Art by Lori Michelle Adams
* * *
Jenny walked home helplessly because she would never fit in with the rest of the class. As she walked down the hall, they would point and laugh at her. Before class, the boys would hide her things and never return them. During class, they would shoot spit balls at her. She did not like high school at all.
But she tried to forget all those bad moments. At least she had one thing that made her cheer up, a friend. Her name was Joy. She wasn’t around often, but she would sometimes walk her home and keep the bullies off her back.
Right now, they are walking home together. Jenny told Joy all the things that oppress her. “Awe, don’t feel bad, Jenny,” said Joy, “they’re just jerks. They want you to feel that way. Ignore them and they’ll stop."
“But I can’t!” cried Jenny. Her voice became teary. “Today I couldn’t even turn in my homework because they took my math book!” She silently started weeping.
“Hey, I know!” said Joy, turning around and facing Jenny. “We can switch bodies!”
Those words struck Jenny deep in the heart. She couldn’t tell whether she needed it or not. “Y-you’re serious?” she asked.
“Of course!” replied Joy. “Come on, I’ll show you where we can do it!” Joy started off into the woods on the other side of the street, leaving Jenny with not enough time to ask questions. Oh, well, she thought. Jenny started running off after Joy.
Jenny ran as far as she could go. She finally stopped at the sight of a fountain Joy was standing next to. The fountain was one of the most beautiful things Jenny had ever seen. Pure, clean water poured down the sides, dripping slight sprinkles into the basin. It had a beautiful white color that reflected in the sunlight.
Jenny raised her head and stared at it, taking deep breaths from her long run. “Joy,” said Jenny in amazement. “What is it?”
“The fountain of Lithelelle,” replied Joy. “But it isn’t all you think. Do you know what they used it for in the past? Criminals would force innocent citizens to switch bodies with them so they can get away with their crimes. Spooky, huh?”
“Yeah,” said Jenny. “How do we do it?”
Joy walked up to the fountain and put her hands on the sides. “It’s simple. All we do is take a sip from the water at the same time.” She turned her head and faced Jenny in a ‘even though it sounds stupid, we should do it’ face.
Jenny made an ‘okay, let’s try it, but it sounds very weird’ face. “Alright” she said. She sighed.
They leaned their head over in a position that allowed them to drink. “On three,” said Joy. “One… two… three!” They took a long sip of the water, but let it stay in their mouth. They faced each other. Joy pointed one finger up, and then she held two fingers up, then three. On three, they both took a big gulp. “Wow, the water tastes weird,” said Joy.
“Tell me about it,” said Jenny. She felt an uneasy sickening feeling in her stomach. “Ohhh, I’ve got to go home,” said Jenny. She started walking away leaving Joy.
Joy smiled. “Everything going according to plan,” she whispered to herself.
What a weird thing to do, thought Jenny to herself while in bed. She didn’t know why she had done that. Was that---witchcraft? Or was it just a hoax to cheer her up?
She didn’t know. She lay in her bed, wondering, until she went into a deep, dreamless sleep.
The next morning, she woke up with a bad start. She noticed she had nearly fallen off the bed. When she got up, her back started aching. “Ohhh,” she moaned. She walked up to her mirror and grabbed her brush.
When she looked up at her mirror, she saw a different reflection. She squinted, making sure it was her. She rubbed her eyes and took a closer look. “Ahhh!” she screamed in terror. There, standing before her eyes, was Joy’s body, with the same exact terrifying expression.
Jenny fell back. She looked at her hands in panic, realizing that the nails were more pointed and the hands were a lot more slender. She wanted to scream again, but she was too scared to even talk. That thing I did yesterday, thought Jenny. Was that a real ritual? If that was, I need to go talk to her, now.
She got up shaky and dizzy from breathing too hard. She unsteadily walked down the stairs and out the door into the driveway. It was still early in the morning, and she still thought she could get to Joy’s house before she went to class. I need to tell her everything, she thought.
She started jogging down the street slowly, taking short breaths after each step. It felt very tiring, though. Early in the morning she woke up as someone else, and now she’s jogging down the street.
Finally, she reached her friend’s house. “Joy!” she shouted. She started pounding on the door. “Joy, Joy! It’s me, Jenny!” But there was no response.
She was desperate to get inside. She gave herself no choice but the break in. She ran around to the back of the house and peeped in the window. She could make out Joy’s parents sitting on a couch from behind. Oh, good she thought.
She walked briskly to the backdoor and shoved it open. “Joy!” she shouted, but still no answer. She ran up to her parents who were sitting on the couch. “Mr. and Mrs. Travis,” she said in an exhausting, frail voice. When she saw the face to face, she fell back.
“Ahhh!” she screamed. Joy’s parents were dead. Their pale face hung behind them with their eyes wide open as a dark trail of blood slid down their necks. Jenny couldn’t bear the horror. She covered her eyes. I’ve got to get out of here, she thought. I’ve got to–
The front door slammed wide open. Jenny uncovered her eyes to find two police men standing before her. Then what she thought made her heart sink. Was Joy switching bodies with me – to get away with murder?
Almost immediately after that thought, she fell into a deep, deep sleep.
Jenny saw a white ceiling in front of her. She opened her eyes and noticed that she was in a room. She immediately got up and looked around. She saw her friend Joy sitting next to her bed. “Joy!” shouted Jenny in anger. “You…”
“Thank goodness you’re alright,” said Joy, cutting Jenny off. “I was worried sick.”
Jenny looked puzzled. “I’m alright?” she asked.
“Yeah,” replied Joy. “You’ve bee sick for three days. You keep thinking that you’re me.”
“But I thought we switched bodies.”
“That’s another thing you thought happened. But don’t worry, it was all a dream. Right now, you’re in the hospital.”
“But what about those two cops?” Jenny asked.
“They aren’t cops,” said Joy. “Their doctors. I hear they chased you down the street.”
Jenny was frightened of what the terrible dream she had. “You’re right, it was just a dream,” she said.