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Katie Cotugno

The summer after sophomore year, my friend Emily had a miserable crush on this guy Steve from student government, which is how we wound up at that party where the hockey player got shoved into the pool and broke his neck.

The cops came to Emily’s house the next afternoon. We were sitting in her basement rec room in our pajamas, eating frozen grapes and pretending we were too cool for the iCarly rerun her sister was watching. Emily was using the flatiron on my hair. She flatironed both of us every day that summer, filling the afternoons with the warm smell of steam and burning—it was this thing she had us doing, along with wearing boat shoes and rope bracelets, because she thought it made her look less Jewish and me look less Italian. It didn’t, but that didn’t stop Emily from trying.

She was only half-finished when her mother came careening down the stairs, weirdly fleet despite her considerable bulk: “Were you at that party?” she shrieked. In addition to eavesdropping, which she considered her right as a parent, Mrs. Birnbaum watched Channel 12 incessantly, as local as local news gets; odds are she would have sniffed us out eventually, even without the aid of the two Sleepy Hollow detectives standing patiently in...