After a summer spent hibernating in her bedroom watching the wrestling, eating Twisties and drinking endless Frozen Cokes, Evie was distraught to discover that without really noticing, she'd turned into a fully-fledged fat girl.
So when she heard the announcement on the first day of Year 6 that the sports carnival had been brought forward so as not to clash with a planned teacher's strike later in the year Evie panicked, imagining the humiliation of coming last in every race and the boys laughing at her ugly body. So Evie came up with a plan. She didn't think of pretending to be sick that day, or forging a note from her parents that said that she wasn't allowed to participate. Evie decided that the best thing to do would be to tear off her big toenail and tell her teachers that it had mysteriously flaked off during the night.
On the night before the school carnival Evie sat on her single bed appraising each of her feet in turn. Ultimately she decided that she liked her left foot better. Evie went into the kitchen got a pair of orange-handled scissors out of the second drawer, and sat back on her bed. After taking a deep breath, Evie began to hack at her right toenail. She managed to cut a big slice of her toenail off and slowly pulled the rest off as close to the cuticle as possible. Tears rolled down her cheeks from the pain. When Evie noticed that bright red blood had begun to drip onto her Fraggle Rock doona cover she went into the bathroom to wrap some toilet paper around her big toe. More blood immediately seeped right through so Evie rolled the rest of the toilet paper around her foot and limped back to her bedroom, taping it all together with some leftover Christmas sticky tape.
Evie woke up early the next morning to assess the damage. The bleeding had stopped, but it started right up again as she peeled back the tissue from her big toe. Evie taped her foot back up and pulled a thick Explorer sock over the top. She got dressed for school in her lemon-coloured school polo shirt which had become so threadbare that her large pink nipples were visible through her top. Evie, acutely aware of the problem, tried to hide her nipples by keeping her arms folded at all times.
Mrs Molina was in charge of Gold faction that year. She had been Evie's Year 2 teacher and had been kind to her back then, but had begun to make disparaging remarks along with the rest of the teachers since Evie had started to regularly come to school with unbrushed hair, ratty clothes and an emerging “attitude problem”.
“Mrs Molina, I can't play any sport today because my toenail flaked off in the night” Evie said.
Mrs Molina looked down at her.
“Excuse me?” she replied.
“I can show you if you like, it's real bad” said Evie, who began to remove her sock.
“No, no, really that's fine, Evie, please don't take your sock off. Just go and sit in the corner and try not to make a nuisance of yourself” said Mrs Molina.
Evie plopped down in the corner of Gold faction's crepe streamer marquee and spent the morning watching her classmates laugh and cheer as they raced around the oval. As Evie stood up for morning-tea, a bolt of pain went through her foot. At that moment it dawned on her that it really would've been much better to have just told her teachers that her toenail had flaked off in the night instead of going to the trouble of actually cutting it off. Evie considered this as she hobbled over to the canteen to order two hot, buttery vegemite crumpets.