of Mom pom-poms (Mom-Poms?). Which is why I never talk to her about the stuff that really bothers me anymore. Besides, it’s not like she can stop me from getting hairier.

The first time I wore a T-shirt to school in the seventh grade, Madison said it looked like I dipped myself in glue and rolled around on a dog groomer’s floor. After that, I didn’t wear short sleeves until the ninth grade, when we had a heat wave in late September and it got so hot I couldn’t stand it anymore.

It’s no fluke that my nickname is the Beast. Or Furball or Sasquatch or Wolfman. It changes by the day. I laugh, but I hate them all. I’d rather not be a hairy slab of meat, or have a five o’clock shadow by noon. I’d rather not have knuckles so furry you can’t even tell if I’m wearing my dad’s ring or not. Rather not have chest hair squirt up the neck of my T-shirt. Front and back.

I’ve heard girls whisper that it’s gross, that I’m nasty. I am aware.

One of the worst days in my life was when I went to get my back waxed. The fact that Mom was willing to take me to her salon was mortifying enough, but I was desperate. Last summer my friends and I were going to Splish-Splash and I wanted everyone to see I was capable of de-cavemanning. Sue me, but I thought if certain young ladies could see that I’m loaded with enough solid muscle to throw a cow over each hairless, smooth shoulder, their perceptions might change. Unfortunately, I found out manscaping one’s back is impossible if you have the dexterity of a T. rex. I couldn’t reach it all myself and needed the help of trained professionals, so Mom brought me to her nail salon. Cue the laugh track.

The lady brought me behind a curtain and I stood there, glued to the floor.

She looked all the way up at me and took a step back. “What do you want?”

“What do you mean?”

“You.” She flicked her hands like she was shooing a big fly. “Where do you want wax?”

If she only knew how hard it was for me to walk behind this shabby white curtain, maybe she might not look so disgusted. I swallowed and thought of Splish-Splash. Of being a normal fifteen-year-old. “My back?” I said in a small voice. “My shoulders?”

“Take your shirt off.”

I did as I was told.

She clicked her teeth and sighed. “Lie down.”

I did that too. It took four hours. Four of the most painful hours ever, but when I was done, everything was smooth. The lady sat slumped in the chair and my mom gave her a big tip.

We both knew it was gross if Mom said anything, so she didn’t, but when I got home, I hung my hair in my face and turned around and around in the mirror. It was all gone. I didn’t look like a throw rug. I looked like a person. It was amazing. I was ready for Splish-Splash. I was ready for Fern Chapman to jump up and sit on my shoulders so we’d win at chicken in the pool.

Fern. What can I say about Fern? She’s gorgeous and smells like a flower. She’s the type of girl I want next to me so JP can nod, like I did good. She has big blue eyes and she’s small enough that I can definitely save her from a burning building or a car wreck or something. Pocket-sized, as JP would say. She’s perfect.