She stepped into the gym, shifting her backpack to her other shoulder. “Anyone here?” she called, her voice echoing against the high ceiling.
Her sneakers squeaked on the shiny, polished floor. She glanced up at the scoreboard clock. Not even four-thirty.
Practice usually lasted until five, she knew.
So where was everyone?
Had they moved the practice outdoors? Sometimes they did that on nice days. It was good to practice in the stadium, get some fresh air, get out of the gym, which was usually stifling hot.
But it was gray and blustery outside today, not a day for an outdoor practice.
Her footsteps echoed as she made her way to Miss Green’s office and peered in through the big glass window.
Empty. The papers all neatly stacked on one corner of the desk. The chair pushed in.
I guess practice ended early for some reason, Corky thought, shaking her head.
Well, Bobbi must be glad. She wasn’t in any mood to face the girls anyway.
Bobbi. I wanted to talk to her, to make up, Corky thought.
She pushed open the door to the locker room and stuck her head inside. “Bobbi? Anyone?”
The locker room seemed empty too.
She was about to close the door when she heard the sound of rushing water.
Someone’s taking a shower, she decided.
She made her way into the locker room, warmer and steamier than usual. Through a row of lockers.
She spotted someone’s clothes tossed onto one of the long benches that stretched in front of the lockers. On the other side of the lockers, she could hear the rush of shower water going full force. She picked up the sweatshirt, recognized it as Bobbi’s.
So Bobbi was taking a shower.
Where were the other girls?
This didn’t make any sense.
Corky took a step toward the shower room, then stopped. She had spotted something on the floor under Bobbi’s things. Something shiny.
She bent down and picked it up, bringing it up close to her face to examine it. It was Kimmy’s silver pendant, the shiny little megaphone.
It must have fallen off again, Corky decided. She rolled it into a tissue and stuffed it into the pocket of her jeans.
I’ll have to remember to return it to her.
She walked past the lockers, turned toward the shower room, then stopped in surprise. The shower doors were closed.
Weird, she thought.
The shower doors were never closed. She didn’t even know they could close.
As Corky drew nearer, the rush of water on the other side of the door grew louder. Could one shower make all that noise? she wondered.
She knocked on the metal door. “Hey—Bobbi!”
“Bobbi?” She pounded harder.
She can’t hear me over the water, Corky decided.
She put a hand on each of the two door handles and pulled.
The doors swung open easily.
“Hey—!” Corky shrieked as a tidal wave of hot water came spewing out at her. “Whoa!”
Startled, she staggered back until she bumped into the side of a locker. The hot water rolled over her sneakers, washed up onto the legs of her jeans.
‘Ow! Hey—” It was boiling hot.
She looked up to see thick, white steam floating into the locker room, like a fog rolling over a beach.
What’s going on? she wondered, more angry than frightened. Who closed the doors?
Where is Bobbi?
The steaming hot water flooded through the locker room, but it sounded as if the water had been shut off. Walking on tiptoe, Corky made her way back to the shower room.
Holding on to the tile wall, she peered inside, squinting against the swirling steam.
And saw Bobbi.
Lying facedown against the wall under the shower heads.
Through gaps in the parting fog, her body slowly became visible.
Her arms were crumpled beneath her. Her legs were folded. Her hair was soaked and matted over her head and onto the floor.
Her back, her legs, her skin—her entire body was as red as a lobster.
Gripped with fear, Corky plunged into the room, dropped to her knees in the scalding water.
With a loud gasp, she reached down and pulled her sister’s head up by the hair.
“Bobbi—? Bobbi—? Please?”
Bobbi stared back at her with vacant, wide-eyed terror, her flesh swollen and red, her mouth locked open in a silent scream.
No. No answer.
The heavy steam settled over Corky, making her shiver.
Holding her sister tightly in her arms, Corky knew that Bobbi would never answer her again.