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The Magic Tunnel (Ending #8)


"Bobbie!" she exclaimed, amazed at the strange new sound of her own voice, "I - I couldn't find the cabinet. Everything seems changed..." her voice trailed off in confusion.
"We've gotta get back upstairs to class now, Beth," the girl who looked like Bobby said. "Mrs. Wilkins is gonna be mad that we've been gone so long."
She turned and walked quickly back up the stairs. Beth followed a couple of steps behind, aware of the strangeness of her clothing, the rustling of her petticoat, her skirt brushing against her stockinged legs. When she reached out to grab the banister she saw that she was wearing a gold chain bracelet and a tiny gold ring with a pink stone on her right hand.
"Well, where have you two little lost ladies been?" Mrs. Wilkins exclaimed as they opened the classroom door. Everybody in the room was staring at them and Beth felt her cheeks redden in embarrassment.
Bobbi saved the day: "The closet was locked and we had to find Mr. Jakubauska to get this eraser."
Beth handed it to Mrs. Wilkins and the two went to their seats. As she went to sit down she noticed that the redheaded girl who had been sitting behind her was now a boy with a red crewcut. She sneaked a glance around the room and was amazed to see that the looking glass effect had changed all the kids in the class. In fact, everybody but Mrs. Wilkins was different. The skinny blond boy who had been chosen last at recess to play football was now sitting in front of Beth twirling red-nailed fingers through her golden curls and fiddling with her barrettes while her teacher droned on about the hypotenuse and the value of pi.
"Leslie," Mrs. Wilkins asked a tall girl in a green jumper in the front row, "what is the formula for the area of a right triangle?"
Beth recognized Leslie as the boy who had asked Billy to play touch football that afternoon. She stared, fascinated at the changes that made Larry into Leslie: thin, penciled eyebrows, mascara, pink lip gloss, tiny gold hoop earrings, brown, shoulder-length hair with bangs. Maybe, she thought, it's just an illusion created by makeup and girl's clothing. But then Leslie half-turned in her seat to answer Mrs. Wilkins and Beth saw her figure in profile. Her heart sank as she realized what she would find when she got home and unbuttoned her own blouse.
The afternoon dragged on until Beth thought she would die. Finally the bell rang and all the students sprang to their feet to leave. Beth felt a sharp tug at her braid, and turned to see the red-haired boy holding her hair bow.
"Give me that back!" she demanded. The boy grinned and dangled the bow just out of her reach. Beth lunged and grabbed his wrist as hard as she could but he shook off her tiny hand like it was a butterfly.
"You can't make me," the red-haired boy teased, and Beth suddenly realized that she didn't have the strength to take the bow from him forcibly. Hot tears of anger and shame stung her cheeks as she turned and raced from the room. His taunt of "Crybaby!" echoed after her as she ran down the hall.
Bobbi sat beside her on the bus ride home, chattering and joking, and by the time they both got off at the same stop Beth realized that even with the huge changes that had happened to their bodies, Bobbi was still her best friend. The thought cheered her up as they parted to go to their neighboring houses, and Beth was actually humming under her breath when she opened the door to her house and saw her Mom in the kitchen.
For one horrible moment Beth thought her Mom would see her in girl's clothing and freak. But she just glanced up from her recipe and said "Hi, dear. You look pretty. Be sure to hang up your new dress so you can wear it again."
"Sure, Mom," Beth said as she went up the familiar stairs to her room. When she entered it she froze with the second-biggest shock since seeing her new self in the dusty mirror. Her room was entirely changed too! The bed and bookcase were covered with a collection of Beanie Babies, and instead of Bill's football and racecar pictures there were movie posters of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonathan Taylor-Thomas and the Backstreet Boys. The dresser was littered with jewelry, nail polish, hair ribbons, papers and photographs. There were pictures of her at a girl scout cookout, other girls' school pictures with notes written on the back, a snapshot of her standing between her proud parents in her white confirmation dress and one of her and Bobbi washing her Dad's car in their bathing suits. Through the open closet door Beth could see dresses and skirts and blouses and the floor of her closet was covered with shoes of every color.
Beth sighed as she took stock of herself in front of the big closet door mirror. With trembling hands she took off her dress and petticoat and hung them up in the closet, forgetting to take the rock out of the pocket. Memories of being a boy seemed almost like a dream. She put the tights into the clothes hamper and returned to see herself in her underwear. "My hips are too big," she thought, "and my breasts are too small. I'll never be as pretty as my Mom." Then she flushed in confusion as she remembered the changes that had happened when she went through the tunnel. "It's still happening," she realized. "I'm still changing inside. Maybe tomorrow this will all seem normal to me, wearing tights and dresses and having a best girlfriend, skipping rope and throwing underhand and being picked on by boys. Anyway," Beth brightened, "if it doesn't work out I can always go back through the tunnel and be a boy again." She shivered involuntarily, remembering the red-haired bully. "Eeeww! Boys!"
"Elizabeth!" her Mom called up the stairs, "Bobbi's here. Change your clothes and come down!"
Beth quickly slipped on a pair of shorts and a pink tee shirt and sandals, then removed the rubber band and unbraided and brushed her long, black hair at the dresser. When she saw the familiar, pretty face framed by flowing hair in the mirror a mischievous smile flickered on her lips and she impulsively puckered and applied cherry lip-gloss. "You go, girl!" she murmured encouragingly to herself, scampering downstairs to give her best friend a hug.


bulletThis story is continued by Eva on the next page.

zballThis ending was written by Kendra Wilson, age 13, New York.

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