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by Lulu Martine

They came for me during sixth-period Geometry and led me out of class in handcuffs. It was so embarrassing, but it could have been worse.

Mrs Beale asked what I was being charged with, but the officers refused to say. So there was that. I didn't know what the charge would be, but I did know what crime I had committed.

They had me in a jail cell in the local lockup before they even called my Mom. She didn't rush right down to get me out because she had to feed my sisters, and then she had to go to her second job. She was going to miss the extra money I had been bringing in.

I don't know when they had the trial; maybe I slept through it. It might have been more boring than Geometry. I stood in front of the judge, waiting to be sentenced, in chains. Ankles and knees chained together, and wrists locked to a belt chain. They weren't taking any chances.

The judge looked at me sternly over her glasses. "Fifty years!" she pronounced. I don't know, that still seems excessive just for wearing panties to school, even if I am a boy.


I woke up when Mrs Beale slapped the test down on my desk. She glared at me before walking on to the next student but didn't say anything about my sleeping. We both knew why.

I signed my name at the top of the test, Oliver King, turned it face down, then held my hand up for permission to go to the restroom. Mrs Beale, back at her desk by then, had already filled out the hall pass for me and held it up along with the yardstick with the pass in the little plastic pocket.

I went up and got the stick. There were some snickers, and Lou Fowlett smirked at me as I passed him. "Queenie has to go tinkle," he whispered. Damn that Arrow TV show. Mrs Beale ignored that and the extra snickers it provoked. A couple of the girls looked at me sympathetically, but I didn't meet their eyes. Best to ignore everyone.

I trudged slowly, swinging the yard-long hall pass. Nothing said I had to go to the closest bathroom, so I headed clear across campus to the non-gendered bathroom next to the nurse's station. The nurse, due to budget cuts, had already left for the day. No one had to know I was using the only one-student bathroom with a lock on the door in the whole school.

I went in and locked the door then sat on the stool to do my business. After, I took the soiled panties off and stuck them in the opaque plastic zip bag with the others, after checking; sometimes I got a bonus if they were extra nasty.

I put on a new pair from my backpack. I usually go through two packages of panties a day. That's eight or ten of them, just while I'm in school. It keeps getting harder (no pun) to do this. I'm not sure I can keep it up (no pun) all through high school, I'm only a freshman now.

I trudge back to class and turn in my blank test. Part of my deal with the vice (no pun) principal is that I'm guaranteed at least a D in all my classes, so I don't even try in the ones I hate. I can always use the sleep since I get up every two hours all night long to change panties even when I'm home.

Seventh-period is gym. The deal is I take roll call, then I'm done for the day. I suspect coach of being a customer on PantyBay. I wonder if he's ever actually bought any of mine?

It's too soon to change undies again, so I wander into the library and use the free wifi and a virtual terminal to visit a porn site. I don't know why; it never does a thing for me. I drink some juice from the stash in my backpack. Juice helps. Time, friction, juice, and imagination are what get me through the day.

I make another bathroom run and head to the office twenty minutes before the buses start loading. I slip the plastic bag through the secure package delivery slot; it'll be picked up tonight, and once a week, I get paid into a debit card account with an offshore bank. The finance fees come to 9% for this sort of business, but you have to pay for privacy.

My panties bring in $5 to $30, wholesale, and go for three to five times that much, market retail. That's where the real money is, but I'm too young to open my own shop.

I walk out to the buses before anyone else gets there and take my usual seat, right behind the driver. When Lou Fowlett gets on, he sits next to me, and I slip him $5 for being my bodyguard. It's a protection racket, but it's a cheap one. Lou thinks I'm gay, but I don't care.

A couple of girls give me pity as they climb aboard, but I don't look at them. I wonder how much their panties would bring on the market. Not as much as mine, and they'd have to wear them longer, probably.

It's Wednesday, so there will be a package from Amazon on the porch. My sisters walk to school, so they get home before I do, and they'll have dragged it inside without opening it. I wonder what dainties my buyers have sent me this time. I really don't care about that either; silk brings a higher price, but cotton is more comfortable. Some people have a kink for microfiber, I guess. Takes all kinds.

I'm tired. I'm always tired. I yawn, and Lou looks at me. It's a long ride home. He takes out a pack of gum. "Want a piece?" he offers.

I take it, unwrap it, and put it in my mouth, moving as slowly as I do when I'm going back to class after my job. Lou can't take his eyes off me. I chew slowly, too. "Thanks," I say, smiling at him. He thinks I'm gay, and this makes him squirm. I'm paying him, so he doesn't say anything — one of life's little victories.

I yawn again, wrap the gum neatly in its own paper and give it back to Lou, who puts it into an empty juice box to dispose of later, eco-friendly junior thug that he is. Then I fall asleep for the last twenty minutes, my head on Lou's shoulder.

I wake up when Lou pokes me. "Queenie, you're home," he says. I yawn and stretch. Lou and I do the little dance where I try to step on his feet as I climb over him. I take his cap and put it on, then give it back to him before I get off the bus. He's grinning at me, and I wave as the bus pulls away.

I think Lou is gay and doesn't know what to do about it. Maybe he doesn't know himself.

My sisters are on the porch, bouncing up and down like eight-year-olds because, well, they are eight years old. "Ollie's home, Ollie's home," they chant.

"What's for dinner?" I ask.

"We don't know cause you haven't made it yet," Melisandre is the sassy one. Alexandra just giggles.

"Oh, that's right. I forgot," I say.

"You didn't forget." Melisandre won't let me get away with anything. "You're just stupid on purpose."

"You're probably right," I agree. "I'm ornery like that."

Alexandra can't stand this. She spins in place to make herself dizzy, so she has a better excuse to giggle. I catch her when she falls over, and we have a three-way tickle fight with Growch the pittie-mix kibitzing and play-nipping all of us. I lose as usual, and we rest in a heap on the floor until I can recover.

I don't have the strength or energy to change panties before cooking dinner, and Mom will be home at six. I struggle up, tell the kids to do their homework, and start boiling water for pasta. I had put the frozen veggie meatballs in the refrigerator to thaw before I left for school. I take them out now, brown them in a little olive oil and add marinara to simmer and thicken.

It doesn't take long to make a salad, and when the water boils, I dump in the noodles and set a timer. I have a few minutes to relax. I wonder what Lou is doing — playing video games, probably.

I'm bringing in $50,000 a year, after taxes. Most of that goes into three college funds, and the rest keeps Mom from having to take that second job. She lists my income as "Sales of crafts" on her filing. What I'm doing is only illegal because I'm underage.

I think the law makes it harder (no pun) than it needs to be for a young entrepreneur to thrive.

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This story is 1512 words long.