The Weirdest February 29th ever. For Emily
Janie got her clothes on almost without thinking about it, and walked downstairs to get breakfast. Her mother was there, wearing her fuzzy blue supergirl pajamas. She looked at Janie for only a second before her jaw dropped open. "Janie! Why are all your clothes on backwards?"
Janie looked down, and sure enough, everything was backwards. Her pants were reversed, and the tag from her white T-shirt was prickling into the top of her chest. She pulled her arms in and squirmed until it was facing the right way, but she could feel her face turning red with embarrassment.
She threw her hands up and said, "Sorry Mom, I don't know what happened. I think I'll just go into the bathroom and fix my pants."
"O.k.," her mother said, "but don't forget to brush your teeth and hair!"
Janie pulled her pants down and turned them around, and started brushing her hair with her toothbrush. It was a little bit wet and pushed her tangled brown hair everywhere. Then when she went to brush her teeth, the pink bristly hairbrush really felt rough on her tongue! What was wrong with her today? She seemed to be mixing everything up! She tried to brush her hair again, but the toothpaste on her toothbrush got it all blue and goopy.
Janie couldn't help it. She yelled out loud. "Mom! I need help! Everything is going wrong!"
"What is it?" her mother asked. "No playing around, now. You need to get ready for school."
Her mother looked down at her carefully, at all the blue in her hair. "Oh, no," she said.
"What is it?!" Janie asked, almost ready to cry.
"Today is February 29th, and you're ten years old. That makes it Backwards Day! There was a witch a long time ago that cursed all the girls in our family, so they would have a backwards day. Your great-great grandmother made fun of the witch, and didn't believe in her magic. The witch gave us Backwards Day in revenge."
"No, it's not fair!" Janie said. "I didn't do anything, and I would never make fun of a witch. That's just mean. Can I stay home from school today, just until Backwards Day is over?"
"I'm sorry," her mother said. "You can't hide from it. If I keep you home from school instead of doing what you planned for today, Backwards Day will be tomorrow too, and every day until you do your normal things for the day. You just have to be very careful. If something starts getting reversed, just stop and wait. The funniness will pass."
"Did anything bad happen in your Backwards Day, mom?"
Her mother nodded. "It wasn't easy. Some kids laughed at me, but I laughed too, and everyone thought it was a joke. I had to go to the Principal's office, but after that things were fine."
"I'm scared, mom," Janie said, shivering.
"You don't have to be," her mother side calmly. "Sit down, and let me brush your hair. It's getting late."
Backwards Day was every bit as weird as Janie was afraid it would be, but it was a lot funnier too. She got on the bus with no problem, but accidentally went to room 5 instead of room 2. Once she was there, she squealed and said in front of the whole class, "Thank you! Make sure I don't go to Mrs. Anderson's room."
And that was just crazy, because she meant to say she was sorry, and she wanted help to go to Mrs. Bailey's room, but everything was coming out all wrong. When she did get to the right room, even her best friend Katy laughed at her and started asking questions.
"What color is the grass?" Katy would ask.
"Red," Janie said, and covered her the back of her head in embarrassment. "I have a good spell on me today, and it's getting better. Everything I say comes out forwards."
"Don't worry," Katy said, and laughed. "I think it's very funny. I'll help look after you, though. Try to stay as quiet as possible in class, and I'll make sure to order lunch for you, so you don't end up eating something gross."
Janie wanted to agree, but all she could do was shake her head. Katy seemed to understand, though. She was a good friend.
Lunch went fine because Janie was able to be quiet and let Katy speak for her most of the time. Except all her friends wanted to ask her questions and hear the crazy backward answers.
The hardest part of the day was math class, when school was almost over. The teacher asked if Janie would mind solving a problem on the whiteboard. Janie of course nodded and said yes, even though she was so scared her hands shook and her stomach clenched. The teacher asked her to add two three-digit numbers. Instead, Janie was clever and tried to subtract them, so she ended up getting the right answer! Of course, she accidentally wrote all the numbers reversed, but everyone just thought that was funny. The problem was when Janie tried to go back to her seat, she ended up sitting in the wrong place!
Everyone laughed, but the teacher just shook her head. The cute boy she sat beside asked teasingly, "What are you doing here? Do you like me and want to be my girlfriend?"
"Yes, of course," Janie said, and almost choked. What? Of all the times to be backwards!
"That's funny," the boy said. "I know you're joking, but I think we should be friends. My name is Billy."
"I'm Katy," she said.
Billy shook his head and smiled. "No, that's Katy over there. You're Janie, silly. I heard the teacher call your name earlier."
"Quiet, kids! We need to be respectful in the classroom."
"Yes, Mrs. Fiorelli," the kids said, except for Janie. She was too scared to talk.
When the class was over, Billy smiled and said goodbye to Janie. "It was fun to sit next to you today. I'll see you tomorrow, o.k.?"
Janie didn't say anything, but she was glad. School was over, and nothing terrible had happened. Katy helped make sure she got on the right bus, 13 instead of 31, and Janie got home just fine.
"How did Backwards Day go?" her mother asked.
"It went great," Janie said, and this time she meant it.