“I’m not sure.” Alyssa looked at the gray tile floor. “My hair suddenly turned pink.”
“Yes, I see.” She investigated a lock of the girl’s hair. “Well, that’s a new one. I’ve never had anyone visit me because their hair changed colors. It’s quite beautiful, actually. So bright and sparkly, it looks like it came right out of a spray can. Are you sure that you didn’t color it yourself?”
“No, Mrs. Larkin.”
“Do you have any allergies?” The nurse clicked on a penlight and examined Alyssa’s eyes.
“Not that I’m aware of.”
“How peculiar. Let me check your scalp.” Nurse Larkin searched through her strawberry patches, but the scalp was clean and healthy. “Whoever did this did a marvelous job. The color goes right down to the roots. When did this happen?”
“Today, during class.”
“Really? Just now?”
“Yes, ma’am.” The little girl avoided eye contact. Sooner or later, Alyssa knew that Betty would find out about the bubblegum. She chose her next words carefully. “Ms. Blunt was about to give us a test when I suddenly felt this strange tingle and my hair turned pink.”
“Ms. Blunt saw this?”
“The entire class did, ma’am.”
“Unbelievable.” The nurse checked Alyssa’s heart rate and blood pressure, but everything came back normal. “Well, at least your hair didn’t turn white like mine,” she cracked another smile. “You seem normal enough, but you probably should go see a doctor. Do you need to submit any homework before leaving for the day?”
Alyssa knew that the moment her classmates saw her, she’d be accused of staging the whole thing. “No, Mrs. Larkin. I’d like to check out as soon as possible if that’s ok. Can I call my mother myself?” she asked.
“Certainly, dear. Just have a seat and I’ll get my cell phone. Oh drat, where did I put it?” The nurse stepped away.
Although Alyssa knew that her mommy was right in the middle of delivering an important design project, this could not wait. She needed a shower. Perhaps a little water was all she needed to strip away the funny shade. And if it needed more coaxing, her mother could buy one of those hair products she’d seen on TV to dye her hair a different color.
“Here you are, dear.” Nurse Larkin handed her a cell phone.
Alyssa paused for a few moments and then keyed in her mother’s number. Typically, all she had to do was select her mother’s profile and click Ok, but this wasn’t her cell phone and she could barely remember the ten-digit number. When she finally got through, it wasn’t her mother at all. Abruptly the strange tingle coursed through her body. “Hey mom, can you come pick me up? Thanks, bye.” She quickly ended the call.
“Thank you, Mrs. Larkin.” She handed the phone back. “Would it be all right if I waited at the front of the school?”
“Usually when a student gets sick, we keep them here in the infirmary just to be safe. But I highly doubt that you’re contagious. Have a nice day, Miss Alexander. Come back and see me tomorrow and let me know what happened.” She showed Alyssa to the door.
“You bet.” The cool tingle raced up Alyssa’s spine again.