There were ten girls at the sleepover, eleven if one counted Mary's tortoiseshell cat, Tammy, who slept in her box. A rational person would not, however, so there were ten. All ten went to the same class and all ten were fourteen years old. They spent the day as any fourteen year old girls would when left in a house without adult supervision for a long time: writing prank love letters to the hostess' older brother, sixteen, and then forcing him to read them to one another's embarrassment. The brother's name was not important to these girls and so the letters, as well as a barrage of demeaning taunts, were all addressed to 'Spazz'.

In addition to the verbal assaults, the ten inflicted countless pinches, snaps and pokes on the poor boy – overpowering him and holding him down from 3:35 to 3:39 in order to inscribe his newly-christened name on his forehead in big, black letters. To this some had sacrificed a few bruises and whatever innocence they may have possessed in regards to foul language, but the end-result was well worth it and their joy at seeing the permanent marker inscription was overwhelming and complete.

Spazz had returned the favor by disconnecting the only television in the house and at 11:05 the girls, bored of each other's company, turned in for the night. The hostess and four of the girls took the mother's bedroom, four settled in the children's room (Spazz long evicted from his own bed), and one, Cassandra, having bragged that she was the bravest and now in need of backing up her claims, went down to the couch in the basement.

Cassandra was a strange girl and wildly pretty. She wore a different-colored sock on each foot and knee-high fishnet stockings that had originally belonged to her mother. At school she talked about heavy metal bands and had that picture of that drummer, the handsome one that still looked young and was probably very dangerous, taped up in her locker. She wore her father's pajama shirt but she had cut off the buttons and replaced them with clothing pins. In their sleep little township she was unique. The X's on her hands proved it so.

The couch was roomy, sunken and comfortable and it was maybe one or maybe two in the morning when a rat ran across Cassandra's chest. The rat stopped at her collar, its tail lightly brushing her cheek. It twitched its whiskers and tickled her jaw. Its breath smelled like alcohol and Trident.

Cassandra twitched her own nose in response and pursed her lips and the rat brushed its tail over her mouth now, filling it with the aftertaste of alcohol and Trident. It was not unpleasant. She opened her eyes and looked at the rat. And the rat looked at her. The rat had brown eyes and on its forehead big, black letters spelled 'Spazz'.

"Keep your fucking mouth shut," he told her and she obeyed. His hands were now on her in places no one save herself ever touched since infancy. They were everywhere at once, feeling, and they were strong and persistent. She disobeyed her instructions when she was penetrated. She told him to get off her but she mouthed the words inaudibly and had he cared for them, the would have made no sense.

The rat was heavy. The couch sagged under its weight on top of hers. He told her shhh…. As if she was a child. "You owe me," he added and, bracing his weight on one arm, pointed to his forehead. "Ten times over, for all of them."

She looked at him and said a stupid thing: "Nine, one's your sister."

He chuckled into her neck. "Niner it is, niner it is," echoed in her ear. Then he told her to undo the clothing pins. Herself.

She did not move. He repeated it calmly, quietly as before. She looked into his eyes and found something different in them. He did not have to repeat himself thrice. When she was exposed for him he slapped her. But not hard. Just casually, like he'd slap a buddy on the back after a game, only across the face. It didn't hurt, she didn't cry.

"You're a slut," he told her and kissed her on the mouth and then he undid his belt and kicked his pants off.

When she woke up that morning he was still on top of her. They were both nude. She never looked at him but she knew by the way their skin was stuck together and by the warmth she felt all over. Possessed, she ran a hand over his back and found the texture of it odd. When he awoke she feigned sleep. He dressed quickly.

"Wake up," he told her and she obediently opened her eyes.

"Here," he dug in his back pocket and pulled out some folded bills, separating a $10 note. "One's extra, consider it a tip." He threw the money at her. It landed on her stomach. She closed her eyes and when she heard his footsteps receding up the stairs, only then she cried.