It was probably my trading my uniform with another orphan girl's that set it off. Actually, it was definitely that. But the girls got to wear looser and cuter clothes that were more comfortable for me, and the wet ground from the rain the day before would have gotten the ends of the boy uniform's trousers wet, and pink was such a better color, anyway. All of which I made sure to explain to everyone who had something to say about my state of dress. (Which, it felt like, everyone did.)

I thought that, once I had explained the logic, the attention would die down over the day, but it never did, and that's what made me realize my mistake. Swapping clothes again with the girl at the end of the day was the plan, until an older boy kicked me from the back of my knees when I wasn't looking, sending me stumbling right into one of the muddy spots that the rain had made.

According to him, this served me right for pretending to be a girl.

The girl whose clothes I borrowed arrived while I waited outside of the washer's room for her clothes. We were both in our pajamas, and she handed my clothes back to me. Apparently, she had wanted to trade again after having gotten a few weird looks from the girls, as well as one snide remark about her being unladylike. I felt solidarity with her, of course, but I still felt bitter that one little comment was the only thing she got, while I had been called names and had my hair and clothes ruined for the unforgivable transgression of wearing flowier clothes and shorter pants.